10 Ways to Make Horse Shows Fun

None of us would ever compete if the experience wasn’t enjoyable. Here are 10 ways to ensure that your next show day is a fun day.

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Rider patting a horse after a round at a horse show.

  1. Bring along a pit crew. Juggling entry forms and grooming tools while also changing in and out of various outfits can leave you haggard—and potentially smeared with boot polish and slobber. Enlist a helpful pal (or two) so you can remain calm and in a positive state of mind.
  2. Take advantage of the buddy system. Competing alongside a friend makes the entire experience more fun. You can cheer each other on and commiserate when things don’t go quite so well.
  3. Pack a picnic. Nothing against the nachos and doughnuts from the concession stand, but packing a wholesome lunch will prevent a post-sugar rush meltdown.
  4. Nix the nerves. Calm your anxiety. Before each class, close your eyes, breathe deeply, and visualize yourself executing a perfect performance aboard your horse. If you can see it, you’re more likely to achieve it.
  5. Show what you know. Ignore the impulse to try something new in the midst of competition. Your chances of success are small. Instead, enter only the classes where you and your horse can shine.
  6. Consider a club. Joining a local riding association with a circuit of regularly scheduled events will allow you to compete among a consistent group of like-minded equestrians. You can move up through the ranks and vie for year-end championships.
  7. Meet and greet. Don’t be a reclusive introvert. Smile and chat with the lady at the entry booth, the harried manager and other competitors. You’ll soon realize that you’re among friends, which will help you relax and have fun.
  8. Pace yourself. Sure, in the early morning it seemed reasonable to enter 17 classes. But in reality, that’s too much of a commitment. Both you and your horse will end up grumpy.
  9. Embrace the rainbow. Don’t get fixated on blue ribbons. Any ribbon won is a symbol of achievement. A pink one (fifth place) in a tough class is better than first place out of two riders.
  10. Enjoy the atmosphere. Much of the fun connected to competition is soaking in the entire spectacle. You’re mingling with other horse lovers who’ve planned, practiced and primped for this day. How can you not have fun?

This article originally appeared in the June 2019 issue of Horse Illustrated magazine. Click here to subscribe!

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