11 Tips for Showing Alone

Showing Alone


It’s not always possible to take someone with you every time you leave the farm for a horse show, but showing solo isn’t as daunting as it sounds. If you’re organized and prepared, showing alone can be a very enjoyable experience, and a time to hang out and bond with your horse. If you tend to horse show by yourself (and there’s many riders out there who do!), these handy hints will help you stay on track and be ready for your time in the ring.

  1. Pack your trailer the night before and ensure that you know where everything is. This includes everything from buckets and hay nets to saddles, bridles, girths and helmets. It’s also beneficial to pack a (new) gas can filled with water so you’re not trying to walk your horse and a full bucket from the nearest water source. Most importantly, be sure you have your horses’ health certificate and Coggins handy; some show grounds check these for accuracy before you can enter the premises.
  2. Write your emergency contact information on a brightly colored piece of paper and tape it to your trailer door. If an accident does occur, this ensures your emergency contact can be notified. (It can also be helpful to tell your contacts you will be showing that day so they will answer the phone if an unfamiliar number calls.)
  3. Make sure you have a mounting block! No one will be at the show to give you a boost and there’s no guarantee show management will provide them. Trying to mount a moving target from a truck bumper or fence rail can lead to catastrophe.
  4. Arrive at the barn early the day of the show. Even if your horse is a champion trailer loader, if it’s super early and still dark or just out of his normal routine, he may not get on the trailer on the first try.
  5. Consider wearing overalls, sweatpants, scrubs or some other loose-fitting pants and a sweatshirt or long-sleeved T-shirt over your breeches or show pants and shirt so you’ll stay clean during last-minute preparations.
  6. Try to park your rig where you can hear the announcer for your ring. This can alleviate a lot of confusion while you wait for your classes. If this isn’t possible, be sure to walk back to the ring every 30 minutes or so to see how the show is running. This will help make sure you have enough time to warm up before your class.
  7. When you arrive on grounds, leave your horse in the trailer while you check in at the show office. There is much less chance that he will wreak havoc (or get loose) while in the trailer with some tasty hay in front of him.
  8. Once you’ve registered and have your back number, set out everything you will need before unloading your horse. Anything that you don’t want to set on the ground, leave within easy grabbing distance of the tack or dressing room door so you’re not fumbling around to locate something while holding on to your horse.
  9. You can also stage a last-minute “prep area” near the ring at the same time. This area might include brushes, a full water bucket and a rag to wipe off your boots. Doing this will save you from schlepping everything with you while you have your horse in hand.
  10. Once unloaded, tie your horse to the same side of the trailer as your dressing room so you can keep an eye on him as you pop in and out of the trailer gathering things.
  11. To reduce panic at the end of a long show day, lock your truck and stash the keys in the same place every time (like in your helmet bag).
    These hints should help make showing by yourself a more streamlined, enjoyable affair.

Happy showing!

Further Reading

Competition Countdown
Horse Show Makeover


  1. If it is a show I am hauling into and not stabling, I often see if I can walk the course before I unload – particularly if my first jumping class is the first class of the day.

  2. I like the idea of filling an new empty gas can with water! Not all horses will drink strange water, it is easier on the human and it is way more sanitary!

  3. One can buy a container specifically made for water. Check the camping section! Then someone at home won’t mistake it!
    Another idea, if you show at the same place and the shoebills are the same for every shows, take extra home and fill them out before the show. Or make labels pith the information (rider name, horse name, address) . Did that when my kids were in 4H. Saved a lot of time.


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