The Essential Guide To Preparing for Your First Horse Show
So you’ve been WAAAAAY into horses for as long as you can remember, right? You’ve been taking lessons, training, and maybe even convincing your parents to buy you a horse! Whether you’re on an equestrian team or riding solo, this essential guide to preparing for your first horse show can help you as you enter the world of equestrian competitions.
Knowing the Rules
Every horse show has its own rules and regulations that apply to the show’s class of competition. Rules can be really helpful if it’s your first show—they give you some structure so you can understand what’s going on in the busy atmosphere of a horse show.
Work with your riding instructor for several weeks before your show to make sure you know show rules and how to follow them. Understanding the rules will help prevent unwanted surprises and can help calm your nerves.
Packing for a horse show is like packing for a mini vacation. Make sure you pack all your riding gear, including your helmet, boots, and appropriate attire—check the show rules for exactly what you’re supposed to wear in the arena. Most of your gear can go in a tack trunk decorated with your initials, your horse’s name, or the name of the stable where you ride. Make sure you keep your tack trunk in top condition to help you stay organized, and don’t forget grooming supplies for your horse!
Talk with whoever is trailering your horse to the show about getting there early. Stress how important it is to you, but try not to sound whiny. Instead, make a calm, logical argument that you and your horse need to arrive early to have enough time to settle down and get accustomed to the new environment.
Once you arrive, use the extra time to walk around the venue, find the warm-up ring and your assigned stall or tent, and get a feel for the course. An early start will help you stay calm and composed.
Being nervous before your first horse show is normal, and nerves can be a good thing. They show you care about your performance. But if you’re feeling jumpy, your horse might also get skittish. Manage your nervous feelings with deep breathing and other relaxation exercises that help you calm down enough to focus on why you’re at the show—you love riding and your horse! Trust in your ability and the training you have put in. You’ve got this!
Staying Positive and Showing Support for Other Riders
Horse shows are as much about community and sportsmanship as they are about competition. Cheer for your fellow riders, congratulate them on their performances, and learn from them. Remember—everyone is there because of a shared love for horses and riding. You should never be mean or overly competitive. Your first horse show should be fun, and you might make a few new friends!
Preparing for your first horse show may be a little scary, but you can handle it! Make a checklist, talk to your riding instructor, trainer, and parents about how you’re feeling, and make sure they know how important the experience is going to be for you. You’ll get the support you need to make your first horse show a fun, happy experience and a great beginning to your exciting journey into the world of equestrian sports.