Final Show Ring Preparation: 7 Last Minute Checks

Show season is finally here! Yay! You’ve spent all winter (unless you’re lucky and showed some place warm) giving your horse some time off, practicing, learning, setting goals and waiting patiently for show season! So, now that you’ve done all your homework and you can’t wait to get out there, avoid a show ring fumble with these 7 tips on show ring prep. These are the last minute items I like to double check right before I enter the arena.

Make sure to give yourself enough time for last minute quick fixes by arriving at the arena for your class a few minutes early. Each of these items only takes a few seconds or at most a minute, but rushing to the arena won’t leave you time to double check the small details.

Competitor Number(s)

If there’s one necessity that you just can’t enter the show ring without, it’s your entry number(s)! If you show on a circuit where it’s common to wear your numbers on your saddle pad it’s easy to remember them since you’ll put them on when you tack up.

You’ll just need to make sure the number is correct for the horse/rider combination when you saddle up.

If you ride on a circuit where numbers are worn on the rider, try to remember to put your numbers on when you get dressed.

Either way, before you enter the show ring, have your helper, groom, mom, husband, etc. check to make sure your numbers are on and correct.

And, make sure your number(s) whether pinned or tied are straight! A crooked number just looks sloppy and untidy.

Fly Spray

There’s nothing worse than entering a Showmanship class and having your horse get swarmed by flies! If there’s one thing that can ruin your perfect setup and inspection, it’s bugs. You’ve probably spent a lot of time teaching your horse to stand still and ignore the bugs and other distractions, but still, do your horse a favor and spray him down thoroughly!

Maybe you don’t show in any type of in hand classes, you still need fly spray. No one wants a their horse to have to swish their tail around or shake their head due to bugs during a dressage test, flat class, jumper course, equitation class etc.!

Here are some tips about fly spray.

Don’t spray your horse in the arena. Ok, you’re thinking, duh. But, many horse shows have a holding area in or attached to the show ring. The problem is, when you start spraying things in the arena, it gets blown around and could get in another rider or horse’s eye, distract other horses and can just be annoying. Take your horse away from other competitors for last minute fly spraying, show sheen or other sprays.

Next, here’s my absolute favorite fly spray.

I’ve tried a lot of fly sprays and they mostly don’t work well or long enough. I’ve never had good luck with any of the natural brands either. (If you’ve tried one that does, please let me know!) Click this link to check out my other favorite products that I use in my barn: Equestrian Products I Use And Love

Pyranha smells pretty awful, and it’s a little pricey. But, it works! And, to be honest, if you want to save some pennies, just do what I do and use it at horse shows or clinics and use another type at home on the regular. But seriously, it works better than anything else, so it’s worth the money.

Wipe Down Your Boots

I know, you cleaned all of your tack, polished up your horse, got yourself dressed and you’re ready to go. Your clothes and boots are perfectly clean and adjusted properly. But, you walked from the trailer or your horse’s stall to the arena. Or, even if you rode your horse from the warm up pen or barn to the arena, I’ll bet money there is now dust on your boots.

So, wipe down your boots before entering each of your classes! It’s all about the details, so get to the arena with a couple of minutes to spare and take the time to wipe down your boots.

Check Your Tail

If you use a fake tail you might keep it wrapped or tied up to avoid your horse stepping on it. Make sure to let the tail down before you enter the arena. And, check to make sure your tail is secured properly so it doesn’t come out while you ride.

Once you’ve unwrapped and checked your tail, take a minute to neaten the hair, fluff it up as needed and make sure the head of your fake tail is covered by natural hair. You don’t want to have the top of the tail poking out as you trot down the center line!

And, if you don’t use a fake tail, you can still check to make sure your horse’s tail is hanging neatly. Especially if your horse has been swatting at flies!

Wipe Off Slobber

If your horse goes on the bit, you probably have some slobber. Check your horse’s muzzle, your bridle, the sides of the bit and your reins for slobber and wipe them down. You will likely need to wipe slobber off of your horse and equipment several times throughout the day!

Unfold Your Chaps

If you don’t ride western you can skip this step!

But, for western riders, don’t forget to unfold your chaps! If you dismount from your horse in between classes you probably fold your chaps up since they hang down below your boots and are meant to be long.

Most people don’t walk around with them dragging in the dirt and fold them up to keep them clean between classes. If you don’t do this, you should!

So, have your helper pull them down and make sure they aren’t bunched up at the bottom.

Wipe Off Horse

Remember that dusty walk that got your clean boots dirty? Guess what, your shiny, sparkling, beautifully prepared horse might be dusty too! Get your helper to wipe him down. When the dust sticks to coat polish and fly spray it can leave a yucky film on your horse that doesn’t look very attractive.

But the fix is simple! Just wipe him off with one of your cloths!

And, if dust isn’t a problem, there’s a chance your horse got a little hot in the warm up arena even though he was already polished up and ready to enter the ring. Check for any sweat near the girth and use your damp cloth to wipe it off.

Use A Ring Bag To Keep Your Last Minute Supplies Organized

If you have a helper at the show or even if you’re by yourself. Make sure you bring the bag to the ring for each class. This is the easiest way to take care of any last minute fixes without having to run back to the barn or horse trailer or do without. Want to know what I pack to take to horse shows? Check out my complete list in this article: The Ultimate Horse Show Packing List For All Equestrians

A ring bag should be small enough that you can carry it easily, yet it needs to have the space to carry important items. I like to use a small bag that has lots of pockets to keep various tools organized. Below are a couple of bags that are similar to mine.

What should you keep in your arena bag? Here’s a complete list of what I keep in my ring bag. Again, it’s a small bag so only essential items that you may need.

  • hoof pick
  • fly spray
  • damp cloth
  • dry cloth
  • soft brush
  • electrical tape
  • zip ties
  • extra ear plugs
  • safety pins
  • Chapstick
  • water bottle
  • Hair elastic
  • Extra hair net
  • Bobbi pins

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