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How to Prepare for Showing Your Horse

Question: I feel so unprepared prior to entering the ring to show my horse. I watched the other riders and they appear to really know to get ready. What should I do to be better prepared?

Answer: After recently attending a Championship show, I watched multiple exhibitors question their skills as well as their horses’ abilities in the warm-up before their class. Some of their competitor’s horses were spinning faster or stopping harder and farther than their horses this sucked them into a frenzy of making their horse spin faster or stop harder.

FOCUS On Your Plan

Showing is where preparation and hard work meet the opportunity to show off your skills and to be judged on your abilities up to that certain point in time by one of your peers. I noticed so many riders worrying about how and what others were doing in there in the warm-up pen that they were jeopardizing their ability to achieve success by focusing on what everyone else was doing.

FOCUS On Your Horse

Not always will what one person is doing with their horse work for you and your horse. For instance, if a horse is spinning faster than your horse, there is a difference if riding two handed to school in the warm up pen and putting your hand down in the show arena. We would all do great if we were being judged while riding two-handed during our warm-up; however, your run is neither won nor lost in the warm-up pen, similar to any other athletic sport. Games are not won by how the team performs at practice; only game day matters in terms of win-loss records.

FOCUS On Your Training

The prep work that you have done in the days, weeks, months or even years prior to the show need to be executed as you have been trained and not be influenced by others getting their horses ready to show. I have seen hundreds of horse and rider teams leave the best of themselves in the warm-up pen; seldom does the high-speed training session carry over into the show pen. Have faith in your own abilities and training and be sure to focus on your own needs rather than getting flustered and nervous because of what other horse and rider are doing while they are practicing.

FOCUS On Your Run

Your ability to focus can be strengthened while in the warm-up pen amid the chaos of the other riders and horses. If your horse is a big stopper and a so-so spinner there is nothing you can do in the minutes prior to entering the show pen that will change what nature has bestowed upon your mount. Instead, think of showing off your horse’s best skills and try to guide your horse through the not so great spots by not over doing what you want. If your horse is a 0 stopper everyday of his life there is no point in asking him to be a +1/2, because you will end up marking a -1, a losing deal every time

Remember; “You’re never as good as everyone tells you when you win and you’re never as bad as they tell you when you lose.” – Lou Holtz

As always; Ride Hard, Be Safe and Have Fun - Steve Kutie