Trailer Packing to Prevent Show Day Panic

Practice packing your trailer ahead of time, and you'll have less stress at every horse show.


Scrambling to locate spurs or hoof polish in your trailer is no way to begin a successful show day and can send your stress level through the roof. There are multiple ways to alleviate this added angst on show day and ensure that everything you need is right at your fingertips.

The key to making sure that all horse show necessities make it to the show grounds is organization. Mentally going over what you will use, step by step, and then loading it in the same spot in the trailer every time will help the details fall into place. Soon you’ll be able to tell just by glancing around your trailer if something is missing.

It can seem like you have to take everything but the kitchen sink, but items you’ll want to ensure are in your trailer every time you head off the farm include:

  • Grooming Tools: It’s helpful to have a complete second set of grooming equipment that you use only for shows; this would include everything from a curry mitt and hard brush to a hoof pick and mane comb. Extra banding or braiding supplies will need to go, too, in case your horse rubs his mane. Flyspray is a must-have if you’re showing outside.
  • Show-ring Specialties: These products may never leave your trailer! They can include a shine product for the coat and tail, hoof polish, face highlighter and rags to wipe off your hands.
  • Tack: Mentally recite what tack your horse uses to show as you place each piece in the trailer. This will ensure that you have your saddle, saddle pad, girth and bridle, as well as any extra equipment you may need, including breastplates or martingales.
  • Laundry Basket: If you’re planning on schooling your horse in the morning, it’s essential to have a place to toss sweaty or hairy wraps and pads where they won’t get your show items dirty.
  • Show Clothes: Any show clothes you don’t plan on wearing to the barn on show-day morning can find a home in the trailer. These include show coat or shirt, vest, boots, hat or helmet, and gloves.
  • Itty-bitty Necessities: Smaller items like spurs, medical arm bands, number pins or string, gloves, hairnets and jewelry can easily get lost in the shuffle. It’s helpful to have a dedicated cosmetic carrying case or other small container to keep tiny items in one place and with their mates. This bag should be stored as close to your show clothes as possible so you’re not climbing all over the tack room in clean clothes to locate them.
  • Paperwork: Place your horse-health paperwork in an easily accessible area, whether this is in the tow vehicle or in the dressing room. Utilizing clear plastic sheets to protect your paperwork and then placing these in a three-ring binder will keep Coggins and health certificates clean and legible. Having an additional copy of the showbill or prizelist in your trailer will help keep you running on time.
  • Horse Feed: Filling haynets the night before and placing them in the trailer will prevent you from wearing your horse’s hay while in your show clothes and a new gas can filled with fresh water will keep clothes from getting soaked on show grounds. Show-specific buckets can be very helpful so you’re not trying to remember to pull them from a stall when you head out the door. And don’t forget the treats!
  • People Food: Packing snacks that don’t need to stay cool, like crackers or fruit, will ensure you always have something to snack on, even if you forget your cooler at home. Keeping a few packets of a powdered drink mix and a water bottle in the trailer will make sure you can stay hydrated.
  • Additional Items: Some things, though not necessary to show, are nice to keep on-hand. They include sunscreen, chapstick, OTC pain medicine and a lawn chair. An extra halter and lead rope should always be in your trailer.

Never underestimate the ability of totes, bins and milk crates to keep you organized! Labeling containers you can’t see through is also handy. Packing as many items as you can the night before the show will give you time to do one more once-over before you load your horse, making sure you aren’t forgetting a key component to making your show day go smoothly.

Further Reading
Horse Show Prep Videos
Horse Show Checklist

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Based in Lexington, Ky., Sarah Coleman has a soft spot for chestnuts with chrome, including her off-the-track Thoroughbred, Chisholm. The pair competes in the hunters.


  1. Great advice! I’ll definitely use this advise for
    when I get a horse (hopefully in the future) and go to shows. Thanks so much! Really appreciate those who are writing these awesome articles about show prep and other stuff.


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