It’s a pretty common thing to come back from an out-of-town show feeling sluggish. Away shows are exciting, yes, but they can sometimes cause you to feel more stressed out and exhausted from all of the preparation and traveling.
Here are some of our best tips to help you stay feeling your best at an away show so you stay cool and confident in the saddle wherever you are.
Get your Z’s
This goes without saying, but make sure you get enough sleep the night before you leave for an away show–and also every night after showing. Going to any horse show usually means you’ll have some early mornings ahead of you.
Out-of-town shows are often a little more stressful than local shows because you might be traveling to a new area. That means more driving time, especially if you are unfamiliar with the area, so you’ll probably feel more tired at an out-of-town show just from the traveling alone.
After a long day of showing, it might be tempting to stay out late with your barn friends at the cool restaurant or bar they found next to the show grounds, but remind yourself that you really need your sleep. Try and limit yourself to one late-night outing during away shows. You’ll be thanking yourself in the mornings: no one wants to feel hazy and sleepy when they’re trying to memorize a jumping course.
Plan out your evenings so that you can get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night. That way, your body will have time to recoup from all of your activity that day, and you’ll wake up the next morning feeling refreshed and ready to hop into the saddle and take on the day.
Have a Plan
If you’re driving to an away show, map out your trip beforehand–We all know that Siri isn’t always the most reliable guide, and one missed turnoff can add another 20 minutes or more to your driving time.
Photo courtesy of Pexels/Hannah Nelson
If you’re a coffee drinker, go ahead and figure out ahead of time how you’re going to get your fix to start each day, too: does your hotel room have a coffee maker, or can you buy coffee at the show? Will you need to make a Starbucks trip on your way to the show grounds each day? Is there even a Starbucks nearby? These are important things to consider.
Review-based sites like Yelp and OpenTable also make it easy to scout out some yummy places to grab dinner or a quick bite to eat near the show grounds.
If you get to the show a day or two early, or if your classes aren’t until late in the day, take some time to walk around the show grounds and familiarize yourself with the place. Figure out where the show rings, food stands, tack venues, and restrooms are, as well as where your barn or team is staked out. Your show days become so much smoother when you already know where everything is at.
Aside from coffee, water will always be your best friend at horse shows. Pack a large water bottle or thermos that you can carry around with you all day and refill. Drinks packed with electrolytes, like classic Gatorade, are also a good idea to chug to help ward off dehydration.
Stock up on some protein bars before you leave for the show for an energy-fueling snack between your classes. Avoid eating bars or snacks that are high in sugar, or you’ll be left feeling drained by the end of the day. Eating a full breakfast, complete with protein and healthy carbs (no, they’re not always bad), will also give you long-lasting energy and focus.
Check the weather reports for the area where the show will be held. The weather might be different from what you’re used to, or even from what you might be expecting. If necessary, bring a variety of comfortable layers that can carry with you throughout the day while hanging out between classes and grabbing some lunch. Waterproof rubber boots, a light rain jacket, and an umbrella are never bad investments. Make a list for yourself ahead of time of all of the clothing items to bring on your trip, including both your show clothes and any casual and non-riding clothes you think you’ll need.
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Another thing to consider is marking your initials on all of your tack bags and other items that you’ll be bringing along with you to the show so that they don’t get mixed up with anyone else’s things–or worse, lost. You can also get your things monogramed for a more sleek and organized look.
If you prepare properly, an away show can turn out to be your best showing experience yet. If you’re in a new town or city, try to spend some time before or after the show checking out some of the local venues. Figure out everything your area has to offer so next time, your trip will go even more smoothly.