You’ve spent countless hours riding, training, and preparing your horse for his first horse show. But before you load up and head out to the show grounds, take a moment and review these five tips. These tips can help to make your horse’s first show a success.
Prepare at Home
Your preparation for a successful first horse show needs to begin at home. Start by exposing your horse to the types of situations that he’ll need to cope with on a busy show day. Ride or handle him in a ring with multiple other horses and riders, and try to introduce him to a loudspeaker, if possible.
It’s a great idea to hold a mini mock show where you present your horse with these various stimuli, all at once. Enlist friends and family to act as spectators, have them bring along baby carriages and umbrellas, and give your horse a chance to see this controlled chaos. Having dealt with a busy situation at home can leave your horse more prepared for the sights and sounds he will encounter at his first show.
Carefully Choose Your First Show
When choosing your horse’s first show, look for a show with a supportive environment and green horse classes. Choosing a more laid-back show with a designated green horse division ensures that there will be less pressure on you and your horse. Try to find a show that is close to home, and ideally choose a show that you’ve been to previously so that you know what to expect.
Bring a Buddy
Bringing buddies, both human and equine, can help to keep both you and your horse calm. Ask a friend to come along with their horse so that you have company, and your horse has a companion on the trailer to keep him calm. Having a good friend with you at the show can help to keep you relaxed, and it’s always great to have an extra pair of hands around when you’re working with a young horse.
Opt for the Right Rider
Before you head to the show, think carefully about who the right rider is to accompany your horse in his first classes. If you’re a confident rider who has shown green horses before, that rider may very well be you. But if you’re nervous about your horse’s first show, there’s no shame in having a trainer or other accomplished rider ride him.
Your horse’s rider needs to be confident, calm, and able to guide him even if he gets nervous. Choosing the right rider can greatly contribute toward the success of your horse’s first show.
Know When to Call It a Day
When show day arrives, you will need to choose an appropriate time to pack up and bring your horse home. Some horse owners opt to just show their horses in in-hand classes during a first show. Others get on and ride for a class or two until their horse is relaxed and focused, then call it a day. It’s important that you recognize how your horse is handling the show environment, and stop while your horse is still having a positive experience.
Your horse’s first show can set the tone for future shows, so take the time to ensure that your horse is well-prepared for his first show. It may just be the first step of a successful show career.