Keeping Your Horse Stress Free at Shows

Does your horse get nervous and stressed at shows? A stressed horse will likely put in a subpar performance, and stress can result in a distracted and nervous horse. You can help to keep your horse calm at horse shows in a number of different ways. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Be Well-Prepared

The better prepared you and your horse are, the less stressful the show experience will be. Invest time working with a trainer who can help to prepare you and your horse for what you will encounter at the show. Be sure that your horse can consistently perform the skills needed for the show while he’s at home – a thorough understanding of what’s expected of him will help with the transition to the show and will mean that he’s more likely to perform well when the pressure is on.

Expose Your Horse to Different Situations

Getting your horse used to riding in different situations can help him to better cope with the busy horse show environment. Make an effort to expose your horse to new things. Take him on trail rides, haul him to ride in different locations, ride on different parts of the property with different horses, and if you have friends with barns of their own, ask if you can haul your horse over to ride with them. Changing up your rides will help your horse learn to better adjust to new situations and environments.

Bring Along a Buddy

Separating your horse from his equine friends and then placing him in the foreign environment of a show is asking a lot. Consider taking one of your horse’s equine buddies along for company and to help keep your horse calm and reassured in between classes. Use your judgment, though – if your horse is strongly attached to another horse, separating them when it’s time for your horse to enter the ring may cause your horse to be stressed and upset.

Give Yourself Extra Time

The last thing that you want to do on a show day is be hurried. Give yourself plenty of extra time to get to the grounds and walk your horse around. If your horse is the worried type, leave extra time so that he can settle down before you have to begin preparing him for the ring. If the grounds are busy, the chance to take your horse off to a quiet corner for some grazing time can help to lessen his stress and teach him that shows are an enjoyable experience.

Horse shows don't have to be stressful for your horse. With good planning you can help keep your horse calm and relaxed.

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Original Source: Keeping Your Horse Stress Free at Shows

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Comment by Buckley Fence on August 6, 2014 at 9:53am

Thanks MagNMe for sharing your horse show experience with us. The benefits of the experience for horses and riders to go to horse shows before they have the pressure of competition is a huge advantage.  It also gives the rider peace of mind for the future because the horse has been to a show before, entered and exited a trailer (you know how fun that can be when a horse isn't used to it) and had the experience of going to a new place with different sounds, smells, etc. It also helps the rider see how the horse relates to the new surrounding and if there are any things in the new environment that the horse is sensitive to, so the rider can prepare the horse for the future competition day.  Lots of preparation ahead of time, helps the rider focus on what he or she needs to do during competition (like walking courses and planning how to approach fences and jumps, etc.) with fewer variables to cause anxiety for the horse and rider.  Good Luck MagsNMe from all of us at Buckley Fence on your next event and be sure to let all of us know how you do!

Comment by MagsNMe on July 25, 2014 at 3:44pm

I have a 4 year old that has been to two shows and not put a hoof in the ring.  It is so important to 'train' your horse to show, and money spent now in taking him along just gives him totally non-stressful exposure which will be important later.  I've had people say it's a waste of time... I disagree.  it's a skill like any other, let's not just throw our horses in and expect them to deal with it!

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