“Why don’t we meet at the show grounds at 5:15? That way you can hack in the indoor before it closes,” Says my trainer.
5:15 AM? You know, the time of morning where Starbucks has only recently opened, breakfast is still available at Wendy’s, and I should still be asleep. Don’t get me wrong, I love horse shows. They’re like little holidays that pop up whenever I’m feeling particularly festive. The days leading up feel like the last few days before Christmas. As a kid, I’d be the first one awake on Christmas morning, but now? I prefer to spend the evenings awake and the mornings asleep. That does unfortunately apply to horse shows.
The excitement lasts for quite a while though. The days spent schooling before the show remind me I’m super excited for what’s ahead, regardless of the looming 4:30 wake up call. And the first day isn’t usually tough, just like waking up Christmas morning as a kid. The days after, though? Totally different story.
Once the excitement wears off, you’ll want to prepare for the other days of the show. To do this, begin by stocking up on a pack of your favorite energy drinks. If you’re not keen on RedBull, AMP, or Monster, it’s perfectly OK to supplement this by keeping your coffee du-jour on hand. Most horse shows offer coffee stands or there is a convenient Starbucks, Caribou Coffee, or Dunkin’ Donuts nearby. Worst comes to worst, you can fuel yourself on fumes provided by the closest gas station, but let’s face it. It’s better to bring your own coffee and set it up in an IV drip.
Don’t even think the word: decaf.
For those of you who are professional night owls, I’m sure you know the power of a good nap. Be on the look out for nap-opportunities throughout the weekend to off-set your sleep deprivation headache. Keep your eyes open (for now) to find a great place to rest your head for a 30 minute nap. Locations can include but are not limited to tack stalls, indoor ring seats, your boyfriend’s shoulder, or the backseat of your car. Pro-tip: keep your mess contained inside your tack trunk and zip the cover shut so when the perfect nap opportunity arises, you’re ready for some immediate shut-eye.
Even though your energy might rise towards the end of the day, be aware of getting too ahead of yourself. The margarita with sugar around the rim is delicious, but your show mates might not want to be awake with you until your sugar rush crashes well after their bedtime.
While it might be comforting to set your alarm for the next day 15 minutes before you need to hit the road, don’t. Set your alarm at least 30 minutes before you need to head out the door. Rest assured, you are going to hit the snooze button several times, and you want to leave yourself a couple of minutes to get ready. By get ready, I mean jump out of bed panicked you’ve missed your time to hack in the indoor. Panic a little more, forget to let the dog out, and wear two different shoes to the show that morning.
Day Three will eventually wind down, and you’ll see the light of the upcoming week brimming on the horizon. Don’t worry, if you’ve planned your show well you’ll have an automatic email ready for Monday morning stating you’re out of the office due to a horse show hangover. All emails will be returned in a (somewhat) timely manner.