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Showing by yourself with 2+ horses?

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    Showing by yourself with 2+ horses?

    Any tips or tricks to show 2 or more horses by yourself at an event? I have shown 1 by myself, no issues. I have shown 2 at a dressage show. Now about to adventure into showing 2 at an event - a one day schooling show. Getting stalls to make it easier, but any tips? Just curious if there are any helpful tips.

    Lol...get help. I’ve done it. It’s a bitch. Now that I’m old, nope...never again. But seriously—-hydrate well in days before the event and Stay organized. If you start out will be a disaster.

    that said....I was doing this at one day it was tough. If you are at events spread out. It isn’t as bad. But the trick really is staying organized and REALISTICALLY scheduling your day. Map it all out ahead of time.

    eta: I was an ex-show groom accustomed to having 7-10 horses at a show by myself. So really experienced at time management and tacking. But when you also are takes it up a level as you also need to care for yourself and be right mentally to compete. Totally doable though.....I’ve even done 3 but now I’m just not fit enough.
    Last edited by bornfreenowexpensive; Feb. 13, 2020, 08:16 PM.
    ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **


      I do it fairly frequently, though after this weekend think it may be worth an additional $50/75 to hire a groom for help.

      Keeping myself and my tack trunk organized is key. My two even go in the same tack, so I'm proficient with my time-management and proactive to keep all of my gear in one place and ready to go. As soon as I arrive I set out the tack, put on numbers for the first horse to go. Then, I keep a laundry bag and as I'm done with gear that I wont use again, it gets stuffed in the laundry bag not to reappear and clutter my space until I get back home.

      I also pack my trunk in reverse order, so XC boots/gear on bottom and dressage on top. So I just pick off the top what I need. You can do the same with order of go of each ride if you use different tack.

      I have a script of time to tack up, hop on, and ride time per horse. I find in the moment, it doesn't seem excruciating with two unless I have to fit in two xc course walks on the same day in-between the rides. So, if you can course walk the day before that is beneficial.

      There is also a level of fitness needed in your aspect. I've definitely been under that mark, drank caffeine all day, and then I crash by my last ride. I have two that are moving up the levels now, so I ride better when I'm fit and taking care of myself.

      I have the most rush and stress when my space is disorganized. So much of my time can be spent rummaging to find a glove or running back and forth about the trailer.

      I am seriously considering hiring a groom/help now, though. As much as I love the care part of the shows, the one-days are more of a job than going and enjoying the competition. I don't feel like my horses are necessarily gleaming when i'm just throwing a brush and tack on.


        I've shown two by myself for several years. It's much harder at a one day event. If you can, walk your courses the day before. Stalls if they won't stand on the trailer nicely. I wouldn't leave one trailer tied unattended.

        Have a cooler with snacks and drinks easily accessible. Staying fed and watered is the hardest when you're busy running around but you'll compete better full and hydrated.

        Biggest key to being quick and efficient is to minimize your steps. Try to minimize trips to the trailer from the barn and vice versa. Have everything organized where you need it and easily accessible.

        The best part of showing two or more horses? I'm so busy I pretty much never have time to get nervous! It's been a huge asset in some ways despite the extra work and investment.


          Original Poster

          So our first adventure into showing two, it is a one day schooling show, but going on friday and coming back sunday (with show on saturday), so hopefully I'll have both courses walked Friday. I'm trying to drag a friend along to help, but shes not an eventer, so I worry that I will spend alot of time just trying to explain what to do to help. Still hoping to bring her to help, but trying to plan if she isn't able to come along, if there is anything extra to do.

          They share jump saddles, but different bridles. Different dressage tack. I don't know if that makes it easier or harder. Both at lower levels (novice for our first event in a while, and starter for the one that has never done an event). So no studs - which should be easier to handle.


            leighbo009 Even if your friend can hold one horse while you tack it up, that will help, or if she can take the hot one and walk/bathe it while you prep the next. Or, use her to save steps (can you hand me xxx from yyy)


              Food, mine. Running back and forth to buy unhealthy food from the concessions, standing in line, waiting for it to be ready, just doesn't work. So there is a massive planning and packing of my own food (and drinks), done ahead of time. Then at the event my food is right there, the right thing at the right time, and becomes the easiest part of the day. Remember treats for you.


                And if the horse overnights in a stall, I bring the horse to the trailer for the day while competing. No loading/unloading of all the tack in the trailer, no losing/forgetting tack/gear essentials that are in the trailer. That means that during the day, the truck-trailer has to be parked with the day trailers and I have water/hay there. So I'm consuming the space = two competitors, trailer space & stall space, and that's ok. For me this is really far less time-consuming and less stressful, it might not be right for everyone though.)


                  FEI groom here. I've groomed 7 horses by myself before and 4 plus mine when I was also riding. It is totally doable if you stay really organized, especially since you have stalls. My main suggestions are:

                  1) Set up your saddle pads Friday night with your numbers and pins. Use pins on the bottom corner so that you can just move the number to the next pad. Stack saddle pads with pin side up in their order of use right below saddles and add the number to the next pad right when you take the last pad off. Keep a bag to throw dirty laundry in when you are done. Also set up boots in front of stall (have two sets of XC boots so you aren't putting wet ones on the second horse).

                  2) Keep a bucket, sponge, and scraper ready to just sponge off sweaty areas right when you get off if you don't have time for a full bath.

                  3) Set up each horse's tack in front of their stall at the beginning of the day (so two hangers for bridles and saddles). I also recommend a single hanger for halters so you never misplace them.

                  4) Keep ample water and quick snacks available. I bring gallon jugs and drink 1/day.

                  5) Once you get your times, really plan your schedule. I like to put three columns on a white board - one with tack up time, on time, and ride time. Know when you will have time to give a full bath vs. sponge off, take out braids, re-organize etc and plan out that time too. Write it down if needed. Make a list of what you need to do before the first ride and write that down.

                  6) Fully groom both horses first thing in the morning. Knock off dust and pick feet quick before you tack.

                  7) Keep things where you use them - for example, hoof oil by the mounting block, laundry bag by the saddle pads, grooming kit by the stalls. This makes you more efficient.

                  If anyone is in Florida, I am happy to come help if I am available!


                    Love what I am learning from this post! I always show by myself, and do some of these tricks with one horse- have tried two and always had help with two.


                      Having shown with two horses for multiple years, I agree with most other posters. The biggest things that have helped me:
                      1. Walk your XC courses the night before, if possible -- it will save a ton of time the day of the event
                      2. Look at your dressage tests the week before and become familiar with them but on the day of the competition, don't think about the 2nd horse's dressage test until after you have completed dressage with the first horse -- this helps prevent you from getting the two tests confused! (Ask me how I know...)
                      3. Clean your horses as much as possible the night before (bathe, ShowSheen and brush tails, etc.). This will hopefully minimize the grooming needed on competition day.
                      4. Have the 2nd horse's XC number inside your pinny already, with the 1st horse's number over top of it. This allows you to quickly pull out the 1st horse's number when it's time to take horse #2 out on XC
                      5. Be OK with potentially having to throw horse #1 into the their stall immediately after getting back from XC in order to tack up horse #1 and get on them in time. That was hard for me to adjust to at first, but I found that it is usually a 5-10 minute walk back to the stalls from XC and the horse will cool down enough during that time (especially this time of the year) that it's OK to just strip the tack and throw them in their stall until you get back. If it's summertime and HOT and I've been in a pinch, I've had cold water and a sponge waiting in a bucket to do a quick sponge and scrape and then throw them in a stall in front of a fan until I get back.
                      6. Be extremely organized. Pack your trailer yourself (don't let anyone help you), so you know where everything is and can grab it in a pinch.

                      Overall, just be prepared to never get a chance to sit down the entire weekend. Between having to handwalk two horses (I walk them both at the same time), clean two stalls, fill water buckets, etc., I felt like I was always having to do something and found that I didn't enjoy the weekend as much. Therefore, I always try to find someone to come with me (even if it's someone non-horsey) because they can help do simple things like fill water buckets, hand walk a horse, etc.

                      Good luck!


                        This post is awesome as I show mostly by myself too. Thanks all!!
                        Wonderful ponies for family or show!


                          Originally posted by mep0726 View Post
                          3. Clean your horses as much as possible the night before (bathe, ShowSheen and brush tails, etc.). This will hopefully minimize the grooming needed on competition day.
                          At a previous barn, a barnmate used this lycra sleazy (or slicker) to keep her horses clean overnight. At first I thought it was overkill -- but it works! Of course if you are blanketing you won't need one for the body, but for the neck & head can protect the coat if they lay down in poop overnight.



                          Also if you don't keep the tail in a braid or tail-cover to protect it, just douse it in detangler the day/night before, and again the morning of the competition. The detangler slickness will repel a lot of dirt and will allow shavings, grass and anything else to just slide right out.

                          In the morning if the tail is already full of detritis, applying detangler first thing will allow most of it to slide out while walking/grooming the horse.

                          When I get the horse in the morning, the first thing I do is pump those tails full of detangler (from the top-inside of the tail hair) and shake them a bit just to spread the detangler around. The detangler will drip from the inner top of the tail down into the rest of it. The tail will start shedding crud almost right away. I don't work with the tail until after I do the rest of the grooming and leg protectors etc., giving time for crud to slide out of the tail on it's own, and the detangler time to dry. Then I can use my hands to shake it out and have it looking pretty in just a few minutes, which is better than breaking hairs with a brush or comb.

                          During the couple of weeks before the competition, some regular washes of the tail hair, along with detangler, will make things much easier and prettier at the show.


                            I write a very detailed schedule on my phone, like this:
                            7:29 coach in CK dressage warm up
                            7:43 CK Dressage test
                            7:57 dress yourself for stadium
                            8:12 start tacking Buddy (stadium)
                            8:30 get on
                            8:35 arrive at stadium warm up
                            8:50 stadium for Buddy
                            9 get back to stalls take care of Buddy
                            9:35 meet students for BN course walk


                            This only works if the ride times are far enough apart! You can request the secretary switch something if you need to. Just make sure to do this well in advance.

                            I love a lot of these suggestions. Especially thinking about one thing at a time- while I am tacking one horse, all I think about is what I need to do on that horse for that phase. I don't let myself worry about that one XC jump later in the day or what the other test is I need to know. Once I finish a test, I imagine throwing that test out of my brain and focus on the next thing.

                            If you have a particularly crazy day, you might be able to find a helpful teenager who is willing to groom for you!


                              All of the above, plus, dont be scared to ask a bystander if they can hold your horse during a quick sj walk, or hand you your coat before you go in the dressage ring.



                                Originally posted by Jeannette, formerly ponygyrl View Post
                                All of the above, plus, dont be scared to ask a bystander if they can hold your horse during a quick sj walk, or hand you your coat before you go in the dressage ring.
                                I'm super-new to the eventing world and only have a couple of little provincial trials under my belt, but I've found people SO friendly and willing to help! My second trials was alone, and I had strangers hold my horse a couple of times, and two different strangers filmed my dressage and SJ for me.


                                  This is such a great thread! Lots of good tips. I won’t repeat other than to say get a great white board and plan your day. I’ve found that in the blind panic that can be one of these really busy days, digging around to find my phone can be a pain but glancing up at a neat white board is a life saver.

                                  A few things to add- people (friends and strangers alike) do really want to help. It’s helpful to think through what you might ask for if someone is free and offers. Hosing and walking out a hot horse is one that is great and gives the horse some nice time out and about.

                                  Also, think through what each horse really needs if time gets tight. I really have thought through warm ups, tacking up, cool down etc, so if I need to flex the day, I’m doing it strategically and not haphazardly. This is particularly important if you have a young/inexperienced horse or using the show for a specific training purpose.

                                  All this to say organizing and planning are the biggest keys. It can be really fun and it keeps the “waiting all day for XC” nerves at bay! Good luck!


                                    A white board or a clipboard for that detailed plan, that stays handy all day long! Keep a writing instrument attached to it so you can note changes as you go.

                                    I have a blank sheet on the clipboard behind my detailed schedule. If I think if something important that I want to follow up on later ("call Jane about schooling" or "desensitize to running children") , I write it on the extra blank sheet, so I don't try to remember it all day.

                                    Office Depot has mini-clipboards that are easier to stow here and there (grooming box, lunch sack) than regular-sized ones. I keep a pen clipped on the clip. The red one is for my Right Now Schedule, the black one for noting down Things to Buy, and the blue one for noting things to Follow Up Later. I may have several pages for Today's Right Now Schedule and just keep peeling them off as each is completed.


                                      I echo what others have said about getting a white-board and writing down the times you start to tack up, warm up, and show. It helps keep you on track tremendously. You'll also waste way less energy/mental stamina trying to figure out "ok it's 12:05 and my ride is at 1:30 should I be ready or tacking up soon..?" Don't just write your ride times there - write your schedule: when to start tack up, when to start warm-up, and the ride time. I also write the optimum time for XC somewhere visible as well.

                                      One thing that really cuts down on grooming time, assuming you are getting there with two cleaned/bathed horses, is to showsheen (or vetrolin - or any sheen spray you have) all non-saddle areas and to keep them in a fly sheet while they are stalled. It's breathable and light, so it's usually suitable to be left on overnight in a stall - and it keeps their fur clean and shiny. I actually have noticed the flysheets buff their fur better than a curry does. Showsheen their legs and tail heavily, and curry it into their legs - this helps keep them clean even if they're pigs in their stall and reduces the amount of time you spend cleaning them before a ride. I basically only have to brush them down with a soft-brush before I put tack on.

                                      Pre-pack everything. Put your number[s]/pins on your saddle pad and bridles the day before/when you get your package. Walk all courses the day before. When showing multiple horses it helps me if I only walk one level's jumping courses first (if doing different levels) - but YMMV. IE I'll walk the BN XC and SJ course one after the other, before moving onto the other horse's level.

                                      So much time is eaten trying to find or locate items - leave them in "like" bags or totes and grab them when grabbing other items you need - IE, If wearing boots SJ/XC, I always put them in the same bag as my XC gear since that's the only time I'd need them. My XC gear lives with my horse's XC gear (saddle pad, martingale, boots, etc) to save time.

                                      One thing that will also help, if you can - in the AM when you are dumping feed, set up the rest of the haybags and feed for the day so you are not doing this mid-day between rides. Put out your saddle stand and bags - but don't leave saddlery/tack out if you will not be by the stalls. By and large most eventers are incredibly honest, but you never know.

                                      Regarding setting up stations - I will set up my bathing stuff before I leave for XC by filling up my Home Depot bucket with water and a few glugs of liniment. That way I can pull up and strip tack, and sponge off immediately without having to wait for the hose (which is often in high demand!). I also leave 5 gallon water jugs (filled up) by each horse's stall so instead of moving buckets in and out I can just top off water as I see they need it. I keep bridles and saddlepads on top of the saddles being used so I can just pull everything at once in one trip. Small things like this add up when time is in a crunch!

                                      Don't forget you, too. Pack water, gatorade/powerade, snacks, and a few premade sandwiches. I usually stop on the way to the event for donuts and/or bagels and a big box of Joe coffee for the weekend.

                                      Good luck and have a blast!!
                                      AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012


                                        Original Poster

                                        Originally posted by beowulf View Post

                                        Regarding setting up stations - I will set up my bathing stuff before I leave for XC by filling up my Home Depot bucket with water and a few glugs of liniment. That way I can pull up and strip tack, and sponge off immediately without having to wait for the hose (which is often in high demand!). I also leave 5 gallon water jugs (filled up) by each horse's stall so instead of moving buckets in and out I can just top off water as I see they need it. I keep bridles and saddlepads on top of the saddles being used so I can just pull everything at once in one trip. Small things like this add up when time is in a crunch!

                                        I really like this advice, something I never would have thought about. Thanks!