Heading off to your very first summer showing championships with your horse or pony? Take a look at these seven things you should probably know before you leave the yard.
1. It’s a costly week
Considering hitting the champs in August as well as that five star Grecian hotel you have been lusting over all year in September? You might want to have a re-think. While no one would ever deny that horses are an expensive hobby (understatement), the cost of championship week will certainly pack a punch to the bank account. When you’ve added up stabling, entries, fuel, food and plenty of drink, you’re going to be looking at a hefty few hundreds sliced off your wage packet, and that’s before you’ve even considered your pre-show products as let’s face it, you can’t take on the finals with a shabby looking steed.
2. Camping or glamping?
Staying in the lorry for a week might sound like a no brainer to most, but if you’re taking a few friends down for the trip to help with grooming and other menial tasks, you will need to consider where to put bodies at night. The showground certainly won’t be short of places to pitch a tent, but be aware of how the great British weather likes to throw in the odd thunderstorm as a mid-summer treat. Airbeds are a necessity to ensuring you don’t wake up with a back that will require an emergency physio appointment when you get home and if you are taking buddies, make sure you pack them some breakfast essentials to keep them sweet — and well fuelled.
3. The timetable
With so many classes on offer, it can be easy to get carried away when entering — but with classes usually starting at over £20 a pop, carefully selecting classes that don’t clash is a necessity. Try to plan each day with a fine tooth comb, looking at which classes you want to do and which rings they’re in. Quite a simple task with one horse, harder with two, and good luck to you if you’re trying to enter three…
4. Packing (for him)
If this is the first time your horse has ever stayed away from home, you’re going to need to pack so he has everything he needs to keep him happy and sane. Ensure you’ve got all his usual hard feed as well as hay or haylage so he can snack happy between classes. Taking a selection of rugs and products so you’re prepared for the different climates will also go a long way in ensuring his stay is as chilled as possible.
5. Packing (for you)
As long as you have energy drinks and at least 17 pairs of cream jodhpurs, you should be good to go.
6. Stabling dilemmas
If you’re lucky enough to be assigned permanent stables, then good for you, but many shows only offer temporary boxes, which can be very hit and miss. Rustling roofs, noisy neighbours and doors with dodgy locks can make a stressful trip for both of you, so be prepared for a lack of luxury when it comes to the horsey housing on offer — in summary, pack some bailer twine to avoid being woken at 2am by the news that your horse is currently making a tour of the local countryside because he discovered the faulty bottom bolt…
7. You will have a blast
The champs are undoubtedly one of the best times in the sport. You’ve qualified to get there and your horse will be in peak summer condition, looking his very best ready to impress those judges. So enjoy the ride and make some new friends — coming home with a rosette is just a bonus.
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