Beginner’s Guide: How to Prepare Your Horse for a Show

                Participating in horse shows is a great way to have fun and test your skills out in the ring!  Just like in any other sport, horse showing takes dedication, hard work, and skill. Whether you are just starting out or in an advanced class, showing gives you the opportunity to put on a performance with your horse and show the audience what you can do. Even though horse shows are a lot of fun, getting ready for them can be very stressful! It is always a good idea to pace yourself with the show preparations, and not wait until the last minute to do everything. Here are some helpful steps to help you get your horse ready for a show in a timely fashion.   

Preparations for your horse prior to show time:

                1. Grooming- grooming your horse should be a daily thing. In order to make sure your horse will be show ready, you want to make sure that you are keeping his coat nice and clean every day. Grooming is a great way to spend quality time with your horse, as well as keeping his coat healthy and shiny!

  • The curry comb is going to become your best friend. Majority of you grooming time will be spent using the curry comb in order to get all the loose hair and dirt our of our horse’s coat.
  • You also want to make sure to pick out your horses feet every day! Keeping your horse’s hooves clean will keep him happy and healthy.
  • A great grooming tip is to brush the dock of your horse’s tail. This will stimulate the hair to grow and will result in a thicker, fuller, and healthier looking tail.

                2. Give your horse grain to enhance his coat- There are all different kinds of feed products that are designed to give your horse’s coat that extra shine and thickness. They are made with natural nutrients that are essential in improving your horse’s coat, mane, and tail. Find the grain that will best suit your horse and implement it into his normal feed throughout the year.

                3.  Make your horse’s mane and tail one of your priorities- if your horse’s mane and tail are always tangled and filled with sticks and burrs, it will be very hard to get them looking show ready when it comes time for the show. Make sure to brush out your horse’s mane and tail every time you groom your horse! This will result in less stress for you when it comes time for show season.

Grooming tips:

  • Braiding your horse’s mane and tail every once in a while is a great way to keep them from getting tangled and full of debris
  • Add some cocoa butter to your horse’s mane and tail after brushing them out. This will make the hair softer and thicker over time.

Preparations for your horse 1-2 days before show:

                1.  Give your horse a bath- One of the best things to do is to give your horse a bath the night before the show. This way, your horse will be clean and all ready to go on show day. If you bathe your horse a couple days before the show, your horse will have the opportunity to just get dirty again! By doing it the night BEFORE the show, your horse won’t have enough time to roll in the dirt and ruin your perfectly good bath job. So, always bathe the night before.

                2. Clipping your horse- Trimming up your horse’s loose hair will give him the perfect clean cut look for the ring! You want to make sure the trim your horse’s fetlocks and the longer hairs on your horse’s throat, muzzle, face and ears. You also want to cut the scraggly hairs that fall on your horse’s hooves. If you want to do a full-body clipping on your horse, make sure you do it about 1-2 weeks before the show. Clipping your horse’s full body can give his coat a dull appearance. By doing it 1-2 weeks in advance, you are giving your horse’s coat enough time to grow back a tiny bit and to produce the oils that are a necessity to giving your horse’s coat that perfect shine!

                3. Whiten any white parts on your horse- Having a dingy white horse, or sections of a horse, is not going to look appealing towards the judges and may hinder your scoring! In order to make your horse’s white parts shine, scrub your horse’s white areas with whitening shampoo. Thoroughly rub the shampoo into the white areas and then let it soak for a few minutes before rinsing it out. If your horse has white socks, wrap your horse’s legs, after using the whitening shampoo, to keep them from getting dirty before the show.

                4. Mane and Tail care – Wash your horse’s mane and tail to get all the dirt and grime out. You can also use some detangler to make is easier to brush them out. If your horse has a white mane/tail, you can also use the whitening shampoo to make the white mane/tail look very vibrant. Braiding your horse’s mane and tail is a great way to keep them nice and clean! It also helps to keep them from being tangled and keeps them free of debris. 

How to pack for the show:

                1. Make sure you have all your horse’s food and water- To keep your horse from getting stressed, make sure you try and keep your horses normal feeding pattern. Make sure you pack all your horse’s normal feed and also pack a couple buckets of water. Once you get to the show area, try and make sure that you feed your horse at the same time that you normally would.

                2. Pack all your tack – Make a packing list of all the horse tack and gear that you will need for the show and make sure it is in the trailer. It is not fun to get to the show and realize that you forgot to pack something important! You also want to make sure that you clean all your tack before you pack it. Double check to make sure that all your horse tack is appropriate for your show and that it is not going to go against any tack regulations that they may have. to find the perfect show saddle, checkout our saddles at SaddleOnline!

                3. Pack all your stall equipment – It is always a good idea to call the show venue in advance and see what stall supplies they provide. That way, you will know the appropriate things that you will need to bring with you. Sometimes you will have to bring everything with you. In that instance, make sure you pack your wheelbarrow/bucket, shavings/bedding, pitch fork, and any stable hooks you might need. For all your packing needs, here is a Horse Show Checklist.

Day of the show!

                1. Horse feeding – You want to make sure that you feed your horse the right amount of food on show day. Overfeeding or underfeeding can make your horse stressed and therefore, less likely to perform well. Following their normal feeding regimen is going to be a key element to have a happy horse! If your horse is happy, then he will have a great performance.

                2. Final grooming - Since your horse will already be bathed, just do a final brush down when getting ready for the show. You will want to use the curry comb for most of the time. Make sure to get all the dirt off your horse and make his coat shine! You can also add some hoof polish to your horse’s hooves to give them that extra shine. It is a great way to give your horse a more clean-cut appearance and will draw the attention of the judges.

                Finally, make sure that you relax! Horse showing is meant to be fun and enjoyable. If you are stressed out and nervous, your horse is going to sense that and he will also get anxious. If both you and your horse are nervous, the result will end with a not so good show performance. Have fun, do some breathing exercises, and make sure both you and your horse get plenty of rest/ food before the show. You want to make sure that you both are in tip-top shape and ready to go!