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Horse Show Setup and Decorations

Horse Show Setup and Decorations

The Ultimate Horse Show Setup

There’s no great secret when it comes to setting up for a horse show. What it all comes down to is hard work and attention to detail. Every aspect involved –from setting up your tack box to making the dressing room as comfortable as possible — is accomplished by hard work and dedication. Also, you’ll need plenty of creativity to truly make your stall stand out. With that being said, let’s examine the process of creating the ultimate horse show setup.

Getting started

Every professional stabling area has two main things — tack trunks and drapes. You’ll find the vast majority of barns use stall drapes for dressing rooms, the front of aisles, hospitality stalls and work tack areas.

Draped work areas are fantastic for creating a welcoming and professional appearance. For instance, the inclusion of zippered doors allows clients a private place to change into their show clothes. Furthermore, stall drapes are also useful for keeping potential eyesores (such as work areas) hidden away.

Stall drapes are truly one of the most important aspects of setting up your stall for a horseshow. With that being said, they tend to be one of the most time-consuming aspects of the setup process. This is especially the case if you’re working with temporary stalls which involve building a framework which provides a secure surface for stapling.

If you’re looking for a cheaper option consider using 1″x3″ boards. They’re cheap enough to buy in bulk and sturdy enough to build a frame.  Merely purchasing stall drapes is just the first part of the equation. You should take your time to hang them up with the proper technique to ensure they look presentable.

Drapes have a tendency to sag so you should set them up as tight as you can help to alleviate this issue. To decrease the chances of wrinkly drapes, it’s vital you fold them before storing them away. Inevitably, you may still have a wrinkle or two to deal with even if you do fold them properly. One possible way to get rid of these rouge wrinkles is to stretch the material as far as it can go. If you do this correctly, the creases should fall out after a few good tugs.

The Ultimate Horse Show Setup

Stall drapes are a must have for any horse show setup, but if you want to take your setup to the next level, you should also add valances to the equation. A valance is a length of decorative drapery attached to a canopy or frame to hide the structure or space beneath it. In this case, you could place valances along the tops of each stall to mask wiring or anything else that may take away from the presentation of the horse show.

Furthermore, valances will add a sense of uniformity to each stall further increasing the presentation of the show as a whole. This may take extra work, but the result will be well worth the effort you put in.

No matter how you set up your stall drapes there’s one major issue you would be remiss to overlook — dust. Barns aren’t clean places. They’re full of hay, sawdust, mud, grass clippings and whatever else that’s tracked inside. With so much dust around it’s almost impossible to keep every surface clean.

A simple remedy for the dust problem is plastic. Hanging up plastic in your tack room, dressing room and hospitality room will protect your items from getting dirty. However, hanging up plastic everywhere can be a massive chore. Plus, plastic tends to rip especially when you’re trying to stretch the material out to cover the entire length of the stall. Though hanging up plastic is hard work it will pay off because you’ll have to deal with less dirt overall.


If you’ve made it this far that means the bulk of the work has been taken care of. Now you can focus on decorations. At this point you have one of two decisions to make. You can either keep your decorations simple (such as a small flower bouquet adorning the top of the stall), or you can go all out and transform the entire barn into a singular theme.

The level of decoration should correspond with the length of the horse show. For example, if the show only runs for one or two days, it would be best to spend less on decorations.  On the other hand, if the show will last a week or so, it might be worth it to spend the money and go all out.

One idea you can try is hanging up pictures on the front of stalls to showcase the horse and rider competing in the show. Doing so could come with its own set of problems, however. For instance, if you’re using a temporary stall, you will have to take the weight of the picture frame into account. The frame of the temporary stall may not be strong enough to hold the picture aloft for any significant amount of time which means the picture may come tumbling down at some point.

Next, you can start to get creative with your decorations. For instance, you can pin up a small logo of the facility where the horseshow is taking place on each of the stalls. You could also hang up welded horseshoes to add your personal touch. Saddle name plates or bridle name plates are also a great decorating option. You’re only limited by your creativity.

Then of course, you will need a container or rack to store any of the magazines and other industry publications commonly handed out at horse shows.  Simply piling the publications on top of your tack trunk isn’t a good idea because they’ll just get in the way if someone needs to pull something out. Plus, they’ll likely get dirty, buried, or even shredded if they’re just left lying around. Bring along an old bin where you can easily store your publications without fear of them being in the way.

Include landscaping

Looking to beautify your stall front? Adding shrubbery and a nice flower display will do the job nicely. The beauty of decorating with potted shrubbery or baskets of flowers is they can be used all year round if you take care of them properly.

Don’t worry. You don’t have to have a green thumb to make this happen. You can always use fake topiary such as fake potted plants and flowers to spruce up your stall front. There are plenty of realistic fake plants out there. The main advantage of using fake plants is they require zero maintenance besides the occasional dusting.

If you’re not interested in setting up and decorating your own stall you can hire a company to do it for you.  That way, you won’t have to worry about making your stall presentable. The hard work will be taken care of by a professional team.

Sprucing up your hospitality area

No matter the size of your barn or the number of clients present, hospitality areas will always present a challenge. Some barns provide all the amenities needed for a pleasant experience while others rely upon clients and staff members to take care of everything.  For example, clients may offer to pick up food and drinks for everyone else.

Time is often limited during the day so it can be difficult to slip away to grab a bite to eat. Having quick little snacks and drinks will allow the event to run that much smoother and both the clients and the staff will be much happier.

Seating is another big part of hospitality. Typically seating isn’t that big an issue at shorter shows. When it comes to longer shows, however, dedicated seating with a TV live streaming the event is much appreciated. Supplying a couch to sit on would make a lot of people happy, but it would be a major pain to transport. Furthermore, the chances of the couch getting damaged is a very real concern.

A great solution is to rent couches and other furniture from rental companies. Check to see if they offer free delivery and pick up. Every dollar saved can be better spent elsewhere.

Packing up

Horse shows can be exhausting, so it isn’t a major surprise that most trainers just want to pack up and go home when the festivities are over. Throwing all of your equipment into the back of your truck and racing home is also a great way to ruin your gear. If you plan on going to future horse shows, then it would behoove you to be careful while tearing down.

As you’re tearing down you should store your drapes and other decorations into bins. This will increase the longevity of your decorations and keep them dust free.  Plus, you should take the time to wash them after every show (unless the facility is extra clean).

It’s a common practice for trainers to yank down their drapes while they’re tearing down their stall and stuff them into a container. Though this is the quickest and easiest option the stall curtains may very well be damaged by the action of being torn down.

The safest removal method for your stall drapes is to use needle nose pliers to pull all of the staples out. That way there’s no fear of tearing. Though safer this method is far more time-consuming. If you must pull your stall drapes down try using shorter staples which don’t push as far into the wood. This will lessen the chance of ripping. Many barns will use a mix of the two methods so simply use the method you’re most comfortable with.

Creating the ultimate horse show setup is often about compromise. Overall, your horse show stabling area should be functional, clean and welcoming. You don’t have to have the most impressive setup in the world to make a good impression. Sometimes going for the simple, clean look is the best way to go.