Showing can be a lot of fun, but it can also be nerve racking if you're not prepared. If you're new to showing it would be best to find a coach or mentor to help guide you through the process. They will know which shows would be best and what classes to enter.
Some coaches will for a fee go with you to the show and coach you before and sometimes during your classes. Investing in a coach is well worth the money.
If you can't afford a coach and you're going it alone then get you and your horse well-prepared at least six weeks or more before a show. Start by exercising your horse every day to get them into condition.
You will want to make sure that you and your horse are both physically fit that your horse has the proper tack, you have the appropriate clothing and that you know the rules for the classes you are entering. You will also want to make sure that your horse loads and travels well in the trailer.
The first thing you will need to do is to find shows in your area. Open shows are a great way to try several classes without costing you a fortune. Most of the time you will find that the competition at open shows is not as competitive as the breed shows.
Next you will want to get the show program and decide on the classes you want to enter. Check with the show to see if you need to send in your entries early or can you enter the day of the show. If this is your first show and your planning to ride consider entering the walk trot classes to get your feet wet. Once you decide on the classes make sure you practice what will be required of you and your horse for the class you enter.
Ask the show secretary what rules the show is going by as you will need to know this for your classes.
The day before the show bathe your horse and make sure the mane and tail are tangle free. For some shows you will want to trim the whiskers, the leg and ear hair and clip them a bridle path. Keep in mind that horses who are kept out in the pasture won't be able to fend off bugs if you trim the hair on the inside of their ears. Now before you start doing all of this trimming make sure it is acceptable for your horse's breed standard.
You will want to have your farrier trim your horse's hooves at least seven to ten days before the show that way if they get tender footed they will have time to recover. Your horse will also need a negative coggins test. If you're going to a breed show you will need your horse's registration papers.
Here are a few things you will need at the show: brushes, tack, hay, buckets, hay net, pins for your back number, drinks, snacks and of course your show clothes.
The day of the show give your horse a good brushing to remove the excess dirt or use a vacuum blower to do this. Make sure you remove any stains on your horse. The hooves should be trimmed and clean. To dress up the hooves put a coat of hoof polish on them. The color of hoof polish will depend on the color of your horse's hooves. On black hooves use black polish as clear is used on hooves that are not black. Know the rules as some breeds are not allowed to use polish, other than clear.
The important thing is to have fun. You many not bring home a ribbon the first time out, but don't beat yourself up over it as there is always another show. Be proud of you and your horse's accomplishments. Remember a great performance over a mediocre one is what the judge is looking for.