December 15, 2017

Countdown To A Horse Show

            Every year I have students that are heading into the show ring. Some are old hands while others are taking on the show pen for the first time. At our barn, we don’t have grooms. All my students are expected to take care of their own horses. This is something I teach each student when they start taking lessons with me. I believe students who groom and otherwise care for their own horses will become well-rounded equestrians, not just riders. As they progress and become ready to compete, they have to learn a whole new skill set to prepare their horse for the show pen. We begin with small, open schooling-type shows. As they get better, we may move up to PtHA or APHA shows.  Because I have Paints, some of these hints are specific to horses with lots of white. If you horse doesn’t fall into that category, you can ignore that advice. Many years ago, I came up with a list to help them along the way. It goes something like this…

            This list assumes the show is on Sunday. If not, adjust accordingly.

Daily- Groom and work your horse at least 5 days a week. If he/she has stained areas on their coat, mane or tail begin washing these areas daily with warm water and a good shampoo.

Weekly- Manes should be pulled a little every day, or at least weekly. Don’t try to do it all the day before the show or your horse will get really mad at you! Tails should be brushed out, washed, conditioned and bagged. Don’t over brush tails as it will cause breakage.

Monday- Clip all white areas on your horses legs and face. If you have a paint with lots of white, use your discretion on how much to clip. White socks should be clipped with a #10 or #15 blade. Faces, bridle path and ears with a #30 or #40 blade.

Monday or Tuesday- Try on all your show tack. Make sure all the pieces are in good repair and still fit. Horses do change sizes, so be sure to do this while you still have time to make the necessary adjustments. Clean all saddle pads or buy new ones. White English pads need to be WHITE!    

         Try on all your show clothes. Make sure they fit properly and are comfortable to ride in. Take them to be cleaned if needed.  

           Clean all your show tack and set aside. Pack it all into a trunk or trailer so it’s all in one place. Use your checklist to make sure you have everything you need. Purchase items that are missing from your list.

Wednesday- If you need to give your horse a day off, this would be a good one. Don’t give them the day off any closer to the show than 3 days before.

Thursday-  RIDE! RIDE! RIDE! If you are having problems in a particular area, that is what you should work on. Don’t just practice those things you and your horse do well. Practice the things that are giving your trouble, especially transitions, collection and showmanship. Remember practice only makes permanent, PERFECT PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT.

Friday-  Ride or otherwise work your horse. Rinse with clear water if the weather allows. Clip bridle path, head, legs, ears and muzzle with a #10 blade. Finish mane pulling and spot removal.

Saturday-  Work your horse in the bit you will be showing in. Re-clip muzzle, ears and bridle path with a #30 or #40 blade. Bathe and rinse the horse, even if the weather is cold. Condition mane and tail. Rinse well and rub a detangler into the mane and tail while still wet. Spray horse with a coat spray like showsheen, being careful not to get any on the saddle area. You don’t want your saddle slipping off during your class! Use your hands to rub the Showsheen into the coat. Be generous on the legs, especially if they are white. Dry horse with clean towels, especially the legs. 

      If it is cold, put a cooler on your horse but keep him on a clean surface. Wrap the legs from the cornet bands to the knees. Once the hooves are dry, apply one coat of hoof black or clear polish as a base. After the hoof polish dries, walk the horse until he is dry. Now it’s time to braid or band the mane. If you are putting an English Braid into the tail, do it now and put a clean wrap from dock to the end of the tailbone. Then braid the bottom of the tail and put it into a clean tail bag for the night. Cover the mane with a slinky hood and blanket according to the weather. Make sure you clean the stall before you put him to bed for the night.  

           Do your final cleaning on the bit, bridle, halter and saddle(s). Make sure all your items are packed in your trunk or trailer. Fill hay bags and load into trailer. Go through your checklist again so you don’t forget anything. Have your ice chest filled with non-perishable items. Have refrigerated items in one place and ready to be packed. I put my sun screen in the ice chest as well. It keeps it handy and helps me remember to apply it often. Now go get some sleep! Tomorrow is a big day!

            What do you do to prepare your horse for a show? Let us know what your routine is.

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. For more interesting articles from Cheryl go to

It Was The Best Of Times. It Was The Worst Of Times…

It Was The Best Of Times. It Was The Worst Of Times…

            With all the holiday rushing around your horse will often get put on the back burner. Between the shopping, cooking and picking up the kids time becomes a precious commodity. What should you do when you only have a few minutes to spend with your equine family member? Here are some ideas…

Scenario #1- Your faithful sidekick, Horatio-

            It’s a fine day weather-wise but you are running between appointments. With only 15 minutes to spend with your beloved gelding, Horatio, you get out your halter and lead and grab a hoof pick from your grooming kit. Go into his stall and take a look around. Make sure his droppings look normal, his water is clean and he has eaten all his breakfast. Next put on his halter, remove any clothing (fly masks, blankets, etc) then look him over carefully for any cuts or other issues. Clean his hooves, but save the complete grooming for a day you have more time. Now take your horse for a walk round the ranch, arena or round pen. Work on basic obedience such as stop, walk, trot, backing and turns. You can also do a little light lunging but don’t get him hot as you won’t have time to cool out properly. When time is up, return Horatio to the stall being sure to re-check his hooves. Give him a pat on the neck and a carrot and you are on your way!

Scenario #2- The Belle of the Ball-

            Today’s weather forecast is for rain. After you drop off the kids at school you have 15 minutes to check on “Belle” before your yoga class at the gym. As you pull into the driveway of the barn, the rain begins in earnest. You dash into the barn knowing the stalls are the only covered area on the ranch. Time to groom! Get out your halter, lead and grooming kit. Find a safe place in the stall to tie Belle or hold her. Start with your rubber curry and give her a through massage being careful not to rub too hard over bony areas like the knees, fetlocks, hocks, etc. Follow with your hard/dandy brush and soft/body brush being sure to work in the direction the hair lays. Brush out the mane and tail removing any shavings, dirt, hay and tangles you may find there. Next clean the hooves and apply hoof dressing if that is your routine. Finish with a wipe down using a soft towel spritzed with some fly spray or coat conditioner depending on the need of the day. When Belle is beautiful, do a quick check of the stall looking at droppings, water bucket and the overall condition of the stall. Send a short text message to the barn manager about the loose board above Belle’s feeder and you are off to yoga class. Just be sure to brush the shavings off your pants and change your shoes before you head into the gym!

Scenario #3- Self Serve Sassy-

            Its morning and you woke up late. You still have breakfast to make, kids to shuttle off to school, critters to be fed and get yourself off to work also. You keep Sassy Sally in your own backyard barn. Currently she is pounding on the stall door waiting to be served her breakfast. Normally you get up early enough to have plenty of time to spend with Sassy before the kids get up, but not today. At best you have 15 minutes to spend at the barn. What do you do? Pull on your boots and head outside. First grab Sassy’s morning ration of hay and grain. This will take very little time if you set it all up the night before, so it’s ready to go. Once Sassy has some feed she is kept busy while you enter the stall. Using a manure fork and muck tub remove all the manure and soiled bedding from the stall. Next, empty the remaining greenish water from her bucket and refill it with fresh water. Finally open the back stall door so Sassy can go out for the day. Put all your tools away, lock up the front stall door and head back to the house. Time to hit the shower and start the rest of your day.

            What is your scenario when you only have 15 minutes at the barn? What do you think is the most important thing to do for your equine buddy? Share your ideas.

            Cheryl Rohnke Kronsberg is an AQHA Professional Horseman, Certified Horsemanship Association(CHA) Master Instructor and CHA Clinic Instructor. Cheryl has been training horses, 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 all rights to this article are reserved.