Beneath the oaks shading the camper parking area of the Upperville Colt and Horse Show grounds, sat a light blue half-ton pickup with Pennsylvania plates and a bumper sticker advising "Save gas - ride a horse."

But the horses at this show could never be considered alternate means of transportation. With price tags reaching more than $50,000, these glossy animals, manes and tails braided, are only expected to faultlessly negotiate an average of 10 jumps before a judge.

And the riders who complete with the horses on the show circuit stretching from Florida to Canada, migrants who drive thousands of miles during the season that extends from February through December, are having problems finding gas.

Just as Washington commuters were idling in gas lines, the stations in Upperville and nearby Middleburg had either run out, or were operating only a few hours in the morning.

This left the horse show nomads, with their vans, trailers, pickups and cars, wondering this weekend how they would get to the next show on the circuit, Ox Ridge, Conn.

"In Upperville, we are just beginning to feel the crunch, and it is changing this crazy nomadic life style," Katie Monahan, a tall, thin blond who rides professionally for several stables said.

"I love to drive all night to get to a show. I can only travel by day now and never on Weekends. I have to plan ahead, I'm not as carefree. I have to be sure I can get to the next show before the gas station close."

Show riders cannot skip the toprated, prestigious shows like Upperville's to avoid gasoline shortage in the areas where these shows are held. They are riding the best horses in the country for points toward the Horse of the Year Award and are locked into their schedules.

Traveling the show circuit has always been done with great style, and lots of equipment. Color-coordinated vans and trailers match monogrammed trunks, buckets, directors chairs and tack room trappings. One stable at Upperville decorated their tack room, actually a converted stall, with geraniums bordered by a tiny white wire fence.

Many riders stay in nearby motels, but others opt for motor homes and campers, complete with awnings and more directors chairs, again in the stable colors.

But many riders and trainers feel the shortage of fuel will mean cutting down on the amenities.The mobile homes and trailers drawn by station wagons and trucks get an average of 7 miles per gallon, and may have to be left at home.

Rodney Jenkins, a wiry man with a shock of red hair, is the winningest professional rider in the country. Instead of traveling in private vans, his 22 horses now ride in commercial carriers.

"The commercial vans can carry enough gas, or stop and fill up with as much as they want, so I know my horses will arrive at the shows on time," Jenkins said. "I can't take the chance on a private rig because I can't afford to miss a single class."

Jenkins added that he can't afford to risk an hour wait at the gas pumps with his horses in a van. "Waiting in the heat for an hour to get gas could make my horses very sick, they are worth too much to take that chance."

Sitting outside of her tack room on a trunk labeled Emeralda Farm, Gail Everhart, from Stanford, Fla., cooled off after riding her veteran hunter, Tiberius, in the $3,000 Amateur-Owner Hunter Classic class, Saturday afternoon.

Everhart's six horses travel commercially while she and her two dogs like in a motor home parked on the show grounds or with friends. Though her mobile home carries 100 gallons of gas, enough to get her to Ox Ridge, she says it gets "terrible mileage." Still, she isn't willing to leave it home.

"It's cheaper, only about $40 a week for the hookup and gas compared to that much for a motel room for a night. Also, with the dogs with me and since I won't be home until November, I want familiar things around me."

Catering to riders, trainers, grooms and spectators at horse shows, concession owners also migrate the circuit. Sue Odell is the owner of Mesa Indian Traders, and she sells turquoise and silver jewelry from glass cases set up in front of her long white trailer.

Mrs Odell, a widow, and her two sons, Tate, 10, and Tim, 13, live in the trailer. They have been stranded twice since leaving their home town in Oklahoma.

She is worried. "My van, which pulls the trailer, only gets 8 miles to the gallon. We have to stop and stop to get gas, but sometimes, when all the stations are closed, we just run out on the road.

"I travel 11,000 miles to all kinds of livestock and horse shows. I live in and make my living from this van and trailer. If we just can't make it, I'll raise the prices or stay home."

After showing their horses, few people, like Alfred Traurig, father of Bernie Traurig, an often successful rival of Jenkins, settle down at the far end of the show grounds in the campers parking area.

Traurig and his wife follow their son from show to show, to watch Bernie ride Indigo, a jumper Alfred Traurig owns. He parks his white trailer, drawn by a station wagon and equipped with an awning, lawn chairs and a Jack Russell terrier, across from his son's more modern mobile home.

He said the drive from his home in Morristown, Pa., was tedious because gas stations along the highway were imposing dollar limits ranging from $3 to $5 on gas purchases.

But Traurig said he will keep following the circuit, despite any gasoline shortages. "I like to watch my horse with my son riding it. I'm retired, this is my enjoyment."