August 05, 2009

Preparing for Shows

A blogger friend recently wrote about how she prepares for shows, and I found it really interesting to see how other people go about tasks like that. So I thought I'd write up how I tend to prepare for shows, and I'd be interested to hear how some of you do things differently and any tips you have as well.
I am a bit of a lists girl, and if you don't already have a good starting point I would suggest taking a look at the WEC Noticeboard's 'what to take to horse shows' list. It is a really good place to start, and of course you customise it for your own needs over time. I group my lists by discipline (what I'm taking to do flat classes at an A&P is quite different to what I'm taking for an eventing outing), and then make any little notes for special needs that particular horses might have - for example most of my horses don't showjump in bellboots, but Neo does - so I've made a little note under my SJ list to help ensure I don't forget.
Once you have your lists set for the season it makes things a lot easier. 2 days before a show I will flick through and check that everything I need is in the truck (and anything that isn't, I make a note to grab it and put it in the truck), I also use this as a chance to clean gear if it's needed, and run my eye over stitching and other safety checks.
Sometime in the week leading up to a show I will do some form of schedule for the day. It depends a lot on exactly what I'm doing and how much information I have as to what I write up - but here are some examples. This first one is a local single-day dressage outing. I had a late start, and knew where I was going so didn't put any travel info on. But I had quite a few horses in different classes, and sometimes with close times.. so I broke my day down by hours and noted where I was supposed to be (and on which horse!):
By contrast, this next one is for a 3-day A&P show that I was staying away for. I did not put times on, as I expected to get that info from the catalogue - but I put class numbers down so that I could quickly locate my starts in the catalogue. Due to riding in a number of different types of classes I also noted that so I could be sure to have the horses tacked correctly for their different starts.
The last example here is for a 1-day show with a reasonably early start. When I have quite an early start I like to put in some travel time information so that I can check off as the morning is progressing (make sure I'm loaded by the time I thought I would be!). This also helps me plan just how much time I will need to get ready before my first class, as it's far quicker to get ready for a showjumping round than it is for dressage - so I ensure I plot my times accordingly.
The night before a show I gather all of the 'non-truck' items and pop them in the truck, or put them in a pile in the lounge (usually things like the cameras that are still charging). I also put out what I am going to wear in the morning, because even though I'm a morning person I still like to make things as easy as possible when I'm getting up before 5am. My aim is always that the only things I am putting in the truck on the day of a show are me (& handbag) and the horses. Everything else should be ready to go. I have travelling boots & wraps in piles and tie each horse up next to their correct pile of boots.
I do keep spares in the truck of riding clothes and casual clothes - to be prepared for torrential downpours, unexpected falls and the resulting grass stains, or even having to stay over due to road closures (the joy of doing many of my shows on the other side of the Rimutaka road). I also have a small stash of feed & hay in case the horses need extra. Oh, and spare halters & ropes (you'd think it was for if one got broken, but it's way more likely that I use them when I come home with extra horses! I'm naughty like that).
Everything in the truck has it's own place, and at the end of the day I try to put things back in their correct place (or if they are wet or need washing, like XC boots and saddle blankets) I throw them in the shower so they don't make anything else damp.
I guess everyone has their own little systems and tricks for making show day less stressful, and I certainly find that doing up lists and timetables makes a huge difference for me.