Let’s Discuss: Your First Show

With Smitty’s competition debut looming in the oh-so near future, I’m trying to get together a mental game plan. But the first time out, it’s hard to make a plan at all, since pretty much everything is going to be a gamble as to how he will take it in. I do know a couple things that I hope will help though- he doesn’t seem to get attached to other horses, and based on our one off-property adventure so far, I think he will take in a new venue fairly well.

But how will he handle masses of horses? Loud speaker systems? Horses galloping cross country, bikes, scooters, cars, dogs, etc? All of this is a total unknown. But the only way to find out is to try!

Foster’s first show was a smaller occasion, a local dressage show with a distinctly casual air. He handled it beautifully, winning first and second in his Intro tests (video below). It was a rousing success, and I can only hope for the same with Smitty, even if our goal is just to stay in the tack.

I chose the Carolina Horse Park because I’m very familiar with it, and because it allows us the get there the day before and expose him to the grounds, the arenas, etc all while slowly increasing the number of people around (rather than arriving at a show in full swing). Hopefully by introducing these elements the day before, riding the day of the show will be less of an ordeal. We’ll find out when we get there if a bigger venue for his first show was a big mistake, but I’m hoping the both of us will put on our game faces and get it done.

What was your horse’s first show? Was it a success, a disaster, or somewhere in the middle? Why did you choose that particular competition as a debut? If you have a baby horse, what is your plan for introducing them to the show scene?

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26 thoughts on “Let’s Discuss: Your First Show

  1. Copper’s first show was as a four year old. Local fun show in the area, short way was a plus. He did hunter under saddle classes, winning first in WT with me and second? I think in WTC with a friend. He also did egg and spoon with the friend to get more ring time without a lot of pressure. I think he got a good ribbon in it too. 😉 At $8 per class and a 35 minute haul it was a good first outing. The only thing I don’t like about showing there is there isn’t any shade.

  2. I wish I remembered my very first show in detail, but it was about 18 years ago and I was showing hunters. I do remember not feeling nervous at all and just went in the ring with total confidence. I was riding a chesnut Arabian named Tony and we crushed it. It was a legitimate show, not just some schooling show and I was so proud coming away with two ribbons, My poor mother, she knew I was hooked from then on.

    I feel like with horses its hard to have a plan. Both my boys are hot hot hot and were never very calm the first times out and I had to roll with the punches.

  3. Drifter’s first show was over Memorial Day weekend this year. He had been off property for trail rides and such, but never for anything like the atmosphere of a show! My game plan was to have zero expectations. I planned to take him, let him take it in and see what happened. Luckily, he has a wonderful brain and everything went extremely smoothly! I’m sure that Smitty will do great!

  4. The first show that Annie actually competed in was a local schooling show. We had been to many venues without the pressure of competing prior though so I had a pretty good idea of how she would behave 🙂

    Can’t wait to hear about smittys adventures

    • Our first little XC school was a success, and I plan to take Smitty off property for a jump lesson this weekend- so hopefully that will be enough to formulate real opinions on how he’ll behave? Here’s hoping!

  5. Ramone’s first show was a little schooling show nearby. I definitely went with it for the ease and number of barn mates going, even though I had never shown there before. (Also cheap)

  6. Simon’s first show was a huge success. I just wanted to get over all the jumps, and we did. I spent a lot of time walking around and trying to desensitize him to everything, but honestly he mostly put on his big boy pants that day and did the job well.

  7. Justin’s first show was at FENCE in NC. I took him Beginner Novice. He was very much schooled, but was very competition green (obviously competing for the first time as an 8-year-old). He whinnied through his entire dressage test, but otherwise was great! I think arriving the day before is a great idea for Smitty, that way you can figure out how he’s feeling and actually make a mental game plan for the following day. Good luck!

  8. Bridget’s first show was a little hunter jumper show where we did crossrails and 2′. I picked it because it was local and cheap but with some of the big show atmosphere – small spectator area, a judge’s booth, loudspeakers, busy warmup, etc. Good luck at your first outing!

  9. I’m hoping to take Henry to a schooling show in March and I’m hoping to haul to that facility for a few lessons first (my coach’s horse lives there). Just want to make sure our first time showing is a positive one for him! 🙂 Excited to hear how Mr. Smitty does!

  10. Isabel’s first show was at the farm we hauled out to for weekly lessons and had all of or earliest xc schoolings. Worked out nicely! I hope Smitty does really well!

  11. Ries showed before I got him so no worries there. With my yearling I’m planning on taking him to two shows next year in the in hand classes just to get him used to the experience

    • I love the idea of getting exposure for them, and in hand classes are perfect for the super young ones! I had my eye set on a young horse show where you did in hand classes and jump shoot classes, run by pro handlers.. but sadly a calendar snafu ended that dream!

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