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What it’s Like to Show in a Horse Show

There is no experience quite like the one you get when you take home the blue ribbon at your first horse show. It’s a feeling that encompasses pride, joy, and accomplishment all in one shining package. It’s a moment that you won’t soon forget when you’re standing in the arena with your horse by your side, proudly holding your very first blue ribbon in your fist.

A horse and rider in a western pleasure class with the horse's head carried low.

What to Expect at your First Horse Show:

  • For most riders, anxiety is normal. You can anticipate some nervousness when it comes to horse shows. (Horses also experience horse show stress, 1 so be sure to give them extra care)
  • Expect to be judged for your appearance. Wear your hair up so it doesn’t make you look unkempt, and wear the best riding clothing you have. Read more about what to wear to a horse show.
  • Don’t expect to win your first show! Don’t rush into entering big shows. Instead, enter small schooling shows to practice your skill and be certain that this is what you truly want to do.
  • Expect to take it slow. A young student just starting riding lesson‘s first show is generally in a lead line class. This is when someone takes leads you around the ring while you’re riding on your horse. Older riders, or riders who have a few weeks of riding lessons under their belt, may begin showing in Walk / Trot classes.

Horse Show Procedure

Having the correct riding position and following directions are your responsibilities. Don’t forget to smile and breathe.

  • When the class is done, the judge will call you to face him or her. The judge may speak with you.
  • They may inquire about your horse or gear. Although the questions are rarely technical or difficult, you should be ready.
  • When the judge is done, he or she will give the results to the announcer. The ribbon will typically be handed to you if your name is called. The announcer will announce your name, your horse’s name, and your placing, but if the excitement tunes out the announcer, you can also know your placing by knowing what horse show ribbon colors mean.
  • If this happens, stay in line until everyone gets their ribbon.

Horse Show Strategy

The key to success is to try your best and have fun. It’s important to know that one type of horsemanship is not superior to another. Everyone should be aware that equestrian riding can lead to a variety of pathways, literally and figuratively.

There is a lot of waiting around at horse shows. Be sure to bring a horse book or something to keep you occupied. It’s also a good idea to get to know the other people that are competing. Although horse shows are notorious for snobs and mean girls, it’s also easy to make deep, lasting friendships bonding with others over a shared love of horses. You will likely see them at other horse shows!

Horse shows can be a great experience. They are a chance to show off all the hard work you have put in with your horse. Just remember to relax and have fun.

Tips to Enjoy your First Horse Show

A horse show can be a great way to have fun and challenge yourself. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your experience:

  1. Pick the right show. Find a horse show that suits your interests and skill level. There’s no point in competing if you’re not going to enjoy it or stand a chance of winning.
  2. Get prepared. If you want to do well at your first horse show, it’s important to put in time getting ready. This might mean practicing ahead of time, grooming your horse extra-well, and perfecting your horse show packing list.
  3. Stay positive. Horse shows can be tough, but it’s important to keep a positive attitude. Remember that even if you don’t win, you’ve still accomplished something by taking part!
  4. Have fun. At the end of the day, the most important thing is to enjoy yourself. So relax, and don’t take horse shows too seriously- especially when you are just starting out!

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of winning a blue ribbon at a horse show. It’s a feeling of accomplishment, pride, and joy all rolled into one. When you’re standing in the arena holding your fist blue ribbon, with your horse by your side, it’s a moment you’ll never forget.

For strong competitors, this feeling starts long before you even get to the show. It begins with the anticipation of getting everything ready and making sure your horse is in top form. Then, it builds as you watch the other competitors and see how your horse stacks up. As the competition gets underway, the feeling intensifies as you give it your all and hope for the best. And then, when you hear your name announced as the winner, it’s like all of your hard work has paid off.

Research sources used for this article:

  1. Mareike Becker-Birck, Alice Schmidt, Juliane Lasarzik, Jörg Aurich, Erich Möstl, Christine Aurich. Cortisol release and heart rate variability in sport horses participating in equestrian competitions, Journal of Veterinary Behavior, Volume 8, Issue 2, 2013, Pages 87-94, ISSN 1558-7878.[]

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