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Rider Insider: Show Tips

What advice would you give someone who's getting ready to compete in equestrian events?

April 2, 2014

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Horse Show


Going to a horse show is a great way to add some excitement to your equestrian life. Competing gives you goals to work toward. It provides an opportunity to meet new horsey friends. And yes, it's a great outlet for the competitive side you didn't even know you had.

But taking your horse in front of a judge can be a daunting task the first few times you do it. Unless you are able to work with an experienced trainer or you have friends who are seasoned competitors, you have a lot to figure out at your first show. Study the rule book all you want, but there are still certain unspoken bits of knowledge you can only learn through firsthand experience or guidance from someone who's been there and done that.

Even if you've competed in horse shows throughout your life, if you decide to make the switch to a different discipline, everything is new again. Moving from A-circuit hunters to competitive trail or from western pleasure to cowboy mounted shooting can make you feel like a complete beginner.

While it's always a good idea to join up with an experienced competitor for your first outing, that's not always possible. So in the interest of sharing wisdom among horse people, we want you to share your advice for newcomers to the world of equestrian competition. Whatever your discipline, tell us your secrets to success. Some of our favorite responses will appear in an upcoming issue of Horse Illustrated!

This month, Noble Outfitters is sponsoring the Rider Insider column in Horse Illustrated with a prize for the selected featured response. If you'd like to be considered for a prize, make sure to include your contact info in the email field of the comment form (emails will not be publicly displayed.)

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Reader Comments

Rebecca C    Bloomfield, NE

11/7/2014 8:10:19 PM

I have found that spending time with my horse before I enter the ring helps me forget the wrong lead we picked up in practice yesterday or the fact that I don't have the most expensive show clothes. My horse doesn't care. She helps me calm down and focus on doing my best!

Zoë    Harrisonburg, VA

5/15/2014 7:19:07 PM

My biggest thing when it comes to shows is that I go in a matter of seconds from a calm and excited rider to a bundle of nerves. I tend to hold my breath when I jump, which tells my horse, and everyone else, how nervous I am. My advice is just to focus on breathing during your ride, as it will help to calm you and your horse down, along with a guarantee to improve your ride by quite a bit.

Callie    Eugene, OR

5/4/2014 10:06:14 PM

Have fun and smile! This is an opportunity to show off your horse and yourself to people in the community about how much you have progressed and how much you enjoy the sport. You should be enjoying every minute of it with your horse cause with out them you wouldn't be at that competition.

Stacey    Morrow, OH

4/30/2014 6:04:21 AM

The biggest helper to combat nervousness on show day that I've found is to trust your horse. It doesn't matter that you might mess up a pattern, or make a mistake, but if you can trust your horse enough to get through it, you'll be fine. Judges like to see confidence, and confidence comes from trust in your horse.

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