Show Backpack Essentials: IHSA Edition

I never used one of those extra-expensive “helmet backpacks” for horse shows until I became captain of my college’s IHSA team. I didn’t ever feel like I needed an extra bag of stuff to carry around with me. Flash forward to now and I can’t go anywhere at the show without it.  So, in honor of officially finishing my IHSA career, I decided to channel my inner guru and go over what is in my horse show backpack for intercollegiate shows!

PicMonkey Collage


I found the Grand Prix Rider’s Backpack at a tent sale a few years ago and then picked up the mini version at another sale a year later. For IHSA purposes, I love the larger one since I can fit much more into it.

Obviously the first pocket on the bag is the helmet pouch. I am one of those riders that puts her hairnet and helmet on in the morning and doesn’t take off until we get back on the bus, so I don’t really use this that often. I love the idea of using it but my hair is not cooperative enough to take my helmet on and off throughout the day. I do have a bow on the side because a ton of people have this backpack and this is probably the one thing I have that doesn’t have a monogram on it (of course).



On either side of the bag are small pockets for random little things. On one side is a water bottle pouch that fits not even the smallest bottle you can find. Seriously, I have to shove my plastic bottle of water into the tiny holder and crush the bottom, no reusable bottles fit. On the other side is a small zippered pocket where I keep:

  • Chapstick – Because no one wants chapped lips after a 17 hour horse show in teen temperatures. My favorite is the Burt’s Bees with Pomegranate Oil.
  • Headache medicine – Another thing that no one wants when they’re outside all day. I am not a fan of being debilitated by a nasty headache when I am about to go into the ring so I always carry some Excedrin on me.
  • A granola bar – The school supplies us with food but it is not always edible so I like to bring some sort of sustenance with me.


There is another pocket in the front that I use for my smaller things that I need more easily accessible, such as:

  • My wallet and keys – For a Dunks run.
  • Athletic tape – For when my not-really-but-still-kinda-broken pinky decides to be a jerk since it is freezing out.
  • A pen – Because we have to fill out the show programs and write down horse draws. Specifically a Sharpie pen since it won’t freeze in the cold.
  • Headphones – To drown out the noise so I can sleep for an extra hour on the bus.
  • A portable power bank and charger – For when my phone inevitably dies in the middle of the day and I panic.
  • Gloves and an extra hairnet – If they aren’t on my body or in my pocket, they are in here.


Finally, I keep the rest of my things in the giant main pocket. My favorite part of this is that it completely unzips on both sides so I can stuff everything inside, like:

  • Clipboard and notebook – To write down any standings if there aren’t enough programs.
  • Old show programs – Because I am too lazy to take them out.
  • My show number and string- Because I like to keep it on my person and there often isn’t a place to hang our jacket bags at the shows so they have to stay on the bus.
  • A hat – For when I do finally take my helmet off and my hair looks like a train wreck.
  • Sperrys – Because who is Breeches and Boat Shoes without boat shoes? And I don’t like to wear my boots all day long so I try to be optimistic that it’ll be warm enough to wear these at some point of the day.
  • A scarf – If I am not wearing this it is probably in my bag waiting for me to realize that I don’t have it on.
  • A 1/4 zip – I usually wear this over my show shirt and/or my show coat but when I am showing I keep it in my bag so I can put it right back on after my class.
  • My makeup bag and remover – I don’t always take this with me but I will occasionally do my face on the bus so I can sleep an extra few minutes.


That is basically all that fits into my backpack on a typical IHSA show day. I love this bag because it can fit so much inside and it is pretty sturdy. It gets handed off to teammates and chucked into the corner of the ring many times and the most that has happened is it has gotten a little dirty.


What do you keep with you at horse shows?

Check out some other “show backpack” posts!
Preppy Equestrian ~ What’s in my Show Backpack
Horse Junkies United ~ The HackSack Review
Grace Barnett ~ What’s in my Show Backpack?!

Published by Terisé

• New England Equestrian Blogger • • Photographer • • Editor •

9 thoughts on “Show Backpack Essentials: IHSA Edition

  1. I’m so glad you wrote this because I was walking into work this morning and literally thinking about how much easier my work/horse life would be with an appropriate bag for all that crap. (My IHSA days are sooo far behind me.. though now I am reminiscent for the fun of draws.) And why haven’t you monogrammed it?!


  2. so i’m resisting the book bag bc i know as soon as i get one i won’t know how i lived without it before… and then i’ll find reasons to carry ALL THE THINGS around with me all the time haha… looks convenient tho!


  3. I’ve settled on using a regular school backpack, but it’s a larger kind. Two big pockets plus a laptop area and numerous smaller pockets. When I go to the barn, it carries treats, helmet, gloves, and chaps, sometimes extra layers in the winter. At shows, it’s my over-night bag. Clean clothes in the big pouch, dirty clothes in the little pouch. The usual keys, money, pen & paper, etc. go in the various smaller pouches.


  4. I plan on getting one eventually, but I’m going the more frugal route. A Nike or Underarmor Basketball backpack. It’s basically the same thing for way less.


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