Your Horse Show Prep Checklist

Written By:

pivo-logo
The Pivoriders Team
Website | + posts

It is officially spring, which means show season is quickly approaching—and has already started for some! After a few restful months off, it can be overwhelming to think about getting everything ready to show again. It is easy to fall into the habit of waiting until the last minute to get it all in order. However, scrambling around the day before a show trying to piece together all your show clothes and supplies is not fun, especially when you find out something is missing or does not fit. Start prepping for horse show season now, so you don’t have to stress about it later. Not sure where to begin? Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Try on your show clothes

It is extremely important to try all your show clothes on at least a month before your first show. Even if you don’t think anything has changed, try them on just to make sure. You do not want to get to the show only to discover you cannot button up your jacket or zip up your chaps. Put on your full show outfit to make sure it feels the same as last year. Give yourself enough time to be able to get alterations done or buy something new. 

Check your trailers

Look over your trailers before the first show. You might need to get it serviced before you haul your horse in it. Check the air pressure in your tires and make sure the brakes and lights are working correctly. For people with LQ trailers or campers, remember to de-winterize them once the weather starts to warm up! 

Start practicing tests and patterns

This is a fantastic way to get in shape for show season. If you do dressage, start working on the tests with your horse, especially if you need to memorize them. For all other disciplines, set up old patterns or courses from last year that gave you trouble so you can sharpen up your skills. 

Lightly pack your trailer

If you show a lot, it is helpful to keep a few basics packed in the trailer throughout show season. It makes it way easier to get ready for shows; all you have to do is throw your tack and your horse in the trailer and you are ready to go. You can keep your grooming supplies, muck bucket, pitchfork, water buckets, feed bowls, hay bags, lunge rope, whips, and wash caddy stored in your trailer from May to October. In order to do this, you have to buy dedicated show versions of all of your supplies, but it is worth it in the long run!

Clean your brushes and grooming supplies

Get last year’s hair and grime off of your brushes, so you have a fresh start for this show season. Soak them in a large bucket or tub and lightly scrub/agitate the bristles to get all the dirt off. Some people recommend adding a little bit of Listerine to the water to help kill germs and bacteria. 

Label all of your supplies

We all know anything horse-related is not cheap. That is why it is important to put your name on all of your supplies at the beginning of the show season. If they go missing, you are much more likely to get them back. It also deters thieves from stealing your property. Write your last name in Sharpie on all of your bottles and add tags or stickers to the rest of your stuff so people know who owns it. 

Clean your tack

Grab some leather cleaner and polish all of your show tack at the beginning of the year. If you have dedicated show tack, it has likely just been sitting in your tack room collecting dust since the last time you showed. A touch-up won’t hurt and will help you give your best impression on the judges. 

Start desensitizing your horse

Make a list of everything your horse struggled with last year and start slowly desensitizing them to it. Then once they get to their first show, they won’t even be phased by it. If your horse is a bad loader, pull your trailer out and start making them more comfortable with it. If they were spooked by flowers in the dressage ring, buy some fake flowers and place them around your arena. You get the idea! It might even be possible to haul them to a competition facility before your first show to ride around and get them acclimated. 


Nobody wants to be unprepared for the first show of the season. Get a head start on your prep now so you can focus on wowing the judges later. It may seem like a chore, but it will make your life a lot easier in the future. When does your show season start? Let us know in the comments below. Good luck and don’t forget to have fun!

Leave a Reply