Is Your Horse Ready for His First Show?


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While it’s nice to be able to look at horses for sale with the intent of buying a ready-made show horse, that’s not always the case. Buying a horse can be expensive, and to keep costs down you might opt to buy a younger horse with less training and experience. When it comes time to bring your young horse to his first horse show, how do you know when your horse is ready?

The Problem With Overfacing a Horse

It can be tempting to get your horse into the show ring as early as possible. After all, he’s been great under saddle back home and you really want to be able to show his talents to other people. If you put your horse into the new situation of a busy horse show too early in his training, and if he’s not properly prepared, the experience could quickly become negative for you both.

Horse shows are busy and full of new stimuli that your horse may have never seen before. Young, inexperienced horses put into show situations can quickly become overwhelmed and upset. The training that you have done so far may be easily forgotten by your horse, leaving you on top of a horse who is distracted, nervous, and uncomfortable. This is a dangerous situation for you both. Even if you escape without physical injury, your horse’s confidence may be shaken and it will be much harder for you to make the next horse show a positive experience.

Skills Your Horse Needs for a Horse Show

Before you consider bringing your horse to his first horse show, he needs to be thoroughly prepared. The following skills will be important on the day of the show – does your horse have these skills?

The Ability to Focus on You Despite Distractions – Shows are busy places full of distractions. Can your horse continue to focus on and respond to you even when he’s distracted? If your horse tunes you out whenever he finds something more interesting, he is not ready for a horse show.

The Ability to Recover Quickly When Startled – Chances are that your horse will be startled at least a few times during his first show. Can he recover quickly and go back to work after being startled?

Confidence in the Presence of Other Horses – Your horse will be in a busy warm-up ring and then in the show ring in the company of many other horses and riders. Is he confident in this type of situation?

An Ever-Present Understanding of and Response to Your Aids – Your horse needs to have a thorough understanding of your aids. You need to be confident that you will be able to stop him and direct him through the show ring.

Be sure that your horse is really ready before you decide to take him to his first horse show.

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