December 18, 2017

It’s Show Time!

            It’s finally here! The day of the show. What do you do? Will you place? What if your horse freaks out? What if you (gulp) fall off? What if your horse rolled during the night and is filthy? What if, what if, what if…

            You can “what if”  all day long and it won’t get you any closer to the show pen or a ribbon. Always focus on what you can do, not what you can’t do. Here’s a list of things to get you off to a great start. First let’s start with your arrival time at the show. Plan to arrive at least 2 hours before your first class. This is assuming it is a one day show and you aren’t staying overnight on the grounds. So if you are in the first class and the show starts at 8:00 am, you should plan on getting there around 6:00 am. That will give you plenty of time to prepare and you won’t be rushed.

            Second, upon arrival, find a good place to park your trailer. If it’s going to be a hot day, look for shade if possible. If not choose a location close to the entrance gate. Make sure you have room to unload if you are backing into a space. It might work out better to unload the horses first if you have someone to hold them while you park. Once the rig is parked and the horses are unloaded, walk the horses around the grounds to acclimate them to the place. Hopefully this shouldn’t take too long. Then tie them to the trailer with a hay bag filled with breakfast. While the horses are quietly munching away, go find the water and fill your buckets.  Place the buckets within easy reach of the humans, not the horses. You can offer them water whenever they need it, but if you leave it next to them it will most likely get spilled or full of hay.

            Now’s a good time to head up to the entry booth to check in. Bring a notebook with blank paper, registration papers for your horse, entry forms, any other forms you need (PAC) and your checkbook. Fill out entry forms and  ask any questions you may have. Don’t forget your exhibitor number! You must have it to enter the ring.  Find out when the show will start or what class they are on if it is already running. That will give you an idea how much time you have before you go into the ring. Once you have checked in and have your number, look for any patterns for your classes such as showmanship, trail, horsemanship, hunters, etc. Use your notebook to copy down the pattern if copies aren’t available for you to take with you. Be sure you copy it correctly. Have your trainer or a friend check it for you to be sure. You really don’t want to spend a lot of time learning the wrong pattern, do you?

            Next, head back to the trailer. It’s time to lunge if your horse needs it. Remove your blankets but leave on leg and tail wraps. Find a safe place to lunge, preferably in the show pen. After he has gotten all his bucks out, cool him out carefully and return to the trailer. Now it’s time to get really busy.

            Remove all the wraps and begin grooming. Check carefully for braid or banding issues and repair them first. Next, look for any stains and remove them with a good cleaner. Completely groom your horse using only clean tools- curry, dandy brush, soft brush, hoof pick, mane comb. Clean all sides of the hooves, especially the outside walls using a stiff brush and/or a damp towel.  Apply baby powder to white legs. Trot the horse up and down a few times to remove any excess powder. Brush the legs then set the powder with some coat spray or hair spray. Now stand the horse on a carpet or find some cement. Apply hoof polish (black or clear) to the hooves and don’t move the horse until it is completely dry. Once it is, return to the trailer and let your horse finish breakfast while you get dressed.

            Rider/handler should now put on all their show attire except- gloves, hunt coats, and chaps. Tack up your horse for the first class. If you are in a showmanship class, learn your pattern. Practice it without the horse first, then with the horse. Have your trainer or a friend act as the judge while you practice. Use cones just like on the pattern. You did bring some, didn’t you? If you are riding in your first class, tack up and begin your ridden warm-up. Have your trainer or a friend coach you because your nerves might deceive you into thinking you aren’t doing as well as you think. Now is not the time to work on training issues. You won’t be able to fix major issues in the time you have left, so just get a proper warm-up done.

            When your class is called, be ready at the gate. Make sure you have your number(s) on and that you know what it is. Nothing is more embarrassing than having the judge ask your number and you don’t know it. Make sure someone is at the gate with all the last minute supplies. Apply highlighter around the horses eyes, bridle path, on the muzzle and the ears. Spray him with fly spray and top off with coat shine. Both your boots and your horse’s coat should shine! Put on your coat/gloves/chaps, give the horse a final wipe down and you are ready to go! It’s SHOW TIME! And remember to have fun!

          What do you do the morning of  the show? Leave your tips and hints below.  

Cheryl Rohnke Kronsberg is a Certified Horsemanship Association Master Instructor and Certification Clinic Instructor. She is also an AQHA Professional Horseman. Cheryl has been teaching riding and horsemanship for over 30 years. Currently she and her husband own and operate CRK Training Stable in Yorba Linda, CA. We welcome your comments and questions. Please feel free to share this article with your friends, but rights to publish this article are restricted.


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