Horse Show First Aid Kit

I’m going to admit something here- I have failed at this, completely. and utterly. failed.

As in besides the Blue Lotion that makes Foster all shiny and white for a show, my horse doctoring stuff stays at home. I realize that I compete in one of the more dangerous equestrian disciplines, and that being around horses, even showing in hand (hell even leaving a horse in a stall) can lead to disasters. Up until now I have relied on that there is always a vet on hand at a horse trial, and surely they have everything I might need.

Like I said- fail.

first aid

So, I’m determined to go through catalogs and start ear-marking the essential items that I should bring to shows in case of an emergency. Vet wrap, diaper, duct tape at the top of the list, and several other items I have in mind.

This Mini First Aid kit runs for $16 at SmartPak

This Mini First Aid kit runs for $16 at SmartPak

But I’d like to hear from you guys- what goes into your horse-show first aid kit? Knowing that of course you probably can’t bring everything with you to a competition, what are your priority items? How do you store them for a travel environment? Any recommendations on getting these items on a budget?

The Game Plan

Since signing up for the Training CT this weekend, I’ve had some doubts. The last time we jumped was at the Carolina Clinic, and I wondered if I would be able to prepare Foster for another jumping round in time for this show. Thanks to the winter weather keeping us in the covered arena (an area too small for any real jumping) for the last couple weeks, in addition to vacation, Foster’s work has been irregular at best. But, I knew he could technically get around a Training course with relative ease.

Training warmup vertical

Yesterday was the first time I was able to ride in the outdoor jump arena in a month, and with impending rain, I thought to make the best of it and get in a jump school. I had his open-fronts on, breastplate attached, and was doing up the girth when I decided- this was feeling too forced. Whenever it starts to feel that way regarding a show, I know it’s not the right decision. So I have elected to not jump this weekend.


Instead, we’ll forge ahead with the Training A dressage test, and [if the show staff will allow,] add another dressage test to the mix- First level 1. This will mark Foster’s first official time competing at First level, and shouldn’t be a great stretch for him, as the movements are very similar to the Training A test we’ve been practicing. There’s a slight chance he may be a bit tired for the second test, but I would much rather a lazy dressage test than an underpowered jump round, any day.


So, with that decision made, I quickly switched tack and instead dressaged around all the jumps I had set up not moments before. Immediately I felt a weight taken off my chest, and Foster was much happier than he has been in several rides to be out in the fresh air. We schooled our lengthenings at canter and trot before calling it a day. His expression was happy, ears alert and eyes bright, and I feel I’ve made the right decision by my horse.

As much as I want to get our first Training competition under our belt, his happiness and well being will always come first. Always!


Pre-show prep: On the Leaderboard

So, this happened:


Cabin Branch Series Championship Leaderboard

Cool! Not like, of course, we have any chance of winning (extra points for Foster’s good looks? no?), or really getting anywhere near the top, but it was neat to see. My luck has been that we’ve either placed in the top 4 or the bottom 2 (mostly thanks to me going off course in some way or another) at pretty much every competition for the last year. Foster’s dressage scores have been as follows at the last 3 shows:

  • CHP May HT: 31.3
  • Recognized Show @ FENCE: 30
  • CHP October HT: 31.7

So we’re scoring pretty consistently in the low 30’s, and my goal for this next show is to bring any 6’s up to 7’s. Here’s looking at you, canter departs! Also, I’ll be disappointed in myself if I get comments about his haunches being right. For jumping, I just hope to go double clear in both phases, and not have a sticky jumping round. Our jumping record for the last 3 shows has been this:

  • CHP May HT: double-clear SJ and XC
  • Recognized Show @ FENCE:  2 rails SJ / double-clear XC (with rider timing issue)
  • CHP October HT: 1 time fault SJ / double clear XC

Not perfect, but I’m not complaining. The 2 rails at FENCE were mostly my fault- he was unbalanced for the first, and a little flat for the second. Going double-clear this weekend would mean a lot to me, and I have faith in Foster’s abilities to make it happen!

So our more specific goals for the weekend are this:

  • 7’s on canter departs and downward transitions
  • 8 on free walk/medium walk
  • no comments about haunches in
  • square halt
  • no time faults showjumping
  • land on the correct lead every time
  • balance before every fence
  • no jumping or time faults cross-country
  • forward, forward, forward!
  • Have fun!!! (So excited- we have a huge group going!)


Preparation Interrupted

Ugh. Just when you make plans to be a more than usual dedicated and studious rider for the week, the weather and life get all in the way. I mistakenly passed up the opportunity to ride Sunday evening on my way back into town because I felt I had been neglecting the husband, who had been cleaning the house all weekend and probably needed some respite. Instead, I told myself I would be able to ride every other day this week- shouldn’t be a problem.

You get photos of Foster's new hobby- getting disgustingly dirty

You get photos of Foster’s new hobby- getting disgustingly dirty


Monday- storms. Tuesday- storms, but I attempted to get out and ride anyways, thinking that as long as it wasn’t thundering and lightning I could attempt getting on in the covered arena. 45 minutes of heavy rain and lightning trapped us in the barn, and when we thought the lightning bit had passed, we hustled into the covered arena. I did a bit of lounging, which was successful in that Foster was super relaxed, but not so successful in that he couldn’t respond to my voice cues because it was raining so hard on the tin roof that he couldn’t hear me. Heck, I couldn’t hear me, how could he? So I hopped on and no less than 2 minutes later the biggest crack of damn lighting hit, uncomfortably close to the covered arena under which we huddled. Luckily, Foster only scooted forward about 10 feet, and didn’t hurl me into the ground a la any western movie. I dismounted and called it a night.

Night 2 of coming to the barn to find the dirty.

Night 2 of coming to the barn to find the dirty.

So, after a grand total of 5 days off, I got on Foster last night and jumped him a little bit. I think most of the jumps were 2’3″, and one 2’7″-2’9″ish oxer in the middle of the arena. Remembering my lesson with Doug, I worked on the quality of canter, waiting with my shoulders, and not staring at the damn fence. I revisited the exercise of jumping the oxer on the circle, which went really well and I was able to almost all of my leads. Approaching the fences from a straight line and getting my leads was still a little iffy, but I’m hoping to work on that again tonight.

Last night's Foster- scrubbing the face is not fun!

Last night’s Foster- scrubbing the face is not fun!

Tonight’s plan- have a short jump school so as to not over-do it, but jump 3’3″ height. I really need to get my eye used to this height again, and get a feel for the pace and again, the quality of canter I need. If all goes well, I’ll be on and off again in 35 minutes and packing, packing, packing.

My packing list.. yes, red bull, wine, and cheese-its are horse show staples for me. That's how we roll.

My packing list.. yes, red bull, wine, and cheese-its are horse show staples for me. That’s how we roll. Also, yes, I have to remind myself to pack underwear. Don’t judge.

Tomorrow, you’ll get round 1 of puppy pics and I will be on my way to hunter jumper land!

Pre-Show Prep Part III: Getting Prettyfied

When you have a grey horse, or a horse that is 50% white, like, I dunno, Foster, getting ready for a show takes a little more effort than just knocking the dust off.

When you have a horse that loves to turn himself green, brown, and other sordid colors, like, I dunno, Foster (!), getting white white becomes a whole ‘nother story!

Ick, just.. ick.

Ick, just.. ick.

Luckily, friend A was a professional groom in another life, and has spent much of our shows together teaching me the fine art of not-looking-like-a-redneck-hoodlum. A.k.a, how to groom your white horse 101.

Step 1: Shave the legs
This is a step that has to happen long before the show, maybe even before the entry goes in. About 1-2 weeks out, so the hair has a bit of time to grow back and avoid lines, I clip all 4 legs, blending the hair at the knobby parts so it’s not as obvious. Foster [used to] love laying down in his stall, and so stained knees were a trademark of his. Clipped legs make these stains easier to get out, leaves less hair for dirt to cling to, and overall provides a nice, sleek silhouette that helps the overall picture.


Step 2: Pull the mane
This is kind of a ‘duh’ for anyone showing in the English disciplines. While admittedly I am super lazy in the winter and let the mane grow to John Wayne pony lengths, for shows I like the mane to be about 5-6″ long.

Step 3: Trim the face
I know it’s becoming increasingly popular for chin whiskers in the dressage ring, but I personally prefer the well-manicured look of a trimmed up profile. Nose, jawline, bridal path, and if I feel like it, ears, all get the buzz cut treatment.

Foster got his cute little nose buzzed last night

Foster got his cute little nose buzzed last night

Step 4: Wash the pony
Kind of a no-brainer here, but again, definitely required for a mostly white pony like Foster. Scrub-a-dub-dub!

Step 5: Purple the pony
This is the fun part. I fill up a small bucket with water, and pull out the handy-dandy Blue Lotion. Dab the dabber into the water until the water turns a deep purple (it doesn’t take much). Then, sponge the purple water all over the pony, until pony is as purple as a My Little Pony. Scrape off excess water, and let dry. If the tail is white as well, dunk that into the purple water as well. Ideally, we do this process the night before, and wake up to find a beautiful, sparkling white steed in the morning!

Best friend to white horses everywhere.

Best friend to white horses everywhere.

Post-purpling Foster- look at that white!

Post-purpling Foster- look at that white!

Step 6: Braid the pony
Another big ‘duh’, depending on what type of show you are going to. The fun part about braiding a paint is mixing the colors together! It does mean you need bands (or yarn, if you’re skilled- I’m not) in multiple colors though.

Step 7: Powder puff
Right before stepping out into the dusty show ground, Foster’s legs get a big puff of baby powder. Again, this helps them stay white and keeps the dust at bay. I’m not a big fan of show sheen because I hate the slippery feeling of it, but I think at a really nice show I would show sheen too at that point.

Powder puffed legs in action

Powder puffed legs in action

And there you have it!