How to Prepare for a Schooling Show

Preparing for a Schooling Show – It’s All in the Details

Perfectly manicured mane? Check. Meticulously cleaned tack? Check. Boots polished? Check.

There is a lot of work that goes into preparing for a schooling show! A schooling show is a smaller, unrated horse show for the purpose of “schooling” young or inexperienced horses and riders. They are a low-stress and often lower-cost way for horses and riders to learn how to show. But don’t be fooled – part of practicing for horse shows is learning how to prepare for one, and how to be properly groomed and dressed. Here’s how CV Equestrian riders prepared this afternoon for tomorrow’s Open All-Breed Horse Show in Baker, FL hosted by the Dixie Gulf Arabian Horse Association.

Bathing a horse

This rider is bathing her pony to prepare for the horse show.

The first order of business is to bathe the horse. A clean, glistening coat is the trademark of a well turned-out show horse. Using a curry comb and special shampoo for the horse’s particular color, the horse must be scrubbed from nose to tail. A final conditioning and rinse for the tail adds extra softness and prevents tangles. Though it’s tempting to condition the mane and body as well, this usually makes the horse very slippery and could cause the saddle to slide around. It also makes the mane too slippery to pull and braid.

While the horse dries, it’s time to load up the horse trailer. We will be leaving early in the morning, so it’s better to have everything packed ahead of time. Grooming supplies, hay, breakfast for the horses, water buckets, fold-up chairs, a spare halter, and coggins papers for each horse are just a few of the items that must be accounted for and packed in the horse trailer. Before the tack is loaded, each item is throughly cleaned and buffed to be show-ring ready. Metal things like stirrup irons, spurs, and the rings of the horses’ bits are polished to a dazzling shine. Horse show judges take notice of the cleanliness of each rider’s tack. It is disrespectful and shows lack of pride to show in dirty tack or on a poorly groomed horse.

A few inches of mane just behind the ears is shaved to make a bridle path.

A few inches of mane just behind the ears is shaved to make a bridle path.

By this time, the horses are dry and ready to be clipped. The inside and edges of the ears are shaved clean. A small part of mane is shaved near the top of the horse’s head to make a bridle path. The long hairs under the horse’s jaw and around the lower legs are trimmed to make his outline sharp. Finally, the long whiskers on the horse’s muzzle are trimmed. Now the horse is looking quite nice! It’s time for him to eat his dinner and get some beauty rest before the big day.

Tomorrow, all the riders will meet the trainer at the barn at 7am sharp. We will have to be on the road by 8am to make it to Baker on time.

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