With Arabian Youth Nationals behind us, it is back to the training grind, with new hopeful prospects, and a whole new year to prepare your newest prospect for Nationals!
Like many equestrians who plan on showing their green horse, there is a fear of what your horse will do at his first show. While all horses are different and don't all act the same when they're away from the barn, here are some tips from the top industry professionals we have found helpful to think about when taking your green-broke horse to their first show:
1) Don't expect perfection!
Your horse can't turn a switch on to show perfection, so don't expect them to! Prepare for the worst so you will be happier when small goals are met! Smaller goals
2) Go to a low level show to start out
Think of his first couple shows as practice, so don't spend a fortune on the first show, and this will help reduce your stress! Your goal for the day should solely be to familiarize them to their new surroundings; if they do that and more, then that's blue ribbon worthy no matter the placing! The biggest issue I personally struggle with is to compare my horse and I to the other riders in the class, rather than just comparing my riding growth from the beginning of the show season to end. If you show personal growth from looking back at the first show of the season to the last show of the season, then congratulations! You've had a successful show season with your horse!
3) Make it a fun, pleasurable first show experience for both you and your horse!
Don't go in the show ring with impractical goals; it will only set you and your horse up for failure. If you focus on a willing attitude and positive desensitization at the first show, then you have a better chance of meeting that goal!
Additionally, if you finish a class and that horse is willing throughout the class, give him a lot of praise! He could've hurt you if he wanted to, but chose not to; giving a good pat goes a long way for the horse; their self-esteem and attitude towards showing will be greater every show that goes by. One bad experience at a show could make them go sour at the future shows to come!
So with that in mind, do not leave your horse tied to the trailer/tacked up the whole day- vices will be inevitable at that point, such as pawing, excessive chewing on the bit, etc. It's no fun to be ridden periodically then immediately tied up to the trailer again, and your horse will make it known after a little while! When there is a break in classes, let your horse graze and walk in hand frequently to limit the amount of meltdowns your horse could have.
4) Have confidence!
Often we underestimate what our horses are capable of and only see the bad in our horse while riding at home! Sometimes going to a small, low level, local show is just what you need either boost your confidence or help you see what you need to work on at home. My horse certainly wasn't perfect at his first show, but he did what he was asked and now I am excited to see his progression throughout the next few shows! If you work enough with them, it will be justified in the ring, whether it's a personal success or a shiny blue ribbon! You never know- they may just surprise you!