Ultimate Horse Show Checklist

by Michelle Drum April 20, 2021 5 min read

Horse Show Season Checklist

Show days are exciting, but they can be stressful, too! You’ve got a lot of things to pull together to make sure you’re prepared for your competition. The trick to maintaining your sanity when you’re getting ready is a horse show checklist that includes everything you need to be prepared for your big day. Here’s a horse show survival kit you can use and customize to your specific needs.

How To Prepare for a Horse Show

If you’ve never been to a horse show before, it’s a great idea to check one out so you can see what it’s like before participating in your first show. Once you know what to expect, you can prepare for your own show more effectively. Here’s a horse show prep timeline to guide you.

2-3 Days Before Your Show

A couple of days before your show, look over your truck and horse trailer to ensure everything is working. Clean it out (a great way to burn off extra energy from nerves!) and lay some fresh shavings if you use them. Fill up the gas tank and hook up the truck and trailer, making sure everything is secure.

Then, pull out your clothes and make sure they are in great condition, clean, and well-pressed. Hang them neatly in a garment bag to make sure they stay clean, and pack a backup outfit just in case. Clean and polish your boots and brush your helmet, and put them in a bag or case to keep them clean. Pack your truck and trailer using the checklist shared below. 

You’re going to give your horse a special grooming session before the show. So now, when you’re not rushed, is a great time for body clipping and mane pulling. 

1 Day Before Your Show

Give your horse a bath, and don’t forget proper hoof care as well. Spend extra time cleaning your horse, and focus on his mane and tail, brushing them out well. If you will braid your horse’s tail and he will leave it in, do that the day before. Otherwise, take care of it on the morning of your competition. 

Clean and polish your bridle and saddle with saddle soap and a leather conditioner, and polish the silver as well. Pack your tack in padded bags and get them loaded onto the trailer. 

Fill up the feed bin or hay net in your trailer. Prepare your horse’s wraps, or shipping boots if he wears them, and if you blanket your horse, get that ready as well. Grab some snacks and water for yourself, too. Review the checklist and pack up anything you will need that you won’t use the morning of the show. And that’s all for now. It’s a big stress reliever not to be rushing around doing all of this on show day!

Show Day

Arrive early to be sure you have plenty of time to get ready. Take some of that time to get familiar with the grounds, turn in your paperwork, and pick up your show number.  Since you groomed your horse the previous day, show day should just be touch-ups for your horse and tack. Wipe down your horse with a clean cloth, brush out his tail, and braid his mane if you didn’t do that the night before. Take time dressing, and make sure both you and your horse look your best. You’re ready to go!

Horse Show Checklist

Here’s a list of all of the different things you may want to bring. More details about each item are listed below. Be sure to customize this list for what you want or need to bring with you to the show.  

  1. Paperwork — All of the documents you will need to participate in the show
  2. Grooming supplies — Anything you’ll need to keep your horse looking his or her best
  3. Horse tack — The equipment and accessories your horse will need
  4. Horse tack care — The supplies to keep your tack in great shape and working properly
  5. Rider attire and supplies — Everything you will need as a rider in your competition
  6. Horse care — Food and supplies your horse will need
  7. First aid supplies — Supplies to care for both you and your horse
  8. Miscellaneous — Anything else you might need


  • Registration papers
  • Health papers and permits (and proof of negative Coggins)
  • Horse insurance card
  • Membership papers 
  • Rule book
  • Contact information and location for the show facility

Grooming Supplies

  • Soft and stiff brushes
  • Currycomb
  • Mane and tail comb
  • Hoof pick and polish
  • Bucket and sponges
  • Shampoo, conditioner, spray-on coat conditioner, and mane and tail detangler
  • Towels 
  • Sweat scraper
  • Clippers
  • Yarn for braiding
  • Scissors
  • Tail wrap
  • Some optional supplies: fly spray or insect repellant, baby powder or cornstarch, baby oil, plastic razor, and rubber bands

Horse Tack & Tack Care (Horse Trailer Packing List)

  • Tack trunk
  • Saddle, saddle pad, girth, saddle soap or leather cleaner, saddle oil, and an old toothbrush for cleaning saddle stitching
  • Bridle, bits, show halter and lead, reins (and an extra pair)
  • Martingale and/or tie-down
  • Extra stirrup leathers and stirrup-iron pads
  • Halter and lead rope
  • Protective boots and/or wraps
  • Sponges and/or cloths
  • Paper towels
  • Bucket
  • Metal polish
  • Bit wipes
  • Hole punch

Rider Attire and Care

  • Your show attire and a backup outfit, including breeches, shirt, jacket, boots, hair net, stock and stock pin, helmet, and gloves 
  • Grooming apron or coveralls
  • Hat brush, boot polish and rags, and towels
  • Hair comb or brush, spray and/or gel, bobby pins, and mirror
  • Rain jacket and boots
  • Stain remover and a sewing kit with scissors

Horse Care

  • Feed, feed bucket, and treats
  • Hay and hay net
  • Water buckets
  • Supplements
  • Stall fans and electrolytes, if needed
  • Manure fork, wheelbarrow or bucket, and broom
  • Optional: fly net or fly mask and a horse blanket

First Aid Supplies

  • Your vet’s phone number and a local vet contact
  • First-aid book 
  • Complete vet kit, including disinfectant, triple antibiotic ointment, and an anti-inflammatory
  • Non-stick gauze pads and non-stick bandage or vet wrap
  • Blunt-ended scissors 
  • Thermometer
  • Human first aid kit, including a pain reliever
  • Liniment
  • Eye flush
  • Sunscreen
  • Chemical ice pack

Don't forget a thing with our Horse First Aid Kit Essentials guide.

Miscellaneous Items

  • Credit cards and cash
  • Cell phone and optional camera
  • Copy of show schedule or class list
  • Jumper cables, jacks, spare tire, tools, flashlight, batteries, and emergency flares
  • Extra clothes
  • Rain poncho and sunscreen
  • Supplies like plastic bags, paper towels, antibacterial wipes, duct tape, bungee cords, and extension cords
  • Insect repellant
  • Ice chest
  • Drinks and snacks
  • Reading material
  • Folding chairs

Printable Horse Show Checklist

Horse shows are fun, but packing can get overwhelming. Print our Horse Show Checklist to make life easier.

Horse Show Checklist


Knowing How to Prepare for a Horse Show Brings Confidence

Knowing that you have a plan for your horse show prep will help to calm your nerves and give you confidence that you’re ready for the competition. Be sure to personalize your checklist so you have the things with you that you are most comfortable using. 

Horse shows are exciting, and you want to bring your “A-game” to every competition. Make sure to leave yourself ample time to get ready, and thoroughly prepare by using a customized checklist so you don’t have to worry about forgetting a single thing. Good luck, and have fun! 

You Might Also Like:

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in Barn Blog

rider wearing Ariat breeches
5 Best Ariat Breeches and Tights for Women

by Michelle Drum October 22, 2021 4 min read

Ariat's reputation for crafting quality breeches has made Ariat a popular choice for English riders in the US and internationally. In this post, we’ll showcase five pairs of Ariat’s most popular women’s breeches and tights. We’ll point out the unique features of each pair and discover what makes Ariat riding breeches and tights so popular with riders.
Rider in Ariat Horse Riding Boots
9 Best Horse Riding Boots

by Michelle Drum October 20, 2021 5 min read

A good pair of horse-riding boots will keep you confident on your horse and allow you to perform at your peak. But it can be challenging to know which boots to choose. This guide will overview the different types of riding boots and share what to look for to find the right pair for you.What [...]
riding a horse in the winter
6 Best Winter Riding Breeches

by Michelle Drum October 15, 2021 4 min read

Breeches play an important role in rider safety in the saddle as well as providing an additional mode of communication with the horse. And at no time are quality breeches more important than wintertime, due to inclement weather. In this article, we’ll share what you need to know about the best winter riding breeches.