Show days can be an exciting time, but they can also be stressful when you’re not adequately prepared. What you need to pack will depend on which type of show you participate in and which classes you enter. You’ll almost always need to have the important paperwork, tack, gear, riding attire, and grooming supplies. Being ready in advance will help both you and your horse be less nervous by the time the big event rolls around. To help you get the most out of show days, we came up with a list of some basic show-day essentials.  


To avoid pre-show jitters, gather and pack everything ahead of time if possible. Running around the day of, trying to find what you need, will only add to the chaos, especially if you are traveling far from home.  Without the proper gear, you won’t have the best show experience. The following are minimum horse tack essentials that you should bring with you:

  • Saddle, pad, and girth
  • Bridles and bits
  • Show halter and lead 
  • Draw reins plus a spare
  • Protective boots 
  • Saddle covers 
  • Tack trunk

Tack Care

Horses sweat, much like any human. To ensure your tack’s longevity, wipe down any part of it that had contact with the horse’s body. Sweat and dirt can cause lifelong damage to your tack, so to keep tack looking sharp for the main event, you’ll need to bring these items: 

  • Saddle soap/leather cleaner
  • Saddle oil 
  • Sponges and cloths 
  • Silver polish 
  • Bit wipes 

Grooming Kit

First impressions matter, so it’s crucial to keep your horse looking fresh and clean every time you enter the ring. Keep grooming items in a tote or large container, and make sure they are easily accessible wherever you go. Below is an essential list of grooming items to pack so that your horse gets the best TLC before each show:

  • Brushes and combs
  • Hoof pick
  • Rags or towels
  • Hoof polish
  • Baby oil
  • Braiding supplies 
  • Coat conditioner
  • Baby wipes 
  • Fly spray 

Rider Attire

Don’t forget to bring what you need! Without the rider or handler, the show can’t go on. To ensure that the little things get packed and loaded up, be specific with each item you need. Check with show management beforehand for any extra items that you might need to bring. 

  • Boots (preferably ones that are worn-in) 
  • Pants or breeches 
  • Shirt or slinky
  • Riding jacket
  • Hat or approved helmet 
  • Hair accessories
  • Safety pins
  • Sewing kit 

Next time you’re about to hit the road for a show, know what you need to bring for both you and your horse. Keep stress levels low by being prepared the best you can. Understanding the basics is the best way to start, so save these show-day essentials where they can be kept handy. If you or someone you know is looking for an ideal place to train, The Cottonwood Equine Center has space available. We’ll be happy to give you a stress-free experience with your equine events such as roping, barrel racing, and much more. 

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