Packing for the Horse Trial

One thing I did not learn until much later in my riding career is how to pack for the horse show. As a working student with the lovely Blue Clover Eventing team, one valuable golden nugget I took away was how to pack a trunk efficiently so your things stay organized and post-show when you are exhausted you aren’t left with a huge mess.

Photo courtesy of US Eventing/Jessica Duffy


This is key. I have a large trunk that I purchased from Home Depot that I live out of day-to-day. I also use it at shows. So before shows I go through and take out odds and ends that I don’t use like broken spray bottles, or extra vet supplies that I can put on my shelf so only the show necessities will be in my trunk. Then if XC is last I’ll place my xc boots, breastplate, saddle pads, and gear in first, with show-jumping above, then my dressage pad. It is so helpful not to have to dig to the bottom of the trunk at the very beginning of the show.  My brushes and things I use each phase will be all on one side.


big logWhy did I never bring a laundry bag to shows until I was 25? You know what is gross? Muddy, wet, cross-country boots stuffed in your trunk. Ew. No. You should be washing all of your gear so just throw it in a bag. Honestly, sometime this is an empty feed bag. But have a laundry bag ready. Don’t set your wet tack back in the trailer, or truck, to be misplaced. Then you can heave it all to the laundramat  -cough my own laundry machine- to wash together at home.

Third: Lay your saddle pads inside-out.

I can keep all of my tack less saddles neatly in my trunk without fear of anything getting dirty because A. I’m not moving it until that phase because I packed backwards, and B. My saddle pads have their inners out. So if something were to spill it would hit the side that goes on the horse not that the judge would see.

Third: A Drawer of Essentials

In my trunk I have a little sliding drawer at the top. During the day-to-day it gets filled with random odds and ends, but for the show I clean it out and put all my ‘goods’ in there. My good pens and sharpies, hair ties, snaps, safety-pins. The little extras that we all need but are little and get misplaced.

Fourth: Put your number on your halter

Frye tackled the cross-country course!

I put a round of tape around the haler with my horse’s number. Because do you know what is almost as bad as wet saddle pads? Trotting down centerline with a faded number because your mare didn’t want her head rinsed at the wash rack and you soaked your number. Secondly, this only means moving the number one time from dressage tack to jump tack, unless you cool kids use a different bridle/saddle pad between show-jumping and cross-country. I guess this isn’t necessarily packing related, but it definitely helps keep your life organized.

Fifth & Last Tip to Keep Your Packing Easy to and from Show: A 10 Minute Tidy-Up

At the end of each day, even though I know you’ve put your dirty things in the laundry bag, wipe down and figure-eight your bit and bridle, go ahead and put your dressage saddle and bridle back in the trailer if its a two-day. You know if you have a wash-bucket, put it up so you don’t trip over it. Meeting the girls for Cheap Aiken Mexican can wait the extra 15 minutes to do a once over.

Enjoy! Hopefully I can practice what I preach!

big jump







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