Spinoff: How far do you travel to events before you stay overnight?

Hi guys! Current returnee from the sport! I have my first event in about 10 years this weekend… woo hoo! There is an event on the 7/8 November that running over two days (most events around here do as far as I can tell).

What would you consider appropriate travel time to trailer there and back each day?

At what travel time do you start staying over night? At what travel time do you start staying the night before? The night after?

I almost never stay the night after a show because I’m a night person (so don’t mind getting home late) and I generally don’t want to take another day off work.

In my area, it usually costs almost the same to have a stall as it does to haul in and out each day, I hate having to pack up and un pack every day, and I think it is a less stressful experience for my horse if they have a stall, so my horse stays overnight at almost any multi-day show.

I’ll go back and forth so I sleep at home (and don’t need to pay for house sitting) up to an hour one way. Beyond that, I stay at the show grounds (I have a truck camper).

I am very much not a morning person and I live 40 minutes away from my horse, so I go the night before if my start time is such that I need to be leaving the barn significantly before 8am to get there in time!

I consider stabling if it’s 2 hours or more away. I’m in Area II (Northern VA) so I’m very lucky to have so many good events close by! I only “travel” for Fair Hill, VHT, etc. I have traveled 5 hrs to Southern Pines because it’s the first event of the season.

I always plan to leave the day I compete, even for So Pines. I have had a student with a late ride time and I just make sure everything’s packed up so we can roll out the second we’re able.

I have had plenty of wake up times at 4am (I think once, even earlier) to get everything done.:eek: Such as life!

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Agree, usually 2+ hours is the overnight (for a multi day show) point for me. Less, I’ll trailer back and forth. Though usually less than 4 I may drive up the morning of, then overnight for a second day. I usually make my decision based on finances and ride times. (In Area III we have more 2-day divisions than 1-day) If I am over-nighting I usually do a little research to see if I can stable outside of the show facility. (Some events like Tryon, have a $350 stabling fee. Or, they fill up anyways.)

(I got in trouble on COTH a few years ago for sharing that. I do want to support Venues, but when i can spend $25/$50 for a roomy stall outside the facility or $200-$300 at the venue. That’s about enough for me to just haul in, and I can save that amount to come back again! )

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If it’s much over an hour I’d probably stable overnight. (I also have an additional 30 minutes to get from my house to the barn) But I generally go early the day of the event not the night before unless it’s much over 2 hours. I can’t think of a situation where I would stay the night after as I’ve never had a show run that late. I suppose maybe a last minute decision if my horse was really naughty or got eliminated and I decided to stay and school!

3 hours. But honestly…I’m lucky enough that most my events are all done in one day and under 3 hours away. And yup. Done many 4 am wake up times…and a mant much earlier (2:30 am being my earliest). Always funny when stopping to get coffee very early on a Sat or Sun morning and running into people clearly still out from the night before. We are usually dressed pretty different from one another ;).


I have a 4am wakeup this weekend! I am not even the first rider! I’m 7th to go (8.36am dressage time). Looking at the timetable the event will run from 8am to 5pm+ (last cross country round (2*) starts at 4.57pm).

I think for my event on the 7/8 of Nov I will trailer in each day (1.5-2hrs) from agistment. He lives out 24/7 so I think he’d rather travel and stay in his paddock than stay overnight in a yard or stable.

Do you worry about how all that travel for the horse will impact performance? I’m sure there is a discussion about this on here somewhere, but I’ve always wondered how that factors in. Maybe not such a big deal for low levels but more as you go up? Honest question and just speculating.

When I was a child, I used to feel bad for my pony b/c I thought it must be like 2 hours of work just being in the horsebox. I compared it to standing in a train or coach bathroom and how you have to balance yourself the whole time, sort of constantly using muscles to keep upright and counter the motion of travel. If I had to stand and keep my balance in a train or coach for 2 hours I wouldn’t do well at the competition once I arrived. This was my childlike thinking.

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I think this way, too ^^^^. I take the hauling time/effort into consideration more (or as much) for my horse as myself.

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You should always consider the stress of the trailer ride…including traffic and time of year (hot or cold). But that also has to balance with the stress of staying in a new stable. Some horses don’t rest at shows or in strange surroundings…and others don’t care. You have to know your horse. We are not taking a young horse to the finals for the YEH championships (4 year old) even though he is qualified and would be competitive just because its not a day trip and for this horse at his age and point, the stabling would be more stressful then he needs at this point in his career given the stabling at the venue.

I was told that the being in the trailer is akin to walking for the same period of time…and I think you have to add into that how stressed your horse is on the trailer to balance how far your are willing to trailer to compete, and I usually try to get there early enough they can have a bit of a rest in the trailer while it is parked. But in the end…there are a lot of factors one should be considering.

For me, a big one too is whether I’m doing all the driving…I hate driving a trailer tired. So I’m good with an early morning start…but I like having a 2nd person with me and ideally someone not riding to drive home. You also always have to think what happens if you get hurt when you are competing…but that is another thread.


Same as that amount of time walking: that’s a good metric to remember, thanks!

And, agreed, I wasn’t even thinking of the trailering stress when I wrote that question. I had two greys for awhile. One was ho hum in the trailer. The other: Showsheen the hell out of her hind quarters the night before and task one upon arrival was to suds up the Orvus to wash all the stress diarrhoea off her hind legs from trailering. She’d be half green on arrival. Task two: wash the trailer. Poor thing. She seemed to do fine once there, but obvi was not keen on the traveling bit.

One hour --but that’s assuming horse(s) are staying at the venue and I am driving back and forth --if horses stay, then there is someone from the stable (mine or trainers) who is also staying over who can do a night check. I unhook and drive myself and kid back and forth --that’s when the kid couldn’t driver herself. My own events (Mounted Archery), I’ll haul my competition horse an hour in the AM because 1) he’s a QH not an OTTB --and MA isn’t as intense as Horse Trials --the TBs needed to be on their game in eventing 100% --MA is a 90 meter canter at prelim speed while I shoot my bow --generally 16 times in a day. All William Tell needs to do is have the right lead and speed. I do the rest. And as William points out often when we finish --he always does his part --I’m the one who misses.

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My closest event is 2.5 hours away. We usually have two or three day events, but with Covid this year, the two events we had were made into one-day events split into divisions.

I always stay over as it gives me time to get there, settle my horse, maybe have a lesson, and walk my xc course. I always head home that night. One event site is 8 hours away, and for that one I start home and stay 1/2 way with a friend.

I always stay overnight and arrive a day early but never leave a day later. For some reason, the events here (Area VII) are run over three days. Dressage on Friday, XC Saturday, and Stadium Sunday. I wish they could combine two of the phases on Saturday so I, and many others, don’t have to take 2 days off of work. Any horse can do a 3 minute dressage test and then jump a round so why not combine? Regardless, I always stable on site and camp on the grounds as there are none in my area that are less than 2 hours away.

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I mean, the sport was called 3 day eventing for a pretty long time :lol::lol::lol: Personally I would like to see more proper long format 3 days.

Well, yes I know that but for those of us who work for a living, taking 2 days off is not always do-able. I’ve talked to a couple of advanced, international level competitors and even they are in favor of a two day format.


One hour, because I like to school the night before, I always ride at 8am, and I don’t like driving back and forth. I sleep in my trailer.

Usually Organizers run events over multiple days so as to take more entries. To combine two phases usually means they need more dressage rings to run a similar number or riders. Alternatively, it can be that they are using the same rings for dressage and SJ. Everything is just about timing and rings…not really about the effort for the horse and rider.

In Area II…often we go from SJ right to xc. There are pros and cons to this and it definitely took some adjusting when events first started doing this format. I would say that I personally prefer it now. That said…I’ve had some events where I did dressage, SJ and XC (at Preliminary) and was done within 1.5 hours. That was a bit too condensed! It can be really hard to get your course walked. I’ve had to show up at events before the sun rose and literally jogged the xc partly in the dark because there was no other time to walk the course. In those cases…sometimes you really do have to come the day before and either drive back and forth (once without your horse) or stable with your horse.

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I used to live in an apartment building, and went cheerily flying out the door one horse show morning just after 3:15am on a Sunday (that’s my earliest wakeup call, you have me beat). I encountered some fellow residents in the lobby and happily chirped “good morning!” as I skipped off to the horse show. It took me about fifteen minutes to figure out why they looked at me like I was crazy. For them, it was still Saturday night (and it seemed like a tipsy one at that). We are an odd bunch.

@FitzE, RE: travel stress I am similar to @bornfreenowexpensive. My horse is an experienced shipper and prefers to sleep in her own bed when she can, and we often do one-days. In terms of loose-ness on the day, it seems the benefits of being allowed to spend the night before out wandering in her field outweigh the benefits of avoiding a day-of trailer ride. I ship day-of up to about 3 hours, and she gets to have a rest upon arrival while I walk the course. But I would guess that’s fairly horse-dependent.

There is the trailer ride to consider, but also the stress of staying overnight in another location. Some horses are very used to it and don’t seem bothered. But some stay anxious that they are not at their own home with their own herd.

I watch for signs of how the horse handles staying away from home. Are they constantly looking around for danger or their herd, or relaxed and eating hay? First thing in the morning, does their tail have shavings in it, showing they did lie down to rest? Are they eating and drinking relatively normally, or too worried about their surroundings to eat & drink as usual? That kind of thing.

Also, if you have the opportunity to use a camera to watch horses in a trailer from the towing vehicle, every mile isn’t necessarily a slow walk. That is mostly for roads that aren’t smooth (and some highways are not). On a smooth highway (interstate) at a constant speed, many horses will sleep or nap.

Also horses do stand up most of the time, and if outside they wander while grazing. So for them standing in a trailer may be somewhat like us sitting in an airline seat on a plane in flight, or perhaps a subway for a trip with more motion - they are in the posture they hold for most of the day, anyway, but on a moving container. Some people are more comfortable in an airline seat or on a subway than others. The same for horses during trailer travel. Bumpy or uneven roads are like bumpy weather for us on an airplane, much less comfortable and requires the horse to move to keep their balance. The trailer speeding up and slowing down is the other main source of motion activity for the horse - kind of like the subway on curves and making stops & starts.

However, there are some horses that stand braced for the entire trip, no matter what. They definitely show that they feel it after the trip. I wish I knew better how to help them relax without doping them just before a competition.

Where I used to live, most of the events were less than an hour from the barn. The horse and I were both better off to drive home on Saturday night and let him be in his own stall overnight, and then drive back on Sunday morning. However, if an event is 2+ hours away, I tend to re-evaluate what plan will be the least stress on the horse and on me. I don’t mind getting up at Oh-Dark-Thirty to go to a clinic or event to compete that day. So the decision has more to do with whatever is the kindest to the horse & self, taking all things into account (the roads, stabling, accommodations, ride times, etc.).

I haven’t been to an event that didn’t wind up by 4 pm on Sunday, leaving time to get back home at a reasonable hour even if it is a bit of a drive. It would have to be a long trip that I would not come home on Sunday evening. Even if it were 3-4 hours drive, I think my horse would vote to go home and be back with his herd in his own place that night. :slight_smile: However I would also factor in how tired I was feeling vs. the length of the drive.

(Back in high school / early college I never, ever stayed overnight. On show morning we typically drove out of the gate at 3:30 am or 4 am. Self & my horse, plus whatever other rider and her horse who caught a ride with us. I recall telling one that was dithering about leaving so early, that the trailer was rolling out at that time, whether she had her horse loaded on it or not. :winkgrin: Then one day I became an adult and realized that going the day before and staying overnight was a way better option for both the horse & me than leaving at 3 or 4 in the morning and getting home close to midnight, almost every weekend. :lol: )