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Horse Showing- Understanding the Inís and Outs

Deciding to start showing horses is just the first step to getting in the ring. There are dozens of rules and regulations that you must be aware of before starting to compete, so it is important that you read up on the requirements and rules before pursuing a showing career. Many will spent weeks or even months getting ready for their first competition, to make sure that they conform to judgeís rules. It is also recommended that you attend at least one professional equestrian show to get a feel for what is needed to win in these types of competitions.

Appearances Do Matter

You may have the best trained horse in the ring, but if you and your horse donít look the part, you may forfeit your win to another contestant. So, you will want to carefully plan out your wardrobe and properly groom your horse to meet the requirements.

Your Attire

In hunter and equitation classes, most people wear either navy, dark green, or gray jackets, all with or without narrow pinstripes (black is also acceptable, but rarely seen); light-gray or medium-gray breeches (although rust or canary breeches are sometimes worn); black dress boots or black field boots, with the boot tabs, toe caps, and spur rests all being optional (although brown is the traditionally correct color for field boots); white or pastel-colored shirts, with pale pink and blue seeming to be favorites; a black, velvet-covered helmet with either a leather or clear plastic chin strap (or a brown helmet if it is to be worn with a brown field boot); dark leather gloves (avoid leather imitations at all cost, for they usually slip when wet with rain or perspiration); very sheer hairnets for females, with the net matching the rider's hair color as closely as possible (these can be obtained from most drug stores); black riding crops and spur straps to match black boots, or brown riding crops and spur straps to match brown boots.

In the Ring

While every show may be a tad different, there is a basic routine that is usually followed. If you know what to expect, you are better prepared to keep your horse in check and keep them as calm and collected as possible. Here is a basic outline of the showing process:

1. Enter the ring calmly, and try to fall in behind a more seasoned handler. This will help you set your pace. When walking, try not to rush. Fall into an active walk, and keep your horse in check if he tries to go ahead or fall behind.

2. You will then be instructed to stop, while each horse and handler takes their turn walking individually in front of the judge. During this time, you will want to make sure that your horse stands straight and still. Keep your eye on the judging to make sure that you are ready when your turn comes.

3. When you are nodded to go, take a few steps and then encourage your horse to trot. Try to keep him at a steady pace.

4. Take your place at the end of the line, and wait for everyone to have their turn.

5. The group will then walk around the ring once more, and the judge will likely call out the placements while the group walks the ring.

It is important to stay focused on your horse, and to pay attention to your surroundings. Watch how the judge handles the other horses in the ring, so that you donít have any surprises when it is your turn. Resist the urge to chat with the competitor in front of you, as this will likely make you both look bad. While it may take a few shows to get into the habit of walking in front of a judge, always remember to never get between your horse and the judge.

Enjoy the Show!

Showing off your equestrian friends can really be a lot of fun. So, follow the rules and donít forget to have a little bit of fun with it. From the moment that you walk into the ring, donít be afraid to show your stuff.


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