We recently took our daughter Freya (3 years old) and our mini shetland Conker to our local pony show. Taking a toddler anywhere can be stressful, let alone throwing a pony into the mix so I thought I would write down my tips for taking toddlers and ponies to a show.
- Preparation! This is key to limiting the stress factor. Trying to get everything organised on the morning of a show is just asking for disaster. Pack up as much as you can the night before and bath pony (if needed) the night before too. No one needs to be getting up extra early to wash ponies/clean tack the morning of the show.
- Make lists, I am a serial list maker! It makes me feel so much more organised if I can tick things off as I have done them. It also makes me so much less likely to forget things if I can see it written down. I make a list for the pony, a list for the rider/leader and a list for the family. I did tell you I liked writing lists! (I might even write a blog about what I write in my lists!)
- Pack for all weathers. Hot/cold/wet/dry?! The British weather can never be relied upon so although it may be glorious when you set off don’t bank on it being lovely all day! Pack spare outfits for little ones (showing and normal clothes). They get grubby so easily!! Waterproof riding over trousers are also great as they can be whipped off just before you enter the showering. Another thing that is great to pack is a lightweight rain sheet for your pony, easy to throw on if it starts to rain keeps them clean/dry in-between classes.
- Get there in plenty of time. With toddlers in tow time just seems to disappear so quickly so make sure you get there with more time than you would think you will need. Having more time means you are less likely to get stressed as you won’t have as much time pressures over you to get pony, child and you ready for a class.
- Take a picnic. Food at shows is expensive, the queues can be long and there generally is only burgers and chips. Taking your own picnic means you can snack quickly in between classes if needed and you’re not limited to whats on offer at the show ground. Also, who doesn’t love a picnic?!
- Sweets!! Haribos are a parents best friend at shows. It can be a long day for little ones with all the excitement so take a pack (or 2) or Haribos in your pocket for when you are in the show ring. They are fab to whip out if you have a lot of people in your class and standing in the line up can feel like forever for a little person. Distraction is great for keeping children happy, especially if it involves sweets!!
- Accept any help from family and friends. The more hands available to help the better. I have a 3 year old who rides Conker and an 18 month old so things can get a bit chaotic. Any extra helpers are gratefully received and it always makes for a fun day out.
- Have fun! The whole point of taking little ones to shows is for them to have fun with their ponies. Don’t over phase them with too many classes or making things to strict and piling the pressure on. We just enter the fun classes at the moment, children are just happy that they are out and about on their pony riding with other people. Any rosettes won are a bonus, after all it is the taking part that counts.
So those are my tips for taking little ones to a show. Do you have any other tips to make days out like this easier? I would love to hear them, leave them in the comments below.