Fully Assimilating

We’re officially entered in the Paradise Farms HT in Aiken at the end of May! This will be our 1st recognized event together, though we’re just doing the starter division (2’3″, but still with ditches, banks, water, etc.). After talking to the farm’s owner, none other than Lellie Ward (competed in Rolex 4x, short-listed Olympic rider), I’ll be staying over until Monday afternoon. The HT is being run on Saturday, then we’ll be taking 2 lessons with Lellie on Sunday and 1 or 2 on Monday.

Originally this was going to be a family weekend. I had the best of intentions, I promise. Since coming back into riding, I’ve shown overnight 1x, about 5 years ago, and that time I split a hotel room with all the other riders from the barn. Now I’m the Lone Eventer. After the logistical nightmare that was Full Gallop Farm last October, I swore I would never repeat that again. We all got up super early to make the 2.5 hour drive, I had to take the kids with me to check in and walk the courses (aka, carry the 2 year old) while Matt held Pilgrim, and then poor Matt had to keep the kids wrangled during the show for 5 hours until we hauled the 2.5 hours home, listening to Noah cry nearly the entire way back. NEVER. AGAIN.

The ONE nice picture from that day


So this time I had a plan. I was going to stall Pilgrim and we were going to stay in a cushy hotel (with an indoor pool for the kids). Then I added up the costs:



$1,220 to do the STARTER level (and lessons, but still)? Negative, Ghostrider. And the $100 on food was being WAY conservative. Something had to give.

After much hemming and hawing about it, it’s been decided I’ll go alone- though the boys will come down on Saturday for the actual show- and I’ll camp in my trailer. My trailer, while I love it dearly, has no LQ, just a large dressing room. But it makes sense in a number of ways- I won’t have to drive back and forth between a hotel to feed/water/check on Pilgrim a million times a day, and my kids don’t have to spend the weekend with horses. Or maybe the silver lining is that horses won’t have to spend the weekend with the kids? Justin is 8 and just an angel (seriously), but Noah…Noah is a sociopath.

Lately, this is how he looks at anyone who dares to talk to him:


So that cuts out the hotel costs, and down on the food since I’m not a two year old monster and I can handle eating the food that I bring. However, I haven’t camped out in a horse trailer since I was a teen, so I headed over to COTH to get some tips for camping in this decade. Sort of surprisingly, people were super informative and had some fabulous suggestions and links to things I should buy. The con is that now the cost is going to be greater because I must BUY ALL THE CAMPING THINGS. But it’s an up-front investment, right? I’m planning on attending 5 shows in Aiken alone this year, and 2 others that I would need to stay overnight for at as well, in both Tryon and Raeford.

It started of innocently enough- we already have a small-ish cooler that we use for things like bottled water and some fruit, but now we’re taking nearly 4 days. So I got this at Target, along with these.

Now the fun begins.

Thanks to posters at the COTH, I’m fully convinced I need a hammock or air cot, or something fancy. One poster gave me this link and it’s hard to resist.

I also want this because it’s funny and I’ll set up my GoPro to record people’s reactions while they’re walking by.


I’m deciding between a hammock and the stand to set up in the horse part of the trailer:

And a cot with a comfy mattress:

The hammock set up is $308 and the cot set up is $258. The hammock seems more comfortable overall, less chance I’ll fall off and will pack up easier. Plus, I want it.

Originally I was going to go the air-mattress-in-the-gooseneck route, but after measuring my gooseneck, I can’t find an air mattress that would fit nicely. And I’m told air mattresses don’t retain heat unless they’re insulated, which may not be a problem now, but ehhh. Plus, since I haven’t mentioned it before, I really want the hammock.

The other thing I feel is absolutely necessary is some sort of charger. I’d really appreciate being able to plug in my computer and get some work done or pop in a movie. Not to mention, I’ll be taking the toaster so I can have bagels in the AM. Sorry, kids, I paid for it.

Other essentials are battery powered lights- these  look intriguing and were recommended to me, as well as these solar or battery powered lights.

Other things on the list are:

  • Dry shampoo
  • Baby wipes (have in abundance)
  • Gallon jugs of water (lots of them!)
  • Many pairs of socks
  • A tarp if sleeping in the horse section, which I will be (already have)
  • Baseball hats for when dry shampoo inevitably fails you (already have)
  • Towels (already have)
  • Extension cords (already have)
  • Camp stove (but I don’t even cook at home so…)
  • Headlamp
  • Comfy chair (already have)
  • Table (have 1)

And this, friends, is what I love about eventing and why I was determined to get back to the sport when I started riding again. Right now my post (in the eventing forum) has 40+ replies, many with multiple paragraphs, to give me the best information and I appreciate each and every single one. When I was explaining to a litle girl from the barn what I was going to do, the reply was, “Why?” The answer in my head was, “Because I’m self-funded…” The answer out loud was, “A lot of eventers do this so they can show more often and because it’s fun.”

I’ve never been to the farm and don’t know what facilities are available. On the Omnibus, it says “Camping: primitive,” so I doubt there are showers. I’m hoping for a real bathroom, but just in case I’ll be looking into those camping alternatives.

I truly am looking forward to the weekend, especially being able to be so close to P.

Last night I had another fantastic ride on Pilgrim- I seriously have not had a bad ride on this horse since switching his feed. He’s come out each day, gone straight into work the same way as he heads down centerline at a show (all pro), and has jumped around super calmly. Last night we did a rollback exercise that was set up from one of the lessons- super easy and 2’6″ looked REALLY small, which is a victory in itself for me.


Trot in over the pole, canter out and around the turn, back to trot and over the next one in a figure 8 pattern. P never rushed, the pole prevented him from taking off early, and he was a perfect gentleman after the jump. And I sat up to the base of the fence, didn’t hurtle my body forwards, and kept my leg on the entire time before and after. So much progress right there. It was a good, confidence-boosting, final schooling before the clinic. Plus my Kastel and the RW items came last night so we’ll look the part, too!



9 thoughts on “Fully Assimilating”

  1. Our truck tents paid for themselves in just one show. We’re usually away for 2 nights, so the cost of hotel can definitely add up. Camping has been fine. Take plenty of blankets, I got colder than I thought I would. We’re also lucky in that about half of our show grounds have at least one shower, plus we know a couple people that have showers in their living quarters, so I always have a little baggie with shampoo and body wash in case I’m able to snag a shower.

    Otherwise the only thing I do differently is we never get a tack stall. Instead when I fill out my entry I ask for an end stall, that way I have two walls of space to stash the muck cart, hay, feed, my trunk, bridle rack, etc. Anything that I don’t want to leave out (which is generally only my saddle) I carry back to the trailer each night. It’s worked out well for me… I’m just way to cheap to pay double stall fee.


    1. The end stall thing is brilliant. You haven’t had issues with leaving your things out, like feed, hay, the cart, etc? That was what I was concerned about and didn’t want to haul everything back and forth since I don’t know how far away the trailers will be from the stalls.

      I looked at the truck tents also, but didn’t know if there would be room to unhook my truck/trailer. My trailer is a GN so the tent wouldn’t fit when it’s hooked up. Will definitely take plenty of blankets- thank you for all the tips!


      1. No. Other eventers aren’t gonna touch your stuff (well ok maybe once in your lifetime you’ll run across a bad egg, but everyone leaves that stuff out, most are too cheap for a tack stall unless there are a lot of people to split it). Also check and see if the event you’re going to has nighttime security – most of ours do. Never had any problem with leaving stuff out.


  2. I read your post on COTH because I’m camping this summer too – so many helpful tips there, thank you 🙂 We survived a 5 day outing recently sans much camping gear – my camping hack for the ‘bed’ was to use the cushion from our patio lounge chair 🙂


    1. I couldn’t do it! I love being outside, love hiking, etc., but I always say no to camping. Horse show camping though is a MUCH different story apparently. I loved all the tips the posters gave, so much helpful stuff!


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