Packing for Kentucky with #supergroom Emma Ford

Sydney Solomon and Emma Ford with Early Review CBF. Photo courtesy of Emma Ford.

As a groom going to the Kentucky Three-Day Event, whether for the first time or 22nd time, packing can be a game of must-haves, throw in just in case, or maybe a little overboard which means everything plus the kitchen sink.

Some people might ask “What is the difference between packing for an international competition and a regular multi-day event?” To be honest, it shouldn’t be, But, having been packing for this event for 22 years, I can say I would always think about my lists at least three weeks in advance and then start packing the trailer three days prior to shipping (if I wasn’t at another event that weekend!).

This year, I’m excited to be grooming for Sydney Solomon and her eventing horse, Early Review CBF, who are doing their first 5* level of competition.

Getting Ready to Pack

Lists are your best friend. Whether you are old-fashioned like me and like pen and paper or you use your phone, I always recommend making lists. I finally got smart a few years back and did a Google doc for myself which I would then add or remove items according to which horses were competing. I would print it out and then cross off items as I packed. This year has been a bit different because I haven’t groomed for this horse and rider combination before.

Sydney did her own list and then I added or removed items accordingly. Because of the intensity of the event, knowing your horse and having all the relevant equipment and products that you MIGHT need helps you to feel less anxious when you get to the eventing competition. You do want to feel you can put your hand on the right wound powder or foot wrapping material quickly rather than have to go borrowing or buying. Once on the grounds during the day, you won’t have the ability to go to the store and grab what you need… unless you have a runner like a friend or a parent!

My biggest piece of advice: DON’T try new equipment or products at the event. If you have made it this far, presumably the management of your eventing horse has been good so don’t make crazy or unnecessary changes that could upset the apple cart! Nothing worse than deciding to wear a new bridle at Kentucky’s international competition and then getting there only to realize it actually doesn’t fit as well as expected! Keep your grooming products the same, shampoos and coat conditioners are all different and you don’t need your horse having a reaction to a new product the day before the Dressage phase!

Split your list into categories that work for you. I personally like Essentials; Grooming; Tack and Equipment; Horse Clothing: Rider; Stall Set-Up (including grain, hay, supplements), and Medical. This blog would be never-ending if I discussed every item so instead I will highlight some of my favorite picks that I always pack.


  • Health Certificate, don’t leave home without one!
  • Horse Passport: Without this, you can’t even get into the barns let alone start the event!
  • Thermometer: FEI rules are such that you must provide your own thermometers to record daily temperatures. I would suggest taking 2 or 3… they always seem to break, get damp or the battery dies!
  • Spare Shoes: Unless you are super fortunate, your own farrier will not be present at the event. Having a full set of spare shoes that have already been fitted to your horse can make a difference between a sore foot Sunday morning or a sound horse. Also, it’s cheaper for you!

Grooming Supplies and Equipment

  • Brushes
  • Towels, never have too many, small and large!
  • Hoof Oil
  • More than one hoof pick – I always take around 4 to have in different places
  • Scissors, multiple because they always go missing
  • All-important quarter mark brush
  • Tail Wrap
  • Wash Halter
  • Show Halter
  • 2 lead ropes
  • Witch Hazel
  • Shapleys Magic Sheen
  • Shapleys Hi Gloss and Light Oil #1 for that extra shine on horse inspection days and in the Dressage Arena
  • Braiding Kit
  • Bathing supplies
  • Dawn or Ivory shampoo to get rid of the grease from cross – country day!
  • Scrapers, at least 4 so you have enough for cooling out after finishing the cross-country course
  • Safety Pins for emergencies and attaching numbers to the saddle pad
  • Tack cleaning supplies, including brass polish if you have any bling on your halter or bridles
  • Ring backpack or tote

See Emma’s full packing list — and take some tips for your own packing list — here!

This post is brought to you with support from Horseware Ireland. Be sure to play the spin wheel on our homepage for a chance to win some epic prizes!

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