Riding Club Festival – Survival Tips

Equestrian Reaity

It is almost time for the annual riding clubs festival. Times have been issued, weather apps are being consulted, child of prague statues are being plonked out on doorsteps, plans are being made and lists are being written.

You can check out what I learned at last year’s festival here. In the meantime, considering I have been going to the festival for a long as I have been in riding club I figured it made sense to compile a list of survival tips for newbies and first timers…..

  • Past years would suggest that the weather will always be either scorching hot or lashing rain. This means you should be optimistic and pack shorts, suncream and sunglasses, lots of water and fly repellent. This also means you should be realistic and pack water proof trousers, a change of clothing, a waterproof sheet for your horse, wellies and anything waterproof you own.

  • When packing the jeep or lorry remember that you actually need room for yourself and your passengers.


  • Even if like me you are really allergic to lists, always make a list because the competition is held in the middle of a huge field and involves a lot of planning and packing. This especially applies to people who are stabling and camping. Better yet – rope in a list making Monica from friends type friend or relative and let them go mad.


  • If you are not stabling your horse onsite, always bring water buckets and a tub of fresh water with you. This will save you from having to trek all the way to the stabling area for water.


  • If you are stabling your horse onsite make sure to bring water buckets that have one big handle – not those with a rubber handle each side because those ones lead to water splashing down your legs as you walk back to the stable.


  • If you are riding in fancy dress pairs, always practice at home and practice with your costume. Otherwise you may end up being the butterfly that almost got bucked off the pony who spooked at the other butterfly.


  • Nothing encourages a horse to stand on your toes like having studs in their shoes.


  • Horses when exposed to acres of grass will make a show of you and act like they are never fed gorging all around them as you try to stud up, tack up, walk them in hand or mount up.


  • Always put your bridle on last before your class as said horse will inevitably get a mouthful of green slobber going in about ten seconds given the opportunity.


  • If you are walking on foot to the dressage arenas give at least twenty minutes for hobbit height people like myself. The old school festival dressage attendees can be spotted as they have had the foresight to bring a bike!


  • Don’t forget your number when you are getting dressed for your class.


  • Definitely don’t forget your number and only realise when you have ridden all the way up to the dressage arenas.


  • When explaining where you are parking be specific if you want people to find you. ‘Over beside the big tree’ is less specific than you might think. Likewise ‘I am in the back row’ is only correct until someone parks behind you. Stick a flag or some reflectives on your jeep if you want to make it easier to find. (on that note if anyone has a cardboard cut-out of a celebrity that I can stick on the roof of my trailer please let me know. )


  • When showing check you know which number ring you are meant to be in so that you don’t end up the only hunter in a sea of cobs.


  • If like me you are from a club and location where you jump on sand 99% of the time try not to be too daunted when jumping on grass.  A good philosophy is sit up going down-hill, ride on uphill and try to avoid trees!


  • If you are making a day trip up and down bring some feed with you in case things run late so that you can avoid the ‘my human had the cheek to feed me a bit later than usual’ temper tantrum from your horse.


  • Always pack babywipes. They are the number one solution to dirty boots, dirty humans, dirty tack, dirty horses, and green slobbery muzzles and bits.


  • If it has lashed rain and you need to chalk up a supposedly grey animal to get it grey with minimal washing, wear a saddle cloth under your saddle. Trust me, trying to get chalk powder out of leather is not fun.


  • Never buy your tent from a well known chain store a week before the festival. Why? Because everyone else will have done the same leaving you trying to spot your chain store tent from every other chain store tent in the place.


  • Likewise, if going to a barbecue or disco where alcohol is involved be sure you know where your tent is and how to get back to it.


  • Make sure you know where the keys of your jeep are and who has them. This avoids the ‘I’ve lost my keys’ drama which can in bad cases lead to having to unpack almost everything in the jeep to try and locate them.


  • Always bring toilet roll so that you are not stuck if the portaloos run out of it.


  • Isotonic drinks are brilliant in hot weather as they won’t make you need to pee as often as water will.


  • If you find yourself feeling tired and in need of energy remember there are few things a can of red bull and a bag of haribo can’t fix.


  • Always pack ear plugs for camping so that you can ignore drunk people, snoring people, birds that like to peck at tents and loud speakers.


  • Make note of where you are actually parked when you head off to ride in a class. There is nothing worse than spending an hour trying to find your silver jeeps in a sea of silver jeeps.


  • Don’t park beside a tree that has a loudspeaker strung up in it. yes you will know exactly what is going on at all times but you won’t be able to hear anyone or anything else while it is operated.


  • Big trees make great shelter if the rain gets really bad.


  • If you haven’t got a veil for side saddle, a hair net can be fashioned into one if desperate measures are called for.


  • Always buy and bring at least two more studs than you need. You will either lose one when riding or drop one in the grass when studding and playing the stud in grass version of ‘Wheres Wally’ is not fun at all especially if you are in a hurry.


  • On a foward horse be careful of going too forward up the centre line of long arena dressage. It’s all fun and extensions until you worry that you cannot turn at C and may end up in the judge’s lap.


  • If you can, meet up with friends for a festival pony swap. It’s still just as much fun as it was when you were kids in pony club.


  • Any grooms bag/bucket/kit for showing should include a bottle of lucozade, some chocolate and baby wipes!

2 thoughts on “Riding Club Festival – Survival Tips

  1. Excellent info!! ! It sounds like you had an exhilarating experience. I am glad I visited here. Thanks a lot for this wonderful and enlightening sharing.

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