Our Top Tips For Equine Show Preparation

Every competition or show needs careful preparation to ensure a good performance or showing. It’s not only you that needs to be physically or mentally prepared, but your equine partner as well.

Keep in mind that no matter how small the show is, it is respectful to the organisers and the judges to prepare for a horse show by having a clean tack, a clean horse, and well-fitting clothes.

Impressions are important, and the judge’s eyes are both on you as soon as you enter the ring/arena.


Grooming your horse for a show shouldn’t take ages if you maintain a through daily grooming routine. Keep regular coat care and trimming as part of your normal routine so that you’ll have him ready even at a moment’s notice with minimal finishing touches just before a show.

Another benefit of grooming is that you’ll immediately spot changes in your horse such as cuts, lumps, bumps, or warm areas.

Adding coat oil to water and using a tea towel and firmly rubbing it all over your horse’s body helps in polishing his coat.

A week or a few days before a show is the best time for trimming up extra fluff with your clippers. These activities can be done well in advance, making it a positive experience for you and your horse. You may use ShowSheen or a detangler on the tail to make brushing easier.

Stabling under lights

Light has a direct impact in regulating the length and density of a horse’s coat in different seasons. This necessitates the use of artificial lighting to help optimise coat growth among equines.

Experts suggest for horses to have an average of 16 hours of continuous light and at least 8 hours of darkness daily. This is due to the fact that coats grow and thicken faster with limited amount of light.

Keeping your horse under artificial lighting can effectively keep coat and hair growth under control, which also means less clipping.  

Rugging and Feeding

Rugging your horse plays a big part in keeping them warm when the weather gets colder. However, you’ll also need to adjust their rugs in other seasons, as well during times when they exercise.

Do not make the mistake of rugging your horse based on how you feel. We may have similarities, but they don’t feel cold the way we do.

Improper rugging may cause horses to sweat which may result in irritation, sunlight blocking resulting in vitamin D² deficiency that leads to reduced bone strength.

Horses can lose weight naturally during winter months. Do not override this natural process by overfeeding your horse for them not to gain excess weight, which may increase their chances of contracting laminitis.

NOTE: A good grooming routine do help in showing off your horse’s coat to its fullest. However, the best-looking coats are created from within. And this is something that grooming alone can’t replicate. Giving your horse a balanced diet provides all the nutrients he needs to grow a healthy, glossy coat.

At the Show.

Arriving early to the show is always a good idea so you and your horse will have plenty of time to get better organised. Once you gave arrived, unload your horse from its foat/truck and make him comfortable in his stall, preferably with fresh bedding, plenty of water, and a bit of hay.

Locate the main show office, the warm-up areas and the show rings. It would be a good idea to know where you can locate the vets or farriers as well. Pick up your show number and turn in any paperwork required.

Groom your horse and tack him up, allow him and you to warm up and become accustomed to the settings to reduce stress. 

Before your class begins, wipe your horse down one last time. Wipe away any dirt from his ears and nostrils. Brush out his mane and tail, inspect yourself too and ensure your shirt is tucked in, and off you go!

Prepare yourself.

Of course, you must not forget preparations for yourself before going out with your well-prepared horse on the field.

Poor preparations can often add to stress and nerve during the show proper and usually results in a less than optimal showing and performance.

Have a copy of your classes on hand, so you know where you need to be and at what time. Be sure to work on different exercises and parts of the program, but not ride the whole thing through, over and over again in the warm-up to best prepare for your classes.

Go over your equipment and clothing. Skim over and look at the rules and regulations for the show equipment and attire, and make sure you and your horse are up to code. Be sure you are at the arena when it’s your turn. Don’t be late. 

Wrapping things up.

Regardless if you win or not at the show, be polite and congratulate the other riders. Remember to thank the judge and stewards. Also note that people working at local shows are often volunteers, so be sure to treat them nicely.

And yes, make the opportunity to stop by the refreshment stand and make a purchase. Food sales are often the main source of income for the organisers, and it is a nice way to contribute to a local club putting on a competition.

But before you leave the venue, be sure to tidy up after yourself. Manure should be picked up and disposed in the designated areas. Borrowed equipment has to be returned, and be sure not to leave without paying fees owed.

For any questions you might have regarding the Dandy Show, do visit our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page.

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