A few weeks ago someone on Instagram asked me to do a post about my pre-show routine. I had to laugh at that, because clearly y’all don’t understand what a garbage human I am if you think I might actually have a regimented routine that’s worth sharing with anyone. I started to wonder if I’m accurately representing myself in this blog… or if some of you have just forgotten that I’m the idiot who once showed up at an event without either of my saddles. I’m also like 50/50 at best for whether or not I remember my helmet camera at all, and then remember to charge it, and then remember to wear it, and then remember to actually turn it on. Not exactly a shining example of someone you should be trying to emulate here, y’all.
But hey, if you want to know my typical pre-show routine, I’ll shoot it to you straight.
Usually on Thursday night before the show (assuming we’re leaving on Friday. Push this back a day if we’re not leaving until Saturday, obviously, because why would I ever think more than a day in advance?) I start trying to find all my show clothes. My show coat is either hanging in my closet, if I was feeling particularly fancy about myself after the last show, or it’s still in the coat bag in the back of my truck. My shirts are probably lost in the basket of clean clothes that I sometimes put away but usually don’t. My breeches are definitely still dirty, and probably balled up in the corner of the closet, with my show belt still in the loops. My show saddle pads and XC boots are either still in the trailer or sitting on top of the dryer, still dirty.
Now, because I’ve waited until the last possible second to do any of this, I get to scrub everything with Shout and do a few loads of whites, probably consuming most of a container of Oxyclean in the process. Lord help the laundry room during all this, the Shout and Oxyclean end up all over the place like I was trying to clean up a very intense murder scene or something.
My tack, lord help it, is probably not clean yet either. I always dunk my bit after I ride to get the gunk off, and I wipe down my girths regularly with a rag. That’s about it for daily maintenance. My deep cleaning and conditioning happens the night before the show itself, usually while I’m sitting in front of my horse’s stall going over my dressage test in my head. Unless it’s a teeny tiny jumper show or something, then yeah I’m not cleaning shit.
As for the horses, they are much more well-maintained and don’t require much prep. I keep manes trimmed regularly, I chop off fetlock hair like an obsessive lunatic (okay, confession, I hate feathers or long fetlock hair, it makes me twitchy), and I keep the top of Henry’s tail trimmed up. There is rarely much special prep to do for them aside from touch up the bridle path or re-bang the tail. If it’s a big show I’ll dye Henry’s tail a couple weeks before, but I’m less psycho about that now than I used to be. I do keep a can of black aerosol spray in my trunk though, because sunbleached tails come in really close behind feathers and long manes in my book. Clearly I have hair issues, which is kind of ironic if you look at the terrible disaster that is happening on my own head right now. When was the last time I even had a haircut?
What I don’t do these days is trim whiskers or ear hair. I stopped doing that years ago. Instead my horses have extensive ear bonnet collections (yes, Presto already has 2 bonnets despite not actually having any circumstance in which he would wear one, why are you judging me right now?) that cover the ear fuzz. I had a dressage person tell me that none of the cool people in their world clip noses anymore either, since the Europeans don’t, so who knew I was trendy?
The horse area of my trailer is always clean and well-bedded, I’m a stickler about that too. The tack room may or may not look like a tornado ran through it though, depending on what I’ve been doing lately. I keep a lot of my show-specific items in there so I don’t have to remember to pack all that stuff – stud kit, muck cart, buckets, etc. The less I have to pack, the less likely I am to forget things.
I pack all of Henry’s stuff the day before we leave. His food and hay and supplements are usually the first things in the trailer (including extras of all 3, of course), along with his wide collection of clothing (what do you mean it seems a bit ridiculous to have 6 different sheets/blankets/coolers for a 2 day horse show?), etc. My tack and tack trunk go in last. I’m super paranoid these days about compulsively checking to make sure I got both saddles and all 3 bridles, because I will definitely never live it down if I make that mistake again. The people I hang out with are jerks.
All my clothes tend to get packed the morning of, maaaaaybe the night before if they’re dry in time. Will I remember to bring non-riding clothes for myself, or pajamas, or my toothbrush? You never know. I will always have extra breeches though, and probably a few shirts, a couple belts, my designated pairs of show socks, a couple stock ties, two pairs of boots, and 2-3 helmets. I’m pretty good about remembering to pack all of my camping stuff too, which may or may not actually still be in the back of my truck from the last show. Does it count as packing if I never actually unpacked it? Let’s go with yes.
I will probably remember to go to the store the night before and grab a few things to eat. It will never be enough, but it will definitely include Pop-Tarts for Henry, one of his special horse show treats. I also NEVER remember to grab water. I’m perpetually dehydrated at horse shows because I can remember to pack 6 items of clothing for my horse but can’t ever remember to pack drinks for myself. I will even stop at a gas station on my way to the barn that morning and get a bag of ice to fill my Yeti so that I can ice Henry’s legs at the show, but I still won’t remember to grab anything to drink. If not for the show moms who are perpetually thrusting water bottles at me when I look like I might pass out, I would probably be dead by now. Let’s be honest.
Did I remember my helmet camera? WHO KNOWS. Did I remember to charge the battery that inflates my air mattress? WHO KNOWS. Did I remember to pack nude-colored underwear so that no one has to see neon through my whites? WHO KNOWS. These are all surprises that we’ll find out when I get there. Living life on the edge.
So basically – if you need to get a horse ready for a show or pack all of their stuff, I’m your gal. But when it comes to being an actual adult human… I’m a hot mess.