Friday, August 10, 2012

The Organized Show Girl

Somehow over the years I've been developing a system.  It's a work in progress.  I adjust and tweak after each show and until I have my own trailer with a tack room I will never be "done".  But here's a look at where my system is right now.

I've also created this handy-dandy show packing list divided by classes.  It's a guide at least.  View it Here.

I have two mottos when it comes to show organization:

1. A place for everything and every thing in it's place.

2. You need the right tools for the job.

I don't show all that much.  It's only been one or two a year. So why put this much cash and energy into keeping myself organized?  Because when I do get to do that rare show I want to be able to ENJOY it. You have read the title of this blog, right?  You know I can get frazzled WAY to easily.  I try very hard to avoid that.

I also have a very important commitment to getting ready for a show as soon as the show is over. What I mean is, as soon as I get home from a show (and eat a huge fast-food meal and sleep 10 hours) everything gets restored to show-ready condition.  Pads get washed, clothes get washed and pressed (yes, I said PRESSED), tack is cleaned, and everything is put back in the right bags, ready for the next show.  This way I don't end up realizing I can't find some little thing or that my shirt isn't washed or that my breeches split a seam as I'm dressing for my first class.  Also, with having to bum rides to shows it helps to be ready.  I was offered a spot to go to a show... tomorrow, and in fact and I am totally ready to go, but I'm trying not to over-do it with my back and all. And my shirt isn't ironed which means I broke my rule so I guess I can't go. :(
All laid out, ready to pack up.  
You've seen my luggage set before.  If you want your own, check them out at

1. Hanging Bridle Bag: English Halter, Eng. Bridle, Western Bridle, Screwdriver, Double-Sided Velcro stripes to hold the tack on the hooks during transport.

2. Garment Bag: I actually hate the design of this bag.  The zipper should be placed like #1. The center zipper makes it difficult to get items in/out, but it does have two huge pockets in front for accessories and I can separate the English stuff from the Western.  All pants, shirts, jackets, belts, gloves, socks, lint roller. Dry cleaning bags help keep stuff dust free when hanging in a dirty tack stall.  I also add a spare hanger to keep my show ribbons from ending up in a wrinkled ball in the bottom of a damp water bucket. ;)

3.  English Boot Bag: Boots ALWAYS with plastic shaper inserts, Spurs, Boot Hooks, Boot Jack, Spare pairs of black nylon trouser socks (not as fun but cheaper that Zocks and not obnoxious if they peek out over the boot tops.)

4.  Portable Blanket Bar.  The chains make it possible to hang pretty much anywhere. I like it on the front of my stall door with my show pads on show day and my work pads during schooling days, with hooks at each end for halters, towels, etc. I use a hair binder to keep the chains in check during storage/transportation.

5.  Tail Bag.  The tail really should be in a nylon tube, it's on my sewing list.  Also tucked in the bottom of the bag is black electrical tape and braid binders.

6.  Ring-side Shoulder Tote.  Baby wipes, finishing brush, Touch-up Spray, Rubber Gloves to wear while applying the Touch-up Spray, Hoof Polish Enhancer, A hoof pick, a hand towel, and Saddle Stick Spray - yes it does work.  

7.  Large Shoulder Tote: Grooming Tools, Braiding kit (if I actually braided my own horse), Spot Remover yeah, it works too, Hoof Polish, In Case of Emergency Contact #'s tag for my stall, large zip ties (I use one to create a place to hook our in-stall tie rope) vetrap, extra hanging hooks/snaps, tie rope, bucket straps, hand wipes, Hose nozzle, Ring-Side Shoulder Tote goes in here for transport, too.   

8.  Halter Bag: Like the garment bag, this zipper is not awesome.  Supposedly fits "multiple bridles" but it really only fits one western show halter comfortably.

 9.  Duffel Bag.  This holds a TON of stuff.  Rain gear (for hats, helmets, body), Tagging gun, Western Boots, Hunt Cap, Helmet, Accessory Folder (#11), under-chaps stretchie pants, Checkbook, and whatever else I throw in during the day like my purse and the clothes I wore to the show that morning.  Next show there will be a clipboard to hold the showbill and pattern sheets!

10.  Western Hat Can.  Hat, cleaning sponge, and fake hair bun - which I've not used yet.

11.  Accessory Folder.  Back numbers, number magnets, shoelaces, safety pins, Chicago screws, waterloop ends, bandaids, earrings, makeup, hair needs, sharpie, pen, etc. This has proved really helpful when asking show helpers/strangers to grab last minute things.  Folds up flat and fits in the duffel.

A note about numbers.  So far, every show I've been to allows you to choose your own number rather than having to take the ones they provide.  They keep a master sheet with all numbers and you just claim your spot.  June 15th is my birthday so my number is 615.  I have two kinds of numbers.  I have two sets of laminated numbers that are attached to my pads with a tagging gun - simple and secure. I also have a shaped number that is not laminated but backed with contact paper.  This number has holes for tying around the waist.  I also stitched magnets into the back of my western jacket that are spaced the same as the holes so all my helper has to do pick up the outer magnets, and put them back down with the number underneath.  I should really get some sort of award for that one.

There's empty space! It should be filled with something!  But what?

Yeah, it's all in there.
Saddles, show bridles, and English Show Halter are kept at the barn and I have padded matching bags for the two saddles as well as two folding racks.  When I'm ready for a show, I pack this all in my car along with the empty saddle bags, take the saddle bags and the hanging bridle bag into the barn and pack saddles, bridles, schooling pad, my western spurs, lunge line, lunge whip, half chaps, etc. And yes, to answer that puzzled look on your face, this stuff fills my ENTIRE civic, leaving only my driver's seat.  I can only take a passenger if my western saddle stays home. :)

Here it all is when it's just arrived at a show.

Next on the list to add:
Show Blanket Case, Post show kit with seam ripper and comb for taking out braids.

Someday I want this: a PROFESSIONAL Tack Dolly from Schneiders.  Doing only 1 or 2 shows a year does not justify the expense but someday I want to roll that out of my trailer and make ONE TRIP into the show barn... Sigh...

Any questions?
So what are your tried and true Show Organization tips?


  1. Whoa. You make me feel way better about my amount of stuff! Someone has more, bwahahaha! Check out magic box -- it can be purchased from Home Depot and is BEST THING EVER. Totally had to be designed by a horse person, I cannot live without it now. Pics:

    1. I drooled over your FatMax when you first posted it. When I get a trailer and can actually ROLL out of it, the FatMax will be an excellent companion to my future Tack Dolly!

  2. wow - that is pretty awesome! You are so organized that I am in awe!! I don't show, so I have no tips, but I think you cover most possibilities. I think that cleaning and re-organizing after a show is a crucial point. You wouldn't want to leave stuff dirty for a few weeks/months and then try and sort it all out the night before a show.

    1. Yes! You've no idea how many times I've been at a show and witnessed someone else's lack of planning. The worst thing I've done recently is forgot to put my spurs back on my boots after Hunter Showmanship and went into Hunter Under Saddle without them. Now I attach them to the saddle before the show so if I forget at least they're there when I go to mount!

  3. Wow that is super organized! I love how all of your bags match, Im kind of weird about stuff like that too! There are smaller tool boxes than the Fatmax, I have one that has everything 'everyday' along with boots, and banding/clipping items in it. Then I just have big bags of stuff.

    I will say that I found a 2 sided padded halter/bridle bag that can fit 6 bridles/halters easily. I could take my show halter, show western and english bridles, extra bits, lunge lines and extra spurs in one bag (it also had 2 pockets in it). It opens completely too, so that you can hang it up open and access everything very quickly.

    1. WHERE!?!?! Where did you find this magical bridle bag????

    2. I would like to know as well!! I know its been close to a year since Justaplainsam but you cant blame a girl for trying! lol

  4. I have a tack dolly, like the one you posted, and I still make multiple trips. I am over prepared, that girl that has to mark everything they bring because someone will forget something, and they magically come looking for you. Sign-up sheet needed. Lol I love seeing fellow riders who share the love of over organization. Love the matching bags also! Looking great.