Sometimes, preparing for a competition can be just as intense and nerve-racking as actually competing! I've found that there are several simple things we can do to prepare for a competition and make things run more smoothly. I like to start with lists.
The first list to keep is a schedule of shows in the area that you would like to attend. Have the date and location of each and keep it next to your calendar. This way, when you're making other plans, you can reference the show schedule to avoid double booking yourself on a competition weekend.
The second list is show gear for you. Whether you are a first timer or an old pro, it's easy to forget things you need. Write down all of the attire you will wear in the ring, right down to your hat and boots. It's also helpful to list things you might need before and after your competition. Don't forget some snacks and drinks so you have energy. And especially in the hot months, bring a change of clothes for the ride home. Having a cool, comfortable outfit may be just what you need after a long day of competition. Be sure to list any toiletries you may need as well, especially if you're staying overnight.
The next list is show gear for your horse. It's very handy to post this in the tack room of your barn or trailer so you can check things off as you pack. Saddles, bridles, saddle pads, and any other equipment you will need for the competition should be listed. Don't forget brushes, fly spray, show sheen and other tools that will help your horse look his best. Some hay and a water bucket are always necessary items. I've also found that baby wipes are a great item to pack in the trailer. You can use them to wipe dirt off of your horse, your clothing and gear, and yourself.
Don't forget your paper work! Many shows require proof of a negative Coggins test, registration papers, membership cards, or health papers if you want to enter. Keep a folder in your truck or trailer with all of this information in it. You may never need it, but it's always a good thing to have on hand. If you have a trainer or someone else who transports your horses to and from competitions, make sure they are equipped with the information.
Also consider a list of important phone numbers, including a towing service, your veterinarian, and the number of a trusted friend who could transport your horses in case of an accident. It is important to be prepared monetarily as well. Consult your show bill for entry fees, grounds fees, number fees, and other costs you might incur. Make sure you also have an acceptable form of payment with you. Have extra money on hand for additional costs that may come up.
No matter what the task, planning makes things easier. A few days before your event, pack some of the things you will need. Do as much as possible in the days before a show, so you aren't left scrambling around the morning you need to leave for the event. If possible, bathe and clip your horse the day before you need to leave. If you place him in a clean stall with fresh bedding, chances are he'll just need a brushed and touched up the next day. Competitions bring excitement, and in that excitement it's easy to forget something or be rushed to finish other things. Keep yourself organized, and plan ahead. It's sure to make your show experience more relaxed and enjoyable.
Debbie has over 45 years experience with horses and equine-related businesses. She has owned, trained, boarded horses and run stables at various times in her career. She is a certified fence installer, has given balanced riding lessons, and has shown horses in Western, Western Pleasure, Trail, English, Hunter/Jumper, Fox Hunting, Hunter Trials, Dressage and driving classes. Debbie has been involved in foaling, and just about every aspect of horse ownership possible, and she welcomes your questions and comments . If you are interested in using any articles by Debbie, please send her an email
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