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