We are closing in on the end of Savannah’s second year of showing, and I feel like I have learned a lot (although we have barely scratched the surface of this whole thing). Here are some of the show tips that I’ve learned along the way.
First: Horse shows start super early – like in the saddle, in the warm up ring, by 6:30 AM, early. Yeah… not kidding. Might as well roll your kid into the car half asleep and wake them when you get there. It is a really good gauge on how committed your child is to the sport.
Second: It is an ALL day affair. You may have a little bit of an idea when your child will show based on the Prize List (it’s like the order of classes), but there is no telling how long it will take to get to their division. It all depends on how many people are entered in each class and how fast the show moves. As you get to the big rated shows it gets better and they usually have a schedule on their website that gets updated throughout the day.
Third: You are going to need to bring some stuff with you… for yourself. You will need sunscreen and a hat to protect you – not all places have shaded areas. Throw one of those fold up camp chairs in your trunk – not all places have somewhere to sit. Grab some snacks and drinks – not all places have a concession stand or food trucks. Don’t forget the bug spray! Once you get to know the venues that your barn frequents you will be able to gauge what you need.
Fourth: Bring your checkbook. You will have to pay show fees to the facility and they don’t usually take credit cards. These include a flat fee for the office/administrative plus a per class fee depending on how many classes/divisions your child competes in. Some other fees could be for stalls, hay, shavings, etc if you are staying overnight or renting day stalls for the horses. P.S. these are just the fees you pay to the show. Your trainer will bill you for their portion too (shipping of the horse and the show day training fees).
Fifth: STAINS! Horses are dirty! Your kid will be a hot mess by the time they are done for the day. I have learned to send Savannah in regular barn clothes and have her change into her show clothes at the last minute. She can’t even groom her pony without getting dirt all over her…. And for some reason most show shirts are WHITE. I don’t get it, but whatever your favorite stain remover is it will become your best friend.
Sixth: Braiding – for your child and your horse. So I am one of those moms that never learned to French Braid (well until now that is). If your daughter is under a certain age or rides a pony, they may have to wear their hair in pigtail braids with bows. I knew how to regular braid, but those don’t hold up very well. So, I have now learned to French Braid and it helps tremendously. For some shows the pony may need braided too (not lying… check out YouTube). Their mane and tails get pretty fancy in the hunter world. If you want to save a few bucks in this gig you can learn to do it yourself.
Lastly: Packing the Tack Box for shows. I very quickly made a list of everything Savannah would need for herself and for her pony to go to a show. I laminated it and threw it in the tack box with a dry erase marker (yep… I’m that crazy lady). It has helped a ton. She can cross off the items as she packs and we aren’t scrambling for a forgotten spur or glove once we are at the show. It is teaching her responsibility for her things as well.
I hope that this helps even just a little bit as you prepare to embark on the horse showing world. It is a lot of fun and I love to watch my little girl in that ring doing what she so obviously loves!
- Bobbi Bires