Show Season Commeth

It’s Show Time!


Plan on losing everything at least once, and practice finding stuff.   That will help.  Think of it as part of your test.  You already know the other stuff.

Groupies:  (those of us who don’t show, but tag along to help)

  • Book block(s) of pre-show appointments with therapist(s)
  • Be sure to put all therapists numbers on SPEED DIAL in your cell
  • Practice your sooooothing voice
  • Bring lots of Kleenex: if asked, it’s for your allergies
  • Chill the champagne but hide it, in case it doesn’t quite work out
  • Copy show checklist (rider will lose every thing.  Not her fault, it’s Murphy’s Law.  We fly under Murphy’s radar.)
  • Bring extra:
    • safety pins
    • breeches-color thread and needle
    • baby wipes
    • hairnets
    • bobby pins
    • duct tape
    • sit tight wax
    • show gloves
    • stock tie
    • boot rags (white!)
    • lint roller
    • fruit (every rider is too fat to eat pre-ride.  Occasionally you can stuff a banana down them.)
    • Gatorade (for the rider who won’t eat, but is fainting from heat)
    • donuts (no rider is fat after her ride)
    • map (doesn’t matter how often you’ve been to show grounds. No map?  You will get lost.)
    • sedative (for you)

I don’t show.  I’m a professional groupie.  My job is to keep track of who is up next, stuff myself on all the food you brought that you will be too fat to eat until 2:07pm, fix the braids Flicka caught on the trailer, and stand around with bottled water, a lint roller, riding crop, and boot rag.

I’m kind of a happy, mobile valet-slash-coatrack-slash-therapist.  Unlike a trainer, I have no advice beyond chin up, thrust the bust, and smile, you are having FUN! Remember?  This is fun?

Three things you should NEVER say to a rider starting to melt down at a show:

  1. “That was…good.”
  2. “You’ll laugh at this tomorrow.”
  3. “I can see the red underwear through your breeches.”

Experienced groupie show tack tips below:

Dressage bridle:

If it’s lined in white leather, apply a couple of coats of clear shoe wax (I use Kiwi brand.) preferably right after you buy bridle, before it goes on the horse.  Use wax only on the white part of cavesson and brow band.  Dirt, sweat, and, uh stuff wipe right off with a damp rag, and the white stays bright.  Reapply as needed.  This will be more often than you feel inclined to do.  Stay away from leather cleaner on white leather, it will darken and gray over time.  Use it normally on the rest of the bridle though!

Keeping dressage pads white:

Problem isn’t the wash.  It’s our boots.  Stay away from black shoe polish on the inside of your tall boots.  It’s going to be next to the horse anyway.   You can use clear shoe wax just on the inside of new boots, or try it on the inside of older boots, if you simply MUST blacken the inside.  Use only on the surfaces that will touch the pad.  (or horse, if you own a gray)

f you’re worried about slippage problems, don’t buff the last coat of clear wax very well.  It will give you some grip.  Caution: clear wax can look a bit spotty when used over black polish after a few rides, which is why you don’t want to use it on the entire boot.

Saddle cleaning:

Some saddle balms facilitate the transfer of leather dye (even on GOOD saddles) to your nice white $300 breeches.  Go ahead and use the balm…as needed, but clean your saddle with plain saddle soap prior to showing,  leaving ample time for it to dry, and save the balm treatment for later.  Balm also attracts dust.

Old toothbrushes are great for scrubbing goop off of stitching, and getting in tight corners.

Bit Shining:

You will get better scores if your horse isn’t making Frankenstein faces because the bit tastes nasty.  Clean the bit with toothpaste (no baking soda formulas: nothing scratchy).  You can use metal polish on the rings, or whatever part doesn’t go in the horse’s mouth.

There.  We’re all prepared.  I think.  Maybe.  Any other groupie, groom, or show mom tips you’d like to add?

2 thoughts on “Show Season Commeth

  1. The entire backseats of our truck have all said piles of stuff for the hunting/hunt test/field trial seasons. I am a little paranoid and have duplicates or substitutes of virtually everything — collars, vests, stopwatches, raincoats, footwear. Used to have just one ‘Lucky Hat’ but it drowned in a VA rainstorm. Now I’m trying to identify which of three or four blaze-orange baseball caps is its suitable replacement.

    Don’t know anything about showing horses (or dogs for that matter). But I admire your compulsion.


    1. I’m thinking men tend to be better at this sort of thing when showing?

      Okay. Whoever threw their hunt coat at me, stop! Women ask for directions well, men pack well. In my family at least, the men made it a point of pride to remember even the most obscure little thing when camping. (Except the food. That was a memorable trip.)

      But for all us OCD types out there, men or women, let’s translate: duplicates are not paranoid, they’re thorough and prepared. Doesn’t that sound better than paranoid and creepily organized? (Which is how I think of myself.) It’s all in the framing!

      Keep us posted on how you’re enjoying your show season!

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