Show With Confidence

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Horse ShowIf you are new to showing or have been away from the show pen for a while, there are some steps you can take to boost your confidence in order to help your horse perform his best.

Begin by selecting a show and the classes in which you’d like to compete. Attend a similar event as a spectator to familiarize yourself with the performances and the standards for tack, apparel and grooming.

You’ll also want to study the rules that govern the show, particularly class guidelines and restrictions on tack. If you have questions about show regulations, the show’s secretary is usually the go-to person. Look for the secretary’s contact information on the class list or entry form.

Also note what documentation you’ll need. Proof of membership (membership is required at breed and rated shows, and other organized events), a current negative Coggins test, and a copy of your horse’s registration papers are the most common requirements.

If at all possible, bring along an experienced show buddy so you don’t have to go it alone. You can also team up with a trainer who is attending the show with other clients or hire him or her for a day of coaching. At the very least, bring along a trusted sidekick for an extra pair of hands. Having someone who can hold your horse, zip up your chaps, and fetch you drinks, etc., is worth their weight in gold.

A day or two before the show, suit up for a dress rehearsal. Give your horse his bath and show clip, then tack him up and school him in his show bridle, saddle, pad and blanket. This will give him a chance to get used to unfamiliar equipment while you assess its fit and suitability. This is also an opportunity to deal with any issues you may have with your own wardrobe. Put on your chaps, boots and hat to make sure they are comfortable and don’t hamper communication between you and your horse.

Further Reading
Show Survival
Countdown to Show Season


Dale Rudin is a CHA-certified riding instructor and clinician with a mindful and balanced approach to horsemanship and riding. www.un-naturalhorsemanship.com

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Dale Rudin is a Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA)-certified riding instructor, welfare-centered trainer, rehabilitation specialist, saddle fitter, and certified equine nutritionist. She is a founding member of Force-Free Tennessee, an animal advocacy organization that promotes humane, low-stress training and handling of all animals. Dale's No. 1 goal is to create joyful experiences for horses and the people who love and care for them. She uses compassionate, reinforcement-based training methods that reduce stress and benefit the horse both emotionally and physically, and specializes in restoring health and wellness to horses with mild to severe physical, emotional, and behavioral issues. Dale offers instruction and consultations in person and online. She accepts horses for training and rehab at her farm, Lyric Valley Ranch in Santa Fe, Tenn., which is also the home of Pure Joy Horse Haven, a sanctuary for traumatized and abused horses (purejoyhorsehaven.org).

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