Getting to compete is a privilege that not all equestrians experience in their life. If you’re lucky enough to compete, at any level, consider yourself blessed! While it is a privilege, there’s a lot that goes into the prepping, planning, and packing for your horse show! Even those who compete a few times each month can find themselves overwhelmed getting ready for their competition. Here’s a few of my favorite tips and tricks for making sure each and every show goes as smoothly as possible.

1. Bring extra cash. It’s all about that money, honey. But really, it’s important to be prepared! I typically bring about $100 in cash to each horse show as well as my checkbook. Most vendors don’t take credit card. Plus, with a surplus of sketchy gas stations popping up, I like to give myself that wiggle room in case a card gets declined, lost or stolen, or if I get there and no one takes cards. It also comes in handy if you have to add classes, order extra bedding, or bribe someone into braiding because you’re too busy or not very skilled at it.

2. Create a packing list. Then check it off as you pack and prepare for the show. Having to buy something you already own when you get to the show can be super frustrating, but isn’t nearly as bad as having to run around finding people to borrow from. A packing list for you and your horse can help solve this problem. I have a list for myself, my trailer, and my horse that permanently lives in my phone, allowing me to check things off each time I need to pack for a competition.

3. Ask for help. Find a more experienced person at your barn to act as your buddy until you get the hang of things. They can be your go to person with questions about where to warm up, where to buy food, when you should get on, and anything else. Of course, your trainer is a great person to go to for all this, but sometimes they can get overwhelmed with their own obligations at the show. Having a buddy system will help you learn the ropes with less stress!

4. Create a time sheet. Even if times are only estimated, create a list of times for when you should be where. I like to plan out my entire day, from showing up, morning chores, hand walking, pre-rides, course walks, and ride time. Having a general schedule for your day will help keep things flowing smoothly and give you a structure to guide you through the chaos.

5. Have fun! Remember, you’re here to have fun, this is your hobby. Smile, breathe, and enjoy yourself. Horse showing is a learning process. You’ll have moments where you shine and times where you hope no one saw that. Go with the flow and learn from all of it so that way you’ll be able to learn from your mistakes and be even better the next time.

What are your favorite tips for preparing for horse show season?