1. As soon as ride times are out—all 41 of them—make a list of all your students’ times, what tests they’re riding, and in what rings. Make several copies of this—one for the tack room, one for your working student, one for your pocket, and one for your pocket after you misplace the first one.
2. Now have a good look at that list. Inevitably, you will have clusters of riders—8-8:30 a.m., 10:30-11:15 a.m., 1-1:30 p.m.—with gaps of nothingness in between. Highlight the rides it’s crucial you see: riders who are trying to qualify for something, riders who need a little extra hand-holding, riders who are only doing one test a day, relatives. See if maybe there are groups that are all going to be in the same warm-up at the same time, even if they’re showing in different rings. Work out the best way to hit everyone at least once, all the important rides you can, and as many rides as you can. Then, cross your fingers and hope that there are no delays.
3. Pack the following into your ring bag: boot rag, pen, two bottles of water, three types of sunscreen (face, body, lips, all SPF 50+), bug spray for you, bug spray for horses, sugar cubes, safety pins, rubber bands, show program, test booklet, sunglasses, a snack.
4. Pack the following into your suitcase: clothes for all kinds of weather that you can fashionably layer, cell phone charger, Tylenol, Tylenol PM, aloe vera (for when, in spite of the three kinds of sunscreen, you still end up lobster pink).
5. Put these in your arsenal too: raincoat, comfy shoes you can walk around in all day, baseball cap, business cards (you never know when you might meet a potential client!).
6. Think about what each of your students needs. Does he need a cheerleader, or is he scientific, all business? Does she need to have her confidence bolstered, or does she need her tail lit on fire a bit before she goes into the ring? And how long does the pair need for warm-up? Make sure you and each student have a plan—a 45-minute suppling session, or a five-minute don’t-leave-it-in-the-locker-room tour?
7. Get a good night’s sleep, and stretch. It’s gonna be an awesome, exhausting, physical, wild ride!