Show Ring Essentials


It’s early morning and you are prepping for the show – what do you throw in a bag at the last minute before you rush off to go school your now semi-feral horse?  Here I’ve put together a list of some of my favorite horse show essentials that will keep you and your horse looking polished and put together without piling on to the already expensive horse show bill:

  1. Shout Wipe & Go – These are an actual lifesaver.  I picked some up on a whim one day at the grocery store and threw them in my car since I frequently end up with food stains all over my clothes because after over 20 years, I still cannot manage to eat properly.  Fast forward a few months to a local show where I had grabbed a chocolate chip breakfast bar on the way to the show and had eaten it while driving.  Due to my great luck and pure talent, one of the chocolate chips had fallen into the seat and I sat on it, resulting in a brown smear on the butt of my breeches.  Great look for the show ring, right?  Thankfully, I remembered this wipes and grabbed one and went to work.  In seconds, the stain was totally gone!  Since then, I keep a pack in my car, my tack trunk, and in my show bag. At $2.97 for a set of 12 wipes, these little guys will provide plenty of bang for your buck and keep you looking spotless at the show.
  2. Effax Speedy Leather Shine – I first saw this guy in action at an IHSA show my college was hosting and I was instantly hooked.  It is essentially a sponge with leather conditioner/shine already infused, so all you need to do is take off the lip and wipe whatever leather you have that needs a bit of shine – bridles, boots, even your saddle!  And since it has a plastic handle, your hands don’t end up all gross and sticky, which is a major plus when you are showing and trying to keep clean.  With one of these babies for $7.95, you can fulfill your Rihanna dreams and shine bright like a diamond in the show ring.
  3. Mario Badescu Facial Spray – No matter what the weather is like, I always end up hot and sweaty at the horse show.  Between bathing and prepping, dodging pony kids and their wily mounts, and oh yeah, actually riding, it’s hard not to end up sweating!  This facial spray is a godsend for those moments when you need a quick refresh to feel like you’re not completely falling apart.  The spray contains aloe herbs and rosewater and is safe on even the most sensitive of skin and adds a boost of hydration and healthy moisture!  My pro tip for this spray: on hot horse show days, leave this in your cooler/fridge if you have one.  Once chilled, this spray is exceptionally refreshing on a hot summer day!  It may sound expensive, but for $7, this spray is well worth it and a great way to treat yo’self without spending a lot.
  4. Ibuprofen – Perhaps this is my old lady-ness shining through, but I’m noticing more and more just how much I hurt during and after horse show days!  We all know how long and demanding they can be and you will not regret having some handy, travel sized ibuprofen to help ease the pain.  Ibuprofen acts as an anti-inflammatory as well so it can be perfect if you have any soreness or stiffness from an injury or just a long day.  Of course, make sure to adhere to the directions for taking it!  At $3 for a bottle of 50 200mg pills, this is definitely something you don’t want to be caught without.
  5. Washcloths/Towels – I am sure this is a no-brainer for a lot of you, but I had to include it!  There is nothing more essential or versatile at a horse show than a good rag.  You can use it for just about anything – wiping the green grass schmutz off your horse’s mouth and bit, dusting off your boots, throwing over your eyes as an eye mask while you catch a few z’s in the grooming stall in between classes… Whatever you use them for, always have plenty on hand!  You can get a pack of 8 in assorted colors for $4.99, or often I just cut up old bath towels or use old kitchen towels!  Repurposing at its finest, folks.
  6. A Cooler – I bought this cute little soft cooler at a local drug store in a pinch the night before a horse show and I have never been happier with a last minute purchase!  I love having a soft cooler – one that is not rigid and hard the way traditional coolers are, for horse shows because I find they are easier to pack and carry and still do the job!  Perfect for water, sports drinks, a little bit of wine, whatever it is you need to keep cool during the long horse show day, these babies can handle it!  You can find a top rated one that will keep contents cool for up to 24 hours for $19.97 on Amazon.  Trust me, you won’t regret it.
  7. Snacks – Alright, this is a no-brainer, I know, but so crucial it was worth mentioning.  I usually try to pack the night before the show and always make sure to include snacks.  You know how it is, you’re constantly running around doing a million things at once and food is usually the last thing on your mind.  It is essential though to feeling and performing your best during the day.  Granola and power bars are my go-to favorites because they’re tasty, portable, and can serve as the perfect pick-me-up during a hectic day.  My go-to’s are Kind and Luna bars – both are gluten free, which is one of my dietary restrictions, come in a variety of flavors, and are can often be found for $1 at most grocery stores.

Big Style, Slim Wallet

Alright, here I am  to lay it out for you.  Your own personal bible to budget shopping in the equestrian world.  I wish.  Unfortunately, I do not have all the answers or the ability to make you look like Georgina Bloomberg on a backyard budget.  What I do have though, is a unique set of skills (cue Liam Neeson voice) to help you dress your best while keeping your wallet happy.  Here goes nothing:

  1. Know when to splurge and when to save.  For instance, new tall boots or paddock boots that you will wear nearly every day and possibly on multiple horses?  Splurge and get good quality products that will hold up to the wear and tear you expect to put them through.  Fun t-shirt or a new belt? Those are definitely items you can spend a little less on and even usually find in non-equestrian specific stores, which often makes them cheaper.  Which leads to point 2…
  2. Equestrian stores are not the only place to buy stuff to ride in.  I’m sure you all know this, I know this, but I have to often remind myself of it.  Some athletic shirts make the best summer shirts (check out more on that here), you can find some fabulous belts for cheap at department stores or stores like TJ Maxx et cetera.  This is perfect for picking up #rootd worthy pieces at a discount so you can spend a little extra on some tough breeches or just save up for that next lesson.
  3. Make sure you are actually getting a good deal.  Plenty of retailers will list the “retail” price of an item and then “their” price and you think you’re getting a good deal because you’re paying “their” price which is cheaper than “retail.”  If you do a little research though, you often find that everyone is selling at the same price.  For instance, Dover gives the list price of these contrast-patch Tailored Sportsman breeches as $224, but then gives their price as $189.  If you look on SmartPak, they have the same breeches for $189 as well.  The lesson is, do a little research and make sure that the deal you think you are getting is really a deal!
  4. My go to rule when putting together an insta-worthy #rootd is to pick one “focus” item to be the key piece of your outfit.  For example, if you get a really gorgeous and trendy new belt, keep it low key and classic with the  breeches and top.  If you’ve got a cute and funky graphic tee, let everyone focus on that instead of trying to put together too many statement pieces.  The goal is to look put together and cute (for me at least), not like a flashing billboard that just wants to garner as much attention as possible.
  5. Own it.  This is the cheapest but sometimes hardest way to make your look work.  You’ve got to embrace whatever it is you are wearing and that is what will make it look amazing, not the brands or what you paid, but how much you own and appreciate what you are wearing.  Everyone is different and so is their style, so find yours and embrace it!  Even if you haven’t quite found your specific “look” yet, embrace the process!  This is supposed to be fun, remember that and rock whatever it is you’ve got on.


Like I said earlier, these are not the end-all be-all tips to making you look perfect every time while spending no money, but they are some things I have learned along the way that I think can apply to everyone.  Keep an eye out for future features on fabulous companies, how to hunt down the best deal, and on trend riding looks for less!  Comment below to let us know what your favor budget tip is.