A Travel Agents Guide For An Equestrian: The Complete Guide To A Stress-Free Show Season
I’m going to be discussing one of the primary reasons why I started my travel agency,
HOW TO HAVE A STRESS-FREE SHOW SEASON!
I remember as a young girl how stressed out my own parents were dealing with travel-related stress, so I started out on a mission to create an easy show season for everyone in the horse world.
Thank you Rafter 3 Horse Development for allowing me to post this guest article!
In this complete guide, I will walk you through how to create a show season that will feel like a dream vacation instead of a second job all on its own!
I know firsthand that show season can feel…overwhelming at times. (To say the least.)
Let’s break it all down, step-by-step. This guide is perfect for whether you are working with a travel agent or handling your travel on your own.
Want to learn how to plan your ultimate stress-free show season? Follow along!
The shortlist of what to do:
- First things first: USE A TRAVEL AGENT. We are generally free to hire (At least I am.) This can benefit your life significantly if you already have a lot on your plate because we can handle the complete planning and organization for your entire season, all in one sitting if need be.
- Secondly: Get all of your dates in order, figure out what airport you are flying out of, and what your budget per person for each trip is going to be. If you need passports, get them as soon as possible. Then, you want to ensure that you have the (correctly spelled and matching to IDs) names of everyone in your party or who is traveling with you.
- Thirdly: Figure out if there are any “extras” you would like to add. If you are traveling out of state or out of the country for a show, are there any cool things you would like to see, shows you want to go to, or places you would like to eat? These seemingly minor things can make all of the difference in turning a sometimes tiring yet exciting horse show into the trip of a lifetime combined with your event.
If you are using a travel agent, the third portion can be completely handled for you, and we can also generally find tickets, deals, or offers that are not able to be found elsewhere along with handling all of the booking and arrangement processes.
The FULL Complete Guide To A Stress-Free Show Season
Now that we have done a quick run through what we are going to be talking about in today’s article, let’s dive into each one of these aspects a little further so we can make THIS show season the best one yet.
The first thing that I am going to (obviously) recommend is that you just make it as easy as possible and find a travel agent. At Ridgeway, I specialize in Equestrian-related travel and have years of experience in the show industry to further make the process smooth and easy for you, but there truly are a lot of benefits… besides the fact that my services are always free to you!
A travel agent can handle 100% of your coordination, booking, communication, detail-sorting, and setting up, so all you have to do is literally…show up! Sounds really nice, right?
Instead of booking your next flight from hotel to hotel, you can glide through this season spending extra time at the lovely boutiques or 5-star spa’s you have had your eye on since last show season.
I obviously cannot speak for all travel agents, but I started this business to help people.
All about the destination:
Now, the next thing that is really important to make sure your season goes as planned is to know your show schedule.
Knowing where you are going and where each show is held is more important than just knowing where you and your horse need to show up.
If you plan out all of your bookings and travel needs months in advance you usually are subject to the best prices and discounts available.
Sometimes, if you book at certain times you can even receive extra amenities!
The only way to guarantee that you have eyes on price fluctuations is to either become a travel agent yourself or have one book your itineraries and keep you up to date on price changes and when the prices are expected to be the best deals.
(If you ARE interested in becoming a travel agent, we are HIRING!)
Budgeting for your trip:
After you have all of your destinations down, come up with a budget PER PERSON for each trip you plan to take for the year.
You can do this either for the trip including show expenses and costs or without.
Here is a general idea of what to break down per person WITHOUT show expenses included.
Included in this price should be:
- Hotel/ accommodations costs
- Food and drink costs
- Extra entertainment (if any)
- Shuttle or rental car services
- Car seat or child product rentals
- Spending allowance (if any)
This will help you get a good idea of what the trip is going to cost.
It also gives you time to save for extra adventures or experiences, and even aids in saving up for the year’s show season. Finally, you will be more in control of what is coming in and going out for horse related expenses this year!
Remember, if you know what you want to do and book early, you can receive major discounts.
One pro tip I would love to share with you is that group travel can cut travel expenses by HALF at times! I know what you are thinking, it almost sounds too good to be true, right?
Well, I thought so too, before I became a travel agent.
Many times, big travel supplies and hotel/resort owners will offer special group rates.
If you are traveling with a large group, talk to your agent about this option or if you are not working with an agent either get one or call the hotel/ resort you are staying at to ask about group rates and related information.
(This also applies to cruises, if you plan to take any!)
Booking group travel by yourself is a lot more tricky than taking care of yourself or your immediate family but is by all means doable by yourself.
You will want to make sure that everyone in the group understands the expenses, has the necessary documentation, and correct and up-to-date information, and is prepared to present their ID and credit card for deposits.
Once you have your budget, destinations, and all of the other jazz worked out, it’s time to figure out what airports you are flying out of and into, and also consider what time you would like (or need) your flights to be.
Some airlines even have applications you can install on your phone that allow you to choose and change your flights, manage bookings, and even pick your seats.
Make sure that you talk to your travel agent or a representative of the airline for verification of what each airline offers and what you are able to do.
After air bookings also comes the thought of ground transportation (Also called transfers or shuttles at times.) There are a couple of options you can choose from:
- Rental car
- Airport shuttle/ bus
- Have someone who lives or is currently local to your destination pick you up
Equestrian Travel Agent Tip: Planning transportation for your horse:
One of the last things you need to consider when planning your show season is not only your own transportation but how is your horse going to get to all of the shows and events you plan on attending? There are again, quite a few options you can choose from:
- Have your horse trainer transport your horse
- Transport your horse yourself
- Hire another trainer you trust to haul your horse
- Hire a private equine chartering service
Many times, most people will either haul their horses themselves or they will pay their trainer to haul for them. There are a lot of benefits to doing either of these options, but you need to make sure that you have a backup in case these options fail, I.E. have a great professional transport service in your back pocket.
I partner with the only equine chartering service in the industry I would trust to put my horses on board with. Vortex Equine Transportation is a family-owned equine charter service based out of Ocala, Florida. They currently sponsor major riders such as Jessica Wellington and are trusted by the elite horse trainers and riders in the industry. They are the only horse transport service that has professional horsemen handling and caring for your horses during the entire trip. Beyond that they have fully customizable trailers, are licensed and legal, and are rigorous with their maintenance schedule. If you need someone in the horse transport industry you can genuinely trust to care more about your horse than they do anything in the world, contact Vortex Equine and tell them Jamie sent you!
If you choose to hire another trainer or someone you know to haul your horse, make sure that they clearly understand your horse’s needs and your expectations if they can accommodate to them.
You should also understand what the price will be for the trip and if they plan on making any stops or not.
Make sure that you have all the necessary paperwork for transporting your horse. Many times professional haulers or other trainers/ people who may be willing to haul your horse will need certain documentation. These include:
Preparing for show season
Beyond caring for your travel needs and ironing out all of the little pieces of show season, there is a lot of pre-planning and preparation.
In this section, we are going to discuss some of those tasks that are pre-show season planning measures.
If you have been showing and riding for awhile this section may not be of much use as you probably already know or do a lot of these things, but if you are new to showing or trying to manage planning and preparation this section is for you!
Below I have listed out my top ten tricks for show season prep and management. (Take it from someone who has forgotten or misplaced just about everything imaginable in their 10+ years of showing.)
These tips and ideas are helpful!
Additional learning and related articles:
- Consider your horses travel related stress and their nutrition.
- Think about your barrel racing horses conditioning.
Top 10 tips and tricks for show season preparation
- Have all of your garments, show gear, and tack organized and ready to go. Make and keep a checklist to make sure you don’t forget anything.
- Tickets and show information organized
- Have a sit down with your trainer
- Get to know the showgrounds, figure out who the show manager is, and know where you are stalled
- Have payments and pre-orders for at-show accommodations prepared before-hand
- Pre-print out or order pattern books
- Have a game plan for show day
- Have your emergency kit ready, include batteries, pain medication, a first-aid kit, any prescriptions you may need during the show, emergency contact information, bobby pins, safety pins, buttons, a sewing kit, and water bottles.
- Practice smarter not harder at the shows- practice time is always at home, and when you get to the show its time to shine. One of the best ways to practice smarter and not harder at a show is to watch competitors or senior riders you look up to. Watch their lines, their moves, and anything that you may be able to learn from.
- Set goals, set time frames for tasks at shows, and start looking at your show career as a job you take seriously instead of something that is all fun and games. You mindset can play a large role in how your show goes, professionalism is key.
Final thoughts for the travel agents guide for an equestrian: the complete guide to a stress-free show season
While planning your show season is a bit of work and can be stressful, looking at it with a can-do attitude and a bit of insider understanding will have you planning and managing your show season away in no time!
If you have any questions or would like help planning an itinerary for travel of any type, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
I offer no obligation free of charge quotes and consultations and at the end of the day… my services are always free and I am here to help!
or visit my website: Travel With Ridgeway
Thanks for tuning in today and make sure you leave a comment and share your experiences with show season and rodeo travel! We would love to hear about them.