Heading to your first stay away show? Here’s all you need to know

  • With many breed societies holding two-day shows as well as weekend-long TREC, showjumping, eventing and dressage fixtures coming up, riders share their advice for those preparing for their first stay away show. As told by Rachel Fraser.

    Give yourself plenty of time

    “Your horse is likely to be in a different routine at the show and will need time to settle into an unfamiliar environment, so arrive as early as possible, even a day early if it is allowed” says regular competitor Louise Nicholls.

    Take your own hay

    “I would also suggest taking your own hay or haylage that your horse is already used to rather than buying it from the venue to reduce the risk of colic” Louise added.

    Stretch their legs

    As stay away shows generally provide stabling, you may find your horse is spending a lot more time stabled than they would usually. Louise advises: “Take them for walks in-hand to stretch their legs regularly.”

    Don’t travel light

    For dressage rider Alexzandra Houldcroft, who blogs about her dressage career on Instagram as ‘AlexzandraHouldcroftDressage’, packing on the heavy side is important.

    “I always pack extra clothes as you never know what the British weather is going to do. Also take dry shampoo — some showers aren’t very nice!

    “Take extra saddlepads and boots if you plan to ride between classes so you can keep your show set clean.

    “I take extra hay, water buckets and a fork and wheelbarrows as most places require you to muck out the stable to leave it empty of your last day.”

    Keep to your normal routine

    “When we are staying away, I lay the stable out the same as it is at home to try and help my horse Cavallina settle and I keep feeding routines the same as normal,” says Alexzandra. “I also try to familiarise her with the arena the day before competition if allowed, but make sure to check the arena opening times.”

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    Don’t forget to feed yourself

    “I recommend taking food,” says Alexzandra “You never know if the burger van is going to close early — it has happened to us before!”

    Consider staying with a friend – if you have one nearby

    Eventer Dr Sonya Campbell-Perry completed her first stay away event earlier this year.

    “I chose an event where I could stay with a horsey friend — her place was only 20 minutes from the venue. I was less stressed, helped by some wine and a good chat, but I felt less pressured about remembering everything and had the benefit of a knowledgeable friend on-site” explains Sonya.

    Enjoy it!

    Whichever discipline you compete in, whether it’s your first stay-away show or one of many, have fun! A weekend away with your horse can be a fantastic experience, and lots of events throw BBQs or social events to enjoy in the evenings.

    For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.

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