Caitlin UltimoGrooming / Health

Horse Show 101: What to Know Before You Show

Preparing for a Horse Show

So, you’ve been taking riding lessons for the past year, and you and your trainer think that you are ready to show. Horse showing is the equestrian form of competition, and whether you are trying to beat the clock in show jumping or entering your horse in a halter class, there are some must-know tips that will make your first (or your next!) horse show a success.

Putting Their Best Hoof Forward

There are many different disciplines in which you can show your horse, but having a clean horse and tidy equipment is an important preparation for horse competitions. Though not all disciplines judge on appearance, by brushing the dirt off of your horse and polishing your tack, “you look like you really want to be [competing] and that it’s important to you,” says Lorrie Canady, owner and training manager at Galway Farm in Long Grove, IL. “You want to put your best foot forward, and you don’t want to walk into the ring with a dirty horse.”

What horse supplies do the trick for a clean steed? Oster Equine Care 7-Piece Grooming Kit for Horses is a multi-brush kit that allows you to rid your horse of dirt and dust from mane to hooves, and everywhere in between! For those tricky-to-clean grey horses, try Farnam Vetrolin White N’ Brite Horse Shampoo. This horse shampoo brighten white manes, tails and coats and remove any stubborn marks or stains.

If you are showing in the summertime heat, be sure to keep Farnam Endure Sweat Resistant Horse Fly Spray handy. Not only does it repel flies, gnats, mosquitoes and deer ticks, but it is also sweat resistant and works for up to 14 days—perfect for those weekend shows.

Keep Your Horse Hydrated and Happy

For time that your horse isn’t spending in the ring, welcome him to his home-away-from-home with a Horsemen’s Pride Stall Snack with Apple Scented Ball Horse Treat. Not only does it help cure boredom, but it also gives your horse nutrients that he needs.

As with any athlete, hydration is incredibly important in horse competitions. And it’s even more important in the summer when you and your horse both sweat! “Electrolytes and drinking enough water are huge in the heat,” says Canady. “Just staying hydrated [is the biggest difference between warm- and cold-weather showing.]” To ensure that your horse is getting enough water throughout the competition, add Farnam Apple Elite Horse Electrolyte Supplement to his water a few days before the show and throughout the event. This supplement is also great for any horse that is being worked in the heat to help prevent dehydration.

Gearing Up for the Ring

With a clean, hydrated and happy horse in tow, what else do you need to know for these types of horse competitions?

Although the necessary horse tack, or horse gear for riding, will differ throughout disciplines, a majority of horse tack is leather. By regularly cleaning and conditioning your tack, you can not only protect and maintain it, but also preserve it for years to come. Fiebing’s Silicone-Lanolin Saddle Oil for Horses is great to use on leather saddles, bridles and even your riding boots. Just apply sparingly to clean leather, shine and let sit overnight. Canady says, “[Having clean tack is] super important. If you’re going to a horse show, and you expect someone to judge you, you should put your best foot forward, be prepared and take care of your equipment.”

Though a well-brushed horse and clean gear are important before going into the ring, sometimes shavings, or bedding, from the horse’s stall can sneak into his tail. Be sure to keep an Oster Equine Care Mane & Tail Horse Brush ringside for any last-minute touch-ups.

Once you are done showing for the day, rub your horse down with Farnam Vetrolin Liniment Horse Supplement to prevent soreness and stiffness. Don’t forget the Mrs. Pastures Horse Cookies and lots of pats before loading up to go back home to reward him for a job well done.

Whether you are new to horse competitions and going to a local schooling show for the first time, or you’re a professional at show jumping, be sure to show off your riding and your talented pony with these equestrian showtime essentials.



Originally from Chicago, Nicole joined the Chewy team as a marketing intern in January, 2017. Since then, Nicole has continued writing and photographing for Chewy as a Content Collaborator while completing her education at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. She is majoring in both marketing and corporate innovation, before returning to Chewy as a Marketing Analyst. In her free time, Nicole enjoys traveling, riding her horse or snuggling up with her Pug, @zoetheloaf, and Terrier, Cozmo. 

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