13 Horse Show Hacks

Use these tips to save time and money at your next horse show.

The American Quarter Horse Journal

Use disposable place mats for last-minute blacking. (Pamela Britton-Baer photo)

If you’re of a certain age, you might not know what a “hack” is, but simply put, it’s a creative way to manage things and maybe save you some money along the way. Since show season is gearing up, we thought you might like a list of our favorite horse show hacks.


  1. Power up: Portable power strip surge protectors are must-haves for horse shows these days. I like the FlePow power strip that comes with a 5-foot cord (so it will reach those oddly placed outlets), multiple USB ports and two power outlets. See hack number 9 for an easy way to hang them up. You’ll be able to charge all your devices and still have an outlet for your clippers.

  2. Kick the Bucket: Don’t use a small bucket for your water. It’s far easier to stuff a muck-sized bucket in a corner. You’ll fill up once a day, maybe less, and you won’t have to check water levels constantly. We recommend the big buckets from the discount store. They’re cheap and light.

  3. Clamp it Down: We’re not talking binder clips. We’re talking the big, industrial-size spring clamps that you buy at home improvement stores. These work great for holding things in place like stall curtains and that wayward white board that keeps falling down.

  4. Rub-a-Dub-Tub: Ever step into a shared tack stall and wonder where all your stuff is? Keep it all together in a tub – it’s like having an oversized drawer. Whether it’s to store a bridle or a groom bucket or your pre-show sweatshirt, it’s far easier to have it all in one place, and nice when you don’t have to worry about someone moving things around. I recommend the kind with the built-in lid.

  5. Zippity-Doo-Dah: Did you know you can buy zip-ties that are 36 inches long.?Yes. That’s right – a yard. You could zip-tie yourself to the saddle if you wanted to (but I don’t recommend that). Use these for anchoring down saddle racks and other portable equipment.

  6. Lights, Camera, Action: Never walk along a dark stall aisle again. Ever Brite portable motion-activated lights stick up anywhere. Hang them outside your stall for those early morning feedings or inside a tack room for more light. Just be sure they have access to sunlight for easy recharging.

  7. Take it to The Mat: Dollar store placemats are small and portable, and they work great as a clean surface for applying hoof black. They fold up so easily, you won’t even notice them in your grooming bucket, and they make pre-class touch ups on dirt surfaces a cinch to manage.

  8. Stars’n Wipes: We’ll give a gold star to whoever invented baby wipes. Everyone should have a can of them in their groom bucket. Wipe down your hands, your horse, even your clothes in an emergency. A must have.

  9. Stick ‘Em Up: After duct tape, Velcro will be your new best friend. You can buy it by the yard or a pre-packed roll. These days, you can even find tool hangers made of Velcro. I’ve used it for adhering power strips to the walls of a tack stall. Leave the sticky side behind and replace it with a new sticky side at the next show.

  10. Latex Gloves: Raise your hand if you’ve ruined a manicure while preparing for a horse show. Gloves are guaranteed to keep your hands clean before your showmanship classes.

  11. Over and Under: Some favorite tack room organizers didn’t come from horse catalogues. There’s a wealth of “over the door” products at places like Bed, Bath and Beyond, Target and Walmart. My favorites include the square shoe organizers – perfect for cubbies at the shows. I also love the hanging full-length mirror, clothing rack and pocket organizers.

  12. Multipurpose Tool: These puppies would make MacGyver jealous. They’re so handy that you’ll wonder what you ever did without one. Some have hammers, others have saws, some even have bottle openers for, ahem, opening up a soda. Yeah. A soda.

  13. Collapsible Storage Containers: These are made of fabric and pop up or down. They’re perfect for holding brushes and other grooming tools. Or you can go one step further and try one of the rolling storage chests. The box doubles nicely as a stepstool for easy braiding and banding. (No more teetering on a stepladder.)

I hope you’ve enjoyed my list of favorite horse show hacks. Now it’s time to share yours. Write to aqhajrnl@aqha.org with your best hack. We’ll include some of the best in a future issue of the Journal. If yours is chosen, we’ll send you a ball cap or visor.