Preparing Your Horse for His First Competition


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While it would be nice to buy a ready-made show horse, finances might prevent that. Instead, you could find yourself looking at horses for sale who have little to no show experience. In buying a horse that is new to showing, it’s important to prepare that horse for horse shows before you get to the grounds on show day.

Start Slow

In preparing your horse to attend his first show, always start with the basics. Make sure that your horse has a thorough understanding of the basic behaviors that will be required of him. He needs to be responsive to your aids, and needs to respect your request to halt, change direction, change gaits, and stand quietly, even when he is distracted or nervous.

If your horse is still relatively green, it may be best to enlist the help of an experienced trainer when preparing your horse for a show. If you plan on participating in mounted classes at the show, your own safety, along with that of all of the other horses and riders in the ring, will depend on your horse having a strong training foundation. Investing in some sessions with a professional trainer will pay off in the long run.

Build Trust

The stronger your relationship with your horse, the more positive you will be able to make your horse’s first show experience. Exposing your horse to new situations and distractions while at home can help to build your horse’s confidence in you. Take your horse for trail rides, hand walk him off of the agistment property, and introduce him to distractions like plastic tarps and bicycles. With repeated gentle introductions to new objects and situations, your horse will learn to recover from a startle and trust in your guidance and reassurance.

Create a Show Situation

It is very important to create a show situation for your horse at your agistment before you head to the actual show. Doing this will give you control over the situation, and creating the chaos that is common at horse shows will let you introduce your horse slowly to the distractions while in a safe environment.

Gather a number of other horses and riders and ride your horse with them in the ring. Try to find people who can act as spectators, and have them move around, talk, and take photographs. One person can act as the announcer and call out commands for a class. If you plan to show your horse in a jumping class, decorate jumps with bright materials to get your horse used to facing strange fences.

If looking at ready-made show horses for sale is not a possibility, then you will need to invest some time in preparing your horse for his first show. The more you can do to prepare your horse, the more relaxed both you and your horse will feel on the day of the show.

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