Tips for Show Time
Western Horse shows are stressful events. It takes a lot of hard work to get to the point where you want to show your horse. Aside from getting there, there is the tack that is needed and the show attire. Each sport is different requiring a different set of tack and clothes. But a few things remain the same. How you and your support team prepare and work while at the show can make or break your show experience.
The team, these are the people that will help you to look and show your best. Your trainer, friends, parents can all be on your team. Have a friend hold the rags for wiping the horse and you down before you enter the ring. Have the trainer give you the once over and impart last minute instructions. Have another friend be in charge of feeding you, making sure you eat and drink enough through out the show. It will be the little things that make your show more enjoyable.
Being prepared for the show does not just mean being tuned up and having a pretty saddle. The horse must look seller as well. Keeping in mind that shows standards and rules concerning looks and appearance, your horse needs to look its best. My favorite trick for white legs and for paints white spots is baby powder and sneaker polish. First dab the sneaker polish on lightly then powder. It makes white legs and spots look extra white. For white hooves use a fine grit sand paper to get to a pristine white color, no polish needed. Use scrim sheets and stable blankets to keep the horse dust free and his mane in order while waiting your turn in the ring. Sometimes in the spring horses can get a fungus that leaves them going a little hairless on their rumps, make sure you have a can of the proper colored spray to cover areas like that. A well know trick is to oil you horses face when showing to give it a better look. A little baby oil will last the whole day.
The equipment, second only to the horse and rider is a very important tool of the show world. Some people only show in a certain saddle and have a second saddle for work and training. Some use the saddle they ride in every day to show in. My number one tip is to never clean your saddle before a show. Clean saddles do look great however they can be a little more slippery than a little bit dirty one. Take a dry rag and wipe your saddle down when you are sitting on it. If there are any major dirty spots clean them if your leg does not cover it. Other wise just leave it alone. Bridles however are a different story. Other than the reins, the bridle needs to look perfect and clean. Horses that play with the bit can have a lot of saliva on their lips and bit. Make sure your friend with the rags cleans up the horses face, mouth and bit before you head in to the show ring.
The rider has to deal with the stress of showing, riding, and caring for their horse in a strange environment. The team makes it easier for the rider and is the support of the rider. I always carried my own rag for my clothes and shoes that I would pass to a friend when I had to enter the ring. I kept it separate to make sure I never got horse drool on my show pants and shoe dirt on my horses face. A good way to deal with the stress is to maintain a good schedule. You know then when you need to eat, when the horse needs to eat and when you have down time. I always walked around on my down time to get a feel for the area. Sometimes there are booths to shop at and other attractions, just don't over do it.
By coming to the show prepared with the right attitude and team you can face any judge with confidence knowing you are showing at your best. Shows are competitive places, make sure you and your horse have the best time possible and have a good learning experience.