Preparing for a Horsemanship Clinic – what to do before and what to pack (works for horse shows also)

By: Dr. Mike Guerini (

No matter if you have been to one or 50 Horsemanship clinics, there is always a check list of items we need to take, some we want to take, and sadly a few we forget to take.  Over the years I have worked to compile lists of what I need at horsemanship clinics and by extension, horse shows.  Some of these are well thought out lists and some come from experience…you know the been there had that happen and won’t be without again (hint — a clean set of clothes).

This year I have had a few people ask how to prepare and so I want to share with you my thoughts and as always, I look forward to your additions.

First let us discuss the early preparation of what to do before a Horsemanship clinic

1) Sign up for the clinic

2) Check out some of the information about the clinician and how he/she structures the clinic.  This is the gathering of information so you know what to expect at the clinic.  Read one of the clinicians books or blogs or website articles.

3) Get your horse prepared for the clinic by making sure he/she is vaccinated, coggins paperwork is in order (if necessary), health certificate is in order (if necessary), farrier is on the right schedule for the horse to have great feet at the clinic, ride or ground work your horse so that he/she is physically prepared,

4) Get yourself physically ready (riding might be enough or you may want to add a few more exercise or stretching routines leading up to the clinic).

5) If you need a hotel or place to stay … make those arrangements early.

6) Call the facility hosting the clinic if you need overnighting of your horse and arrange for accommodations (find out if you need to bring bedding, buckets, etc).  I always recommend that you bring your own hay and feed from home for a clinic.

7) A few days before the clinic, make sure your truck (vehicle you pull your trailer with) is in proper working order.  Oil is in good shape, tires are good, windshield wipers work, vehicle is clean and has room for all your stuff.

8) A few days before the clinic, make sure your trailer is in proper working order.  Check the tires (wear and inflation), make sure the back of the trailer is cleaned out of left over manure, make sure your tack room is organized and ready for more items and make sure the doors all work and the trailer lights are fully functional when hooked to your vehicle.  (Note — nothing worse than driving down the road with no trailer lights.  A few years back I came upon a trailer being pulled down the road with no trailer lights.  People had a hard time seeing the trailer and so the poor guy was on the receiving end of rude gestures, much honking, and one person made the guy stamp on his brakes by trying to cut him off.  Once I was able to get up to him, I tucked in behind him and followed him for many miles.  After 25 minutes or so he waved me on up alongside him and yelled a big thanks and took the next free way exit.)

Now let us get into what we need to pack — I break this into three categories including what I need for the horse, what I need for me, and what I need for emergencies.

For the horse I need to pack — Tack (saddle, bridles, etc), leg protection, a blanket or fly sheet (and one extra) if you normally use these on your horse, hay, grain (normal ration with maybe some extra salt to promote drinking), water buckets, brushes, curry combs, hoof pick, water (in some cases it is best to pack water from home), fly mask, extra cinch, extra saddle pad, extra reins, extra halters, insect repellant (fly or mosquito spray), manure fork/rake, and of course his/her favorite treats.

For the person I pack — clothes (boots, jeans, long sleeve shirts), snacks, food, water (and other liquid non-adult beverages), sunscreen, hat/helmet, CASH (you never know when you want to purchase something at the clinic and they do not take checks), toiletries, medications, comfortable shoes and riding shoes, cell phone charger/extra battery, camera, pen and paper (for writing down notes on things you learn), lip gloss (for those windy/dry days), a chair, extra socks (for when yours get wet from sweating), and a list of where you are staying, directions on how to get to the clinic and all other registration details.

What I need for emergencies — Horse first aid kit (whatever you would normally have at your barn for treating your horse until the veterinarian can get there), human first aid kit (some small band aids, wound cream, pain reliever, brace, etc), an extra pair of clothes in your trailer (I have literally ridden and worked so hard I was soaked to the skin and a dry pair of clothes felt great), spare tires (for truck and trailer), small pieces of leather (great for putting tack back together, duct tape, bailing twine (or wire), and any medicines that you might use only occasionally for yourself (allergy meds/prescriptions, insulin, pain killers, etc).

Share what else you would add to these lists — and thank you for taking a few minutes to read what I have shared with you here.

Dr. Mike Guerini is a clinician, author of multiple Horsemanship books, co-inventor of the Equine Hydro-T and specializes in western performance based instruction and you can learn more about Dr. Mike and his 6 C’s of Horsemanship at Dun Movin Ranch is also home to the Equine Hydro-T (


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