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My first show - advice? Update #22, pics #28

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  • My first show - advice? Update #22, pics #28

    I'm going to my first dressage show next month with a mare I've been riding for awhile. I've ridden dressage for most of my riding "career", but have never shown before... The mare I've been riding is 10, but she's never been to one either (and can be kind of spooky to boot). When she gets looky, I tend to get a bit tense, so my trainer is going to be focusing on getting us spook-free and calm between now and then... We're doing a small schooling show next week to get our feet wet (near by shows are hunter, so we're going to do the hack classes).

    Just wondering what advice everyone has for me?

    Last edited by Piaffe11; Jul. 12, 2011, 09:27 PM.

  • #2
    Get there at least 1.5 hours before your ride time so you aren't freaking over the clock.
    Once you check in and get settled, go wander with your horse til she's settled. Let her munch grass, take her over by the warmup ring, the competition ring, let her check everything out.
    Most horses warm up faster away from home, so if it normally takes your horse 30 minutes to rock and roll, give yourself 25 at the show and see what happens.
    The warmup arena is no place to 'work on' things, so if your 15m circle sucks at home, don't try perfecting at the show, you'll just drive you and your horse bananas.
    Make your goal to keep both you and the horse in a relaxed state of mind. If she starts getting tense, take a breather and work on something she's good at. If you fight about it in warmup you'll have a total meltdown in front of the judge.
    When in your test, if a cue doesn't happen clean, or you get a late transition or a ferret squirrely circle, don't panic, take a deep breath and regroup as quietly as you can, even if it takes another 20m of riding to get you back where you need to be. The important thing is that your horse understand that the show ring is not a place that will bring tension to your relationship.
    My only goal at my first dressage show, given to me by my trainer was, "keep him from crawling into the judges stand" and knowing that was really all that I had to accomplish took tremendous pressure off.
    If my horse isn't "bringin it" when we are in warmup, I don't project dissapointment or dominance to try and straighten his act out. I accept that today may just be another show exposure day, and surprisingly things then always work out for the best.
    chaque pas est fait ensemble


    • #3
      Since my first time showing was just a little over a year ago, I still remember it quite well ... So my biggest piece of advice is:

      Just observe how you will react to the show environment. I had no idea I was going to be THAT nervous, and it manifested in all energy draining and riding very constricted, resulting in a horse that is normally WAY forward being behind my leg. But you gotta show to find out how you react so that you can then work on strategies to deal with it. Let it be an exploratory experience. Showing well has to be learned by practicing. (And don't let yourself be pressured by all those wonderful stories of people going out the first time and doing super well, the MAJORITY of first timers don't win their classes... If you do well, great, if you don't -- who cares. Learn from it and do it again. And again and ....)

      Also, all horses respond differently to the show environment as well. Some draw back, some get more exuberant, some focus more on their rider, some less. Be open to dealing with what you've got that moment -- not what you may have expected.

      Oh, and when you enter think: Mr./Mrs. Judge, look at that BEAUTIFUL horse I'm presenting to you!
      "Reite dein Pferd vorwärts und richte es gerade.” Gustav Steinbrecht


      • #4
        I took my OTTB to his first show ever in Feb. and decided it would be a rated show! And guess what? He babysat ME the whole time, LOL!! I was so nervous and he was SO calm I was thrilled. But something that did truly help me relax was to simply be thankful. I thought of how thankful I was that my horse was healthy and sound enough to show. Thankful that my body was fit, that my family was there watching, that I had great help at the clinic the week before, or even that I scraped the money together, etc. The list goes on and on. Be truly thankful for all the wonderful things that have led you to the show. That attitude of thankfulness will inspire you to be your best!!!


        • #5
          Sounds like the schooling show is a hunter jumper show and you are only doing the flat classes - is that correct? Be aware that the warm up rings at hunter jumper shows can be quite busy depending on what other classes may be going on at the same time or close to the same time. There may be people jumping, people walking on the rail, people hacking, people going in different directions all in the same ring. Make sure your horse is okay with horses coming directly at her. It looks like a mad house sometimes.

          Just stay calm and do your own warm up staying on the rail and if you need to circle or change direction, watch to see that you are not in anyone jumpings path. Once you get into the arena things will seem calm to both you and your horse and you will probably be grateful to be away from the warm up ring and do quite well.


          • #6
            Stop twice around x. Have fun.
            "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
            The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.


            • #7
              if you are doing a dressage test- my advice is to not sit around and watch the tests before you- keep yourself focused on your horse and your warm up. even if its walking around, doing some light work. I ALWAYS have a crappier ride when I get lazy and watch a couple of tests before my own ride. I ALWAYS do better when I ride up from the moment I'm on the horse in warm up until the moment we exit the show arena.
              My blog: Change of Pace - Retraining a standardbred via dressage


              • Original Poster

                Thanks for all the great advice

                Yes, I'll just be doing the flat classes at the hunter schooling show - but I really didn't think about how busy it would be! The mare is very used to horses coming up behind, passing, and that sort of thing in the ring at home, so I'm sure she'll have no problem with that. It's more new objects (i.e. judge's booth etc) and her in a new environment that I'm worried about (along with my nerves etc) lol Just want to be as prepared as possible


                • #9
                  Bachs Rescue Remedy is your friend http://www.rescueremedy.com/ , well it's mine anyway I'm told you can also give it to horses, but I've never done that.

                  Apart from that, just go with the intention of having fun, I got a judges comment on my first ever judged test last year that said 'lovely smile' There were some other good points, but my main intention of the day was to celebrate the fact that I was actually riding in a show, and I deserved to be there, pinning in anything was going to be a bonus.

                  So my biggest tips, remember to smile and breathe, and let the rest take care of itself!

                  Good luck and have fun
                  I'm not sure if I grew out of stupid or ran out of brave.

                  Practicing Member of the Not too Klassy for Boxed Wine Clique


                  • #10
                    Getting there early is crucial for the spooky horse!! With a first timer or green bean, we like to be pretty much the first ones there...then let the show build up around the horse! That way they can make all the adjustment one at a time instead of having to wrap their head around everything all at once and become totally overwhelmed by it!....Good luck, have fun...and keep us posted!!
                    "Success comes in cans, not in cannots!"


                    • #11
                      Get there early, spend a lot of time just hacking around so your mare can get used to all the activity. I take my greenies to shows as soon as they have a good enough "whoa." Even if they are not going to be shown, it helps them get used to the atmosphere. The more they travel, the better they will be.

                      Be prepared to do walk/canter canter/walk transitions in a hunter pleasure or hunter equitation class. You don't see those at low level dressage, but I encountered them in a green hunter class. Make sure that you don't enter "hunter hack" unless you are prepared to jump. "Hunter Hack" usually has two low fences. What you want to enter are the Hunter Under Saddle or Hunter Pleasure class and the Hunt Seat Equitation on the Flat class.


                      • #12
                        Don't forget your camera!

                        I agree with all the posts that encourage you to get there as early as possible. Walk your horse around the grounds before you tack up, let her look at things and even graze if there is an area for that.

                        If she gets to spooky and you don't feel comfortable/safe, you don't need to enter the classes. It may be your mare just needs to be in the atmosphere only the first time and that's okay.

                        Bring hay so she has something to munch on while tied to the trailer.

                        My most important advice: have fun!!
                        Proud owner of a Slaughter-Bound TB from a feedlot, and her surprise baby...!


                        • #13
                          B R E A T H E!

                          Most important.

                          Come out of the ring with no dirt on your breeches.

                          Hug your horse, provide treats and be grateful that you can be there.

                          Do not plan on doing any more than you do at home. Don't change any piece of equipment. Smile and think good thoughts no matter what.

                          You can do anything else you want at your SECOND show! Lol!

                          “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
                          ? Albert Einstein


                          • #14
                            Wait, what? No dirt on your breeches? You, horsefaerie, are better at this showing thing than I am. This I can guarantee.

                            To the OP-- Mistakes happen. Usually only on one movement. Once they happen, move on. Don't dwell. Just keep actively riding your test as if the mistake never happened. Took me forever to get that.


                            • #15
                              Pack some imodium in your trunk in case of show nerves. Dirt is not the only threat to white breeches!
                              Last edited by Carol O; Jun. 10, 2011, 11:47 PM.


                              • #16
                                OH yeah, on the thought of white breeches, even if you aren't due, or you think that you are old enough to be past that sort of thing, take some protection with you. This old woman was just so delighted (NOT) to have her first monthly for 6 months the very weekend that she was doing her first show in decades, and her first white breeches event ever.
                                I'm not sure if I grew out of stupid or ran out of brave.

                                Practicing Member of the Not too Klassy for Boxed Wine Clique


                                • Original Poster

                                  Wow - lots of stuff to think about (lots I wouldn't have thought about... lol)! Thanks everyone for advice/suggestions Bought my first pair of white (albeit full seat - yuck) breeches yesterday. Now only about a million other things to organize and I will feel moderately ready! I will let you know how it goes!


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Carol O View Post
                                    Pack some immodium in your trunk in case of show nerves. Dirt is not the only threat to white breeches!
                                    Ditto. During show season, I single handily support whoever makes Pepto Bismol. Also, try to pack healthier food. When I'm nervous, eating greasy food (and I'm a vegetarian) never makes me feel better!

                                    Also, if you do borrow tall boots, ride in them before the show day! This goes for any tack or clothes you'll be wearing. Things may fit fine, but sometimes they can catch movements that you weren't prepared for and the show ring isn't the place to find out! This was especially true for me with boots.The boots were way slippier than my half chaps. Just my .02!!

                                    Have fun!
                                    What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof. -Christopher Hitchens


                                    • #19
                                      You said "yuck" on full seats. Do you not ride in fullseats often? You might want to ride in a similar pair a few times first because the thicker ones do feel different (and also can make your boot fit a bit tighter), unless you're already used to it.

                                      Remember to have fun! As a trainer at one of the local colleges likes to say, "you're not curing cancer, just riding horses."


                                      • #20
                                        Practice & Pretend

                                        As an instructor with lots of both kids and adults getting into the show scene for the first time, good advice would be to pretend you're going to a show. Get your show clothes on, especially the boots you're going to show in, put on your white gloves (or black if that's what you're showing in) and go ride your test like you are facing a judge at letter C. The real thing will be so much easier after this dress rehearsal.