As a groom going to the Kentucky Three-Day Event, whether for the first time or 22nd time, packing can be a game of must-haves, throw in just in case, or maybe a little overboard which means everything plus the kitchen sink. Some people might ask “What is the difference between packing for an international competition and a regular multi-day event?” To be honest, it shouldn’t be, But, having been packing for this event for 22 years, I can say I would always think about my lists at least three weeks in advance and then start packing the trailer three days prior to shipping (if I wasn’t at another event that weekend!). This year, I’m excited to be grooming for Sydney Solomon and her eventing horse, Early Review, who are doing their first 5* level of competition.
Getting Ready to Pack
Lists are your best friend. Whether you are old-fashioned like me and like pen and paper or you use your phone, I always recommend making lists. I finally got smart a few years back and did a Google doc for myself which I would then add or remove items according to which horses were competing. I would print it out and then cross off items as I packed. This year has been a bit different because I haven’t groomed for this horse and rider combination before. Syndey did her own list and then I added or removed items accordingly. Because of the intensity of the event, knowing your horse and having all the relevant equipment and products that you MIGHT need helps you to feel less anxious when you get to the eventing competition. You do want to feel you can put your hand on the right wound powder or foot wrapping material quickly rather than have to go borrowing or buying. Once on the grounds during the day, you won’t have the ability to go to the store and grab what you need… unless you have a runner like a friend or a parent!
My biggest piece of advice: DON’T try new equipment or products at the event. If you have made it this far, presumably the management of your eventing horse has been good so don’t make crazy or unnecessary changes that could upset the apple cart! Nothing worse than deciding to wear a new bridle at Kentucky’s international competition and then getting there only to realize it actually doesn’t fit as well as expected! Keep your grooming products the same, shampoos and coat conditioners are all different and you don’t need your horse having a reaction to a new product the day before the Dressage phase!
Split your list into categories that work for you. I personally like Essentials; Grooming; Tack and Equipment; Horse Clothing: Rider; Stall Set-Up (including grain, hay, supplements), and Medical. This blog would be never-ending if I discussed every item so instead I will highlight some of my favorite picks that I always pack.
- Health Certificate, don’t leave home without one!
- Horse Passport: Without this, you can’t even get into the barns let alone start the event!
- Thermometer: FEI rules are such that you must provide your own thermometers to record daily temperatures. I would suggest taking 2 or 3… they always seem to break, get damp or the battery dies!
- Spare Shoes: Unless you are super fortunate, your own farrier will not be present at the event. Having a full set of spare shoes that have already been fitted to your horse can make a difference between a sore foot Sunday morning or a sound horse. Also, it’s cheaper for you!
Grooming Supplies and Equipment
- Towels, never have too many, small and large!
- Hoof Oil
- More than one hoof pick – I always take around 4 to have in different places
- Scissors, multiple because they always go missing
- All-important quarter mark brush
- Tail Wrap
- Wash Halter
- Show Halter
- 2 lead ropes
- Witch Hazel
- Shapleys Magic Sheen
- Shapleys Hi Gloss and Light Oil #1 for that extra shine on horse inspection days and in the Dressage Arena
- Braiding Kit
- Bathing supplies
- Dawn or Ivory shampoo to get rid of the grease from cross – country day!
- Scrapers, at least 4 so you have enough for cooling out after finishing the cross-country course
- Safety Pins for emergencies and attaching numbers to the saddle pad
- Tack cleaning supplies, including brass polish if you have any bling on your halter or bridles
- Ring backpack or tote
Tack/Equipment – This is very individualized for each horse’s needs.
- It is wise to always take extra work pads, work boots, and polos because if the weather is wet and damp, drying washed polos and boots might not happen quickly!
- I think white boots look classy for heading to the horse inspection
- Ear bonnets, like the Horseware Ireland Rambo Air Tech Ear Net
- Spare reins and girths…. just in case!
- Electrical Tape should be at hand to fix pesky sliding keepers, secure boots or apply numbers to breastplates for cross – country.
- Always check the weather a day before leaving. You can easily experience all four seasons at Kentucky. Keeping your horse at a comfortable temperature for his muscles to stay warm and relaxed whether out hand grazing, cooling off, drying after bathing, or just standing ringside is crucial.
- I personally like the Ionic range from Horseware. The therapeutic range of sheets and stable blankets offer warmth whilst also enhancing your horse well being through the use of negative ions being absorbed into the bloodstream and supporting blood flow to muscles.
- You will need a wide range of coolers. I like to have lightweight coolers, such as the Rambo Sport Cooler or Horseware Dry Liner which are ideal on those slightly warmer days but you want your horse to be covered after bathing and prevent him from getting chilly. They also can be used as a light cover-up against flies when hand grazing.
- Mid-weight and heavy coolers should always be at hand. Again you never know what the weather will throw at you in Kentucky.
- You always want to look very presentable whenever outside the stall so having a clean cooler that you keep to use by itself, or as a top layer if very cold weather, just for that one purpose is very practical. We all know how rolling in shavings can destroy a neat and tidy blanket very quickly!
- Always pack a turnout or rain sheet! If lacking in space I love the Horseware Ireland Mack in the Sack, lightweight, easy to pack, and keeps your horse dry.
- When it comes to wrapping your horse’s legs you need to do what works best for them. Many times the horses are used to a lot of turnout at home so applying some kind of circulatory support when standing in the stall through the event can be beneficial. Ionic Stable Boots are perfect for horses that don’t suffer from stocking up overnight. I do pack two full sets of Ionic quilts to use after cross-country and show jumping when you want compression and support of the circulatory system to prevent inflammation.
- I stick to packing for the horse!! Although I always pack plenty of waterproof clothing and footwear. If it is a rainy event, you will not want your days spent in wet clothing or shoes!
- Again, very individualized to each horse but remember bedding, hay, grain, and supplements. Be prepared to overbed the stall. It’s so important for horses to be encouraged to lie down and get their REM sleep. For peak performance, they need to get their ZZZZs !
- Have plenty of double-ended snaps and zip ties for hanging buckets, blanket racks, and tack-cleaning buckets. I like to have as much as possible off the tack room floor. Whether I’m stringing up a blanket rack or attaching hooks for bridles and coats, or hanging a stall guard, double-ended snaps and zip ties are your best friend!
- Whiteboards and markers for writing a daily schedule are a must.
- When it comes to drinking buckets, think about using the buckets from your horse’s stall at home. Sometimes this can aid in getting horses to drink more water whilst at the show.
- Even if your horse eats his hay from the ground, bring a hay net to use if you decide to do IV (intravenous) fluids sometime through the week.
- Don’t forget the wheelbarrow and mucking equipment!
Medical Care/Vet Supplies
- At this stage, you should have a good medical kit in your trailer at all times. However, for this multi-day competition, having key extra items can make or break your week. This can be a game of “What if”? What if you lose a shoe? What if your horse bangs a knee on XC? What if they get a boot rub? What if they cut themselves in the trailer whilst shipping? Although many times vets are at hand, sometimes having the extra diapers, vet wrap, SMZs or animal lintex can make the difference between your horse staying comfortable or becoming too sore to compete. Don’t rely on other people, you will be less anxious if you can work on the potential problem straight away rather than wait for someone else to help.
- What’s your icing protocol? Ice boots, trash can, Horseware Ireland Ice-Vibes? Whatever it is, remember them! For any long format, I like removing boots ASAP after the cross-country phase and applying the Ice-Vibes straight away to help reduce heat and inflammation in the leg after cross-country day. They are super quick to apply and the horses can continue to walk and be washed down to cool off once on.
Packing is very personal to your own needs and your horses. I hope I have given you a little help thinking ahead about the extras. You will hear me say, “If you forget something there will always be someone who you can borrow from or you can buy it”, however the more prepared you are the less stressful it is at the event….and you never know… you might one day need that kitchen sink!!
Good luck to everyone at Kentucky Three-Day Event 2023!