A Complete Guide On Preparing A Horse Show

January 1, 2022

Undoubtedly, horse shows are the best co-curricular activity for every horse lover. It is an event where people may watch horses competing and even interact with fellow equestrians. Nonetheless, the picture is slightly different if the individual is competing in the horse show instead of being in the audience. 

Things may not seem easy for horse riders in horse shows, and they may be stressed throughout. Whether the first or the tenth show, every rider desires to become a successful horse rider and bag many prizes home with their horses.

Horse riders train extremely hard to win for an extended period. However, being stressed before the show will add to their distraction throughout the show. This article will offer a detailed view of preparing for a successful horse show. 

History and Overview of Horse Shows

Approximately horses were domesticated or first ridden around 3500 BC. Horses have come a long way in wars, chariots, agriculture, equestrian sports, or transportation. Horse riding has been prevalent traditionally in Ancient Egypt. Greece, Babylon, and Syria. In those days, horse chariot racing was a popular sport – bagging a part of the Greek Olympics in 648 BC. 

The Equestrians Federation constituted in 1971 became a member of the fEderation Equestre Internationale in 1971. Today, it is the governing body of every equestrian event globally. Amongst the equestrian sports, eight disciplines include:

  • Jumping
  • Eventing
  • Dressage
  • Endurance
  • Vaulting
  • Driving
  • Reigning
  • Para and Tent Pegging

Any domestic equestrian sports competition may include shows in the following categories only:

  • Show Jumping
  • Eventing
  • Dressage
  • Endurance
  • Tent Pegging

Basic Rules and Requirements for Horse Shows

  • Dressage rules

The word ‘dressage’ is a French word meaning ‘training.’ Horse riding is a sport where the rider and the horse perform based on a series of predetermined movements. Two arena sizes are usually considered for horse riding. The small size encompasses 20 meters by 40 meters. At the same time, the standard arena-size takes up about 20 meters by 60 meters of the area. 

It covers a range of individual tests with increased difficulty when speaking of dressage. In each test, the rider and the horse are judged based on common standards. No judgment is made based on other competitors present at the event. 

  • Eventing rules

Another equestrian event is where the rider-horse duo competes against combinations in triple disciples of cross country, dressage, and show jumping. Evening roots to the original cavalry test. It determines the mastery one has over the several types of horse riding. Each of the movements is assessed on a scale of 0 to 10. 

  • Show jumping rules

It is popularly known as ‘open jumping or ‘stadium jumping.’ This event is commonly held in the Olympics and even different horse show varieties. Each event comprises spreads, verticals, obstacles, or double and triple combinations. 

The horse rider is supposed to make clean jumps within a predetermined limit. For knockdowns or refusals by the horse, points may be deducted. Penalties are imposed on knockdowns if the width or height of the jump is changed due to knockdown. Refusals get a penalty for up to four faults. Horses and riders finishing without any penalty achieve ‘clear round’ status. 

Preparing for a Horse Show

A horse rider and their horse may be new to the dressage or have been seasoned competitors. Regardless of how many times they have been to horse riding competitions, getting ready for the show may seem nerve-wracking. A lot of preparation goes into a horse show; there may be so much to remember on the day of the show. 

Usually, competitors tend to run late, scrambling around to find essentials at the last minute. Packing and organizing clean tack and equipment is essential for the show. Below are some requirements to remain organized and prepared in advance for the show. 

  • Show selection

Horse shows are an excellent opportunity for riders and horses to demonstrate their feedback from judges. Most of the time, the riders are working with trainers. They may guide the riders to select classes suitable for them to show in. It is done based on riders’ different levels of expertise. 

A rider may prepare for a horse show by attending different local horse shows in advance. It allows them to observe the show environment and classes they may be interested in. The schooling shows may be the best place to begin. They are less stressful and relaxed. It may even help new horses to feel what shows look like. 

Allow the horses to relax, spend some time installing and walking around with the rider and watch others ride in the warm-up arena. Individuals may also take some suggestions from trainers and friends about locations, shows, and arenas. Knowing this information in advance makes it likely to create a positive experience in the horse show. 

Upon selecting the show and the set dates, make a list of the goods that need to be brought into the show. Make a checklist of the goods. This will help stay organized and reduce being stressed before the show. Pen down any additional grooming equipment, clothes, tack, first aid supplies. These essentials are anything one might need while being present in the show. 

The next step is to note the documentation that may be crucial for the horse shows or competitions. For instance, the Coggins test, insurance, license, and registration papers. Make sure to send the entry fee with the required paperwork well in advance to the show authority. Planning early or ahead of time is the best way to keep calm before and during the show. 

  • A few days before the show

About two to three days before the horse show, pull out the clothes to be taken for the show. Make sure the chosen clothes are clean and well pressed. Check if there are any tears or holes in the attire, any missing buttons of the shirt. Bringing a few choices of choice can be of great help if any mishap occurs. 

Hang the chosen clothes in hangers and neatly put them in the garment bag. Clean and polish the boots to be worn on the show day. Place the shoes in a bag, and the rider may even wrap them in a soft cloth to keep them clean before the show day arrives. Brush the helmet for the velvet to move in one direction for any English riders. Pack the helmet or Western hat in a hard case to remain intact and clean. 

Make sure to clean the truck and trailer. Check the headlights of the trailer to ensure they are working correctly. Free the trailer off any leftover manure by sweeping it clean. If a rider uses shavings, fresh ones must be used on the side where the horses will ride. Fill up the truck’s gas tank and hook the trailer onto the truck to be used. Take precautionary measures and double-check the chains and hitch to secure them safely. Contact DoubleDTrailers.com for further information on trailers for the horse carriage.

  • A day before the horse show

This is the right time to groom the horse for competition. Give a good bath and use quality shampoo and conditioner, designed specifically for the horses. Make use of a natural sponge to scrub and clean the horse. 

Work through in sections and move from the front to the horse’s back. When using the horse, the direction must be from the front to the back. This prevents accidental squirting of water onto the face of the horses. Spend extra time cleaning and grooming the mane and tail of the horse. One may even use an extra conditioner for the soft and smooth shines. 

Properly rinse out the soap from the tail, mane, and coat. Any additional soap on the horse’s body will leave a dull and dry look and hair on the horse. Some riders even use a mane and tail detangler to get rid of any tangles and knots. When combing the tail and mane, start from the ends and work towards the top. 

After bathing, let the horse dry off completely. Use a sweat scraper to remove the extra water from the body. Once the grooming is finished, put a light sheet on the horse and place the tail in a tail bag. This helps keep the horse’s tail clean and free from any dirt. If the horse has white stockings available, it may also be used to wrap the legs. 

Clippers can be used on the horses’ whiskers and ears. For this purpose, clean and sharp clipper blades are the best choice. Ensure the clippers are in good working condition for the smoothest and best results. The blades must be checked frequently since they heat up very often. Besides, a cooling lubricant may be required for the blades. 

Saddle soap can be used to clean the saddle and bridle. Besides, using leather conditioners can offer a good polish and shine. All the silver on the saddle and bridle must be polished with silver polish. Buff off any excess silver polish to keep the shine intact. It ensures the brightness doesn’t fade away. 

The next step would be to pack the tack in padded bags, loading them into the trailer. A clean tack, clean horse, and clean clothes will ensure the show and judges are respected throughout the show, whether it’s a small or big show. 

A rider can pack the truck and trailer with as many supplies as necessary in advance. This prevents any worry from distracting the horse rider before the show or on the day of the show. Make sure to fill the hay net or fed bin up to the brim in the trailer. Fresh hay or feed is a must for the horse. This will help the horse remain busy during the ride to the show arena. 

The horses who may wear shipping boots or wraps on the journey must be prepared before the travelling begins. Some riders may even want to blanket their horses. Brush the blanket clean beforehand. Then, fold it and lay it out to easily put on the horse in the morning. The rider may pack the drinks and easy snacks to be eaten during the show. Once on the show, it may become hectic. Hence, keeping light snacks and beverages may come in handy. 

  • At the final horse show

For orders with horses, competing in the events, it is always a good idea to reach before showtime. Remain organized, unpacked the tack, and set up the assigned stall. Unload the horse from the trailer. Make the horse feel comfortable and familiar in his stall. It must contain fresh bedding, adequate water, and fresh hay or feed. 

The rider must take some time to be familiar with the layout of the arena grounds. Locate the principal office of the show, warm-up areas, and the show rings. If a vet or farrier is attending the vent, know where they may be set for emergency needs. The main office collects the show number allotted and turns in any necessary paperwork. It may be a compulsory Coggins test done on the horses or even the registration papers. 

Upon settling down, give a final groom to the horse and tack him up. The riders must take enough time to warm up and get accustomed to the arena settings. Specific disciplines may have strict regulations and rules about the equipment. Hence, the rider must carefully read the rulebook.

They may even take help from the trainer to know if the tack is considered legal for the show. Make sure to check the schedule thoroughly and listen for any changes that may take place. Once the class commences, wipe down the horse one final time with a clean cloth. A damp towel can be used to wipe down, and dirt from the horse’s nostrils and ears. Next, brush the tail and mane. Finally, make sure the shirt is well tucked in. Once double-checked, the rider and the horse are ready for the competition. 

Tips for a successful show

If the individual is taking part in the horse show, certain factors must be considered. Past The Wire is a weekly column on a website that offers better details on horse riding. To know more head over to their website. Until then, these tips may come in handy. 

  • Preparing the mind and body

The day riders begin their training for the first show is when they become an athlete. Despite the situations at hand, they need to be physically and mentally strong. Try having a regular life. However, prevent any stressful activity during training and before the show day. 

Hence, being mentally strong is crucial to face the difficulty that comes in the way. Apart from this, physical strength is essential to ride better. Therefore, regularly exercise off-the-saddle to perform well during the training and even at the shows. 

  • Preparing the horses

The horse is of utmost importance in any discipline; therefore, preparing the horse for any show takes a lot of time and effort. In addition, the horse needs to be physically prepared for the show. Consequently, proper training in a specific discipline is crucial. 

Consult a veterinarian about the nutrients and vitamins essential for the horse’s training. Riders can try feeding their horses some horse coat-enhancing grain a month in advance. Regularly groom before the show to keep the coat clean on the show day. 

Before arriving at the arena, the show location, hooves, and horse coat must be ready. For the coat clipping, make sure to do it a couple of days in advance. Also, make sure the horse receives a good bath for easy grooming on the show day. 

During horse preparation, another critical factor is hoof care. Ensure the farrier comes a few days in advance. This will prevent losing out on shoes or having untrimmed hooves before the show. 

  • Preparing the clothes and tack

Horse shows are the best place for riders and their horses to showcase their talent. Therefore, the horse must be shiny, and the tack used must also be shining. Before the tack box is packed, clean all the apparel.

A detailed cleaning session has to be given to the stirrups, saddle, bridle, bits, leg wraps, boots, and other leather goods of need. The horse must look formal and elegant for the show. To impress the judges, prepare the clothes and self-care items a day before the set-off. 

  • Neatly packing the essentials.

For competing against successful riders in a standard arena:

  1. Remain organized in advance.
  2. Make a preparation checklist for organizing the tack, tools, clothes and other stuff in advance.
  3. Start packing necessary items, take some time to think and write down all the essentials for oneself and the horse.

A simple list with compulsory goods will prepare the rider for the show day. 

  • Learning the required etiquette and rules

Rules may be shared days in advance before the show. The rules ensure no confusion occurs and that fair and safe competition prevails. Please communicate with the trainer about the regulations to clarify them. Learning etiquettes for the horse show is necessary for the match as well. 

  • Racing in the comfort zone

Knowing the comfort zones can strengthen the riding game with whichever discipline one rides and competes in. There is no need to push oneself or the horse beyond the training. Instead, compete at higher levels once the training is finished and certain levels are accomplished. 

Wrapping Up!

As a horse rider who has prepared for a long time for their shows, make sure to do the best in every step. It may be tiresome, but it is still an enjoyable process. Regardless of their position at the end of the competition, every horse rider must be proud of themselves. Be proud of the companying equine and their efforts. Keep this guide in mind to have a successful horse show ahead. 

Well done Jon. TY. twitter.com/pastthewire/st…

Terri Martin (@GolfGirlTexas) View testimonials