It's Show Time!...Preparing For Your First Horse Show

It's Show Time!...Preparing For Your First Horse Show

Submitted by: Maureen Cippel
Phone: 703 965-7937
Email Address: balancedequine(at)
Date Added: 3/13/2018

Part of the fun of owning and training a horse is to actually participate at a local show. But once you've selected a show, how can you make sure you're going to be successful? At first glance a show may seem like a simple enough endeavor. However, there is more planning involved than just showing up in your best riding clothes.

A checklist can help you organize yourself and reduce anxiety about forgetting something critical. A few key areas to remember:

Find Experts
Before the show: Develop a support system of people who are knowledgeable in showing and can answer questions about the process. Ask questions ahead of time, before the show. Your expert may be your trainer, a barn buddy or a friend with showing experience. Make it fun by recruiting a good friend to attend the show and lend a helping hand and/or coach you.
During the show: A coach or trainer can provide feedback during and after the class. Find someone who will make a video of your performance as this will provide an invaluable training tool. And an extra set of hands, or two, can be immensely helpful. And...if you are wondering why you and/or your horse placed the way they did, some (not all) judges are willing to share a critique of your ride...try asking.
Rules and Regulations
Prior to the day of the show, read up on the class requirements and eligibility. These are available on the website. Be sure you have the appropriate tack and attire for the event you are entering. The entry application and fees may be completed electronically and are also available at the show venue. In addition, you will need proof of a current Coggins test.
Hitching a Ride
How will you and your horse get to the show? Can you go with a group from your barn or a friend? Do you need to hire a local hauler? For safety, shipping boots prevent nicks and bruises when traveling to and from the show. A tail wrap will keep your horse's tail clean during the trip. And a full hay net will keep your horse occupied while in the trailer.
It's Show Time
Looks count! To look presentable, your horse may require a bath and mane care or braiding before you leave the barn. Save your show clothes for the ring. During travel and while putting the finishing grooming touches and tacking up your horse, wear clothes that you don't mind getting dirty.

Bring extra hay as well as water and a bucket. Your horse will be happy if you remember treats to reward a job well done. Pack something for yourself – water and healthy snacks that don't need any prep or utensils, like a sandwich, juice and apples. Show days often go longer than you think. It's a smart idea to bring a first aid kit for you and your horse. Better to be prepared!

And most importantly...bring a smile.

Do you have any helpful hints to share for the novice show equestrienne?

Maureen Cippel has been working with horses since 1981 and shows locally in the Northern Virginia area. She is certified as an Equine Massage Therapist and as an Equine Structural Integration Practitioner. She may be reached by email at or via her website at

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