top of page
  • Writer's pictureMary O'Malley

Summer Show Survival Guide: Navigating the Challenges of Outdoor Shows

Summer horse shows means show season is in full swing, events filled with the excitement of competition and the beauty of the outdoors. However, they also present unique challenges, especially when held outdoors. From scorching sun to sudden downpours, navigating outdoor shows requires careful preparation and a keen understanding of the potential hurdles you might face. In this guide, we'll explore the essential needs and common challenges of outdoor summer horse shows and how to tackle them like a seasoned equestrian.

New Castle, IN

Essential Needs:

Sunscreen: Just as you protect your skin from the sun's harmful rays, it's crucial to shield your equine partner as well. Invest in a high-quality equine-safe sunscreen and apply it generously to your horse's exposed areas, especially the nose, ears, and any areas with sparse hair or on white areas. Regular reapplication throughout the day is key to ensuring your horse's skin stays protected from sunburn, as well as your own. 

Electrolytes: With the summer heat comes the risk of dehydration and electrolyte imbalances in horses, particularly those engaged in strenuous activity like showing the all around. Keep your horse properly hydrated by offering electrolyte supplements or adding them to their water. Electrolytes help replenish vital minerals lost through sweat, keeping your horse's body in balance and performance at its peak.

Fans in Stalls: Stalled horses can quickly become uncomfortable in the sweltering heat, leading to stress and decreased performance. Hang fans in your horse's stall to provide much-needed airflow and help regulate their body temperature. Position the fans strategically to ensure optimal circulation, keeping your horse cool and content throughout the show.

Fly Spray: Summer brings not only sunshine but also flies and insects that can annoy and distract your horse. Arm yourself with a reliable fly spray to ward off these unwelcome pests and keep your horse focused on the task at hand. Regularly reapply the fly spray as needed, especially during show time, to maintain its effectiveness.

New Castle, IN

Common Challenges:

Too Much Dust: Outdoor arenas can quickly become dusty, especially during dry summer months, posing respiratory challenges for both horses and riders. Liz Moorman, who has worked show management in the past tells us, "When it comes to arena care, particularly during outdoor shows on hot days, we kindly ask for your patience and cooperation with the show staff. If you see us sending in the tractor to water and drag the arena, please move out of the way to ensure the job can be completed safely and efficiently. We understand how troublesome dust can be for everyone, including the horses and our expensive tack and show clothing, so your willingness to step aside momentarily will help us maintain a clean and safe environment for all exhibitors! It truly is appreciated by the show staff."

No Indoor Arena: Some venues offer both an indoor and an outdoor arena and others only have an outdoor, leaving you vulnerable to sudden weather changes. Stay prepared by packing appropriate gear such as rain jackets, umbrellas, and waterproof sheets or coolers to shield horses, tack, and yourself from rain or excessive sun exposure. Keep a close eye on weather forecasts leading up to the show and be prepared to adapt your plans accordingly.

Rain: While a rain shower can provide relief from the heat, it can also turn the show grounds into a muddy mess. Keep a close eye on weather forecasts leading up to the show and be prepared to adapt your plans accordingly. Ensure that you are paying attention that your horse’s stall and tack stalls are draining properly. Moorman explains, "Rain during outdoor shows presents challenges that vary depending on venue conditions. If the grounds boast excellent footing and stalls designed to prevent flooding, the event can often resume seamlessly after a rain delay. Unfortunately, at venues where footing is subpar and barn areas become waterlogged, many exhibitors may opt to leave. To mitigate these issues, venue organizers should assess drainage patterns and consider installing additional drains to manage runoff effectively. Furthermore, investing in high-quality arena footing that can withstand moderate rainfall without becoming excessively muddy is crucial. Implementing gutter systems to direct water away from barns toward existing drains could also be a practical solution for preventing flooding. By proactively addressing these concerns, venues can better accommodate inclement weather and ensure a more enjoyable experience for exhibitors."

Summer horse shows offer an exciting opportunity to enjoy horse showing in the great outdoors. By understanding the essential needs and common challenges of outdoor shows and taking proactive measures to address them, you can ensure a successful and enjoyable experience for both you and your horse. So slather on that sunscreen, stock up on electrolytes, and embrace the adventure of summer show season with confidence and preparedness. Happy riding!



bottom of page