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Horse Illustrated/CONAIR Show Prep Tips Contest

Here are the best horse show prep tips selected from Horse Illustrated reader submissions.


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WINNER: Olivia Yurko (New Jersey)

My best show prep tips are these five:

First of all, give yourself enough time! There is nothing worse than having a million things to get done and not having enough time!

Second, never leave without your horse being spotless. It doesn’t matter if you are a jumper or dressage rider, looks matter in the showing world. Even if your not getting judged on how you look, you will feel better when you look better. If it’s warm enough, give your horse a bath. If its not, give them a good groom the day before and keep them covered so they will be clean overnight. Whiten all the white socks or spots and brush out their mane and tail until it’s almost perfect. If you get them super clean before, the next morning all you’ll need to do is give them a quick brush!

Third, Make sure you have everything ready and out; your boots polished, you shirt ironed, your lucky socks clean. This was, you can have a stress free (or at least less stressful) morning!

Forth, ride your horse the day before. Sometimes it is even good if you just walk and trot around if you are afraid of getting them tired. The best thing though, is to work out any last minute issues you might want to fix.

Lastly, have a nice, relaxing night before hand. Try a few different techniques such as these: listen to calming music, take a nice long, hot, shower, and maybe eat your favorite food. All these things can reduce show nerves. Most importantly, go to sleep early the day before. This is especially important if you have an early morning show!

RUNNER-UP: Hannah Fewox (Texas)

  • 6 WEEKS BEFORE, Start supplementing for a healthier skin and coat.
  • 5 WEEKS BEFORE, Protect your horses coat from bleaching sun damage. Choose a fly sheet with UV protection.
  • 4 WEEKS BEFORE, Practice your horse over the class you entered, but don't practice on it too much!
  • 3 WEEKS BEFORE, Over-bathing can strip essential oils, so shampoo sparingly!
  • 3 DAYS BEFORE, Save yourself some last minute stress and clip a few days ahead. Then, a quick pre-show touch-up is all you will need.


  • 1:00 PM: Touch up your trim before you bathe. Clippers work better on dry hair.
  • 1:30 PM: Bath Time! Bring out the best in your horses coat!
  • 2:15 PM: Wash show clothes and polish up tack and boots!
  • 2:45 PM: Start packing for tomorrow. Triple check everything!
  • 3:00 PM: Once your horse is dry, give him a final once over with a clean towel or brush. Then blanket him so he does not get dirty. For hot summer days, use a fly sheet and not a blanket.
  • 3:30 PM: Double check everything again to make sure that you are ready to hit the road!


  • 3 Hours Before Your Class: Arrive at the barn bright and early. Wash out any overnight stains so your horse has plenty of time to dry while you braid.
  • 2 HOURS BEFORE: Start Braiding!
  • 1.5 HOURS BEFORE: Time to get yourself ready!
  • 1 HOUR BEFORE: Warm up time! It is essential to warm up you and your horse before you show.
  • 5 MINUTES BEFORE: Give a quick grooming, apply hoof polish, and clean your horse’s eyes and nostrils.
  • AT THE IN-GATE: Time to show your stuff! Give your horse and boots one last rub-down, and go for the blue!

BEST INVENTION WINNER Annalee Bainnson (New York)
Braiding “pocket knife” mutli-tool

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