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    It's Show Time: Essential Gear You Need for the Horse Show

    Authored by Katie Navarra

    Horse shows are a fun way to get to meet other horse lovers and get feedback on the work you’ve put into riding your horse. Whether it’s your first horse show or you’re a season competitor, having the right horse show gear sets you up for a successful day.

    Use these four tips to get started. Chances are the more you show, you’ll add on to these basic supplies to streamline your show prep routine.

    Horse bathing supplies

    You’ve likely heard a picture is worth a thousand words. The image sends a message to the judge— that you’ve spent time preparing. Plus, a judge can’t help but notice a gleaming coat, so a clean, well-bathed horse can help you stand out in the pen.

    Competition level and discipline determine the level of polish and shine your horse needs. Entry level shows are often more casual though do expect a horse to be free from mud and manure stains. Horses at higher level shows glisten.

    Start preparing a week in advance to stand out from the crowd. This is the perfect time to clip and complete more time-consuming tasks.

    Pack a separate grooming and bathing kit to take to the horse show for a stress-free experience. That will also guarantee you’ll have clean brushes to use. Frequently used grooming tools can get dirty over time, and you don’t want that grime to ruin your efforts. 

    What show grooming supplies should I bring

    • An assortment of soft, hard, and body brushes
    • Braiding supplies such as yarn, hair clips, and scissors
    • Clean rags or towels
    • Clippers for last-minute touch-ups
    • Comb for mane and tail
    • Finishing spray to make the horse’s coat glisten
    • Hoof pick
    • Shampoo
    • Rubber brush or grooming mitt
    • Rubber bands for braiding or banding
    • Sponge
    • Spot remover
    • Sweat scraper

    Horse show clothing

    Every horse show has rules that define appropriate horse show apparel. The requirements vary by discipline and from one organization to the next.

    Western riders 

    Western riders have endless show clothing options, which offer customization to fit any budget and style preference. The essentials include:

    In western pleasure, showmanship, and reining, glittery jeweled tops are popular choices. However, ranch horse, cutting, working cow horse, and other western performance disciplines prohibit bling.

    Read the rulebook and talk with other riders about what is appropriate for the horse show you’re entering.

    English and dressage

    English and dressage horse show clothing follows a traditional style, neutral colors, and a more uniform look than you would see in a western pleasure class. The basic outfit includes: 

    • Tall leather boots. Children have the option to wear short jodhpur boots. 
    • Breeches. These must be a light color such as white, tan/fawn, or grey. White is often the preferred choice in dressage, but light-colored breeches are an option. 
    • Button-up shirt (white or light in color). Men wear a tie, and women use a choker or stock tie at the collar for a finished look. 
    • Jacket in a conservative color such as blue, black, or green. 

    Depending on the level of competition and the host, a specific color may even be required. If you’re new to horse showing, attend an event similar to where you would like to compete and observe what others are wearing, or ask your trainer for guidance. 

    Three-day eventing

    Three-day eventing competitors show in three different events: stadium jumping, cross country, and dressage. That means their show clothing wardrobe must include options for all three:

    • English apparel for stadium jumping
    • Dressage clothes specific to that event
    • Sweater, shirt, or base layer top for the cross-country phase, ideally long-sleeved. In the United States, a safety vest is mandatory during warm-up or competition on the cross-country course.

    Organization tools

    Horse showing can be as stressful as it is fun. However, staying organized can help alleviate the pressure of any competitive experience.

    Whether you’re showing out of your trailer or moved into a tack room for a longer event, keeping your horse show gear organized and tidy makes it easy to find your supplies without adding pressure to the day.

    What to bring for organizing at your horse show:

    • Bridle hooks and rack
    • Buckets
    • Dry erase board
    • Hanging saddle rack systems that can include shelves for saddle pads, bridles, and loose items
    • Garment bag for your clothes
    • Portable grooming organizer or tote
    • Saddle rack (with wheels if moving gear in for a multi-day competition)
    • Saddle pad rack

    First aid kit

    Horses are curious by nature and experts at finding ways to get hurt, even at horse shows. Buy supplies to make a first aid kit that can stay in the trailer. That way, you’ll always have the supplies you need away from home.

    Include these essential items in a first aid kit to take to shows:  

    • Adhesive bandage
    • Antiseptic spray
    • Clean cotton gauze
    • Compression wrap
    • Instant use cold pack
    • Hoof-shaped or square poultice pad
    • Thermometer
    • Triple antibiotic

    If you’re travelling a long distance from home or competing in a multi-day horse show, ask your veterinarian for more recommendations.