What I learnt from my first season showing
Hi, I’m Rachel, I’m 24 years old and based in the West Midlands. I run my family's small yard alongside my day job. I am a proud owner of beloved 22-year-old palomino Quarter Horse Billy and Hercules, a rising two-year-old Miniature Spotted Pony.
Having previously enjoyed riding club activities and eventing with Billy in his younger years, I am now venturing into the world of in-hand showing for the first time with Hercules.
Following my first season last summer, I look back at what I have learnt and would like to share my top five tips for my fellow in-hand showing newbies.
My five top tips following my first season in-hand showing with miniature spotted pony Hercules.
Preparation is everything
For me, the world of showing was very much an unknown and I didn’t want to stick out like a sore thumb or have no idea what to do when we got there, especially as I was taking a yearling, albeit a very tiny one! Even though we were only going to a local riding club show, asking those more experienced what to expect and about the correct etiquette helped me feel prepared and less like a deer in the headlights when show day came around.
Find out what to wear
I’m not suggesting you need to go out and purchase a whole new wardrobe, in fact, I cobbled together my in-hand showing outfit from second-hand bits and pieces my horsey friends had collected over the years, but presenting yourself smartly is important. You don’t want to detract from your scrubbed and polished pony by looking scruffy and I definitely felt more comfortable knowing I was wearing an appropriate outfit. A smart jacket, light trousers if your horse’s legs are dark or vice versa, gloves, clean boots and a hat make a smart look. You can always splash out on the fancy stuff if you decide showing is something you want to stick at.
I really can’t stress this one enough. It’s hard to show off a beautifully moving pony if every stride is interspersed with leaping and bucking. Although I had practised walking, trotting and standing up in-hand with my yearling, he is kept at home so even with all of the horses in the ménage at once, it still is no comparison to a busy show with multiple rings. He found this all very exciting on our first outing, which he loudly expressed through acrobatics and whinnying, so we chalked it up to experience and made a plan to get him used to busier environments. By the end of the season, he was grazing next to the show-jumping ring calm as a cucumber! Don’t worry too much if things don’t go to plan, I’ve found judges to be very helpful and understanding and there’s always another day.
Learn from others
When you’re at a show, you’re surrounded by judges, experienced riders and handlers, breeders and spectators alike, many of whom have a wealth of knowledge you can learn from. I’ve picked up so many little tips along the way from those watching at the ringside and from feedback the judge has given me. Even if you disagree with the placing, or it hasn’t been your best day, it’s well worth paying attention to what the judge says as it may help you out at shows to come. As a total showing novice, I picked up a lot about ringcraft this way – although I am still far from an expert.
Nothing beats a day out with your pony, and there’s usually a pretty decent burger van for lunch and cheesy chips!
I look forward to sharing more of our highs and lows during the upcoming season as we learn. There will be more about showing preparation, turnout and trying some new classes!
Keep an eye out for our next blog post and until next time you can keep up to date with us on twitter - @ShowYourSpots