Get Ready for a Horse Show
Horse Shows Are a Lot of Work!
Getting a horse ready for a horse show is exhausting! Before I had a horse, I had no idea what people went through getting a horse and rider ready. I'm here to give you a behind the scenes look at what it takes to get a horse ready to walk into the show ring.
After years of showing, if anyone asked me what the most important thing to take to a horse show is, I would have to say that it has nothing to do with horses or the riders... it's a big cooler full of ice, bottled water or any other drink that you can find to satisfy your thirst! Show rings are full of dust. You can always buy drinks at the show but the prices are exorbitant so bring your own! For the price of one bottle of water at the show, you can buy 24 bottles at the store and share with all your friends.
The Grooming Supplies
Cleaning the Horse
It's amazing how many different brushes and other grooming supplies there are available for horse owners. There's hundreds out there but here's a picture and short list of the ones I had on hand when I took the picture.
Common Grooming Supplies
- Cordless Shaver
- Squeegy for getting water off
- Face brush
- Body Brush
- Fly Spray
- Shedding Blade
- Bath Mit
- Horse Shampoo - if you have a white horse, make sure to get the whitening one
It All Starts With The Bath
Give Your Horse a Bath First
Some horses are better than others when it comes to getting a bath. Usually by mid-summer, my horse has gotten used to them. He gets excited because he knows that as soon as his bath is done, he gets to eat from a special patch of nice green grass.
When I give my horse a bath I start by getting his body wet. I lather him all up and then rinse. Next I move to his mane. I spend a lot of extra time on the mane. I try to get the shampoo rubbed in deep, right to the skin, because I don't like banding dirty manes. It makes my hands feel really gross.
Lastly, I wash his tail. I put the shampoo in halfway up and then I get it all wet and sudsy. Then I rub it and rinse. I start rinsing from the top, washing all the soapy water down. I keep doing that until the suds are all gone.
Once the bath is done, I take him to his special spot and use a squeegy to get all the water off of him. Right before I put him back out into the corral, I spray him with fly spray.
Before our first show of the year, I made the mistake of using regular horse shampoo on my horse. It was a big mistake! He looked like a yellow horse and I was quite embarrassed! I'll always make sure to find the whitening shampoo before a show.
This is the shampoo that I need for my horse. He is white and black and if I don't use a whitening shampoo, he looks like a yellow horse.
Shaving the Ears
Shaving Can Be Tricky
Some horses are a little funny about getting their ears shaved. It can be really difficult if they decide they don't like it. Most attempts that I've seen have been pretty unsuccessful. Some of the techniques include using a twitch, it's something that squeezes the tip of their nose and releases endorphins calming them down, and grabbing and pulling on their ears.
I've been lucky, my horse Flash loves getting his ears shaved. He puts his ears right into our hands.
Shaving the Rest
Shaving the Face and Legs
The next most important area to shave is the face. Their muzzles should be all smooth and shiny. I also shave the eyelashes on the bottom of the eye. I leave the ones above the eyes. Next, they need to have their bridle path and their legs shaved.
When I shave the legs, I get the hair on the back of the legs. Then around the hooves, I shave from the hoof up to the coronet band. This is tricky to do at first but eventually it comes second nature. I think when I started it could take me 45 minutes to an hour to do this and now on a slow day, it takes me about 10 minutes.
Do you or a family member show horses?
Teach Your Horse to Stand at the Trailer
Preparing for a horse show involves more than just the few hours before the show starts. Some shows can go pretty long so your horse needs to be able to load into a trailer and then stand nicely at the trailer for as long as you need him too. If they are too antsy, they can hurt themselves, damage the trailer, or even worse, they could get loose and hurt someone else.
If your horse is having a problem with this, have him do his work, lunging or riding or whatever you do, and then tie him to the trailer. He will soon learn that if he's standing by the trailer, he gets to rest.
You can use a quick release knot to tie your horse to the trailer of you can use a trailer tie. They have a quick release end. I hear lots of people debate about which end goes on the horse and which on the trailer and the most logical explanation I've heard is that the funny looking end goes on the trailer. The other latch will stay attached to the halter so if your horse gets away and you need to catch him, you will have something to grab onto.
This trailer tie absorbs shock your horse doesn't get a hard tug every time he moves his head.
Standing in a Line Up
Standing by the other horses
This is another thing that you should work on at home. Your horse should be used to standing near other horses and standing with a show halter and leadline on. At the first show this spring, there were lots of rearing horses who weren't worked with enough at home. As soon as the lead chain hit their face, over they went.
Talking with the Judge
The Judge's Critique
Sometimes your hard work really pays off. If so, the judge will usually come and tell you what he or she liked the most and why they chose you as the winner. Sometimes they will also tell you what you need to work on.
Hard Work Pays Off!
If you spend a lot of time grooming your horse and working with him in the arena, you have a good chance of winning first place! Make sure to touch on all of the details and you'll do great. The judges really look for the few things that set you apart from everyone else.
Most importantly, remember that your horse is an unpredictable living being, not a machine. He or she will have their off days too just like you will! There will be more shows if one doesn't go so well. Just try to be patient and sometimes you'll both be right on and other days you won't be. Go with it and have a fun time. Make memories and enjoy your friends.
Youth Rider and Young Horse Doing Showmanship
Can you spot the mistakes?
This showmanship pattern is being performed by a youth rider with a young horse. It's full of mistakes. Can you see what they are? How easily can you spot them? Once you get really good at doing showmanship, you'll be able to see them right away.