Show Prep: Winter Edition

Our first show of the new USEF year is coming up this weekend! It’ll be a lot of firsts for us: our first indoor show, our first time trailering in to a rated show, our first time in the 1.10m division, our first winter show with my trainer.

Up until now, I’ve managed to only show in the warmer spring and summer weather because I used to be a smart woman. Alas, my brain fell out when I bought a horse and I transformed into a big dummy that will say yes to any horse show.

A lot of the prep for this show is the same as the summer shows: cleaning and conditioning all tack, loading the trailer/packing my trunk, polishing my boots, reciting prayers to the god of good distances. You know, the usual stuff. But we do have a few things that are a bit different:

Frankie got a haircut. Homeboy got clipped! Originally we were going to do a blanket clip, but when I lost my everloving mind decided that showing in December would be fun, we went ahead and shaved him all over. I was told he was well-behaved for the torture that is body clipping and he looks SO HANDSOME OMG. So shiny and sleek and pretty!!! I worried that the extra cold air might make him a little *spicy* but let’s be real here. It’s Frankie. His version of spicy is picking up the canter when I ask him to trot, then coming back to trot when he realizes that’s what he supposed to do. Not exactly Secretariat. His tail is in good shape and his mane is neatly pulled, so he officially looks like a fancy shmancy show pony.

He literally looks exactly like this

Bridle Break-In 101. The birthday fairy sent me (aka Frankie) a BEAUTIFUL new show bridle off my wishlist, then I spent way too long gazing at it lovingly and left the breaking-in part until this weekend. It has been scrubbed, dunked in oil overnight, and tenderly massaged for a few days- I’ll be riding in it every day this week to get it softer. Any tips for getting the reins to soften up faster? I hesitate to oil them because, you know, grip. And yes- I know I should make the switch to rubber reins. But that’s a solution for a later time. In hindsight, I could have planned this better.


Planning for a long, cold day. We have a junior going in the first classes of the day (Big Eq), and then we’re waiting until literally the last division of the day for the High Adults. Meaning we’ll probs be there around 6am and I’ll be surprised if I’m showing before 3pm. I’m planning to hack Francis around when we get there so I can see the ring (because real talk Frankie doesn’t need to see the ring first. We all know who the neurotic one is in this relationship), then hand-walking him periodically throughout the day. Layers on layers on layers will be the name of the game. And then more layers.


In terms of riding, there’s no final prep work to be done. I will likely make mistakes on course but that’s OK. Our problem-solving skills have come a long way in the last few months and I’m confident that we can safely navigate the courses. Frankie is in great muscle, sound, fit, healthy, and getting more responsive with every ride. We’re ready for the move up!

Any tips for surviving winter shows without dying from frostbite?


25 thoughts on “Show Prep: Winter Edition

  1. Avery 12/12/2016 / 11:28 am

    Good luck! Can’t wait to hear about it next week! You both will do great. Try to have fun. You both will do better and you won’t think about the cold as much…ha!


  2. Karen M 12/12/2016 / 11:30 am

    Oh dang, you need rubber reins!

    The few times I’ve shown when it’s reaaallllyyy cold, I relied heavily on the facility’s ginormous space heaters and a wool cooler. We were mostly inside, so that helped. I’m thinking today, I’d add lots of BoT stuff …


    • hellomylivia 12/12/2016 / 11:50 am

      Seriously, I have NO idea how I don’t have rubber reins yet. I’m thinking a nice toasty wool cooler for Frankie, and then another one for me. Seems fair.


  3. Mag 12/12/2016 / 11:46 am

    Hand and foot warmers-those hot hands things have saved me when riding for 6 hours in 20 degree windchill.


  4. Amanda C 12/12/2016 / 12:03 pm

    I’m pretty sure I said a couple weeks ago “showing in winter is stupid” and then signed up for a January show. So…. brilliant. Try not to freeze to death.


  5. Centered in the Saddle 12/12/2016 / 12:21 pm

    Hand a foot warmers will be your friend. Even to keep in your pocket to grab onto when you can’t feel your fingers anymore! And if you have a good Thermos that keeps beverages hot for a long time, load that thing up with piping hot coffee or cocoa so you can have a nice ongoing supply of warm drinks throughout the day.


  6. tntibbetts 12/12/2016 / 12:25 pm

    Find a sweater that fits under your show coat, but doesn’t show. Nothing is worse than when you are snug in your non-show attire and then have to strip down to go in the ring. I can’t ride very well when I’m so cold it is distracting and this trick helps tremendously. I also find that covering my ears with my hair when I put it under my helmet serves as an ear warmer of sorts. 😉


    • hellomylivia 12/12/2016 / 2:58 pm

      I’m def trying to get some clothes I can wear under my show clothes!! I really don’t want to be shivering as we walk in the ring


  7. Tracy - Fly On Over 12/12/2016 / 12:41 pm

    Totally third the hand and foot warmers. Also if there’s a coffee shop within 20 minutes of the show, be prepared to make trips there… lots of trips there LOL


    • hellomylivia 12/12/2016 / 2:59 pm

      Haha maybe I can just go hang out there for a couple hours and they can call me back when it’s time to warm up?? Please??


  8. Hillary H. 12/12/2016 / 12:59 pm

    Could you use your old broken in reins? Haha. Rubber reins stat.

    Stay warm. I think that people underestimate how cold you get when your head and ears aren’t covered so maybe a good hat?


    • hellomylivia 12/12/2016 / 2:59 pm

      Oh yes I am most definitely using my old reins for this go around, hopefully no one notices they don’t match haha


  9. The Exquisite Equine 12/12/2016 / 1:35 pm

    I work Hunter Shows year around here. NC doesn’t get too cold, but the high at the show yesterday was only 40. For the horses, obviously everyone uses coolers and quarter sheets when standing around. Plenty of hay (and water if they will drink it) will keep them warm, too. Since only the schooling shows and not the rated shows are all winter, the girls typically wear their winter coats. But the concession stand serves hot chocolate and that’s always a huge hit! As well as hand and toe warmers :). Be prepared and you’ll be fine! Have fun!


  10. carey 12/12/2016 / 6:41 pm

    Say yes to shows.
    Bring a thermos or 2 or 3 of hot tea


  11. Heather 12/13/2016 / 5:09 pm

    I preface this by mentioning that my definition of cold is way different from yours, but when I’ve ridden up there in the winter, a pair of sweater tights under my breeches has been awesome. I’m sure actual long underwear or silk or something would be effective too, but I stay nice and toasty in sweater tights, and they’re meant to be a snug fit so I don’t have to worry about weird bunching. Target has them for $9-10 usually, but I’m sure you can find them elsewhere. Also, since it’s a one day show, I honestly would suggest forgoing the show coat, and instead layer with something like a thermal under your showshirt, with a v-neck sweater over that and then whatever jackets you need to stay warm between classes on top of that. I’ve shown in 40ish with just the sweater tights, breeches, show shirt, and sweater and been toasty. And I’m a weenie. And it was outside. Oh and actual gloves meant for winter because there’s nothing like summer leather gloves for sucking the warmth out of your fingers.

    The worst part will be the waiting around, but for that I’d just say wear all the clothes you own.


  12. Stacie Seidman 12/21/2016 / 4:26 pm

    Hand warmers. Blankets. Maybe spike the hot cocoa….
    I think you’ve already showed and probably recapped by now as I’m playing blog catch up… but I hope you had tons and tons and tons of fun!

    Liked by 1 person

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