Best-Ever Show-Day Checklist

Use this all-inclusive checklist to keep you sane and organized on show day.

Show days can be stressful. I don’t know about you, but I’m usually running late, hurling everything I can think of into my truck at the last minute. By the time my classes are about to begin, I’m rummaging frantically through the piles of clutter in my truck, trying to locate my belt or a hairnet or a safety pin. Digging under the seats while trying to hold my horse is not exactly a calming pre-class strategy.

Sound familiar? Then you need what finally helped me–a checklist. Here, you’ll find a comprehensive list of items that’ll get–and keep–you organized. Use it, and you’ll take some of the stress out of show-day prep. (Note: This list will get you ready for a multi-day show. To keep it current and customized, input it into your computer, personalize it for your own needs and update it after each show.)


  • Original or photocopy of registration papers (Tip: Keep these and all papers/certificates in a binder with your horse’s name on it.)
  • Coggins certificate, if needed
  • Health certificate, if needed
  • Association membership and amateur/youth cards
  • Show bill
  • Rule book
  • Paper and pens/pencils
  • Horse insurance card
  • Map/directions to the show facility; phone number to call in case you get lost
  • Emergency equine roadside service phone number (U.S. Rider Equestrian Motor Plan: 1-800-844-1409 or
  • Cash/checkbook/credit cards


  • Saddle (Western/English/or both)
  • Saddle pads or blankets (schooling and show)
  • Cinch or girth
  • Bridles (schooling and show)
  • Bits
  • Tie down and/or martingale
  • Breast collar
  • Show halter/lead
  • Draw reins, if you use them
  • Extra pair of reins
  • Extra stirrup leathers and stirrup-iron pads (English)
  • Spurs (Western and/or English)
  • Chain shank
  • Whip/crops
  • Protective boots/wraps
  • Spare bridle screws and screwdriver
  • Leather hole puncher
  • Tack trunk
  • Saddle covers


  • Feed
  • Feed bucket or tub
  • Supplements
  • Hay
  • Hay net
  • Water buckets (two per stall)
  • Bucket hooks and/or snaps
  • Stall fans
  • Extension cords
  • Duct tape and bungee cords
  • Tools
  • Molasses, cider vinegar, Jell-O, or Kool-Aid (if needed to flavor water so your horse will drink)
  • Electrolyte paste or powder (if it’s hot consult your vet)
  • Manure fork and bucket or wheelbarrow
  • Broom
  • Bedding shavings or straw (if you’re not required to buy it on-site)
  • Horse blanket and hood, if needed
  • Sheet or fly net/fly mask
  • Cooler, if needed
  • Shipping boots
  • Halter and lead rope (two of each)
  • Tail/leg wraps
  • Longe line and whip
  • Treats for a good horse


  • Saddle soap/leather cleaner
  • Saddle oil
  • Sponges/cloths
  • Roll of paper towels
  • Silver polish
  • Small bucket
  • Bit wipes
  • Old toothbrush for cleaning saddle stitching

and tooling


  • Complete vet kit (Consult with your vet for suggested items.)
  • Equine first-aid book
  • Your vet’s phone number/phone number of vet near the show facility
  • Iodine-based antiseptic solution (Betadine)
  • Triple antibiotic ointment
  • Nonstick gauze pads
  • Self-conforming gauze rolls
  • Stretch bandaging tape
  • Elastic adhesive tape
  • Scissors
  • Cotton/disposable diaper or sanitary pad (to use under wraps as an emergency bandage)
  • Chemical ice pack
  • Liniment
  • Sunscreen (for you and your horses, if needed)
  • Bute and Banamine (if needed and your show association permits)
  • Eye flush
  • Advil or Tylenol (for you)
  • Human first-aid kit


  • Currycomb
  • Brushes
  • Towels
  • Sponges
  • Hoof pick
  • Sweat scraper
  • Bucket
  • Shampoo/conditioner
  • Spray-on coat conditioner
  • Mane/tail detangler
  • Fly spray/insect repellent
  • Hose, if needed
  • Baby powder or corn starch (for brightening white markings)
  • Baby oil or commercial highlighter (to dress eyes and muzzle)
  • Hoof sealer or hoof black (if your association permits)
  • Electric and/or battery-operated clippers
  • Plastic razor (for last-minute whisker clipping)
  • Mane/tail comb
  • Hair brush
  • Rubber bands for banding
  • Yarn for braiding
  • Scissors
  • Tail wrap


  • Pants (jeans/Western show pants and/or appropriate color of breeches)
  • Chaps (schooling or show)
  • Shirt (Western shirt/slinky and/or English show shirt)
  • Neck scarf
  • Tie, pin, or choker
  • Coat or vest (hunt jacket, etc.)
  • Boots (schooling and show)/socks
  • Boot pulls
  • Gloves
  • Belt and buckle, if needed
  • Sports bras
  • Hat (Western, helmet, or hunt cap); make sure you check with your breed/sport association’s rules regarding helmets
  • Baseball cap/sunglasses for sun protection
  • Hair nets (bring several and make sure they match your hair color)
  • Bobby pins
  • Safety pins
  • Grooming apron/coveralls
  • Schooling clothes
  • Hair comb/brush
  • Hair spray/gel
  • Mirror
  • Appropriate jewelry, if needed
  • Rain jacket
  • Rubber rain boots
  • Extra towels
  • Boot polish and rags
  • Hat brush
  • Stain remover
  • Sewing kit and scissors


  • Emergency cash
  • Jacks/spare tire/tools for vehicle and trailer
  • Jumper cables/spare fuses
  • Flashlight/batteries/emergency flares
  • Camera and/or video recorder
  • Folding chairs
  • Plastic bags
  • Extra clothes
  • Extra paper towels
  • Wet Ones (or other antibacterial wipes)
  • Umbrella/sun shade
  • Trailer block
  • Shade awning/rain canopy
  • Insect repellent for you
  • Ice chest
  • Cold drinks/bottled water/Gatorade
  • Nutritious snacks: fruit, sandwiches, granola bars, energy bars, nuts
  • Paper cups
  • Reading material for downtime: books, newspapers, crossword puzzles, horse-related reading material
  • Box for putting ribbons in (to protect them)
  • Cell phone

This checklist originally appeared in the May 2005 issue of Horse & Rider. If you’re new to showing (or returning after a hiatus), see the article “Get Going Showing” in our January 2010 issue. (To order either of these issues, or other back issues, call 877-717-8928.)

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