Are you planning to bring a young horse to his first horse show this year? Shows can be overwhelming environments for horses, but there are a few ways that you can prepare your horse at home so that he’s better able to deal with the horse show environment.
Teach Some Extra Exercises
You can use your schooling time at home to give yourself a few extra techniques to keep your horse focused while in the show ring. Teaching your horse exercises and movements such as how to lower his head on command, the shoulder in, the shoulder out, and more will allow you to give him things to focus on during your warm-up and in between classes at the show.
Ride in Groups
Spend plenty of time riding your horse in groups to prepare him for the environment he’ll encounter at a show. Try to ride during busier times at your barn, but start by gradually introducing your horse to smaller groups. If there’s a local riding club event you can attend with your horse, do so to get him used to being in an environment with unfamiliar horses.
One of the best ways to prepare a young horse for a horse show is to take plenty of trips off-property. Not only does this help to get your horse used to trailering, but it gives you a chance to work with him in a different environment.
Start with short, easy trips at first where you travel to a nearby barn, unload your horse, and just walk him around. Gradually progress to longer outings where you ride and school your horse during these outings. Traveling to a nearby barn with an arena for rent, or heading out to meet friends for a ride are all good ways to prepare your horse for traveling to an actual show. This also has the benefit of reducing your horse’s stress when traveling.
Set Up a Mock Show
Get your friends together and set up a mock horse show at your barn. Do as much as possible to make the show realistic, including using a loudspeaker if you have one, and having spectators on hand to watch. Your goal here is to try to simulate some of the distractions your horse will see at a show, while still having control of the situation for training purposes. Depending on how your horse reacts, you may want to set up a few mock shows before the day of the actual show arrives.
Keep Things in Perspective
Remember that your horse’s first show is just one of many to come. Focus on instilling a great training foundation at home, but when it comes to the show itself, make it your goal to give your horse a good first outing. There will be plenty of time to refine and improve on your horse’s performance during his show career.