warm up ring tips at horse shows

Warm-up ring tips


  • It’s very exciting to be working a show or riding in a show – local, national, or international. Or riding in one. It’s busy, nutty, dirty, exhausting, and fun. You will see a lot, and learn a lot. One of your duties will be to stand ringside, just in case, and touch up your horse and rider before they go into the “big ring”. Your best friend in this case? A bucket. A backpack. Or an apron with lots of pockets and space.


groom waiting ringside


What do you need ringside?


groom at a horse show with backpack and yoga mat

Backpacks are easy to use – they can lug lots of stuff and keep your helper’s arms free.


  • Hoof pick with a brush. If your rider may want you to pick the feet. Lots of warm-ups are not the quality of the show ring and may contain stones. Use the brush to get rid of the dirt and reapply hoof polish.
  • Hoof polish. I like to use a paste hoof dressing, it usually won’t drip and you are not constantly dunking in the can.


  • Damp towel. For boots, stirrups, and errant slobber globs.


grooms waiting with their horses under trees

The “hurry up and wait” part of being a Groom!


  • Dry towel. For boots, stirrups, and errant slobber globs. If you need damp, you will have dry. If you need dry, you will have damp. One of each should cover you. Also, if you drop one, there is a backup.
  • Fast hands to remove boots or polo wraps if the discipline requires naked legs. AND room in your bucket or frilly apron to hold them.
  • Video camera. I like to get a short strap with hook and loop closures to hang off my belt. If I must leave my bucket, at least I have the most expensive thing with me.


  • Water bottle. Maybe two.
  • Watch. Some riders concentrate so much that they don’t hear announcements. Know the ride times and stay on top of things.
  • Sunglasses for you.
  • Extra braiding bands or yarn. Unless you are a wiz at emergency yarn repairs and then getting scissors to trim the ends, stick with braiding bands for that runaway plait. It’s a fast fix for all braid types.
  • Sometimes you will also need to carry a cooler or scrim sheet. Unless your bucket or apron is the size of a small suitcase, that cooler is going over your shoulder.


wooden grooming box and lunge line