How to Use Horse Show Downtime

horse show downtime

If you’ve been to a horse show, you know there is a lot of “hurry up and wait.” There is so much time that you have to spend waiting, you might get bored.  You might get so bored that you are even tired of staring at your cell phone! Or, you might decide you’d rather be on your feet, doing barn things while you can.  Great idea! Part of competing and being an effective equestrian is learning how to use your horse show downtime productively. Here are 20 things you can do at the horse show while you are waiting to ride.

Things to Do During Horse Show Downtime:

  1. Check-in at your ring.

You can never be too careful, and ring status changes frequently.  Double-check your ring status to be sure you won’t be late (or early).

  1. Groom or Wash your Horse

Make sure your horse is spotless, and perhaps wearing a sheet or scrim so that he stays that way.  Be sure to check his legs and belly too! Make sure his braids and tail look good, so when it’s time to show, all you have to do is tack up.

  1. Take care of your tack

If your tack isn’t clean- then give it a good scrub, including the bit.  If you will be showing eventually, lay it out neatly so that everything is ready and accounted for.

  1. Help your Team

Check the rings for the rest of your team, and see if anyone needs help getting ready. They may need help with their horse or their tack, and this is a great time to contribute to team spirit and lend a hand, with no strings or expectations attached. 

  1. Learn your courses

If courses are available, go ahead and learn them early.  Even if they are hunter courses, it doesn’t hurt to come to the ring with a baseline understanding of what you will be doing.

  1. Support the Team

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that like anything, when it comes to horse shows, you get out what you put in. Be a cheerleader for all your barnmates, and make a point of watching their classes and providing support. 

  1. Watch your Ring

If there are classes going on at your ring, go and watch.  Try to learn something from the way the course rides for others. 

  1. Check the Aisle

Most barns can use a little help at horse shows keeping things organized.  Keeping things neat at horse shows lends to safety and efficiency. If there is trash or clutter around, help out by putting things in their proper place.  Even better, sweep or rake the aisle! Your trainer and grooms will be your biggest fans!

  1. Pick out your horse’s stall

Even if it’s already been picked, do it again.  Any mess in their stall is bound to end up on the horse somehow, so get ahead of it by making sure their stall stays pristine.

  1. Graze your horse

It’s nice for your horse to get to spend a little “chill time” with you, especially at the horse show. It’s also good for their muscles to keep moving, and their mind to stay relaxed.

  1. Organize your trunk

One of the all-time best activities, organizing your trunk is so rewarding!  It’s so nice to know what you have, where it is, and to have everything look so neat!

  1. Get your trainer lunch- or coffee!

Trainers are so busy at horse shows looking after everyone else, they often don’t get to feed themselves, or generally see to their basic needs.  If you know what your trainer’s favorite drink is, get it! If you think they haven’t had lunch, offer to grab it for them! They will be grateful!

  1. Read the prize list

People rarely really read the prize list cover to cover, but there is a lot of great information in there.  You might read a rule you had missed, or learn about a new tack shop in town. Always good things to know.

  1. Get to know your barnmates better

If there is someone in your barn that you haven’t had the chance to get to know before, take the opportunity to learn more about them.  Everyone has a story, and everyone has something to teach you. Open yourself up.

  1. Make a new friend

Maybe there is someone from another barn, or even another region, that you see often at the horse shows.  Why not approach them and ask about their horse? Everyone loves to talk about their horse, so it’s an easy icebreaker at shows.  It’s always good to have friends and allies in any environment!

  1. Practice taking photos

Taking good jumping photos is a skill that takes a lot of practice, so you could go to the ring and see what you can accomplish.  Or, walk around the barns and try to get some artsy shots. 

  1. Play ring crew

Go help your barn mates when they show.  Bring the ring box, polish boots, paint hooves, and offer a good luck smile. It’s always nice to know people are there to help.

  1. Collect ribbons

If people haven’t had a chance to get back to the ring to find out class results, you can check for them and collect their ribbons.  Be sure to write their name and class on the back, hang them up, and let people know if they won something!

  1. Ask the Grooms or Trainer

If you aren’t sure what to do, ask someone.  They will certainly be able to come up with a job and they will appreciate you asking.

  1. Take some time to be Still. 

Sometimes, when you are getting ready to show, the best thing to do is just take some time by yourself to quiet your brain.  Watch the horses, listen to music, or meditate on your plan. But sometimes, time to be still in a flurry of activity is just what we need. 

For more information on horse shows, reach out to Alicia Wilkinson!

Or, find horse show leases on Instagram!

Jenn Crow
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