Since eventers are less likely to be showing with trainers holding our hands I figure some of you must have good tips for showing alone. I am starting showing alone with my mare. She is a greenie. I haul in a two horse straight load trailer.
What are the best tips for showing alone? What sort of system do you have for tacking, time keeping, eating and potty breaks as well as course walks/etc?
I just started showing, and I can't imagine how people do it alone. I brought an entourage (haha). I almost forgot my armband- luckily my friend remembered it.
One suggestion would be to attach your armband to your vest, so when you go to put on the vest you won't forget the armband.
Another suggestion is to put everything you need for a certain phase on the ground outside of your trailer. Before you mount, make sure nothing is left in that spot on the ground.
I make lists and schedules since I'm new to the sport. My schedule has things like "dress- 7:50am", "tack up- 8am", "warm up- 8:15 to 8:45". I always give myself extra time too.
We leave the horses on the trailer to do sign-ins, potty break, etc.
I'm not sure how you would do the course walk. Maybe just let your neighbors know you are walking away and hope they'll help if your horse has an issue? I am a bit uncomfortable leaving my horse tied alone at the trailer, but that is because I worry he might be a dufus. Growing up, we'd leave horses tied all day by themselves and they were fine. Western horses are used to that. I think mine ties better after dressage since he's worked off some of his anxiety. I also give mine hay because he's better with something to concentrate on.
Maybe you can try to do a course walk the day before so you only have to do one Xcountry walk between dressage and SJ?
Sorry to say, but why on earth are you doing that? <i>Especially</i> with a greenie? My trainer goes with all of her students to all of their shows, whether it be cross bars at a mini trial or they're running Intermediate.
Sorry, but going to an event completely alone with a green horse just sounds like an accident waiting to happen. What if you and/or the horse get hurt? No one's there to help you. Especially if you become too sick or hurt to drive. You're totally stuck.
My tip: Don't do it.
Tru : April 14, 1996 - March 14, 2011
Thank you for everything boy.
If your horse trial is a one day, then see if you can get a day stall. If that is not possible, then try to get to the venue early enough to park under a shade tree.
If you can go to the venue the day before and walk the cross country, then that is what I would do.
Whenever you go for potty breaks or to walk a course, try to see if someone in a neighboring trailer will keep an eye on your horse. You never want to leave your horse tied to a trailer without supervision.
If your horse will stand inside of the trailer, make certain that she has access to hay. If tied to the trailer, then keep the hay net tied up high enough so that she cannot catch a leg in it.
Bring several buckets to fill with water. A couple of them should be for sponging off, after each phase (depending on the temps). One for drinking. It is easier to set these things up, before the event gets started.
Make certain that you arrive at the event early enough to pick up your packet and organize your tack and attire according to what you will need for each phase. You might take your first "potty break" before you unload, too.
Give yourself plenty of time to review your dressage test and warm up for dressage. I always try to watch a couple of tests to make certain that I remember it correctly, especially since the tests are new for this year.
Remember to hydrate yourself well before you start the events. Have some protein bars handy, just in case you do not have enough time to go get something to eat.
Going to events alone is doable, if you keep yourself organized and are aware of time management.
When I was 18 years old, my Dad handed me the keys to the car and trailer and told me that I was on my own. After that, I took my "greenie" mare to events all over Alabama, alone.
First, I think the OP is planning to do H/J shows, not events. Correct me if I'm wrong!
Second, I see no problem with an experienced rider taking a greenie to its first few shows alone. Really, if you can't show alone without totally loosing it (i.e. you don't know how to handle problems you might have with your horse warming up, walking the course, etc), then you shouldn't be showing. You're too unprepared. The only time where I might consider it essential to have a trainer/coach is if you are new to that level. But an experienced rider should be able to take a green bean to its first show and deal with the typical greenie problems.
I try to make sure that I have a generous time schedule. This is harder with H/J shows, since you don't know exactly when you're going, but if you have a general idea when your classes are, I work backwards and give time for warm-up, tacking up, dressing, unloading, walking courses, and grabbing my packet/number/signing up for classes. You might also want to give time to walk your guy around before tacking up, so he can get used to the atmosphere. I write all this down the night before, so I have a schedule and I stick to it.
If your trailer, tack, and clothes are organized, it makes life much less stressful. If possible, I try to dress as much as I can before leaving home, and wearing something over it, so I just have to pull off the top layer. But sometimes its just too hot.
I would also recommend leaving the horse on the trailer while walking courses between classes. If there is not enough time to tack and untack between walks, and the horse ties well, you can put the halter on over the bridle and tie the horse up while you walk. Potty breaks just have to be fit in when you have time
Mainly, you need to be efficient and organized. Other than that, its really no different from riding with a trainer.
One thing I learned this week.
Do not go to a horse trial alone when:
You've been sick all week. as in can't function sick.
Chances are you will feel like you are going to pass out during dressage and retire during you XC.
Make sure you take the time to eat and drink.
"Hell yes I can ride. I was riding when I fell off!"
As long as your horse stands well tied to the trailer, stands well in the trailer, and you can load/unload them by yourself, then you can show easily by yourself. If your horse stands well then you don't have to worry about making sure you have absolutely everything you will need for the next phase laid out on the ground where you can grab it without taking your hands off your horse or that they will have a fit when you leave them on the trailer to go for your coursewalk. If they do not stand quietly and load well, then it will be really hard to do it without help.
The key for me is leaving yourself enough time to do stuff and having a plan. Leave yourself extra time- it takes longer to do everything when yours are the only hands doing it
There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.(Churchill)
Have fun! there is something very satisfying about the experience. Do make sure they tie, and have lots of hay. My TB's might not have been the ones to tie, and for those, a stall was needed. You'll get a system. I had a bag for each phase. I loved it- loved being with friends, too, but since it was just me and my horses, I kind of liked it.
Get your horse used to standing tied politely, AND following you around and then standing politely.
There will be times that it's easier/safer/no choice but to drag your horse along to go ask a question or go get something, and if your horse knows how to act like an old dog on a leash it's MUCH easier.
And for the person who said don't -- it's no more dangerous to take a greenie out alone than it is a seasoned horse, assuming the rider is not overhorsed. Plenty of people do it on their own, myself included, with no problems, you just have to be ultra organized, and know what to expect schedule-wise at the show. A young horse doesn't have to be mannerless, untieable, and out of control. Get the basics of all that at home *reinforce it* by going as many places as possible, and learn from your mistakes.
Oh, nonsense, Katie T, we are eventers. Sure it can be done and safely.
Know how well your mare stands on the trailer -- it's important to put her either in a stall or in the trailer secured while you are gone walking the course. And...the trailer needs to be safe. Will she try to get out if the doors and windows are all left open for air? If not you are better off getting a stall. She will have to be comfortable standing alone, and you can practice that at your cross country schools.
Plan! Schedule everything! Invest in a camp toilet for your trailer!
I have been to most of the events in which I am competing and experience has taught me how long to slot for walking to the course start box, walking the course, and getting back to trailer...how long to spend on warmup...how much time to take to tack up, how much time it takes to hack up to cross country, etc. (At places like Fair Hill I often pack a little backpack with an easy boot, couple bottles of water to drink, and hand towel to wipe my own face afterwards. The easy boot in case of lost shoe - the rocks on the trail back can be killer. I'll hack up with it and drop it by warmup somewhere on the ground, near something no one will bother like the warmup number board or something.)
On very hot days you do need to wash and rinse the horse if you have phases further apart than an hour. I haul water with me in the trailer and wash right there. Going to a spigot and trucking water around is a big time waster. Get a few kerosene or gas plastic tanks that are carryable and fill them at home and put in the trailer before leaving. I also pack food and water for myself. I don't usually have time to find something to eat and dislike leaving him alone while I do that. Whenever possible as I drive in I try and pick up my packet as I head into the parking lot, and try to find as comfortable a place to park as possible. One that gives some shade perhaps or is not right in the middle of the path to everything or is away from the dust of the main road, etc. The closer to dressage the better, because that is the phase you have the most stuff for. You have to change into dressage stuff and change out of it so it takes the most time.
I try to have everything to hand in the trailer. I put my changing clothes in there too, so I don't have to look for anything. Saves time.
Mostly I have a horse that does not mind being in the trailer so he stays there. He will stand tied to be tacked, but does not prefer being outside the trailer during a busy horse trial. So I open up the trailer as much as possible for him and be sure to park where I can get shade if possible.
One little tip I have is to stick a rag under the pommel of my saddle. I can use it to wipe down my boots after I hop on, then just drop it (to be picked up when I return to the trailer). You can even do it just before going in the arena and hop off after your test to pick it up.
I agree that with organization and planning it isn't that hard. I do it all the time. I even sleep in the back seat of my truck (overnight trials/clinics), and i have a system for that as well.
Don't be afraid to talk to people. You'll meet new people and have more fun--and you might even pick up a tip or two.
Tune out other trainers during warm up. Not only does it psych you out, but what works for them is unlikely to work for you. Do YOUR thing. Have a warm up routine/plan and stick to it.
Oh, and I second the "don't go if you're sick" person.
I usually try to walk the courses first thing, before I unload the horse at all (it gives them some time to chill and look around too).
I get all my gear for each phase arranged and water organized.
In my truck I also leave a sheet identifying myself as showing alone, with many emergency contacts (friends with trailers, family) also identifying my horses and their general care (food, allergies, dangerous quirks), their insurance info. My biggest fear is that if anything serious happened to me, fellow competitors and the event organizers would be stuck with my horses. Who might also be injured. And my "horse" emergency contacts are not the same as my personal ones.
Beam me up- good point about a print out for emergency contacts.
I have a cap on my trunk so that might work for sleeping if I ever attend an overnight show.
I guess I mostly have to figure out whether on the trailer or off is better. She seemed pretty happy with hay either way. She is good following me around/standing and watching what's going on. I think most of it is timing, keeping a perlino looking clean (I like the pommel rag idea) and organization.
Is everyone just wearing an eventer watch or do you do a cell phone alarm for keeping on time. Good mention of the TIME it takes to get from one place to another on the show grounds and how that can be a big time eater. I already do bring my own drinks and foods- I think a cooler in the front seat might help contain my food and drinks overall.
I love all the ideas and advice (no showing sick and alone)!
To me, the main thing is having a horse who behaves on the trailer... if you do, you are good to go, if not, the day will be stressful for all involved.
Do not forget the amazing camaraderie of eventers- you will find help when you need it- to hold a horse at the port-a-pottie, or hand you something you forgot in your trailer...
As others have mentioned, I took a page (literally) from Pony Club and tack up a sheet of paper with my contact information. Then, when I am off walking the course, or grabbing a bite to eat, I am not having thoughts of my horse running around the grounds...
And even though I have a saint of a horse, I don't leave him tied outside the trailer for more than a few minutes if no one is there.. have seen too many crazy things happen, like last week when the horse next to us SERIOUSLY objected to the ice boots that were being applied!!!!
I show alone all the time, but it's certainly easier if you have a helper! Everyone gave great suggestions, but it does get trickier when the weather gets hot...having someone to hand you your waterbottle during dressage warmup or before your cross country round is really nice! Besides all the other great tips, I would see if there's a kid around who wants to learn the ropes and would be willing to help out for the day I'm friends w/ the DC of our local pony club and will sometimes call her and see if one of the kids wants to get some experience grooming and would come along with me. The best $50 (or whatever you want to pay them) you can spend!
I don't like to leave horses tied to the trailer alone for any length of time--no matter how good they are, there is just too much going on, some of it kind of crazy (dog fights, people driving in or out, lungeing horses, loose horses galloping back to their trailers etc.)
My current guy doesn't tie very well, although if he's by himself he'll stand fine on the trailer--if we come with a buddy and the buddy leaves, that's a different story. So if necessary I either get there early to walk the course, or go the night before and walk if it's close by and my times are early--I'm lucky to live within a couple of hours of 10+ events, so I never stable.
I try to be VERY organized. All of my dressage clothes go in my jacket bag, including stuff like gloves, stock and hairnet. Armband is velcroed to my vest. My dressage pad, girth and bridle go in a duffel bag. My jumping pad, girth, bridle, boots etc. go in a different duffel bag. And I do set everything out in a pile on the ground before each phase, as long as it's not wet.
My horse is big and dumb, but basically a nice guy, and in an emergency I don't hesitate to ask someone to hold him while I pee or walk the course. No one has ever acted offended.
My trainer is usually at events, but she often shows 6+ horses in multiple divisions, so she really doesn't have time to warm me up or do more than answer a quick question or two.
But you know what? I actually seriously PREFER to go by myself/ be by myself. The sad truth is that when I compete I get nervous, and when I get nervous I turn into a complete bitch. The last thing I want to do is make polite small talk, or have someone offer me food, or pretend that they've put on my tack correctly when actually I want my boots lower or my figure eight tighter. And the worst thing ever is going with someone who talks to me the entire time I'm trying to learn a course
I show alone all the time, and tbh, it's a lot less stressful than having a 'helper' along. You can focus, not get interrupted every 5 minutes with 'where's this', 'what time do you have to get on', 'what's for lunch' etc.
I took my green ponies to their first events, when they were my first events too ! Going it alone, is INFINITELY less stressful than going with a chatty friend, for me.
My top tips are ...
- get a stall.
- get a GPS, or look up the directions in advance
- if you are going to make friends and talk to people at shows, make sure it's people like eponacowgirl, subk, cookiePony, mccorbett, (and Amy, whose name I forget) etc.