An Adult Amateur’s Guide to Horse Show Prep

Hi, my name is Olivia, and I’m addicted to lists.

For real though, lists 5ever for EVERYTHING. Grocery lists, chore lists, to-do lists, wishlists, packing lists, I will make a list for everything ever. When I’m overwhelmed at work? I stop and make a list of what needs to get done. Lists are soothing.

But one of my favorite lists that has evolved over the years has been my horse show prep checklist. This has gone through many iterations as I’ve grown and learned- it had its beginnings back in middle school when I was doing the Short Stirrup division.

Back in those days, my trainer would swing by my house to pick me up in the wee hours of the morning. Having inherited the punctuality gene from my non-Greek parent, I was very determined to be ready for him. So ready, in fact, that my morning checklist had times associated with every item. Including putting on socks. That sucker was detailed. 5am: wake up. 5:02am: go to the bathroom. 5:03am: wash face. All the way up to 5:45am: get in the car. Just ask my parents, they saw it all in action.

But I don’t think you’re all interested in how long it took middle-school-me to put on each article of clothing. Instead, here’s how I prep for shows as an adult!

The day before:

  1. Do a nice relaxing ride on the beast. Keep it simple and fairly short and let her stretch around. Some people like to give their ponies the day off before a show, but Beastly and I definitely need that time to have fun together.
  2. Give the Beast a bath. She’s going to roll in mud and poop overnight anyways, but this just feels like something I should do. If nothing else, I try to get her mane and tail a little whiter. Proceed to cry intermittently about how unfair it is that your friend gets to ride a dark bay with ZERO chrome.
  3. Clean tack. I usually keep my tack wiped down and in good condition, so this isn’t too onerous. I’ll be extra careful to condition well so we get a nice gleam on the leather, and I’ll pay attention to any grime built up around buckles and keepers. Then the saddle goes in the cover and the bridle gets put in the bridle bag. (Side note: for me, this process also includes changing bits to the Pelham)
  4. Pack my grooming tote. My trainer has lots of grooming stuff available in the trailer anyways so I don’t get too fussed about this, but I do throw a few things together:
  • Hoofpick
  • Soft brush
  • Curry comb
  • Small towel
  • Treats
  • Vetwrap
  1. Load the trailer. I’m lucky enough that my trainer has a 4 horse trailer that we almost always use, and it has a nice big dressing room. I always make sure to have all these things in there
  • Saddle
  • Bridle
  • Girth (and maybe a spare if I’m feeling SUPER prepared)
  • Grooming tote
  • Fleece pad if it’s a hunter show, half-pad if it’s a jumper show (if we’re doing the jumpers, we use AP pads that have our barn logo on it under the half-pad so I don’t worry about packing those)
  1. Confirm that Trainer’s collection of 239487 show coats are still there just in case this list doesn’t work and I forget to bring my show coat. Which actually happened one time.
  2. Clean Beastly’s boots. I like to trailer her in her boots, so I’ll brush those down to get rid of any sweat or mud that’s accumulated. Then I hang them on her stall door so I don’t forget them in the morning.
  3. Get out her nice halter and leadline. These are relics from my past show days when my parents funded things, so we have a very fancy leather lead with my name on a brass plate, and a fancy halter that says Starlight Express. Totally not her name. Turns out my studly Holsteiner and my albino elephant have a very similar head size.
  4. Bribe pony with treats and kisses to not kill me the next day.

Then I go home and prep my own gear!

  1. Lay out exactly what clothing I’ll be leaving the house in. That usually means my show pants, boot socks, hiking boots, an undershirt, maybe my show shirt/polo, fleece sweatshirt (depending on weather), and my beloved Pony Farm hat. This way I don’t have to rummage through drawers in the wee hours of the morning.
  2. Lay out other show clothing to bring. For hunter shows this is probably my show shirt and jacket, but for jumper shows I generally just wear my polo all day. I always mean to bring a raincoat. I never remember to bring a raincoat.
  3. Polish my tall boots. Sometimes I’ll do this while I’m cleaning tack since the soap is out anyways, and sometimes I do this at home. Once they’re nice and shiny I put them in their boot bag to protect them.
  4. Pack my show backpack. I’ve heard some polarizing things about show backpacks, but mine has been absolutely invaluable. I’ll put my wallet, checkbook, sunglasses, glasses, and Coggins, along with any other necessary paperwork in one pocket. A change of clothes/jacket goes in the big pouch. My crop, gloves, spurs, and helmet all have their place along with a pocket for my water bottle. No need for a purse!
  5. Knock back some ZZQuil and go to sleep! Judge me if you must, but I like to get more than 6 hours of sleep. If I’m going to be up at 4a-5a, this means I want to be drooling on my pillow by 10p. That’s not that much earlier than I usually go to bed, but early enough that I like to get a little chemical help to zonk out.

Now on to the day of the show!

  1. Don’t bother with makeup, just get dressed, grab all my gear that’s waiting by the front door, and hit the road.
  2. Once at the barn, make sure Beastly and any other horses heading to the show get their breakfast.
  3. While she’s eating, identify the poop/mud spots and attempt to curry them out. Mentally talk yourself into believing that the judge won’t care if your gray looks like a paint.
  4. Braid and wrap Beastly’s tail. I don’t mean fancy shmancy braiding, I mean a basic braid down to the very end. This makes it much easier to wrap up with an Ace bandage. I do this because her butt is up against the wall in the trailer and if I don’t, her tail will be entirely crusted over with manure by the time we arrive at the show. It’s super cute. As is, I have to deal with poopy fetlocks.
  5. Triple check the trailer and my car to make sure I have everything while Unicorn finishes her breakfast.
  6. Get her boots on, her fancy lead rope and halter, and take her to the indoor. Turn her loose for 10 minutes to get the silly beans out of her system.
  7. Load her on the trailer (always on the driver’s side because she’s always the biggest pony on the trailer) and hit the road!

So there you have it! So far this routine has served me well to arrive on time, in style, and feeling prepared. Whether or not I feel prepared as a rider is a whole different ball game and requires prep much sooner than the day before.

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Bits and Baubles

A collection of random thoughts and factoids about me that don’t warrant their own post right now:

    • I recently got a super cool hat from Target and have been wearing it every day. I realized there are two types of people that wear hats: hipsters and people who just don’t even GAF  about how they look. I’m clearly not a hipster, so guess I’m in the second category. Who cares, this hat is awesome! (For fantasy nerds, it totally makes me feet like Mat Cauthon from WoT)

hat lady

    • When manfriend’s mom exclaimed over a picture of Addy, “She’s so beautiful! Her mane looks almost golden blonde!” I almost cried. My gray mare looks golden blonde.
blonde addy
Please ignore my face.
    • I absolute love the #rootd hashtag and will spend an hour on Instagram looking through the gorgeous schooling and show get-ups. I wanted to join in by posting my own, but then I realized that I have 3 pairs of breeches and a pair of boots, and I wear the same long sleeved workout shirt for every lesson. I ran out of variety after three tries.

    • After hearing so many horror stories of sisters growing up together and crazy in-laws, I’m so glad that my brothers chose the women that they did to tie down for life. I get to have sisters that I adore and we got to skip the angsty teenage phase!
sisters sisters
These are my sisters, it just took around 14 and 19 years to figure that out.
    • On the other side of the crazy in-laws, I’m so glad that manfriend’s family is totally awesome. They’ve welcomed me in from day one and have given me a home down here where I’m so far from my own home. Lucky me.
    • The cool drawings I have posted around my office are fraudulent. I taped paper to my computer screen and traced like a 5 year old. Someone commented that I was pretty good at drawing Captain America and I just nodded sagely and said it was a special talent.

captain america drawing

    • I’m not a big one for celebrity crushes; I never had posters of Orlando Bloom up around my room or gushed over Brad Pitt. But I’m pretty sure that if the opportunity came for me to be with Chris Evans, I would take it without hesitation (sorry manfriend).

    • One of the nicest coincidences in my adult life is that ombre hair came into style just when I started having to pay for my own haircuts, meaning that I am too cheap to keep dying my hair. I’ve had stylists ask me who did my ombre- turns out my cheapskate roots are trendy!
Processed with VSCOcam with m3 preset
Featured on Insta. But check out those golden ends and muddy roots. Trendz 4 dayz.
    • On the topic of hair: in my head I am blonde, in my stick figure drawings of myself I am blonde, and my first thought on every form that asks for hair color is to fill in “blonde.” I can’t wait for the day when my disposable income reaches my threshold and I can head to the salon to once again end the torment of being a natural brunette.

blondies

    • I am genuinely curious as to how people cleaned their homes before Lysol Wipes were a thing. They’re good for everything.
    • Living with my oldest brother and sister-in-law for six months after I graduated college was waaaay better than I thought it would be. We got to know each other as adults instead of just as siblings and hanging out with them all the time was the best. Weird to know that I not only love them because they’re family, but I also sincerely like them as people.
    • For a couple months during my junior year of college I watched the 2009 Star Trek movie on Netflix at least once every single week. When they took it off the Instant lineup, I bought it on iTunes so I never have to go without. I still don’t get sick of that movie and it’s my go-to when I can’t think of anything else. Love original Star Trek too, but definitely a big fan of the reboot.
young-punk-kirk
GEE I WONDER WHY. But seriously, space battles = favorite.
    • Movie soundtracks are the modern equivalent of classical music and I love them. John Williams, James Newton Howard, Howard Shore, all of them. I once got so worked up about the Star Wars soundtrack that I wrote a 11.5 page essay explaining how it changed cinema (y’all don’t even realize how groundbreaking it was) and I’m getting worked up just thinking about it.
    • I don’t drink coffee. I did for a couple months ’cause I thought that’s what grown adults do, but it’s not really my jam. Cold water wakes me up way more without making me jittery. I’m not a soda person either, so the caffeine in a cup of tea is enough to keep me buzzing. To the point where I cannot have anything with caffeine in it after 1pm if I want to sleep that night. Decaf tea for the win!

Hope you enjoyed this brain dump and learned a little bit about the lady behind the blog! Stay warm and enjoy your weekend!

6 Ways I Beat the Winter Blues

I’m a list person and always have been: from the days when I would check off every article of clothing I had to don for a horse show, to the neatly filled out homework planner in college, to my detailed moving checklist a few months ago.

When I found myself facing the winter blues (this deserves its own post) yet again, I decided to tackle it in my favorite way: make a list. For your viewing pleasure, here are 6 ways I came up with to stay cheerful when the sun is hiding.

6-ways-i-beat-winter-blues

  1. Stay active. Don’t skip out on barn days or gym days just because it’s cold or you’re tired. It’s going to be cold and you’re going to be tired for months and you can’t stop doing the things you enjoy just because of that. Don’t stop moving and fidgeting and going on walks.
  2. Get some inspiration from others. I’ve mentioned before that I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated solely to beautifully positive thoughts– it’s great to lean on when the positivity isn’t flowing internally.
  3. Stay hydrated. I can’t stress this enough; when I don’t get enough water I start to slow down, my skin gets uncomfortable, and I feel like a blob. This was my single most influential lifestyle change that helps me feel better mentally, not just physically.
  4. Get a creative outlet. It doesn’t have to be a watercolor masterpiece and it doesn’t have to be advanced digital design, but creative streaks still need attention. Getting to write for this blog and my new nightly journal are ways I’m fostering that. (Side note- my new sister gave me this journal for Christmas and it’s the perfect balance of guided creativity! I never miss a night)
  5. Make friends, and then make plans with those friends. I am embarrassingly terrible at making friends as an adult, Dear Reader. It’s hard! There’s no automatic shared bond of the same stressful school, people have crazy work schedules, and established groups of friends sometimes aren’t looking for another member. Spending time at the barn and with similarly-aged coworkers has me slowly emerging from my shell.
  6. Fake it ’til you make it. Smile, laugh, and joke until your face hurts. This almost never fails to give me a boost, even on down-days. On the rare occasion that this doesn’t make me feel entirely better, there is at least the satisfaction of knowing that other people get cheerful attention instead of sullenness.
  7. Give yourself a break. Pushing myself to be active and happy and cheerful when I’m fighting against brain chemistry isn’t always going to work. No matter what, there will be so-so days. And that’s fine. Like Annye from An Amish Warmblood said, those “zero days” are needed. On those days it is OK to curl up under a blanket and ignore all the to-do lists. It is OK to read for 6 hours straight instead of grocery shopping and folding laundry. Binge watching Criminal Minds won’t ruin your month. Giving in for that one day makes it easier to push the rest of the time- I call them “mood cheat days.”

That last point is probably what’s allowed me to relax into happiness more easily this winter than I ever have. I’m going to push myself to get out there and keep my mood up, but I’m not going to fight myself to do that.

Just a little bit longer until the sun and warmth comes back, and I can’t wait!

How do you beat the winter blues?