Early Morning Horse Show Survival Guide



Early horse show mornings can be chaos, especially when your coffee hasn’t kicked in yet. It can be difficult to keep timely and organized when the sun isn’t even in the sky, and the last thing you want right before you show is a bad case of morning madness. These few tips can help you start your show day cool and collected, leading to a focused ring performance and overall a better day — regardless of when you had to wake up.

Early Hunter Derby mornings. Photo courtesy of Shaw Sisters Photography.

At the show the day before:

  • Organize your trunk and tack. Arriving at the show and knowing exactly where your boots, gloves, crop, and other essentials are prevents a frantic search party for a runaway item, aiding you in feeling prepared for your class.
  • Find out information about your class. Knowing about what time it will start, how many people are in it, and whether there’s an order of go allows you to make a more informed decision as far as when you should arrive the next day. The more knowledge you have, the more comfortable you’ll feel.
Equitation in the A.M. at the Kentucky Horse Park.
Photo courtesy of Shaw Sisters Photography.

The night before:

  • Lay out the clothes you are planning to wear. This ensures that you won’t have to waste time debating what to put on or hunting down your other riding sock. Making decisions at four in the morning doesn’t always go so well, so this is a fail-proof way to avoid disaster.
  • Pre-pack what you want to bring to the show. Whether it’s snacks, a water bottle, or homework, having it ready to grab on your way out the door gives you one less thing to worry about when getting ready.
  • Ensure you will wake up at the correct time. Setting multiple alarms or having someone else check that you’re awake are great ways to prevent the oh-so-fun consequences of oversleeping. Waking up at the intended time leads to a smooth start to what could be quite a long day.
Battling morning shadows in the Amateur Owner Hunters.
Photo courtesy of Shaw Sisters Photography.

Morning of:

  • Arrive at the show with plenty of time. Despite good planning, things don’t always go as expected, so getting to the show with spare time helps lessen the severity of potential mishaps.
  • Double check your class information. Confirm that the details you received about your class the day before are still correct, for sometimes classes can be combined or separated, or the schedule can be rearranged. Corroborating your previous knowledge can aid in preventing you from being caught off guard and thrown into chaos.
Crisp morning air. Photo courtesy of Jordan Cobb.

Some mornings are just going to be wild and disorderly, but following these tips can help avoid complete catastrophes and increase your chances of a peaceful, smooth morning, no matter the hour at which you had to get up. Make 2018 the year you control your early horse show mornings, preparing yourself for a focused, confident ride. Sip your coffee and enjoy the sunrise knowing you have set yourself up for success, and make dreadfully stressful mornings a thing of the past.

About the Author: Ashley Shaw is a senior at Lafayette High School in St. Louis, MO. She trains with Shannon Hicks and competes in the Junior Hunters and Junior Jumpers, and her goal is to qualify for the Devon Horse Show next year. Outside of riding, she enjoys photography, cooking, and hanging out with her retired horses.

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