Tips and Tricks of the Trade is a new article series being provided through a partnership between Athletux and the USEA. This month's article comes from Shannon McCormick, head groom for Tamra Smith at Next Level Eventing and 2015 recipient of The Christine E. Stafford Eventing Groom Award.
During the competition season at Next Level Eventing (NLE) we are frequently travelling to events. This requires constant packing and unpacking of our show gear. When we return home from an event everything has to be pulled out of the trailer, cleaned, organized, and re-packed for the next upcoming show. This requires a lot of time, hard work, and organization. Having a system in place helps to simplify the process, provide consistency, and reduced stress at the events.
One of the most important tools you can give yourself is a packing list. If you are at a show and forget something, add it to the list. There are so many little things that are necessary for shows like safety pins and a laundry bag that are easily forgotten. Going off a list makes packing fool proof.
Shannon keeps running lists right inside the trailer door to stay organized. Photo courtsey of Shannon McCormick.
Another huge time saver is to take stock of your inventory when unpacking after a show. Go through your grooming supplies and write down what you are missing or low on. Opening up your groom box and realizing you are out of fly spray and tack cleaner without time to run to the tack store adds unnecessary stress and time that you probably don’t have. Also when unpacking, make sure to clean everything as it comes out of the trailer. Rinse out buckets, clean tack, do laundry, so you are not stuck scrambling to get everything clean the next time you have to pack.
Give yourself enough time to pack before the event. Depending on the amount of horses you are taking, how far away the event is, and how long you plan on staying, it could take weeks to be fully packed, or just a day. Have a list of the horses going to the event handy and tally everything you need, making sure not to over pack. Hauling around 10 extra bags of grain that you didn’t need is no fun, and wasteful if it gets ruined. Make your life easy as possible by counting out everything from boots, saddle pads, bridle hooks, saddle racks, stall napkins, grain, supplements, hay, etc. Then once something is ready to go, close it up, label it and put it on the trailer in an organized fashion. Things you don’t need right away in the far back, and things like water buckets, stall guards, med box, and tool kits in the front for easy access.
At the end of the day, horse shows are supposed to be fun. Eliminate any packing related stress and difficulties by keeping a clean and well-organized trailer. Good luck packing!
Before Shannon joined the NLE Team as Head Groom and Assistant Rider, she had worked for horse guru Allen Clarke and had experience racing horses at Fair Hill. She now is an indispensable part of Team NLE, helping exercise horses, assisting with management tasks, and keeping all of the horses looking their best. In 2015, Shannon was awarded the The Christine E. Stafford Eventing Groom Award for her hard work and invaluable contribution to Next Level Eventing