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Staying Organized on Show Day


Not having an organized trailer tack room can cause for a stressful show day when trying to get to warm up and rings on time. Knowing where to find the essentials but also being able to lay your hands on your emergency medical kit or that extra watch battery can lead to a more focused competition day.

I like to make big use of lists and labels!!! The best organization starts at the beginning of the event season. I like to start with an empty tack room that has been cleaned and anything broken repaired. Make a list of all the equipment you would like to have in your trailer for a one-day show. At the bottom add a section for what would be needed extra for an overnight show (e.g. water buckets, feed bucket, etc). How you break the lists down is your decision. You could do the basics:

Grooming kit
Medical kit
XC boots etc, etc

Or you could break it down further,
Grooming kit:

etc, etc

Make copies of these lists so you can file one away. Over time you can add to them, or remove items that you realize are just taking up space!!

Once you have your list you can then start grouping items together to be put in various trunks. These trunks should have a general theme (e.g. riding gear or work boots and polo bandages). I would use clear plastic trunks for those items that you have few of. When you pack each trunk, write a general description on the outside where you will be able to read it at a glance. No good having the label on the lid if you then stack your trunks!!

For trunks containing random equipment, make a list, put it in a clear plastic bag and then stick it to the inside of the lid using clear tape to keep it intact. When you repack you will know exactly what is meant to be in each trunk. For example:

When it comes to items such as medical supplies I would put them inside smaller clear containers, or clear ziplock bags. I like having numerous clearly labeled trunks rather than one or two large trunks that hold everything.

Actually packing them into the trailer should be done systematically. Those trunks that contain spare boots or blankets should kept at the back. The trunks you need at every show should be easily accessible. I also like to have a lot of hooks. Bridle hooks, hat hooks, coat hooks…. If you can hang it up, I like to get stuff off the floor.

Items I like to have to help stay organized at the show include:

  • Trash bags to throw away trash as I go
  • Collapsible laundry bag – dirty towels, boots, saddle pads go straight into the laundry bag
  • Muck tub and pitch fork, to keep back of trailer clean and also the area where the horses are tied up
  • White board. If you can attach a white board to your trailer door this is great for writing down your times but also write reminders if you run out of a product at the show…. Hopefully whilst reorganizing for your next show you will remember to pick up the items beforehand.

I hope some of these tips are helpful. Happy organizing!

Emma Ford

Emma Ford is one of the most respected grooms in US Eventing. Born and raised in the UK, Emma came to the US in 1998 to groom for top eventer Adrienne Iorio. After seven years with Adrienne, Emma moved to True Prospect Farm to work with five-time Olympian and 13-time USEA Leading Rider of the Year, Phillip Dutton. During her tenure with Phillip, Emma cared for many famous equine athletes including Connaught, TruLuck, Woodburn, and Mystery Whisper. She’s groomed at Burghley, Blenheim and Boekelo, cared for horses at the 2006 and 2010 World Championships, 2007 Pan Am Games, and 2008 and 2012 Olympics, and groomed at Rolex Kentucky and Fair Hill International every year since 2001. And now she’s here to help you! Submit your grooming questions and Emma just may be able to teach you a few of her tricks!

Posted in Ask The Groom

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3 comments on “Staying Organized on Show Day
  1. Lucy Bille says:

    thanks for the ideas. I have 2 sets of drawers in my trailer for the little things. I will now label them to make finding things easier.

  2. Marianne Sobchak says:

    Every organizational article deals with organizing your trailer tack room. It’s a great article if you have a trailer with a tack room. What about the folks that don’t – just a no tack room trailer and a regular cab pick-up truck. How about suggestions for organization for the fox hunting season? f

  3. Emma Emma says:

    Hi marieanne, thank you for the comment. I admit I make the assumption that most trailers have tack rooms and I would be at a loss without one!!! I grew up fox hunting in England. We just had a cattle lorry so no tack room, no extra cab, no trailer bed to use. The horses would go tacked up and then on the way home tack would be stuffed on a small ledge behind the front seats!! I did have a small tool box that contained medical supplies. A spare halter and lead rope were placed under the front passenger seat. With a set up like you are mentioning, I feel I would still use the trunk system, for fox hunting I feel you need less supplies, tack you are using should be placed in the cab so it can be locked up. Now a days there are plenty of sturdy trunk options that can be fixed to the front of the trailer bed. I know getting to it isn’t easy but then you have to make use of what you have. I would make sure I had some sort of mounting block or steps to allow easier access into the bed of the trailer. If you have a bumper pull with truck then trunks could be attached at the front end of the bed on either side to allow easy access. For fox hunting in particular I would have one trunk containing essential grooming supplies, medical kit, coolers and spare halter, lead rope and tack. Another trunk would container a couple of buckets , sponges and scrapers, even if you only take the small feed buckets for washing it is better than nothing. I would have a couple of 5 gallon water jugs that can be tied down when empty or placed on the floor behind the passenger seat is an option if the seat can go all the way forward. There is normally enough room in the front of your horse to place a trunk and tie it in, however I am not normally a fan of this in case of an accident and things go flying into your horse.
    If at a show, and hopefully a dry day, I take a heavy blanket that can lay over the side of the truck bed. The saddle, bridle, saddle pads can all be placed over this. If I only have one horse, I have a trunk that contains essentials for the day, XC boots, SJ boots, wraps, bandages. Normally there is someway of fashioning detachable hooks to the jockey door. If the window has a grill, you could have individual hanging hooks or use a large climbing carabiner with a tack cleaning hook.
    I’m sure many of these suggestions are obvious but I hope I might have provided a useful idea to someone!!

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