What to Pack in Your Pony Finals Survival Bag

Photo by Evelyn Szczepanek/ES Equine Photography

By Tatum Mitchell

Pony Finals is an experience many young riders dream of—a wonderland of ponies, ribbons, and hopefully more smiles than tears. Preparing for any horse show can be a daunting task, and I know from personal experience that forgetting just one thing can lead to a catastrophe. 

I personally have learned to always pack an abundance of snacks. At one horse show, I forgot my usual snack bag, so naturally I resorted to the peppermint bowls by the ingate. I ate 20 peppermints—sadly, I counted—throughout the course of one day. My flat class later that afternoon did not go as planned. 

To save someone else from a similar fate, I asked some seasoned trainers to share their packing list for their Pony Finals survival bag. 

Abby Blankenship, Trainer at Three Ships LLC

Personal survival bag:

  • Gum
  • Face wipes
  • Pens and notebook
  • Sunglasses
  • Hand sanitizer 
  • Energy powder for my water 
  • Spray deodorant 
  • Usually nuts or some sort of small snack 

For riders:

  • Mints or your preferred treats
  • Sunscreen
  • Boot polish kit 
  • Spurs
  • Gloves
  • Extra hair ties and hairnets 
  • Water bottle
  • Small snack bar or something so you don’t get starving 

“Just have everything you need,” she says, “so your trainer knows you are trying to be prepared and you can focus on the riding part.” 

Missy Jo Hollingsworth, Trainer at Saddle Lake Equestrian

  • Your luckiest bows
  • Thank you gift for all that made it possible 
  • Realistic expectations

Alivia Hart, Rider at Erin Duffy Show Stables

Pack an extra of everything:

  • Crop
  • Modeling supplies
  • Spurs 
    • “You never want to be caught off guard in the event of a faulty item,” Hart says.
  • Snacks 
  • Sunscreen
  • Electrolytes 
    • “[Be sure to pack] anything that is going to keep you feeling your best if you get stuck waiting all day at the ring,” she says.
  • Journal
    • We love this advice! “The whole experience can be a bit overwhelming,” Hart says, “so bringing something like a journal can be a great outlet to get out of your head and clear your mind of any unwanted thoughts or distractions that may affect you in the ring.”

Abbi Ferrigno, trainer from Rabbit Hill Farm

“Everyone’s arsenal of tricks is different. I think we are pretty different in our approach,” says Ferrigno. “Our goal is just to make our ponies look as elegant as possible and go nicely but beyond that I think our ultimate goal is that our kids enjoy themselves and have an educational experience.”

When you’re getting ready for the model don’t forget:

  • Baby oil
  • Baby powder 
  • Corn starch
  • Horse spray paint
  • Boot polish
  • Treats
  • Tic Tacs
  • Crinkley things — “For the [riders] to walk into models with.”
  • Hoof oil
  • Hair spray 
  • L’Oréal root cover —“For chestnut legs.”
  • Lots and lots of towels
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