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How To Prepare for a Horse Show

Going to a horse show can be one of the most exiting, yet stressful experiences for a horse owner. In this article we will try an cover everything to make sure that your day goes to plan.

Check List.

Using a check list is the best way of making sure your day goes to plan. There is nothing worse than arriving at the show only to discover that you have forgotten something vital. I say this from experience.

Back in the 1990's We had a yearling, Oliver, that we had bred ourselves. We didn't have much experience at showing. We had some success at local shows so we decided to enter him at the Great Yorkshire Show. We left at 6.00am and got there well on time with ages to spare but just as we were preparing for the class, we realised we have forgotten his brand new show bridle. We began frantically running round and luckily, we managed to borrow a second hand one from one of the tack stalls. This totally stressed us out. Oliver was pulled in second out of 9 entries but we did an awful individual show as he picked up on my stress and we were moved down to second last.


Preparation is key when it comes to transporting horses to shows or events. Not only do you want to ensure the safety and comfort of your horse during the journey, but you also want to make sure they are ready to perform at their best when they arrive at their destination. Here are some tips for preparing horses and transport:

Tips on checking a horse box or trailer before going to a show

It's important to check your horse box or trailer before going to a show to ensure that it is safe and in good condition for the journey.

  1. Inspect the exterior: Check the exterior of the trailer or horsebox for any visible damage or wear and tear. This includes checking the tires for proper inflation and looking for any cracks or dents in the body of the trailer.

  2. Check the brakes: Make sure the brakes are in good working order and that they are properly adjusted. You should also test the brakes to ensure they are functioning properly.

  3. Check the lights: Make sure all the lights on the trailer or horsebox are functioning properly, including the brake lights, indicators, and hazard lights.

  4. Inspect the interior: Check the inside of the trailer or horsebox for any damage or wear and tear. This includes checking the floor for any cracks or holes, as well as the walls and roof for any leaks or damage.

  5. Check the ventilation: Make sure the trailer or horsebox is well-ventilated to ensure that your horse has enough fresh air during the journey. This is especially important if you will be transporting your horse for a long distance.

  6. Test the loading ramp: Make sure the loading ramp is in good condition and that it is easy to use. You should also test it to ensure it is sturdy and secure before loading your horse.

By following these tips, you can help ensure that your horse box or trailer is safe and ready for transport to a show. Remember to also check the weight and balance of the trailer or horsebox before loading your horse to ensure that it is safe to tow.

If your horse is not used to being transported, it can be stressful so get him/her used to the trailer: Practice (not on the show day) by simply walking him in and out of it a few times, perhaps feeding him some hay or a treat. Gradually increase the amount of time he spends in the trailer until he is comfortable being inside it for longer periods. Use calming aids: If your horse tends to get anxious during transport, you may want to consider using calming aids such as a pheromone diffuser or calming supplements. These are said to help to reduce stress and make the journey more comfortable for your horse.

Plan your route.

It's important to plan your route in advance to ensure that you have enough time to get to your destination and to make any necessary stops along the way. Consider factors such as traffic, weather, and rest stops for both you and your horse.

Protective gear for your Horse.

There are several types of protective gear that can be used to help keep horses safe and comfortable when being transported in a horsebox or trailer. Here are a few options to consider:

  • Travel boots: Travel boots are padded boots that are designed to protect a horse's legs from accidental bumps and bruises during transport. They can be used on all four legs, or just the hind legs.

  • Tail guards: A tail guard or wrap can help to protect a horse's tail from getting caught in the trailer or horsebox during transport. It can also help to keep the tail clean and prevent it from getting damaged.

  • Travel rugs: A travel rug is a lightweight, waterproof cover that is placed over a horse's back to protect them from the elements during transport. It can also help to keep them warm and prevent them from getting chilled.

  • Headcollars A headcollar or reins should be used to help secure a horse in the trailer or horsebox during transport. This can help to prevent them from falling or getting injured in case of sudden movements.

By using protective gear during transport, you can help to ensure the safety and comfort of your horse during the journey. It's important to choose gear that is well-fitted and of good quality to ensure it is effective and does not cause any discomfort to your horse.

Your Check List.

Forgetting something important can be a frustrating and costly experience, especially if it impacts your performance at a show or event. That's why it's essential to be well-prepared and to make a list of everything you need to bring with you. This can help you avoid any last-minute mishaps and ensure that you have everything you need to succeed.

  1. Horse: Of course, the most important thing to bring is your horse! I have heard of trailers pulling off the yard with the horse still in the stable. Make sure they are healthy, well-groomed, and have all their necessary vaccinations and documents if needed.

  2. Trailer or horsebox: As already covered above. You will need a means of transport for your horse, such as a trailer or horsebox. Make sure it is in good condition and well-ventilated, and that you have all the necessary equipment for towing it.

  3. Saddle and bridle: Bring your horse's saddle and bridle if you are riding, as well as any other necessary riding equipment such as a girth, numnahs, saddle pads, reins, headcollars and stirrup irons.

  4. Grooming supplies: Pack all the necessary grooming supplies, including brushes, comb, hoof pick, hoof oil, tail and leg bandages/wraps, buckets and any other items you use to keep your horse looking their best.

  5. Template and brush for quarter marking — If you like those elegant quarter marks on their hind quarters, don’t forget to pack your template, if you use one.

  6. Feed and water: Bring enough hay, feed and water to sustain your horse for the day. And don't forget extra water to wash of the inevitable poop down the back legs. You can also add a few treats if he does well, or even if he doesn't.

  7. Fly repellent and a fly fringe.

  8. Show sheen for that extra shine.

  9. Studs and stud removal kit, if using.

  10. First aid kit: It's always a good idea to bring a basic first aid kit in case of any emergencies. This should include items such as bandages, wound care supplies, and any necessary medications.

  11. Show attire: Pack appropriate clothing and footwear for yourself including show jackets, breeches, riding hat and boots.

  12. Clothing and personal items: Don't forget to pack clothing and personal items for yourself, such as a hat, sunscreen, and insect repellent. You may also want to bring a change of clothes in case you get dirty or wet.

  13. Your Vet's phone number (hopefully not needed)

  14. Food and drink for yourself in case there are no decent facilities on site.

  15. Money and identification: Bring enough money to cover any entry fees or expenses, as well as identification such as your driver's license.

  16. Show schedule and entry forms: Make sure you have a copy of the show schedule and any necessary entry forms to ensure you know when and where to be.

  17. Contact information: Make sure you have contact information for the show organizers, as well as any emergency contact information in case of an unforeseen situation.

We think we have included everything but if there is something we have missed, add it to your check list. By packing all of these items, you can help ensure that you and your horse are well-prepared for the show or event. Always use your checklist to make sure you don't forget anything important.


The Confident Rider website was created to help nervous horse riders overcome their anxiety and fear through the use of Self-Hypnosis. See the range HERE

In addition to the Self-Hypnosis audio sessions, we also try to offer advice and resources about all aspects of owning or riding horses and ponies through this Blog. We welcome suggestions for topics that you would like us to cover.

Sharon Shinwell a co-author of the popular book "Ride With Confidence," which was forwarded by Kelly Marks, the well-known Horse Whisperer.

Just click the link HERE to go to the main site.

"This article represents the personal views and opinions of the author and should not be taken as representative of the official policy or position of any organization, professional, expert, or individual."

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