Horse Show Survival Kit: What to Pack

When you or your child enters the world of horse showing, you will learn quickly that anything that can happen, might. You will also learn that the more prepared you are, the better. On horse show days, we pack our supplies the night before and triple check them before leaving home. Check out our suggestions for what to pack in your own horse show survival kit!

horse show walking

Horse show days often begin BEFORE the crack of dawn. Sometimes we head to the barn to prep and load the ponies on the trailer before the show. Other days find us meeting the trailer at the show location. Either way, I ALWAYS get our things ready the night before the show. If I were to leave things go until the morning (before my coffee and when I am barely awake), I am pretty much guaranteed to forget things.

Horse Show Checklist

One of the very first posts on this site was a printable horse show checklist. Less of a “what to pack in your bag” and more of a “required clothing and equipment” list, you will definitely want to hop over to that post and grab that checklist.

From gloves and garters to bows and the jacket, this is a great list to ensure you have all required outfit pieces.

For this post, we are going to do a deep dive on all of the “other” stuff that needs to get packed. We always bring a “horse show bag” along with us that contains these items. Our horse show bag is our horse show survival kit!

Horse Show Survival Kit

I grew up horse showing for many years and now my daughter has been showing for more than a decade. We came up with a list that contains all of the supplies we could think of to pack in your horse show bag!

Bag or Caddy

First up, decide if you want to carry a bag or a caddy. Both options will hold a bunch of supplies. A caddy has an open design and will allow easy access to all of the supplies inside. While a zipper bag tucks your supplies out of sight, it will keep them a bit more secure. Your show bag or caddy will hold all of the things you might need throughout the show day.

We typically opt for a bag instead of a caddy, but feel free to pick whatever will work best for you.

devon horse show line up

Types of Horse Show Bags

Sometimes when it comes to bags, you just have to try a few out and see which one words best for you.

Here are some of the bags we have seen in use around the barn:

A few years ago, Under Armour used to make an equestrian backpack that was similar to the Grand Prix and Huntley backpacks in the list above. They also made a nearly identical bag meant for soccer players.

I picked up the soccer version and we are still using this bag for horseback riding! Unfortunately it looks like this Storm Striker backpack style is no longer sold. If you happen to come across one somewhere, it will make a great horseback riding bag!

Under Armour Striker Backpack

What to Pack

  1. Boot shine 
  2. Small towel
  3. Extra string for back number
  4. Extra hair bows
  5. Wet wipes
  6. Tide pen or Shout wipes
  7. Baseball cap
  8. Scissors
  9. Small sewing kit
  10. Horse treats!
  11. Tissues
  12. Leather hole puncher
  13. Small first aid kit
  14. Cash
  15. Sunscreen
  16. Bug spray

Horse Show Survival Kit

Why We Pack These Items

Here are some more details to help you decide if you want to have these items in your horse show survival kit.

Boot Shine

One of the most important things that every equestrian should do before every single show is to polish his or her boots. It is a big deal no matter how insignificant you might think! So you polish your boots at home and then arrive at the show… and we all know that kids are great at finding dirt to kick around while they are waiting for their class.  Clear boot shine is a great item to toss in your bag for a last minute buff.

Small Towel

Another handy item to have on hand for dusty boots and slimy horse mouths is a small towel (like the size of a golf towel). Pack a small, clean towel into your bag before each show.

Extra String

Most horse shows these days use paper or cardboard numbers that riders tie around their torsos with a piece of string. I have been to a bunch of shows over the years that have either run out of string or forgot to restock their string after their last show. We always keep an extra string in our bags for those “just in case” scenarios. Black is the preferred color for number strings. Yarn works well for this, too.

Extra Hair Bows

Extra show bows for hair are never a bad idea to have on hand. Any bow could break without warning. They are also very easy to forget when you are rounding all of your things up. Sometimes barn friends arrive at the farm and have forgotten their bows, so it’s an easy item to lend to others if you have a spare pair.

Wet Wipes

Shows always get messy.  That is why it is always good to have Wet Wipes in your bag. You never know just how messy some foods are until you have to try to eat them cleanly, without spilling anything on expensive show clothes. Keep wipes in your bag for quick cleanups of sticky hands, etc.

Tide Pen or Shout Wipes

If you ever spill anything on your show clothes, Tide Pens or Shout Wipes are the key to getting the stain off. From hot cocoa to mustard to horse slobber and dirt… our show clothes have seen all kinds of stains. Having these stain treaters on hand is essential. They give your clothes a much better chance at avoiding permanent stains! 

Baseball Cap

During summer shows, baseball caps are a smart item to have in your bag. They keep the sun out of your eyes and keep your scalp from getting sunburned. It’s an easy item to pack and can really be a lifesaver on those hot, sunny show days. 

Scissors

Take care of loose strings, price tags, etc without damaging fabric by using scissors instead of pulling. Travel scissors are a good choice. These compact scissors typically fold up or come with a blade cover, so you won’t have to worry about getting stabbed while digging around your bag.

Small Sewing Kit

If you have ever had a button pop off a shirt or need a quick stitch in a piece of clothing, you know how helpful a travel sized sewing kit can be! I always make sure that ours has plenty of safety pins as well. (Many sewing kits come with scissors, you could knock two items off this list with just one product!)

Horse Treats

Carrots or other horse treats are the perfect way to tell your horse, “well done!” after your classes.

Tissues

From allergies to wiping up quick spills, we always have a pack of tissues in our horse show bag.

Leather Hole Punch

Another item that sounds random, but trust us, when you need a leather hole punch, you need one! From extra holes in stirrup leathers to another hole in a leather belt, tack is made up primarily of leather. It is a great idea to keep a hole punch on hand.

Small First Aid Kit

You never know what bumps and bruises might happen at a show. Keep a small first aid kit on hand at all times. We recommend choosing one that comes with an instant ice pack (or adding one of those to your kit).

Cash

It is rare to find a horse show that accepts credit cards as a form of payment. We take a check or cash for show entry fees and cash for snack stand food and drinks.

Sunscreen

Long horse show days require ample sun protection! Don’t forget your sunscreen and make sure you reapply it every couple of hours.

Bug Spray

We always try to remember to bring some bug spray to shows, especially during the summer months. You never know which shows will be especially buggy, so it’s best to keep some on hand in case you need it.


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