Get Ready to Show!

Prepare for your next competition with these helpful tips and complete show-day checklist from trainer Caroline Wood.
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What’s one of the keys to success in the show pen? Organization. Advanced planning reduces stress, allays show nerves, and enables you to fully enjoy competing with your horse.

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To help you toward this end, trainer Caroline Wood (of JC Stables in Van Alstyne, Texas) shares the contents of her comprehensive show-prep binder. It includes not only an exhaustive show-day checklist, but also lists of important to-do’s in the days and weeks prior to the event.

Let her organizational secrets help you get off to a good start at your next show.

Note: Special thanks to Genie Haynes for her assistance in compiling Caroline’s show binder.

GENERAL INFORMATION

Show Schedule

• Dates

• Show host (club, association, or other organization)

• Location

• List of nearby hotels, contact information and average rates

• Breakdown of expected costs

Tack, Show Clothing, Supplies

• List of local tack stores, including contact information and hours of operation

• List of online retailers

• List of Facebook groups that sell gently used tack and clothing

Local Show Clubs/Organizations

• Registration information

• Showgrounds address

• Website and helpful phone numbers

• Facebook page

• List of classes/events offered at each show

• Breakdown of age divisions (if applicable)

EXPECTATIONS OF STUDENTS, PARENTS, TRAINER

Students

• Be prepared and be on time.

• Have a positive attitude.

• Know the show rules and regulations.

• Know your classes and study your patterns.

• Be ready for your class at least 15 to 20 minutes before it starts.

• Be respectful toward your fellow riders, parents, horses, judges, show staff, and trainer.

• Be helpful to fellow riders.

• Be self-sufficient.

• Challenge yourself; try something new.

• Don’t make excuses.

• Smile, participate, and have fun!

Parents

• Make sure your child arrives early/on time to show.

• Make sure your child is prepared and has everything needed for the show.

• Be supportive of your child and the team.

• Be respectful toward other parents, students, horses, judges, show staff, and trainer.

• Assist other riders on the team (as necessary).

• Maintain communication with trainer.

• Don’t coach.

• Be aware of your child’s needs.

• Don’t enable rider excuses.

• Have fun!

Trainer

• Maintain a positive and supportive attitude.

• Maintain organization of the team.

• Provide coaching to students.

• Have fun!

HORSE-SHOW CHECKLIST

Documents

• Current negative Coggins report (original copy)

• Registration papers (if applicable)

• Membership or novice card

Horse Health Supplies

• Equine first-aid kit

• Electrolytes

• Any needed medications

• Vet wrap

Horse Prep Equipment

• Halter

• Lead rope

• Blanket (appropriate for season)

• Lycra hood

• Tail bag

• Longe line

• Longe-line chain

• Longe-line whip

• Fly spray

Horse Bathing Supplies

• 2-gallon bucket (for mixing shampoo)

• Two to three sponges

• Body scrubbers

• 6-foot hose

• Sprayer-attachment for hose

• Body shampoo

• Mane and tail shampoo

• Mane and tail conditioner

• Whitening shampoo (if applicable)

• Two to three large towels

Note: Don’t shampoo or condition your horse’s mane if you will be banding or braiding it.

Grooming Supplies

• Plastic tote

• Step stool

• Soft body brush

• Stiff body brush

• Soft face brush

• Stiff hoof brush

• Mane and tail brush

• Hoof pick

• Rubber curry

• Metal comb

• Hoof pick

• Pumice stone

• Sharp scissors

• Clippers

• Latch hook and yarn (for English braids)

• Bands for braiding/banding (bands should match horse’s mane/tail color)

• Hoof polish (black for dark hooves; clear for light hooves)

• Rubber gloves

• Show Shine or Cowboy Magic

• Baby oil

• Show touch-up spray paint (should match your horse’s body color)

• Baby powder

• Mane and tail detangler

• 10 clean rags (small towels/washcloths)

Showtime Grooming Kit

Note: Caroline recommends you prepare a “showtime” grooming kit to keep on hand on in the holding area for last-minute touch-ups, just before you enter the ring.

• Small tote

• Soft body brush

• Stiff body brush

• Soft face brush

• Stiff hoof brush

• Mane and tail brush

• Hoof pick

• Sharp scissors

• Hoof polish

• Show Shine or Cowboy Magic

• Baby oil

• Fly spray

• Clean rags

Tack (Halter and Showmanship)

• Western show halter (leather with silver accents)

• Matching leather lead with chain

Rider Attire (Halter and Showmanship)

• Western hat

• Showmanship jacket (preferred) or Western show shirt

• Black jeans or showmanship pants

• Western belt

• Boots

• Gloves (optional)

• Tasteful earrings (for girls/women; clip-on earrings if ears are not pierced)

• Hair net (to match your hair color) or ribbons for younger girls

• Hair clip for bun

Tack (Western Riding)

• Western headstall with curb bit and split reins

• Western saddle blanket (to match rider’s show clothing)

• Western show saddle

• Cinch

• Number holder or safety pins for show number

Rider Attire (Western Riding)

• Western hat or Western-style helmet

• Western show blouse or jacket

• Undershirt (for cold weather)

• Black jeans or show pants

• Chaps (required for advanced riders; encouraged for all)

• Western belt

• Western boots

• Western spurs

• Gloves (optional)

• Tasteful earrings (for girls/women; clip-on earrings if ears are not pierced)

• Hair net (to match your hair color) or ribbons for younger girls

• Hair clip for bun

Tack (English Classes)

• English bridle and bit

• English contour saddle pad

• English saddle

• Girth

Rider Attire (English Classes)

• English helmet

• Long-sleeved show shirt (short-sleeved show shirt or dickie with rat catcher may be acceptable in hot weather)

• Undershirt (for cold weather)

• Collar or ratcatcher

• Stock pin

• Hunt jacket (black, navy, or gray)

• Breeches (buff, tan, or gray)

• English belt

• English boots (or paddock boots)

• Knee straps/buckles (if wearing paddock boots)

• Spurs

• Gloves (optional)

• Tasteful earrings (for girls/women; clip-on earrings if ears are not pierced)

• Hair net (to match your hair color) or ribbons for younger girls

• Hair clip for bun

• Riding crop (if needed)

Note: Bring both long- and short-sleeved show shirts to all shows. In hot weather, judges may allow riders to show without jackets, but they must be wearing long-sleeved shirts.

Rider Grooming Supplies

• Hair brush

• Hair spray

• Wet wipes

• Bobby pins

• Hair bands (to match your hair color)

• Makeup (black mascara, eyeliner, eye shadow, lipstick)

• Hat-cleaning brush and/or sponge

• Lint roller

• Boot polish

• Jacket or zippered hoodie (to protect show clothing between classes)

Tack-Cleaning Supplies

• Leather cleaner

• Leather wipes

• Silver cleaner/polish

• Clothes for cleaning

• Bit wipes

Note: All tack should be cleaned before leaving for show; these supplies are for last-minute touch-ups.

Miscellaneous Supplies

• Water bottle (insulated best to keep water cold)

• Portable saddle rack

• Hand sanitizer

• Sunscreen

• Tack trunk (or large plastic tub to hold your gear)

• Human first-aid kit (including Band-Aids, ibuprofen, Tums, allergy medication, etc.)

• Camp chairs

• Small tool kit (with flat and Phillips screwdriver, hammer, pliers, leather hole-punch)

• Tissues

• Toilet paper

• Paper towels

• Trash bags

• Dishwashing liquid (for cleaning out buckets, etc.)

• Scrub brush

• Duct tape

• Zip ties

• Flashlight or electric lantern (extra batteries)

• Ice chest/cooler for drinks

• Snacks

• Entertainment for downtime (Kindle/tablet, iPod, laptop, books, magazines, hand-held gaming system)

• Chargers (for phones, devices, cameras, etc.)

• Camera and/or camcorder

• Checks and cash

Note: Most horse show venues only accept cash or checks; be sure to bring enough to cover your expenses.

If Your Horse Will Be Stalled During the Show

• 5-gallon bucket for water

• Food bucket

• Two bucket straps

• Hay bag

• Box fan (for hot weather)

• 20-foot extension cord (for box fan)

• Stall sign with emergency contact information

• Feed for the number of days you will be at the show, plus one (sealed in a bin or bucket)

• Feed scoop

• Supplements for the number of days you will be at the show, plus one

• Hay (preferably in a zippered hay carrier)

If Your Horse Will Be Tied to Trailer During Show

• 5-gallon water bucket

• Bucket strap

• Hay bag

• Hay

Additional Trailer Equipment

• Muck bucket

• Muck fork

• Shovel

• Trailer ties

HORSE-SHOW TASKS

Before Show Season Starts

• Ensure your horse has a current negative Coggins (provide copy for trainer, if applicable).

• Make sure your horse is up to date on shots and deworming.

• Purchase needed items for your show trunk.

• Check the fit and condition of your show clothing (replace or repair items if necessary).

• Label all of your equipment.

• Register for shows (if advanced registration is available).

One Week Before Show

• Dry clean or wash show clothing (if needed).

• Have your Western hat creased/shaped.

• Clean rider accessories (boots, spurs, jewelry, etc.).

• Have your horse’s fee trimmed/showed (if necessary).

• Wash/clean saddle pads and blankets.

• Make/confirm hotel reservations (if applicable).

• Clean and oil tack.

• Polish any silver on tack.

• Clip horse.

• Pull mane (if necessary).

• Check your show supplies (replace any necessary items).

• Practice, practice, practice!

Two Days Before Show

• Bathe your horse (with shampoo).

Day Before Show

• Pack show trunk (use your Horse Show Checklist!).

• Pack show clothing.

• Load tack and gear into trailer.

• Get cash.

Upon Arriving at Show

• Check in/register with show steward.

• Bed down stall (if your horse will be stalled overnight).

• Set up tack stall (if applicable).

• Groom horse

• Band/braid your horse’s mane and tail

• Bag horse’s tail

• Blanket horse (if necessary)

• Feed horse (depending on time)

Before Your Classes Start

• Longe your horse (preferably 30 minutes before your class)

• Do final grooming touch-ups (Show Shine, Baby oil, paint hooves, etc.)

• Tack up horse

• Get dressed for your first class

• Study your first pattern (if applicable)

During the Show

• Maintain/touch up makeup throughout the day

• Longe horse during lunch break (if necessary)

• Know your schedule and be in the warm-up arena 20 minutes before your class.

• Study your next pattern in between classes.

• For parents: Be alert to your rider’s needs (water, quick groom, hold horse, get coat, etc.).

• As you complete classes, pack items that are no longer needed.

After the Show

• Pick up your ribbons and awards.

• Pack your gear and tack and load it back into your trailer.

• Pay trainer fees.

• Help load horses into trailer.

Back at the Barn

• Unload your gear and tack and store it neatly in the tackroom.

• Assist with unloading your horse and getting him settled.

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