Noble Life

First-Time Horse Show Tips

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Showing for the first time can be exciting (and nerve wracking!). Especially if you’re new to the sport as are many parents of riders or beginner adult riders. Even seasoned pros can get a case of the butterflies every now and then. More than the ribbons and fanfare, horse shows can provide a great new adventure for you and your horse. It’s a change of pace, a change of scenery and an opportunity to showcase your hard-earned skills. Here are a few tips to keep in mind to make the show experience an enjoyable and safe one. Happy horse showing!

  1. Go to a show or two as a spectator first. Attending without the pressure of showing can help you get a sense of the goings on. Check and see how the classes are typically run and the general flow of the day. Depending on where your first show will be held, it can be a whirlwind of activity or there might be some lulls to the day. Knowing what to expect on your show day will certainly come in handy.
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    Friends make shows fun! Bring a friend to cheer you on and help hold horses, groom, or any last minute tasks. Fox Lea Farm Horse Show, Venice, Florida by Sheri on Flickr.
  3. Bring a friend on the day of the show – horse savvy or not. An extra set of hands can be a huge help! From holding brushes to wiping down boots, a myriad of last minute details can be addressed in short order. It’s also nice to see a friendly face as you make your way to and from the ring.
  4. Have water and snacks handy. The show may or may not have food and drinks readily available. Make certain to bring your own ample supply of bottled water, healthy snacks/food items, sunscreen and hat (for outdoor events). A cooler is a nice plus!
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    No matter if you win a ribbon or not, don’t forget to smile and enjoy the day with your horse! Victoria and Bo by Pamela on Flickr.
  6. Make a list. Before the big day, prepare! Review your list several times prior to the show to ensure that you and your horse are ready. Enlist the help of a trainer or other seasoned horse person to look over your list and make any changes necessary.
  7. If you don’t have any show clothes yet, your trainer or local tack store can help get you outfitted. Kids’ sizes especially can be hard to find so make sure to shop several weeks in advance in case the size is not in stock.
  8. Don’t forget photos! Oftentimes, a show will have a photographer on site but it’s always nice to capture a candid or two of the big day.
  9. Bring a change of clothes. Horse shows can be messy, long days. A fresh change of clothes – even just to drive back in – can make all the difference in finishing the day in a good frame of mind.
  10. Check with your trainer for any potentially overlooked last minute items or possible changes in the day’s schedule of events. And if you will be staying a night or two in a hotel, make sure to call in reservations early. Sometimes hotels can be scarce near horse show venues and will fill up quickly.
  11. Make an effort to be as prepared as possible the night before so as to get a good night’s sleep.
  12. Don’t forget to smile, breathe and give your horse a big pat after it’s all said and done.

Keeping these tips in mind, your first horse show is sure to be a success – even if you don’t walk away with the blue ribbon (but we sure hope you do)!

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Based in Lexington, KY, Katie Shoultz's lifelong passion for horses and farm life inspired her to open the doors of Isidore Farm, a premier hunter/jumper facility in the Bluegrass. She is involved in several equine organizations and usually has a cup of coffee and dog by her side.

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