This week I'm going to write a series of posts on preparing yourself and your horse to hit the show ring. I have an entire process I follow in order to get my horses (and students, too) ready for the show ring, which begins with working hard to get both rider (or handler) and horse in condition.
They likely will be short and to the point, but hopefully valuable to my readership!
Fitness we have covered here before, but it bears repeating that you need to make sure your horse is at his optimal condition and that he is physically ready and able to do whatever you are asking of him. The same goes for yourself, you've got to have enough stamina to last the day with a smile on your face until the very last class.
In addition to the conditioning aspect, grooming is imperative, lots and lots of elbow grease will show your fellow competitors that you mean business and you'll be the envy of those you're competing against. Hand rubbing on the coat, plenty of currying, conditioning the mane and tail (keeping the tail wrapped up and clean), hoof dressing and keeping the sweat rinsed off when your work sessions are done will have your horse looking fabulous in no time.
Along with the above comes knowing what you'll be showing in, and training both yourself and your horse for those classes is an important part of the equation as well. If you are showing Halter, be sure your horse will lead well at both the walk and the trot/jog. See to it that he's trained to square up without much fuss, and if he's an Arabian for instance, he needs to know at least a little bit about how to present himself. The same goes for any other class, and you need to study the rule book(s) for whatever divisions of classes you will be competing in.
Over the next four days we'll explore preparing the horse, cleaning your tack and show clothes, choosing products to use on your horse and packing for the show.