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Tips on showing with out a trainer

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  • Tips on showing with out a trainer

    Hello everyone,
    As the title suggests I am looking for Tips on showing with out a trainer. I am looking at attending a few schooling shows this summer with my quarter horse mare, most likely hunter under saddle and equitation, however we may try a hunter over fences if I feel confident enough later in the summer. I myself have been riding for 8 years, but switched fully to English about 3 years ago. Because of my location I do not have access to a trainer locally and in the past I have had to travel in order to get lessons, unfortunately once I started college that had to stop so for the past couple years I've resorted to reading and watching video in order to improve.
    Anyways back to the original point of this post, this spring I got an opportunity to buy my very first trailer which has now broadened my opportunities for riding and showing, unfortunately I am still a broke college student who can't afford a trainer so I was mainly wanting to get peoples opinions on what to expect going to my first show, how to prepare, what are essentials that may be easy to forget, and any other helpful advice you can throw at me.
    Thanks in advance!

  • #2
    As someone who has shown often without a trainer ... re another thread, and slightly in humor but really not kidding at all ... I'd say the number one thing is to remember that your warm-up time is as important as anyone else in the warm-up ring, including those working with a trainer. Do not allow them to claim so much territory that you can't even make a circle. If you must cut through their trainer-rider circle-space in the warm-up, do it safely and as respectfully as you can. There is no rule anywhere that trainers can take warm-up space away from the other riders. Make sure you get the warm-up that you need, don't be one who gave up on it - and thus flushed their ability to compete as well as they could have.

    That may sound a bit over-reactive, but in truth that has been the #1 issue I've encountered when showing without a trainer, that could have a detrimental effect on my weekend.

    Other than that, if you decide you'd like to add a jumping class and you'd like a trainer's help with a course walk, ask a trainer you know if you can pay them and join their group on the walk. I've never had a trainer turn me down, they have always responded in a warm and friendly way. You can discreetly hand them some cash on the spot that they can slip into their pocket. When I join a course walk, I'm just tagging along and listening, as this trainer doesn't give me individual coaching tips since they haven't worked with me before. But that's enough. If I'm going to show without a trainer I have to be able to survive without a trainer's full support.

    Also, if you are truly by yourself, consider getting help in the barn. Especially if you are looking at long hours and are truly by yourself without extra hands, it could help a great deal to pay a junior or someone who would like to earn a little show money to drop the morning feed, even clean out the stall.

    Otherwise - it is a great way to bond with your horse and anyone who comes with you, as well as set your own time schedule. Assuming you've shown with a trainer, without one you'll realize how much of your brain is absorbed with listening to a trainer and planning around their time schedule. A trainer can be invaluable at a show, but it is a really good thing to be able to function without one as well.


    • #3
      My daughter has shown without a trainer numerous times at both schooling and rated shows. It helps enormously to have someone go with you, even if that person just gives moral support. I am the one who goes with her, but I know exactly what to do at horse shows. Try to write down what you need to remember to do and what you need to bring. A check list is very helpful. As an adult you can sign for yourself as owner, rider and trainer.


      • #4
        Originally posted by Denee View Post
        I am still a broke college student who can't afford a trainer so I was mainly wanting to get peoples opinions on what to expect going to my first show, how to prepare, what are essentials that may be easy to forget, and any other helpful advice you can throw at me.
        Thanks in advance!
        OP your post is a little unclear. Have you shown many times before and this is the first show you plan to attend without a trainer?

        Or have you never shown before and you are planning to attend your first show and attend it without a trainer?


        • #5
          I totally agree with taking a friend so they can hold your horse, wipe off your boots, etc. Know the rules and regulations of the show and what organization is sanctioning it. KNow the specs of your classes. Many trainers are more than happy to give you a lesson or to help you of course for a fee so don't be afraid to ask but try to ask before the show starts so they can schedule you in.


          • #6
            I usually show on my own and have been doing so for about 10 years. Saying that I had about 10 years of showing with a trainer as a kid so I knew the ins and outs and I find it easy to memorize prize lists, schedules, courses, and rule books.

            My biggest suggestion is to bring someone along, even if you have to pay someone $20. Moral support, horse holding, running back to the trailer when you forget your number, setting a jump for you, etc..
            My next suggestion is to find out if your horse can safely tie to the trailer with a haynet. If they can't you'll either have to get a stall, have someone to hold them, or load and unload every time you need to pee.
            Get there early so you don't feel rushed. Ask show management if people usually braid or not. And have fun!


            • #7
              I also agree with taking a friend.
              It may also help to go watch a show or two without your horse. Watch the schooling rings as well as the show rings, specifically the classes you may be thinking of entering. Better if the shows are on the same grounds where you are planning to take your horse. Get the lay of the land--where to park your trailer, etc.
              Good luck, let us know how it goes!


              • #8
                Get there early! To the show grounds, to the ring, checking in, etc. it's stressful enough on your own without the added stress of being late.

                If this is a one day show, make sure your horse ties or stands quietly in the trailer. This makes course walk, checking into the office, running to get coffee, etc. light years less stressful!

                Pack a good ring backpack (don't forget a water bottle!), bring your own step stool, and take items to the ring ahead of time. That way after your warm up you can jump off, fix your saddle, paint pony's tootsies, and all that jazz. Make sure you have your cell phone and emergency contacts somewhere easily accessible in your bag.

                Make friends with the in-gate. Let them know you are a single horse and ask to be put in with one of the trainers rotations that has 2-3 horses. Or better yet, go at the top of the order. Without a trainer advocate it's easy for the in-gate to shuffle you around without even informing you if they run into conflicts. They aren't being mean, but you will just be the easiest one to bump down if they don't know you, you don't have a trainer, and there is no one at the gate to speak up for you while you are busy in the warm up ring. That's why I like to go early. If you do jumpers then you can walk your course with the class before you so you won't need to find someone to hold your horse for the course walk.

                When in the warm-up ring. Ask the most approachable looking trainer with the least number of horses warming up if you can share their jump. Most won't mind and just let them know you can jump whatever they set and that you will stay out of their riders way. When ever I have done this trainers or working students have typically been polite and don't mind. They will even double check with you before changing the fence. You will get a few bad eggs that give you a dirty look or say no. Just brush them off and as the next person . It makes it easier if your horse is an easy prep and doesn't need a super specific or unique warm up. If you have a friend then the warmup ring is way easier! But it's doable on your own too.

                Going early in the order and having your ring supplies at the ring ahead of time will also be helpful when it comes to jog time if you are in a division that jogs. Just make sure all your stuff is labeled so it doesn't walk away! Most people won't steal, but everyone will help themselves to your ladder so I like to put some neon duct tape and my name all over it so it's obnoxious enough no one wants to actually take it .

                Good luck!

                There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the
                inside of a man.

                -Sir Winston Churchill


                • #9
                  Agree with getting there early. You do really need to have SOMEONE with you to help with the little things. As far as riding without a trainer, you can watch other people do the lines to get the strides counted. You sound like you may be a little green to the scene so I would try to bring someone experienced with you the first time at least.


                  • #10
                    Are you just showing English for the first time, or showing for the first time period? It can be intimidating and confusing at first, even at smaller shows. Heck, I'm used to showing and always have that moment of panic when we go somewhere new and I have to figure out where the office is If you haven't showed at all before, I'd suggest going and watching once before going to show, so you can see how classes are run, what attire expectations are, etc. If you've done other showing (Western?) it'll probably not be that different, other than the classes themselves.

                    I can and do show totally on my own sometimes, and its doable, even at an A rated show. But it is infinitely easier if you have someone along, just a spare set of hands to hold something for you, or put your number in the jump order, or hand you a bottle of water between classes. Doesn't need to be a horse person, though that's an even bigger help

                    Getting there early so you don't feel rushed and have plenty of time to get ready is a good idea. But also expect things to start later than you expect them to!

                    If you're just warming up on the flat, the warmup will probably be chaotic but not too difficult. If you need to warm up over a few fences, there will probably be a few other people for your division warming up at the same time, so you can probably jump a few of what their trainers are setting for them. I've never had a trainer mind when I asked if I could pop over the fence they were using. Asking politely may be key there. Know what kind of warmup works for your horse, too; mind does well with a lot of walking first, so I'll try to do that in a open grassy area,like around trailer parking, before we even go in the ring, then I can keep actual warmup ring time short.
                    A Year In the Saddle


                    • #11
                      I second the first comment about warmup. If I don't have someone who can act as "trainer" and grab a jump for me in the schooling area, I find someone else who is warming up at about the same time as me and politely ask their trainer if they would mind if I jump in and warm up with their rider. I've never had anyone - even BNT's - say no. I'm just careful to stay out of their rider's way and jump the same height in the same direction. But I'm lucky that my horse is an easy warmup - 3 or 4 fences and we are ready to go.


                      • #12
                        Since you have a trailer now, why not connect with a trainer again and use the money you planned on horse showing with to get some lessons? Even if you ultimately end up showing solo, despite having a trainer, at least you'll know if you're adequately prepared as far as what classes to enter, goals, etc.

                        There are always going to be horse shows to enter. I'd want to make sure my first venture out was a positive one


                        • #13
                          Main thing is know the rules and how they apply to class specifications. The OP is only interested in doing under saddle classes so remember no martingale or boots/wraps. Check the schedule to see where the classes you want to enter are - if they're in the afternoon there's no need to arrive at 7:00am. Give yourself enough time to get settled check out the show grounds and give your horse a nice warm-up.


                          • #14
                            I've gone to many shows with just me and my pony (mostly schooling but some recognized events). She's a very good girl and I can leave her tied to the trailer with a hay bag without incident. I get there early. Unload her, go get my number etc. Groom, lunge, do my warm up (there is no real warm up ring at schooling shows)- usually pay a fee to get in the ring and do some jumps that are already set up and management will replace rail if knocked down). I put on breeches and show shirt in the am and then put light weight pants over my breeches and another shirt over my show shirt (usually it's cold so that's needed anyway). I bring a 5 gallon bucket for a mounting block. When it's time to head to the show ring, I get on my pony with a rag in my hand and wipe down my boots while mounted. I also have a good system for organizing all of my stuff. So far so good. It's easier and nicer to have a friend with me but sometimes that isn't an option. Good luck!!!


                            • #15
                              This is a topic that interests me a lot, as someone from the other side of the world, where very, very few people have trainers, especially at shows. So much so that I've 'de-lurked' finally. I and most other riders here (NZ) go to shows alone (with the exception of kids and novices), and with a little planning, it's super easy. In fact the only thing that is even slightly difficult is remembering to take a cloth on board when I mount to wipe my own boots. I believe the following couple of paragraphs should be universal truths at shows, and if they are not, perhaps questions should be asked as to why.

                              When in flat classes, I take a bag to the gate, and if I need anything out of it, I ask whoever is standing nearby and not busy if they would pretty please pass me the item. Who would be rude enough not to oblige? I make sure I present to the gate steward, clarify when I am to go, and am at the gate ready to go the horse before me. If there is shuffling around happening after you have clarified your go order, complain. When jumping, practice jumps are there for everyone, no one 'owns' them and there are rules about how they can be set. you shouldn't need to ask permission to partake of a practise fence. If someone is hogging the jump and spends more than a few minutes with it set outside the nominal shape and size for the class, they need to be reminded that they need to share.

                              I sometimes ask another rider (one from another class) to help at the practice jump picking up any rails if needed. Or I'll ask someone who's helping another rider if I can use them too, and buy them a coffee later. Worst case scenario, I'll dismount and pick up my own damn rails! (great incentive to have a clean jumping horse).

                              Horses should *always* stand at trailers during shows. It's just weird to me to think they need watched all the time. We all look out for each others horses, and if one gets loose, we just..... tie it up again. Simples.

                              Being on my own, I get the best opportunity to really truly think about how I'm going to ride a course, or a test, or whatever discipline I'm doing on the day. I think about my plan, remembering what I've been taught in lessons at home, visualise what I'm going to do, and it is much, much more effective for me than trying to remember something I've been told.

                              It takes discipline though, to not just loaf around hoping things will go well. I am not all that social until I've finished riding for the day because I spend all my pre riding time internalising and planning my ride, and I've got to have a good overall day plan, timed carefully for prep so that I can be where I need to be at the right time.

                              I simply can't imagine that having a trainer at a show is actually worth spending money for. I get a lot of lessons, but would never consider having a trainer at a show. Novice riders need support for sure. I've acted as a trainer for Pony Club kids in their first season showing when their parents aren't 'horsey', and for us, it's just part of being a big family of riders. We all help each other out with whatever is needed. Offer help to others - read tests for them, walk courses with them, pick up rails for them, hold horses for them, and you'll be able to ask the same in return. It's less pressure showing without an entourage, and other riding friends are there for you to celebrate success and commiserate disasters.

                              It worries me that it sounds like it's not only the norm to have a trainer at shows in the US, but that it adds so much cost to what is already a fearfully expensive sport. I cannot stress enough how much good lessons are worthwhile, but shows are where you put that training into practice. I know trainers need to make money, but it's a choice to have them or not at shows, and rest assured there is no barrier to becoming an accomplished show rider if your are making it happen by yourself, for yourself on the day.


                              • #16
                                Here's the thing.
                                You have to actually learn how to do something before you can successfully do it on your own with no help.

                                If you want to learn how to go to a show ticking all the boxes a professional would, from horse care to turn out to schooling ring etiquette, the best way to learn is to go to a show as a client of, or extra set of hands for, a trainer.

                                You say you are a broke college student, but you evidently have the money to spend on horseshows and buying a trailer, and you have the free time to go to horseshows as well.

                                Why not allocate those resources of time and money to either learning by helping a trainer, or learning by paying a trainer?

                                Once you learn how to do it right no one can take the knowledge away from you. But you have to put in the work and commitment to learn it first before you get to that point.
                                The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
                                Boy Wonderhttp://tiny.cc/G9290
                                The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY


                                • #17
                                  Ratherbejumping - I'm from the same end of the world as you. It is very different from the US way of doing things, that's for sure. (Different =/= better or worse)

                                  In the past I've also wondered why people would pay to be coached at a show. However, in the past few years I've been lucky enough to have my trainer at some of the same shows. When the trainer has had time, I've had help - and it's made an enormous difference. Mostly it's just a quiet word from the rail in warmup about one crucial thing (quality of the canter is the usual focus!) Only once did the trainer actually have time to help me at the warm up fence.

                                  Every time that's happened, my rounds have gone so much better. I now appreciate why people do it - you've spent so much time & money to get there, why not give yourself the best chance of success? (Full disclosure - trainer has never charged me for this service, I have offered to pay each time).

                                  Anyway, 95% of the time I'm by myself at shows and it's fine, but the I've really appreciated having trainer input. I would love to have a helper for general stuff but it's fine without.

                                  I think you'd be surprised at how many people do get help from their trainers at shows - I think it's just pretty discreet.

                                  One other thing - lots of horses don't tie up to trailers - people hire yards for them. Or they get loose & sometimes cause total chaos . . .


                                  • #18
                                    Training fees are the least expensive part of most of my showing endeavors and best spent. Outside perspective is very valuable in performance sports. That said, I do occasionally take my young ones to schooling or Regional shows sans trainer to get them out and about. My best advice, over prepare every detail, get there EARLY and bring a helper. Last weekend I went for a few classes alone. I have showed a ton, have doubles of everything in my trailer ready to go and still spent an extra 20 min double checking my tack room to assure I could reach everything, efficiently organized to tack up, etc...then do it in reverse when you get there. Unwrap, reroll wraps and put them neatly in reach, etc... Then, at the end of the day you are still organized and ready to leave expeditiously. No helper, paid, or conscripted friend/SO, wants to dwaddle at the end of a long show day. Enjoy the show season.


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by ratherbejumping View Post

                                      Horses should *always* stand at trailers during shows. It's just weird to me to think they need watched all the time. We all look out for each others horses, and if one gets loose, we just..... tie it up again. Simples.

                                      There were a few things about your post that I disagreed with even though I often show rated shows on my own. This was the biggest thing that jumped out at me though. I posted above that if your horse can tie quietly while you leave to go pee, etc. then great. But I completely disagree that it would be "weird" to need a stall.
                                      They're strong prey animals, they panic when something goes wrong. I cringe walking through trailer areas. I've seen one horse get caught in a hay net, I saw one slip and get a leg under the trailer (degloving it as he panicked and stood up). Another ripped his eyelid open rubbing on the vent.
                                      My worst experience was riding a stallion back from the ring, a loose mare came galloping up, I could barely get the once quiet hunter back up to the barn while my trainer was trying to keep the mare away. Couldn't catch her and she wouldn't leave us alone. Threw the stud in a stall and his screaming finally brought some people down to help. The owners of the mare were up getting lunch, totally oblivious to what was going on. I was more worried for the mare then myself and the stud, she very easily could have ended up on the road.


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by GoodTimes View Post
                                        But I completely disagree that it would be "weird" to need a stall.
                                        Mmmeeeeeeeee too.

                                        I always get a stall if they are available and tie to the trailer only in short bursts for tacking or grooming. If I step away they go back on the truck.

                                        It is so, so, so, so, sooooooo much safer, plus more comfortable for the horses to be out of the elements with a fan on them.
                                        The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
                                        Boy Wonderhttp://tiny.cc/G9290
                                        The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY