As I get my horses and clients ready for the next show, I think about things that can make the show experience much more pleasant. Being prepared is of the utmost importance so here, in no particular order, are some of my suggestions to help you be better prepared for a fun and successful show season:
· Make lists. I make very detailed lists of everything I want to take to each show and I categorize the items needed.
· Check any supplies and tack you may keep in your trailer. I keep certain items loaded in the trailer at all times but I always do a quick check nonetheless to make sure nothing’s been used up or moved.
· I like to make sure the trailer is clean and in good working condition. I’m particularly concerned with things like mats being flat, vents and windows working well, screens being in place and not torn, mangers and hay bags clean and not musty and snaps and hinges working smoothly (I give mine a blast of WD40).
· If you’re wearing last year’s clothes, make sure they still fit properly and comfortably (especially chaps, which some of my clients find mysteriously shrink over a long winter!). Check out the fit of your boots and don’t forget that belt! If you have a new hat, break it in before you show.
· Western hats should be shaped and cleaned before and during show season.
· Remember to take copies of registration papers and membership cards in case for some reason, the show secretary needs to see them. I personally also take the appropriate rule books with me so if I’m in doubt of anything, I can refer to them.
· Practice in your show equipment before the show so that you are very comfortable with everything from your hat to your reins. Turn the stirrups in Western saddles if necessary and remember that your horse needs to be comfortable in his show tack as well.
· Clean your equipment and make sure nothing needs repairing. If Western is your thing, be sure to pack a supply of assorted Chicago screws.
· Allow for plenty of travel time and time for you to set up and rest at the show. Most importantly, allow enough time for your horses to settle in.
· I personally prefer to clip at home because I believe it reduces a horse’s stress but I always pack clippers and fresh, sharp blades and wash so I can tidy up my horses before they are actually shown.
· If your horse is an inexperienced hauler, practice loading and unloading several times before the show. The day of departure is not a good time to find out your horse won’t load or unload!
· Whether you’re hauling near or far, it’s important to make sure your truck is in good condition. Are the tires carrying the right amount of air? How are the hoses and clamps? Have the wheels on both the truck and trailer been lubed and the brakes checked? I take my trailer in annually for maintenance and safety checks and I stay current on my truck’s maintenance as well.
I hope these tips help you have a happy and successful show season! See you next week, JD.