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First Show Advice?

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  • First Show Advice?

    I'm going to be partaking in my first show ever this Saturday! It's a local one day schooling show, and as it gets closer I find myself getting more and more nervous. Since I just made the commitment to lease to buy my horse a few weeks ago, I was going to wait until November for our schooling show debut, but my barn friends convinced me otherwise. He's more of a hunter but based on the offerings we're going to be doing a little jumper class (I don't have high expectations, my boy moves pretty but not very fast).

    I'm 23 and just got into riding a year and a half ago, and am going with my palomino quarter horse/paint, he's never shown English before, just a few trail classes now and then with his previous owner. He's previously carried flags in parades so I think he'll at least be okay with the whole new environment (nothing really phases him thankfully- I'm super high strung so I like to think we balance each other out).

    We're taking it easy / slow with two cross rail classes and then two 2ft classes to ease into the whole experience (we're jumping about three feet at home but I don't know if I'm emotionally ready for those classes since this is such a new experience). My trainer is going to be with us every step of the way, but I'm still nervous, especially as an adult beginner. I know it's a little show that is super low key and doesn't count for anything, and I am excited to show off my boy (he's just so cute, and has the most adorable little jump, and really is a good boy), but also those nerves are coming in strong, since this is an ENTIRELY new thing for me.

    Does anyone have any wisdom?

  • #2
    Not so much wisdom but reassurance...

    At the beginning of summer, I decided it would be a good idea to take this horse to a schooling show just to see how he would act. No expectations, I wasn't even too set on actually doing a class, but I entered him in the crossrail hunters. The only problem was he was a 14.3 quarter horse ex-reiner that had his first english saddle on him 4 months before and jumped maybe 10 times ever (weather limited our off-property schooling and we didn't have a real arena). But he was super laid back and I knew he would be fine. I got there and warmed up, he was jumping good so I decided to go ahead with the class. I had a friend take a picture of the course diagram so I hadn't actually seen the ring until I was I had entered... and there were flower boxes under every jump. This horse had never seen a flowerbox in his life. I was already doing my circle and figured what the hell. I thought to myself, this horse is seriously chill, I doubt he will even notice. Well, he did. He paused in front of every jump, looked at it and then deer hopped straight over the tiny crossrails. Over a whole hunter course. It was pretty miserable. I walked out super frustrated at myself that I hadn't prepared him more, only for everyone at the gate to start clapping for me. We all knew this was a schooling show, that it was as low stakes as it could get, and we were there to have a good time and gain experience.

    The moral of that very long story is that even if it goes awful, it really isn't that awful. If you trust your horse and you have friends and your trainer around, you're going to be fine. Take a deep breath, and go have fun! I look forward to hearing how it goes.

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    • #3
      It's your first show and it's a schooling show. Let go of any worry about how you look to others or about placing and just treat it as a big training opportunity

      Comment


      • #4
        My vote is to remember that this is a schooling show. Nothing to get stressed out over! Do your best to turn out well and to ride your best, because this is practice for the real deal, but also remember that it is an opportunity to expose horse (and human!) to a show environment. If it were me, the thing I would be most nervous about would be yahoos in the schooling ring. Then again, there are yahoos in the warm up at rated shows, too... so good practice! Bottom line: have fun.

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        • #5
          Sorry, duplicate!

          Comment


          • #6
            As a fellow high strung person, my advice would be get there early! As in the earlier the better. I personally like the time to "work myself down" and get a handle on my nerves as I tend to transmit loudly to the Pony. Let your pony chill and relax and see it's no big deal. The earlier the better in the schooling area too, less crowds.

            The cardinal rule is, you must post pics! I love buckskin paints, or diluted paints or whatever they're called. Literally the color Paint I would want if I had the time and money for a horse.

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            • Original Poster

              #7
              luckymaverick Thank you so much! The show starts at 8am and my barn is planning on leaving out property at 5:45am at the latest, it's close by so we should be there at 6am when the show grounds open. I also transfer the nerves to my boy- I was more afraid of the new scary jump in our lesson today than he was! I'll post some pictures after the show! My boy just got his snazzy body clip and his mane pulled in preparation! He's such a pretty darker gold with his super white mane and tail (when they're clean)! His one white patch is on his withers (I actually thought it was a wither sore before I bought him but when I purchased him I got baby pictures and he had it as a foal as well). I'm such a proud new horse mom- I love him so much and know he'll take great care of me if I can stay calm

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              • #8
                Enjoy every minute!!! Ribbons don’t matter, doing your best in the moment and having the best time ever showing off your mount...priceless!!!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Kal__ View Post
                  Not so much wisdom but reassurance...

                  At the beginning of summer, I decided it would be a good idea to take this horse to a schooling show just to see how he would act. No expectations, I wasn't even too set on actually doing a class, but I entered him in the crossrail hunters. The only problem was he was a 14.3 quarter horse ex-reiner that had his first english saddle on him 4 months before and jumped maybe 10 times ever (weather limited our off-property schooling and we didn't have a real arena). But he was super laid back and I knew he would be fine. I got there and warmed up, he was jumping good so I decided to go ahead with the class. I had a friend take a picture of the course diagram so I hadn't actually seen the ring until I was I had entered... and there were flower boxes under every jump. This horse had never seen a flowerbox in his life. I was already doing my circle and figured what the hell. I thought to myself, this horse is seriously chill, I doubt he will even notice. Well, he did. He paused in front of every jump, looked at it and then deer hopped straight over the tiny crossrails. Over a whole hunter course. It was pretty miserable. I walked out super frustrated at myself that I hadn't prepared him more, only for everyone at the gate to start clapping for me. We all knew this was a schooling show, that it was as low stakes as it could get, and we were there to have a good time and gain experience.

                  The moral of that very long story is that even if it goes awful, it really isn't that awful. If you trust your horse and you have friends and your trainer around, you're going to be fine. Take a deep breath, and go have fun! I look forward to hearing how it goes.
                  This is the schooling show crowd. We are horse people. We like horses. We like that YOU like horses! We want you to have a successful and fun outing so you’ll come back. All of us want that for you. Trust your trainer, ask questions, BREATHE! We will all be happy to see you there. We can’t wait!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Good luck and have loads of fun. If you think your boy will get nervous in the warmup, you could always put a red ribbon in his tail. Most times, folks know to give you space (red=kicker). I've also seen a green ribbon, for green horse, however fewer riders know what it means.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I have a young horse that I just started taking into the ring in hand. Our first show was crazy. I hadn't been in the ring in nearly a decade, he was dancing all over the place, being a baby. The judge just chuckled and said 'You have to start somewhere!' There is so much truth to this statement. It calmed me down because I was a little embarrassed that I couldn't get my 11 month old to behave like the tried and true veterans I used to work with. The baby game is new territory for me. Be patient with yourself and your horse. It's the experience and the lessons learned that matters, as others have said, not the ribbon.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Barn Mom View Post
                        Enjoy every minute!!! Ribbons don’t matter, doing your best in the moment and having the best time ever showing off your mount...priceless!!!
                        Your brain cannot process fear and gratitude at the same time. The more you can remind yourself to enjoy your lovely new horse and the opportunity to do a show, the less fear you will have. The more you can just be in the moment, smiling, breathing, feeling your horse underneath you, the better you will ride. We are so lucky to be with these horses and the more we feel that, the easier it is to make the best of the situation and perform well.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          One of the things I do to manage anxiety is make lists! It helps me to control what I can control and feel organized and prepared. I have a master checklist that I customize for each trip to ensure I don't forget anything. Grooming and turnout is another controllable thing. In my checklist I often included tasks like stopping at the store for items I needed, trimming mane, clipping, bathing etc. and would lay it out by day so that I knew everything could get done. As I've gotten more experienced, I've gotten less dependent on that part of the list.

                          Another tip if you think you will start to show more is to begin to collect doubles of things - grooming tools, tack cleaning stuff, wash bucket stuff, etc. I'm to the point now where my show trunk and ring bag are pretty much always packed and ready to go.

                          Speaking of ring bag...this is one of my favorite things! I have it stocked with everything I need in case the ring is far from the trailer or barn. It has everything from phone to hoof pick to hairnets/gloves to water bottle to peppermints. I also use it to keep my show helmet, stick, spurs, number pins, and things like that together between shows.

                          Good luck and have a blast! Staying relaxed and calm will help your horse do the same.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I did my first schooling show last fall! Similar to you, my trainer kind of sprung it on me (I had been planning to attend one a month or two later, and she was like "well, this one is just 10 minutes down the road, and it's next week!")
                            It turned out to be good, because I only had a week to get my nerves worked up!

                            I fell 3 jumps into my first course (at 2 ft). In my mind, I could hear my trainer's voice "ADD LEG" but my body was not listening! My lease mare stopped, and I did an awkward slow motion neck/shoulder/slide off kind of fall.
                            My trainer stopped on her way out to meet me to ask the judge if we could finish the course. Then she checked in with me, told me I could finish if I wanted to, slung me back up and said to me "get her going this time!"

                            In some ways, I was glad I had that fall, because as soon as my butt was back in the saddle, my only goal was that we were *not* going to stop at that jump again. I had to tune out my nerves, thinking of the spectators etc. It turns out that focusing on your course is a much better riding strategy than worrying about the people watching you. We were eliminated, but that was the course I was proudest of that day.

                            As far as advice goes: BREATHE!
                            If you can have someone meet you at the show to be your helper, that's super nice, but definitely not necessary (at least in my experience, and it sounds like you are going with the rest of your barn, so those will be helpful hands for you).
                            Someone who can pass you a water bottle after a class, give the horse a cookie, hold the horse etc.

                            Wishing you lots of luck and lots of fun! Your horse sounds too cute! Please do post pictures!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Enjoy the moment. Focus on one or maybe two simple things (i.e., counting or eyes up). And call it a win if you do that one thing, no matter what else happens. Take a deep breath before you go in the ring and a few places throughout the course. And look around and really enjoy being there.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by AlexxSays View Post
                                I'm going to be partaking in my first show ever this Saturday! It's a local one day schooling show, and as it gets closer I find myself getting more and more nervous. Since I just made the commitment to lease to buy my horse a few weeks ago, I was going to wait until November for our schooling show debut, but my barn friends convinced me otherwise. He's more of a hunter but based on the offerings we're going to be doing a little jumper class (I don't have high expectations, my boy moves pretty but not very fast).

                                I'm 23 and just got into riding a year and a half ago, and am going with my palomino quarter horse/paint, he's never shown English before, just a few trail classes now and then with his previous owner. He's previously carried flags in parades so I think he'll at least be okay with the whole new environment (nothing really phases him thankfully- I'm super high strung so I like to think we balance each other out).

                                We're taking it easy / slow with two cross rail classes and then two 2ft classes to ease into the whole experience (we're jumping about three feet at home but I don't know if I'm emotionally ready for those classes since this is such a new experience). My trainer is going to be with us every step of the way, but I'm still nervous, especially as an adult beginner. I know it's a little show that is super low key and doesn't count for anything, and I am excited to show off my boy (he's just so cute, and has the most adorable little jump, and really is a good boy), but also those nerves are coming in strong, since this is an ENTIRELY new thing for me.

                                Does anyone have any wisdom?
                                Try going through this whole new experience at 53 LOL I'm exactly where you are

                                My first show with Ayah was back in the spring at the end of an indoor winter series with lesson kids. The ideal is to go to as tiny a show as you can - just lesson kids without fancy riding clothes. That alone takes a lot of pressure off because more fancy shows mean more pressure and that's the last thing you want/need at this moment.

                                Go with zero expectations. It's not about a ribbon, it's about exposure for both of you. Give yourself and your horse a little peptalk before you go in "It's time to go to work - just like we do at home" or something like that.

                                I deal with high anxiety about shows but I'm starting to get over it the more I do it - I just block everyone else out and it's just me and my horse - just like home Good luck!

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I'm going to repeat one of my favorite pieces of advice I got from a clinician (Greg Best, Olympic Silver medalist, knows his sh*t) many years ago.

                                  I tend to be a stressball as the jumps go up, so I can empathize.

                                  Anyway, he said this: "Stop thinking about what could go wrong. Think about what you need to DO." Something about this simple shift has made all the difference to me.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    AlexxSays How did it go??

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Hi! We survived! He was looking around everywhere and spooking at every jump in the warm up ring / when we had the chance to school in the main ring, the fillers were very elaborate and my guy wasn’t a fan. But once he got to check them out he pulled himself together for me!

                                      Our cross rail classes were awesome, and we had clean rounds, but by the time we got to our 2ft class he was clearly exhusted from the heat, the new place, and all the schooling so he would stop spooking at every jump. He kind of fell apart on me about half way through the course and we came in dead last BUT we finished it and didn’t get disqualified, and I didn’t fall off which was the goal of the whole thing. We scratched our last class and instead I hosed him down and he had carrots, hay, and water which he was very happy about.

                                      I’m so stupidly proud of him it’s not even funny, I was so nervous since it was a new thing for both of us and he was so good and tried so hard (though he did NOT like when my trainers assistant rode him and made it well known, when I got on he was fine and everyone was laughing that he knows who mom is). Overall it was a great experience and I’m so proud of my boy 💖 (I’m technologically challenged and can’t figure out how to add a photo)

                                      thank you so much to everyone that commented 💖💖

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        so happy to read this update! glad you both had fun

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