Competing in horse shows can be a wonderful pastime, but as with any sport it is important to be prepared.
Good well organised horse show preparation can be your key to success in the equestrian show ring.
And being well prepared can also reduce the amount of stress you feel when you and your horse step into the arena for the first time.
The exact preparations you need to make depend on the type of horse show you will be attending
But, there are some general rules and things you can do to get you and your horse ready for any horse show.
Showing Your Horse? Here are Six Tips for Successful Horse Show Preparation.
1.) Always Read the rule book carefully …
- Good horse show preparation means doing this before you attend the show, to find out exactly which rules you will have to follow
- Many shows are run by equestrian associations or under association rules
- They can use one of many rulebooks including the British Dressage or BSJA rulebook
- In America it could be the USEF rulebook, while others follow breed rules like the AQHA or some use 4H rules
- The entry forms or prize list should clearly state which rules are in force. If not, contact the show secretary or show manager for clarification
2.) Try to attend a similar show as a spectator first …
- The rules in the rulebook are important, but there are unofficial rules as well. Good horse show preparation involves attending a similar show as a spectator or as a groom for a more experienced horse show competitor, is the perfect way to understand the showing styles and current trends that prevail in the horse show ring.
- Invest your valuable time watching the classes you plan to compete in and note which horses are winning consistently. This can tell you a lot about the current trends and styles the judges may prefer.
- You can also pick up the latest gossip about which judges prefer which breed types and plan your entries around the judges that suit your horse best.
3.) Get to know the plaiting, banding or braiding requirements …
- At larger horse shows plaiting, braiding or banding is generally required for hunter classes, while it is often optional at smaller shows. If you are unsure about whether plaiting, banding or braiding requirements apply, make sure you ask the show secretary or manager for guidance.
- Plaiting or Braiding does give your horse a more professional and polished look, so you may want to plait or braid even when it isn’t specifcally required.
4.) Clipping Styles & Clipping Requirements …
- The way you clip your horse will depend on its breed and the requirements of the horse show classes you plan to enter.
- Work with your instructor or trainer to determine the best or most suitable way to clip your horse, based on its breed or type.
- Clipping the muzzle and ears is fairly standard, but different breeds have different styles when it comes to the length of the mane and the size of the bridle path, particularly native breeds.
5.) Always compile a horse show checklist …
The last thing you want to do is arrive at your horse show without the equipment you need.
- It’s important to make a list of all the items you might need, from the patently obvious tack like your saddle and bridle, to grooming supplies, spare hat or jacket and plenty of string or safety pins to secure your competition number.
- Go through your horse show checklist carefully and check off each item as you load it in your horsebox or trailer.
6.) Finally and Importantly … Always Arrive Early!
It’s always a good idea to arrive early on the day of your horse show. Your horse is competing in a strange environment, not what they are used to at home, and that in itself can involve major adjustments and a lot of distractions.
- Arriving early gives you and your horse a chance to warm up properly and to really get ready to perform.
- You will avoid any worries about time constraints, the number one factor that leads to nervousness and poor performance.
- It also means you have plenty of time to plan your route to the ring and to make sure you register, collect numbers, find a farrier if you need one and replace or borrow any items you forgot to add to your checklist.
So there you have it, six top tips for horse show preparation
Remember them and they should help make sure your first or your next horse show goes exactly as planned.