The Big Show

Have you got a big horse show coming up? Will you be riding more than one day?  Having to travel far? Having to spend a couple of nights there? The possibility is you’ll need to book a stable for your horse & set up camp in your horse box or tent for yourself! If you’ve never had to stay over at a show before or just fancy some extra tips, my survival guide will have you packing like a pro! I’ll cover what you need for your horse, stable and riding, anything else you may need (like food) is all down to you!

horses travelling

Time to Settle in

First thing you need to figure out is how long you’re staying there.  If you suspect an early test time on the first day or have a horse that needs time to settle down in a new place, then it might be worthwhile arriving a day early.  This gives you plenty of time to get yourself and your horse settled in and comfortable. Normally the show grounds are open for set hours the day before the festivities start.  Make sure you look this up, check where the drop off point is and then where you can park.


  1. Research what type of stables are provided. Permanent stables are going to be more comfortable for your horse than temporary stables. It’s also worth noting that most temporary stables are only 3m X 3m which can be quite small for a big horse.  The only time they won’t be in their stable is when you’re riding or grazing them.  So, if you think it’ll be a squeeze for your best friend you may need to look at other stabling options. Some competition centers may allow you to book two stables and have the partition between them taken down. Or see if there are local stables nearby that’ll be happy to accommodate your horse. A happy and comfortable horse is more likely to perform better!

Horse in stable


  1. Although most stables are bedded down for your arrival, bring extra shavings! You might want to bulk their bed up a little to help prevent any bumps or scratches during the night. Or just to make them a little comfier. And most importantly, a clean bed means a clean horse! If you’ve no room for extra bales check to see if they’re sold onsite.  Most big shows will have a shop for shavings and hay but if you can, its safest to pack both your own hay and shavings in case supplies run low.


  1. Stable bandages at night would also help keep their legs protected. Plus, they will keep their legs nice and clean. That’s always a bonus!


  1. Check the weather and plan rugs accordingly. If it’s going to be very hot, a fly rug or light cotton stable sheet might be all you can use to keep them clean.  If the forecast isn’t great remember that temporary stables are more open to the elements, so you may want to bring some extra rugs to keep them warm.  A waterproof sheet might be handy to have as well! Temporary stables can sometimes be a little leaky or damp.

bay horse showjumpingContact Details

  1. Stick a card to your stable door with your name and number in case of any emergencies. This will help someone to locate you quicker instead of reporting the problem to the office and delaying the time it takes to contact you. A second contact number may not be any harm either, especially if you’re competing more than one horse.  Adding the number of your groom or a trusted friend who is also at the show is the best thing to do, so they’re close by.

Feel at Home

  1. Make the stable your own. If your horse normally has toys or licks hanging up, then bring them with you.  Also use zip ties or your trusty baler twine to add places to tie up and such. Hang up a bridle rack for hanging your bits and bobs.  Just don’t make any permanent changes to the stable, remember you’re only renting it for a few nights!  Bring a lockable box and place it outside your stable.  This way you can have all your equipment at hand, much easier than walking to and from the lorry park all day.  Try your best to put everything away neat as this will help prevent anything being misplaced when you need it most!


  1. Don’t forget your horses feed and any supplements they’re currently on! Feed them as normal when you’re away.  This will help prevent any potential unsettled tummies.  Bring extra feed too.  It’ll probably be a hard few days on them, so you may need to increase the feed a little or give them a lunchtime feed to keep energy levels up.  A feed bin will stop bags from getting damaged and makes for easier storage.

Sharing is Caring

  1. If you’ve a friend going as well, it can be handy to carpool. One of you take the ponies and the other takes the equipment.  Much easier to pack a trailer with all of your essentials without horses in it.  Horses aren’t always overly pleased being tethered in between a wheelbarrow and a million buckets!

More Clothing

  1. Pack schooling clothes for you and your horse. It’s unlikely that the only time you ride is when you’re wearing your full competition outfit. And depending on the weather you may need a mix of different types of clothes. I don’t know about you, but I massively struggle with keeping whites white.  As soon as the white breeches go on they are soon covered in green slobber!  An extra set of riding clothes should hopefully keep you gleaming a little longer than normal.


  1. Lastly don’t forget all your mucking out equipment plus a wheelbarrow. The venues don’t normally provide these.  The wheelbarrow will also help transport all your equipment to and from the stable.  It would seem you can never bring too many buckets, using them for a variety of things such as feeding, water and washing at a minimum.  Plus, they seem to get misplaced or broken when you need them most.  They are also great for carrying things to and from the warm up such as boots and a towel.


Hopefully with these tips you’ll not only survive but thrive!

Here’s a checklist to help out:


Dearbhle Creagh

Author: Dearbhle Creagh

Dearbhle is currently studying Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering at Trinity College Dublin. She campaigns her two horses Tilly and Dave. Tilly is a 12-year-old chestnut mare, who after a turbulent eventing career is now successfully competing in pure dressage. Dave is a baby 4-year-old who is only starting his competition career. The hope for Dave is that he makes it as a successful eventer. He’ll be brought on with the ambition of competing at international one-star level by the time he’s 7!

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