Show Morning Routine
Every competitive equestrian has experienced an “untimely” show... it's inevitable that not every show runs on schedule. For this reason I make my show-morning routine brief. If I made a long “good luck” ritual, I doubt I’d be motivated to do it for those 3am wake-up calls, and then it would leave me feeling superstitious that the day may not go well.
Of course everyone is different with the amount of time they need to get ready, I prefer to err on the side of caution and give myself a bit more time than I expect I need, because it's never a good idea to start the day off feeling stressed. Fortunately I don’t have much I need to do in the morning. I ditched the flat-ironing my curly hair for riding years ago (It was definitely a short-lived phase). I like to steer clear of any superstitious charms or clothes because I worry about losing it and the whole competition going wrong. Putting yourself in a state of “dependency” can be risky. Of course I do have preferences but sometimes I even go against them to remind myself I am just as good without them! One of them is wearing a thick leather belt. I have two I like to wear and they’re basically all I wear. I actually went on my trip to Europe this past June without a single belt in my luggage (by accident) and I survived the trip without one, riding almost thirty horses total! (Except for one place where my pants felt like they were falling down and I borrowed a Hermes belt from this really sweet lady and I successfully didn’t ruin it!). I like to wear breathable show shirts, even in the winter because cold sweat should be avoided. I also wear the same tall boots that I use practicing at home because having a different feel on the horse can easily shift your performance.
A full face of makeup is not a great choice for riding because it will be melting off in a few hours. (Not a good look, definitely don’t recommend it). If I want to put something on I usually just do my brows, a light (almost clear) SPF lipstick as a moisturizer, and maybe concealer I have to. I always put on a Neutrogena SPF 35 moisturizer on my face as duo layer of sunscreen. It’s such a win when I (almost always) forget to put sunscreen on.
Now that I’m looking as confident as I aim to feel in the ring I’m ready to head off to the show! If I have time, I always stop for coffee on the way. (And there is always time for coffee!) Some people can’t eat before they show because of nerves, but I have to eat something. If I’m showing in the morning I stick to something not as filling, so more carbs than normal (like a cream cheese bagel), but if it's later in the day I will get something filling (like and egg sandwich, or peanut butter sandwich) so I don’t have to eat again closer to my show time.
If it’s a day show I go to my barn first and then trailer my horse to the show. If it’s a week-long show we stable our horses on the show and I go straight there in the morning. For day shows I always pack my supplies the night before so in the morning all I have to do is focus on getting my horses ready to ship. I groom them (worst case bath) and then I plait their manes, which takes me 30-40 minutes depending on the thickness of the braids and how cooperative they are being. I ship them in Back on Track “Quick Wraps”, which are literally the most genius invention for stabling or shipping ever!
If my horses are stabled at the show I first feed them, clean the stall, bathe them (if needed) and do plaiting. Then I head down to the rings to check on my courses and the timing of all the classes. I usually have other people to help out at the show so I figure out timing for that as well. If I am showing later in the day I either flat my horse in the morning or do a long hand walk, depending on the needs of each horse. It's important to focus on the different needs of each horse. One of my long term partners Chaz, can get tired, or easily bored at shows so we like to keep him fresh and alert, so I like to hand walk him. My new partner Uno is the opposite, I have to flat him every morning and adjust him to the surroundings.
Now that I know my partner is just as ready as I am to compete, I know my show morning routine is successfully complete. Thank you for reading, and I hope this can help you strengthen your own show morning routine!
TFE Ambassador Martha Wyatt-Luth
15 yo Junior Rider, Zone 2, USA
Jumpers, Equitation, Hunters