What to Expect at Your First Horse Show

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Horse shows are an exciting aspect of horseback riding, and give you a chance to put your skills to the test. If you’ve never ridden in a horse show before, you will probably be a bit nervous about your first horse show. You shouldn’t be, though – shows should be fun and exciting. To help get you prepared, we’ve put together a brief article about what you can expect from your first horse show.

Choosing the Show

In choosing your first horse show, you will want to find one that is an open or schooling shows. These types of shows are more friendly and have fewer rules and restrictions than the upper-level rated shows. Designed to give new riders and horses a chance to get into the show ring and experience a horse show, open or schooling shows typically provide uplifting, positive atmospheres. If you are unsure of what show is best for you, work with your trainer to choose the right horse show.


When preparing for a horse show, the earlier you can get things done, the better. Send in your registration for the show ahead of time; some shows charge extra if you register on the day of the show. You will also need to bathe your horse, and you might need to trim and clip him. His mane will need to be pulled neatly, and depending on your discipline, some shows will require that you braid or band his mane and tail. Your tack will need to be clean, and you will need an appropriate outfit.

If you’ll be traveling to a show with your horse, you will need a safe horse float or horse truck to transport him over. Hauling to a show will require that you are up early on the show day; you always want to leave plenty of time to prepare

The Show Day

You will want to arrive early with your horse so that you have plenty of time to prepare. If you are riding in classes, you will tack your horse up and warm him up in a ring before the class. Warm-up rings can be busy places, so be aware of the other horses and riders and keep your horse a safe distance away from them.

During each class, you will enter the ring and be judged on your performance for a few minutes. For group classes, an announcer will call out commands over the loudspeaker. A judge may be in the ring or just outside of the ring. It is your job to ride your best and present your horse in the best manner possible. After the classes, ribbons will be awarded for each class. Depending on the classes you enter, you may be eligible for a division award, which goes to the top one or two highest-placing horse and rider pairs in each division.

Horse shows can provide you with rewarding learning experiences. Your first show should be exciting; take a trusted trainer, friend, and groom with you to help you through your first horse show.

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