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Being Organized and Efficient at Horse Shows


Horse shows are a place where equine enthusiasts of all ages, from all areas and all levels of experience can have a good time and compete with their horses. Although fun, horse shows can be a bit stressful if you’re not prepared enough.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve been showing for 20 years or two months, organization in the horse world is something that should never be taken lightly. If you’re not prepared to show, you’re not ready to win.

It all starts in the tack stall

Your tack stall is the place you’re going to spend most of the time preparing both your horse and yourself to show, so this space must stay arranged systematically. The proper storage equipment and utilities are required to achieve this.

If you have to store more than one saddle, as most show-goers do, a universal resource is a hanging saddle rack. Not only do these allow for storage of multiple articles of tack, but it also keeps your equipment off the ground where it’s safer, and you even have a spot for something small and tote sized underneath.

Another useful gadget is a foldable shelf to put items such as your grooming boxes, additional pieces of tack, hats, helmets, boots, tool kits, and more. These shelves can hold a lot and fold up for easy transport from show to show.

Not only is this a functional storage unit, but these shelves are also conservative of space. To keep things on this shelf tidy, be sure to label everything and give each item a specific spot. Do the same thing with your show clothes.

The fine folks at Royal Wire make everything under the sun for tack room organization and can help turn your otherwise chaotic situation into a well-oiled masterpiece of neatness.

Put all chaps in one garment bag, all button-down or day shirts in another, all English attire in its bag, and any very “blingy shirts” in their bag so they won’t get damaged. Keeping a horse show checklist for packing up can make the whole process much easier as well.

If you’re sharing a tack stall, be mindful of your stall mate. Pay attention to the way they organize their side of the stall and consider mirroring each other. Make sure you’re not taking up more room than allotted and be sure to keep everything in the tack stall swept, clean, orderly, organized, and aligned.

Make the check-in process easier for you and the office help

The people in the show registration office have to put up with a lot. From overworked trainers to irritating exhibitors to having to announce ten times for someone to move their truck, the least you could do is to show up with your paperwork and materials ready. Have a binder that has all the essential documents that you need for showing.

These documents include your horse’s Coggins paperwork, their registration papers, your breed registration membership, i.d., if you can, have your entry forms filled out in advance, don’t forget an extra copy of the patterns and show schedule as well.

These articles are required for you to show. Some shows even ask for a health certificate, vaccine records, or validation paperwork, so be sure to add these to your binder. Overall, it’s better to be over-prepared than not prepared.

Time management at the horse show

We’ve all been there…that time when you thought you still had plenty of time before your class started, and then you hear the announcer calling your number. Yikes! How can we prevent this?

First, we should always keep a printed version of the patterns and show schedule on hand. Keep a copy in the tack stall, on your phone, in your ringside grooming kit, literally anywhere you can think of. And highlight the classes that you’re competing in and write down the number of entries in the classes before you.

Ask your trainers, friends, barn mates, and anyone around the estimated time before a specific class. Getting answers and estimates from a large group of people rather than just one person is a way to get the most accurate assumption.

Knowing the order of draw is another important part of properly managing your time. Know who you follow in the draw and when you should head up to the starting marker. Also, be sure you give yourself and your horse plenty of time to warm up and prepare, whether you need an hour or five minutes, give yourself time before the class starts, so you’re not rushed.

By staying on schedule, in line, and orderly, you are setting yourself up for success in the show pen. If you’re in a calm, systematic environment, you’ll be less stressed and more mentally prepared throughout the whole show. These tips may seem small and unnecessary, but it will make showing a lot less stressful and also much more fun and worthwhile.


About the Author – Oklahoma State Equestrian Commit, Lauren Pursley is a devoted youth equestrian showing in the all-around events with her horse Lovin Some Lazy Lola. Lauren is the current Texas Quarter Horse Youth Association Vice President.  In addition to competing in AQHA shows, Lauren competes in Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) horse shows and is participating in the 2020 AQHA Ranching Heritage Bred Young Horse Development Program. Lauren enjoys working with horses, writing about horses, and equine photography.

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