Beyond The Arena: Four Essential Elements For Hosting A Dressage Show

If you're a small equestrian club, you may want to start hosting dressage shows. Dressage shows are a great way for your riders who train in that discipline to get more experience, and they are also a wonderful way for your club to make money--if you do it right. You may be savvy about setting up your arenas and booking your judges, but here are four additional elements you need to make the event go off without a hitch.


Whether you are offering overnight stalling or simply having competitors trailer-in on show days, you need to have adequate parking. Be sure to allow more space than you might originally think for large pickup trucks pulling trailers. Give plenty of extra room between trucks so people can maneuver their horses easily.

You'll also need to mark your parking carefully and have attendants to direct drivers. Keep your entrance separate from your exit, if possible, so drivers don't tie up traffic by having to back up bulky trailers.

Plan on having at least two people to staff your lot. If you don't have volunteers, try hiring a couple of college students for the day. Outfit attendants in orange or fluorescent green vests, and give them cones, clipboards, flashlights, etc.--whatever you will need to make parking run like clockwork.


Between competitors, trainers, grooms, and audience, your club restroom facilities will definitely not suffice for a dressage show. Make sure to rent portable toilets well in advance, and have them delivered the day of the show and picked up the day after.

Not sure how many portable restrooms to rent? Here's a handy guide for running races, which can easily be extrapolated to other athletic events, like horse shows. It's always better to err on the side of too many portable potties to rent, as some competitors may use them for quick changes, and show day nerves can make riders need to go more often.

Make your portable restrooms a little nicer by having a volunteer check periodically for tissue and cleanliness. A jar of hand sanitizer is a welcome addition. And don't forget: your portable restroom, from places like AAA Pumping Service, holds a captive audience; post any important rules or notices for your club on the inside of the door.


Your riders will want to eat, and if there's not a large-scale facility on the show premises, you will need to cover food. While potlucks may seem like a good solution, they take a lot of coordination, and you often end up with too much of one thing and too little of another.

Instead, purchase party-size sub sandwiches or sandwiches-by-the-box, and sell them with chips, fruit, beverages, and cookies. Riders will appreciate the handy fuel, and this is another opportunity to make a profit for your club.


Having emergency medical technicians (EMTs) on hand is a smart idea and may even be required by law. You can rent emergency medical help by the hour or by the day.

Connect your EMTs by radio to your show management, ring stewards, and barn manager, so in case of a fall or injury, they can be notified right away.

Throwing your first horse show can be a bit daunting, but it can be a fun and profitable event with a bit of advance planning. Make a list of all the elements you've liked or wanted to change at other dressage shows, so you can custom build yours. From the first salute to the final applause, it's bound to be a success.