Whether trailering is new to you or something you've accepted as the norm for your particular equestrian activity, operating from a parked trailer has become your reality. Once you arrive at your activity, the trailer that just transported your horse, now becomes his stabling, feed room, tack room, dressing room, social spot, refreshment center and perhaps a hotel.
That's a lot of necessities to pack into what's essentially a horse-sized box on wheels. Making this all happen requires organization and effort on your part, but there are some tricks to operating from your trailer that will make your haul-in show day, more convenient and more comfortable for both you and your horse.
Stress Control: Use good organization to your advantage. A chaotic tack and dressing room will translate to a chaotic, stressful day. Create a master checklist of everything you need to pack, make copies and work from a fresh copy each time you load up. A laminated copy works very well and if you use a dry erase pen, you can re-use your list until you make modifications. Magnets glued on the back will keep your list mounted and in place. Don't assume that an essential item is in your trailer until you have seen it in there and checked it off your list.
Maximize cargo space by investing in several stackable, heavy-duty plastic tote tubs with snap on lids. Use these to organize, then pack and stack necessities as grain, horse clothing, grooming gear, emergency supplies and so on. Besides helping you compress equipment to maximize space, stackable tubs can double as bench seating or makeshift table for quick access to supplies. Colour coding tubs can also come in handy, for example, Rio has a red tub, Phantom has a purple tub and Bruq has a black tub. Seeing the colour, will help in finding items quickly.
Every traveling horseperson fears leaving something critical at home on show day. To eliminate this fear, give spare sets of grooming equipment, buckets, repair and first aid kits, longeing gear, halters and leads, and other necessities a permanent home in your trailer.
Self Security: Plan ahead for securing your valuables and keys when you're away from your trailer. Your gear will be vulnerable to theft if left out. If your trailer doesn't have a key lock to its tack room, look into having an alternative locking system in place. One worry is that of being so preoccupied by something that we lock the keys in the truck or trailer (I speak from experience). Keep an extra key hidden for this purpose.
Consider the Show Ground Rules: Be a good guest and a good neighbour. If you're headed to one of the most common events, the single day event like an open show, stalling is rare. Pay the haul-in fee and clean up after you leave.
Smart Considerate Parking: Park with the comfort of your horse in mind when you pull onto the show grounds. You first thought shouldn't be getting the closest parking space but consider the orientation of your trailer in relation to the sun and safety of your horse and neighbours.
A Happy Horse: Tend to your horse's need first after you park. Don't rush to unload. Fill up his hay bag. Get fresh water and place the bucket on the trailer fender and secure it place. Next walk around your surrounding area looking for holes, sharp rocks or objects that could injure your horse or puncture your tire. Tidy up the area as much as possible. Set up your muck bucket and manure fork nearby to pick up piles quickly.
Now it's time to unload. Do it quickly without disrupting other horses nearby that may be acclimatizing to their new environment. Tie your horse properly to your trailer with a quick release knot and the rope tied high and comfortably short. Don't be in a rush to get off that horse blanket. If you start rushing the moment you unload, your horse will be in a rushing frame of mind all day. Give him time to settle down and relax taking in his new surroundings. This will give you time to clean up the back of your trailer for the ride home.
Space Use: Turn your trailer into a tack room, feed and part lounge. Turn in the back of your horse trailer into a dressing room by cleaning the dirty bedding then smoothing it out and spreading a plastic tarp over the floor. Place several folding chairs to keep the tarp in place and provide you with a seat to relax or get ready. Your ice chest packed with snacks and beverages can double as a table. Create privacy by putting towels or a shower curtain over the exposed area. Affix a magnet mount mirror onto one of the trailer walls so that you can easily apply your make up, fix your hair and check your look before going into the show ring. Keep this area cool with a battery operated fan and don't forget that collapsible trash can.
A magnetic white board can be put up either inside the tack room or outside the trailer. This comes in very handy for any reminder notes such as ride times. Also, a magnetic clock is very helpful during show day. Try to find a fairly large one so that you can see the time when grooming and tacking up your horse. A clock comes in very handy during warm-up, if you're fortunate to be able to warm up near your trailer.
Your home away from home is now all set and you will have a safe, secure and organized base of operation for a fun day! Remember to take notes on ways to improve to make your next venture out even better next time.