Showing is all about preparation – from your horse’s fitness routine and building that all-important top line, to perfect plaits, last-minute touch-ups and ring etiquette. As you get ready for your first show, our top tips and essentials will help cover what you need to know.
Show ring shine
Good health and nutrition is key to having a horse who positively shines, but there’s a whole lot more to good turnout. Unless you’re showing a native type, ensure his mane is pulled or trimmed to a suitable length for plaiting. We’d recommend that you do this at least a week before your show to give the mane time to settle.
The day before your show, treat your horse to a bit of pampering and give them a full bath – make sure you pay particular attention to any white markings! If your horse is prone to rolling, a lightweight sheet will help to keep him clean overnight without overheating. A Universal Sheet or Waffle Cooler are great choices for this as their wicking properties offer safe cooling too. Once you’ve finished cleaning your horse, make sure your your grooming kit is clean and ready to take with you for any last minute touch-ups your horse might need on the day.
Essential Kit list
If you’re able to pack the lorry the night before, you’ll help take some of the pressure off getting ready. Here’s our handy list of things you might need to take:
- Spare headcollar and leadrope
- Water container and two buckets (one for drinking and one for washing)
- Grooming kit, including sponges, conditioning spray and plaiting kit
- Cooler rug
- Saddle (with a close fitting plain coloured numnah if required)
- Plain brown bridle
- Tweed or navy jacket (depending on your class)
- Appropriate standard riding hat with velvet cover and hairnet
- Beige or canary breeches
- Shirt and tie or plain coloured stock
- Long riding boots (keep them smart by using a boot bag)
- Show cane (if using)
- Plain coloured leather gloves
Grooming kit bags with lots of pockets are really handy as they keep all your brushes organised and ensure everything is easy to find.
On the day
On the morning of your competition, clean off any stains and section his mane ready for plaiting. The number of plaits will depend largely on the length and shape of your horse’s neck – but 9-11 is a good starting point.
Don’t condition your horse’s mane if you plan to plait as it will make the hair slippery.
When you arrive at the showground, check in with the secretary to collect your number and check which arena your class is in. Allow plenty of time to warn up your horse and get him settled in the exciting showground atmosphere.
When it’s time to go in, remember these etiquette essentials…
- Always leave one-and-a-half to two horse’s lengths between your horse and the horse in front.
- Never overtake the horse in front of you. Either ride deep into the corner to create more space or circle away and find a bigger gap amongst the other horses.
- Keep an eye on the steward so that you’re clear when they instruct you to trot and canter.
- Wait to be called into line, then watch the other competitors ride their individual show and plan yours – making sure you show trot and canter on each rein.
- When it’s your turn, step forward from the line before riding a halt transition and saluting the judge.
- At the end of your show you should also halt and salute before returning to your place in the line up.
Most of all, make sure you enjoy your first showing adventure with your horse!
Best of luck!