Here are ten tips to keep in mind when preparing for a horse show – from an exhibitor who’s had the chance to sit on the other side of the table in the show office.
#9 - PAPERWORK! Keeping up with paperwork requires a little extra work, but pays off in the end. Make sure all of your membership cards are current, and that you have the original or a copy of your card for each exhibitor and owner. Organize them in a spiral notebook with your horses’ registration papers, Coggins tests and health certificates. If you don’t have proof of current membership, registration papers, negative coggins and health certificates, you might not be able to show!
Quick Tip: If you have a smartphone, take a picture of your membership card, and horse’s registration papers on your phone. That way you have it with you in case you forget your papers.
#7 - Budget accordingly. - Some shows, especially breed shows, will have package fees, which are one time fees that cover the expense of stalls, drug fees, judges fees and class fees. Smaller shows, such as county fairs and saddle club shows may have smaller entry fees for each class, as well as a grounds fee. Plan ahead and know your horse show spending budget. Sometimes you can save money by bringing your own bedding for the horse’s stalls, or by pre-registering for classes before arriving at the show.
Quick Tip: Keep in mind that many show offices will only accept cash or checks. Make sure you bring enough cash, or plenty of checks, with you to cover your expenses.
Classes such as showmanship, equitation, horsemanship, and reining will all require the exhibitor to complete some sort of pattern. Some show offices provide copies of patterns, or pattern books, while others do not. If patterns are posted, use your phone or iPad to take a picture of the pattern, and carry it with you to practice.
#5 – Custom Back numbers. - Everyone has their "favorite" or "lucky" back number. However, for various reasons, you may not be able to use your “lucky” number at every horse show. Be flexible with the show office staff. Sometimes numbers are pre-assigned; sometimes number ranges are set for shows. If you want a custom number, try using a 4-digit number that you can easily remember (example: a birthday), and be sure to pick something that sounds good. (I wouldn’t suggest using a number like 666 or 911, etc.)
#2 - Know The Rules. Do some research ahead of time regarding classes and eligibility. Depending on the type and level of show, the show staff may/may not be able to answer your questions immediately. You don't want to pay for and enter a class, and then find out that you were ineligible for points.
What other horse show tips can you think of? Feel free to share them in the comment section!