Would you like to try showing this year? Here are some ideas on the work you need to do in order to prepare for show ring success.
The glamour and elegance witnessed in the show ring at county level is mesmerising, however the local unaffiliated shows are also most enjoyable and rewarding, if the homework and preparation has been done. The most common misconception is that in order to partake in a show, whichever class, it only needs a clean horse/pony and a clean turnout - but in order to be successful, dedication and commitment is required.

First and foremost, you must truthfully place your horse in the correct showing bracket. We all think our own horse is the most beautiful correct creature ever made and sometimes we believe our Hunter is a Hack. Never be afraid to ask a professional show producer, instructor or county level competitor which sort of class your horse will be best suited to. You may be surprised at the answer, however once this very important part is determined, your hard work and enthusiasm will not be in vain and you will not waste money in joining the wrong associations.
Secondly, be under no illusion that competing in a show class is easy. It is not; either on yourself or your horse - working-in on arrival at a show, being judged for, on average, an hour or maybe more, then possibly doing it all again for another class demands a high level of show fitness. This does not mean the same fitness as an eventer, hunter or racehorse; however the preparation should be no less structured.


Hacking out on roads is a good way to build strength in your horse, to keep him sweet and to socialise him around other horses. Build your work and distance up gradually and never just hammer up the roads as it may encourage splints. Remember to keep a good contact, encourage a good forward rhythm and make your horse work up to the bridle, it is work after all, not just an amble.
Practise flat work for the correct outline and the suppleness but do not become robotic in repeating the same circles, with the horse's head tied down, as all this does is bore the horse and restrict his natural carriage and paces.
Always try to keep your horse interested during any work by possibly introducing some trotting poles, lungeing or if possible boxing up and visiting a new ride where you can do some canter work, not galloping, but all the time building the fitness and clearing the wind. A fit happy horse will show much better than a weak tired horse with no sparkle because he is tired or bored.

Feeding priorities

feed mix  
Feeding is also a very important part of producing your show horse. As with any    discipline feed to his requirements and not because you think you are being kind, very often you are in fact doing the opposite.

A show horse should not be fat, but be carrying good condition, which is toned through the fitness programme and no fizzed up, as being at the show will generally be enough motivation without heating foods inside him.

There are many show feed mixes on the market and all manufacturers have gone to great length to give clear feeding instructions as to how much to feed and for what desired result - follow them and do not think Oh! I shall just give a little bit more as he worked really well today‚ he probably does not need it!

'Dummy' runs

Ideally, a young or inexperienced horse in showing would benefit enormously from a dummy run to a show in order to experience all the activity, noises, sights and sounds while not actually competing. This may benefit the rider also, to watch a class and study how it is staged, what is required of the competitors and horses, the tack and clothing used, as well as the time it takes and how they conduct themselves.
If you are unable to do this ask a few friends or other livery members if you could all ride together and make up your own show. All practise walking, trotting and cantering around together, then standing in a line. One by one walk away from the others and produce a small show then rejoin the line. You may also want to all have a go at stripping the saddle off your horse and practise leading him in walk and trot.  All the aspects should be practiced to avoid any problems on the day, including legging-up of someone else onto your horse. The class type you have chosen may require the judge to ride your horse so be sure your horse does not mind having someone legged up to ride him.
All these points, if properly rehearsed, make for a more polished performance and hopefully more success. YOUR GUIDE TO SHOWING preparation Read more