How do I turn my horse out for a schooling show??
There is no “cut and dried” answer for this - but I will say that if you treat a schooling show exactly the same as a rated show, you will learn a lot about what you need to work on at HOME before you enter a rated show.
Treat a schooling show like the real deal - and then when you and your horse are ready for the "real deal" it's no big deal.
Schooling shows are inexpensive and fun ways to practice showing, and most disciplines offer them, usually through a local riding club or farm. In the grand scheme of things, you can practice the following things at schooling shows that will help you at rated shows:
- Packing a trailer
- Loading and unloading your horse, as well as pulling and parking your rig
- Getting your horse super shiny and keeping him that way overnight
- Acclimating your horse to new surroundings
- Getting your tack and buckles and stirrups super shiny
- Getting to know your warm up (and cool down) routine in a strange place
- Your sense of timing - when to start getting ready at the show
And in reality, only YOU know the difference between a schooling horse show and a rated horse show. Your horse only knows this is a trip to a new farm with new sights, smells and sounds.
Practice braiding to prepare for a schooling show!
Most schooling shows have the advantage that braiding and jackets and formal attire are not required. This is great in the heat of summer - but you are missing out on a chance to practice your grooming skills before you get to the big shows. You also have the chance to practice riding in full riding gear. Riding in a rat catcher and jacket is light years different from a polo shirt.
You will also learn a lot about your horse at schooling shows. How does he acclimate? How much time do you need to settle him in? Is he good for braiding, or does he get super distracted? He may be quiet as a church mouse at home for grooming and tacking up, but a nutso swirling dervish in a new place. Go through the whole show prep routine at a schooling show where there is not so much pressure on you. By the time you get home, you will have some “homework” items to practice before you wow them in the rated shows.
Even if you are not staying the night, walk your horse around the property and stalls so he gets the chance to see everything!
Schooling shows are also typically smaller and more quiet than rated shows. This is great for the green horse, green rider, or both. And remember, if you go all out at the schooling shows, the judge will notice!! Have fun and use schooling shows as a way to get experience and see how your horse will behave.
Do you like to go to schooling shows?