I know, a little late to the party. With summer drawing to a close (please don’t remind me), most show circuits are winding up as well, but it’s still not too late to get out there and have some fun. So, for those of you that haven’t been to a show before, have a new horse who hasn’t been to a show before, or maybe it’s just been a while, here are 5 things your horse needs to know before going to a horse show.
1. Loading and unloading from a trailer
This may seem self-explanatory, but you might be surprised how many people don’t practice this until the morning of the show. Horses are prey animals and, therefore, disinclined to appreciate enclosed spaces. Most horses need a little practice to accept being loaded into a tin can on wheels. Trust me, don’t wait until the morning of, it will only end in tears all around.
2. Be calm in a crowd of other horses
More specifically, be calm in a crowd of horse of unknown background and unknown training levels because you might not know if the horse next to you is a green 3-year-old on its first outing until it’s too late. Your horse needs to be able to handle his strange neighbors having a meltdown because that will probably happen at some point too.
3. Be calm around strange dogs
Many barns have dogs, so your horse has probably seen at least one before. But at a horse show you are likely to encounter dogs of various sizes with varying training levels (or lack there of). Your horse should know how to handle a chihuahua losing its nut over every little thing that moves because you are likely to encounter at least one tiny yapper eventually.
4. Know all the maneuvers for your class(es)
Don’t go trying anything for the first time at a show. I don’t care how seasoned your horse is or if the person you bought him from swore he won 75 trophies in that class. If you haven’t done it with him before, don’t try it at the show. That is a recipe for disaster. Ask me how I know…wait, no, I take that back. There are way too many embarrassing stories in that can of worms. Don’t ask me. Just trust me. If you’re lucky you will embarrass yourself but escape physically unscathed. If you’re not you may end up taste testing the arena floor.
5. How to stand tied for several hours
Here is another one that not a lot of people practice. Yes, go out and practice tying your horse to your trailer with a hay net. Only under supervision of course, but still practice it. Most horses will not do very well at a show if they’ve never been tied that long before. Trust me, with all the other stress you are dealing with you don’t need to be worrying about Sparky trying to strangle himself with the hay net.
Photo by ruthbaker