Category: Horse Shows

Horse Show Etiquette For Spectators

I recently went to a fund raising schooling show for a local therapeutic riding center.  We got to the show just as the riding center kids were starting their part of the show.  Some of the kids had side walkers and some rode by themselves.   I thought all the kids did an amazing job riding their horses.  After their last class, the regular schooling show continued.

To give each horse and rider the best opportunity to show their best, there should be a certain amount of courtesy shown by the spectators.  During this show, I was astonished at the lack of spectator etiquette.  So, I thought I would put together a list of things that a spectator should follow while viewing a horse show.

  • If the spectator walkway is right next to the show ring, wait until the class is finished to take your seat or leave.  Also, be courteous of your actions when seated next to the ring.  I witnessed a woman opening her umbrella for shade when a horse was coming down the rail near her.  This startled the horse and it took several frightened steps sideways before the rider regained control.  The  rider lost points in that class.  If this had been a group class, it could have caused a major wreck.
  • While some types of classes are okay with cheering their favorite during their run, refrain from clapping or cheering until the class or the individual run is over.  With that said, please keep in mind that some of these classes run the individual riders one after another so there may not be time to cheer before the next rider starts their run.
  • Don’t boo the placement of a class.  While the outcome may not be what you think is correct, a horse show is purely the opinion of the people who are judging it.  Besides, the other riders in the class don’t deserve this type of bad behavior from the crowd.
  • These horses have been brushed, bathed, clipped, sprayed and spruced up for hours.  Some owners are very particular about the way their horse looks before they enter the show ring.  Before you decide to pet a horse, ask the owner or rider first.
  • Turn your cell phone ringers down or put them on a silent or vibrating setting.  If you need to talk on your cell phone, keep your voice down.  People around you  came to see the horse show, not listen to your conversation.
  • Kids can startle a horse just by being doing what kids do naturally.  Don’t let them run around unattended and get into mischief.
  • Kids also have a short attention span, especially if they decide the outing is boring.  So bring something to keep them entertained and possibly their favorite snack.  If they start to get unruly, take them away from the show ring.  A change in activity can do wonders.
  • Throw your trash away.  Don’t leave half empty cups or partially eaten snacks on the seat next to you or on the floor.  They just end up being kicked over and make a big mess.
  • If you bring your dog, keep them on the leash.  You have to keep in mind that a lot of horses do not like dogs and will charge them.  So a loose dog around horses is dangerous not only to the horse but to the riders and anyone around them.
  • If your dog continually barks or yaps, it is best to leave it at home.  This is very annoying to the other spectators and could make the younger horses nervous.

This is just a short list for spectator etiquette.  There are probably other things you can do to be courteous while at a horse show.  Some of the riders are nervous enough.  Any distraction from the spectators could be enough to make a rider lose his concentration.

Every horse and rider deserves the chance to do their best with the least amount of distractions as possible.  That’s only fair.

2010 Palomino World Show: Exhibitors Up; Temperature Up; Volunteers Down

The 2010 Palomino Show is over.  From the back gate, the number of horses appeared to have been up.  The youth show and the open show had more exhibitors in the riding classes than last year.  The halter classes were down though in the weanling and yearling classes.  With the rough economy, that was expected.

There were horses from all over the U.S. and even a few from Canada.  There were all of the horses that hDara checking markingsave been showing for years, but there was also quite a few  first time horses and exhibitors.  I found, from the class sheets, there was a lack of horses from Oklahoma.  This surprised me since this show is held in Tulsa, Okla.  In past years, there has almost always been at least 1 horse from Okla in most of the classes.

The Oklahoma heat did not make this a comfortable show for horse, exhibitor, trainer, groom or volunteer.  The heat index on most days was 109 or higher.  Even though we sit just outside one of the big opened overhead doors, we did not benefit from the AC spilling from the building.  There just wasn’t enough wind to create the draw needed to bring the AC out.

The humidity was another factor.  If you stayed outside, you were drenched in sweat.  If you stayed inside, you were too cold.  If you wore glasses and went from inside to out, your glasses fogged up so bad it took several minutes for them to clear.

The weather made a few people a little crabby at times.  The heat took it’s toll on the horses too.  They got tired sooner and some acted up a bit more than usual.  For the most part, everyone had a good attitude.

The one factor that was way off was the number of volunteers to help this year.   While the youth show did have a good number of volunteers, the open show barely had any volunteers.  One I have my markings book & class sheet waiting for the next class of horsesof the main volunteers became sick after the youth show and could not return for the open show.  This left 1 scheduled volunteer  and the tack judge at the back gate and 1 volunteer to hand out awards.  The ground manager helped fill in.  This is the smallest amount of volunteers ever for this show.  We all stepped up to the challenge and the show did not have to wait on the back gate for any of the classes.

If you have a chance to go to one of the big shows, please do.  Enjoy the different classes.  Appreciate the skill of the exhibitors and the training on the horses.  Browse through the different vendors that are at the shows.  But most importantly . . . . . if you can spare just one day, help a show run smoothly by volunteering.

Horse Show Jumps Don’t Have To Be Scary

I watched a few hunter hack classes at a recent national show.  Hunter hack is an English class that consists of 2 fences to be jumped individually by each entrant, then rail work by the entire class.  It is always the same . . . some horses shy away from the first jump or just flat refuse to jump it.  The shows always have flowers, brightly colored rails, trees at the side of the standards or any combination of these.  Some of the horses have either not seen these before or if they have only at the shows.

The fix is easy.  Go to a dollar store & buy some artificial flowers.  You can drill holes in the ground rail and put flowers in each hole.  Or you can push the flower stems into the dirt just behind the ground rail but in front of the bottom rail.  Your horse may still shy away from the flowers for a short time at home, but he will get used to them.  Then when at the show, flowers are not such a big deal to him anymore.

Also, paint a few of your rails any color other than white.  This doesn’t have to be an expensive task.  You can use some left over house, wall or barn paint.  Maybe your neighbor has some paint that they would like to get rid of.  You can paint the rail all one color or put stripes on it.  Use your imagination.

The end effect is to get your horse use to something that you would see at the show.  This fix is good for the hunter or jumper classes also.  Don’t wait until the next show & wonder why he keeps shying away from the jump.

Attitude Is Everything

Attitude Is Everything . . Choose A Good One

This plaque was hanging at the entrance to the holding pen for a horse show.  Every exhibitor walked or rode past it every time they entered for their next class.  Most acknowledged the importance of the message. 

To me, this means I should have a winning attitude.  Knowing I have done my best to prepare both me and my horse, I come out a winner even if I don’t place in class.  I treat my horse with the respect that he deserves.  I take responsiblity for the mistakes that are made.  I don’t blame my horse for every missed cue.  I try to ride with a gentle hand, a quiet leg and a soft seat.  I’ve found that this gets better results even if my horse is having a bad day.  I try to be polite, courteous and pleasant to all around me.  Good manners should not be lost in the horse world.  I arrive a little early.  I offer my help if needed.  Finally, I have fun!

 Attitude Is Everything . . Choose A Good One

What does this mean to you?  I encourage you to leave a comment. 

Volunteer For a Horse Show

Mike is a longtime volunteer for PHBA The Palomino World Show finished up it’s week long run.  As always, it was a very good show.  This is about my 20th year to volunteer for this show.  When I started volunteering for this show, I didn’t even own a palomino.  I didn’t purchase my first palomino until 2002.  I volunteer for this show because I absolutely love doing it.  I take a week vacation from my job to volunteer.  I get to see some old friends that I have made over the years and I always meet new ones.   

I started volunteering for small club horse shows back in the 80s just after I purchased Iggette.  I really didn’t know what I was doing, but I had a blast.  I’ve done everything from being a gate person to ring steward.  One year, a friend asked if I would help with the Palomino World.  This was to help check the markings of each horse against their registration papers.  I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. Les comes from Iowa to volunteer every year The show then was only 3 very long days.  I learned to read fast and on the run.  The show has grown over the past 20 years to the 7 day show it is today.  I still have to speed read and do it on the run.  Some things never change.   

If you have some spare time, consider volunteering for a horse show in your area.  You don’t have to own the breed of horse of any show that you’d like to help.  You just have to have the desire to help.  The different clubs & associations are always in need of volunteers.   Some of the jobs that are usually filled by volunteers are being a gate person (both in and out since these are usually different), checking in exhibitors for classes, ring steward, stalling, or just being a runner.  Keeping the area clean is also a big job.  Volunteering for a horse show can be very demanding work.  The hours can be long & at times can be very hectic.  You have to be versatile because you may be asked to take over another person’s job.

Volunteering sometimes has double dutiesIf you DO decide to volunteer, some things to remember are to always be pleasant & courteous to both exhibitors and staff.  You may be a volunteer, but you are one of the many faces for the organization putting on the show.  Help out for any job that is needed.  If you are not sure of the duties, ask one of the staff members for some guidance before the show starts.  If there is a problem, ask one of the staff members of the organization to help.  Don’t take longer for meals than any other staff member.  Don’t be in the wrong place or take a job that was not assigned to you.  Be prepared by bringing your own pen, water bottle and possibly small snacks.  There may not always be time to run to the water fountain.  Unless you are instructed to wear specific clothes, dress comfortably.  Don’t wear boots that pinch your toes or sandals.  You are probably going to be on your feet and on the move all day long.  At the end of the show, turn in any equipment that you were given.  Also before you leave the show, make sure you check in with a staff member.  They will appreciate knowing that you are no longer on duty.

It takes MANY volunteers to help put on a horse show.  Volunteers can be be from the local club putting on the show or it could be you.  Volunteer for a horse show in your area.  I’ll bet you’ll have fun!


Come See The Palomino Youth World Show

Palomino Horse in Driving RigThe Palomino Youth World Show is now in full swing.  If you live in the Tulsa Oklahoma area, THIS IS A MUST SEE!!!!  No where else can you see so many beautiful golden horses in one place.  No where else can you see so many different variations of the golden horse.  Whether you like trail, English, Western or Halter, there is a class that will catch your attention.  Come out to the Tulsa fairgrounds and see the kids guide these horses around the arena and put them through their paces.  Go to for a tentative show schedule.
There’s no excuse, it’s free admission!

Secure Those Stall Doors

Even though Iggette is gone now, she still has lessons to teach.    Let’s talk about securing the stall door & gates.  Most people look at the latch on any typical stall and wonder how in the world can a horse open it.  Well let me tell you, Iggette was quite an escape artist.  She learned this little feat while at the first stable and continued it at other stables.

The small pasture I originally put Iggette in just didn’t work out as planned.  She was the only horse there and horses just don’t fair well by themselves.  So I moved her to a shed row with 3 large paddocks and each paddock was shared by 4 stalls.  Everyone who had stalls here rotated paddock time.  Iggette had other horses to visit and a mare next to her.  I felt like I had her in a pretty safe place.  The stall was big, it was in good condition, the stall door was a partial door so that she could stick her head out and socialize and the paddock was secure.  The stall & paddock gate had “horse-proof” latches, so I knew she would be safe.

I’m one of those anal types when it comes to checking & rechecking for closed & locked doors.  When I left everyday, I must have checked the stall door 5 times, the feed room door 10 times and the paddock gate 20 times.  I absolutely wanted to make sure that my horse came to no harm through my carelessness.  Can you imagine the shock I felt one day when one of my friends called me at work to say my horse was out.  Not just out of her stall, not out of the paddock, but out in the open field!!!!  This field had no fence and it was only a few yards from a busy street.  I rushed from worked to the stable.  As I drove up the long driveway, I saw my friend out in the pasture trying to coax Iggette AND her friend to come to her.  I went to the tack room and got a bucket of grain.  If Iggette was anything, she was a chow hound.  I just knew she would come to me with this temptation.  To my surprise, Iggette thought much more of her freedom at the time than what her belly would normally tell her.  Everytime I got near her, she would turn tail & sprint off in the opposite direction.  Remember I told she was hard to catch and she was certainly living up to that on this day.

I talked with my friend while trying to catch up with these two.  She told me she didn’t know how they got out.  She came out to feed her horse which was in the paddock next to mine.  She noticed that my horse was not anywhere to be found.  She looked for her and just happened to catch a glimpse of her through an alleyway between our shedrow and the one behind us.  That’s when she called me.  Since we weren’t having much luck trying to catch them, we changed out tactics.  We decided to try to herd them into a semi-enclosed area.  There at least, we might have a chance putting a halter on them.  Funny how things work out.  Iggette led us right into the alleyway and actually caught herself.  I was quick to put a halter on her and my friend caught the other horse.

I put my horse back in her stall.  The other horse, we just left out in the paddock since it was her time to be out.  Iggette had another idea.  I was standing not far from the stall talking with my friend, all of a sudden Iggette’s stall door flew open.  Iggette promptly walked out and went over to her mare friend.  She actually herded the mare back into her stall & closed the door on her.  She didn’t lock, just pushed it shut.  Then she returned to her stall and closed her door.  My jaw just about hit the dirt.  My friend & I looked at each other in total amazement.  How did she do that?!

It was time for a little investigative work.  I locked Iggette’s door and all of the others in our paddock area.  In no time, Igggette’s head popped over the door and started jiggling the latch with her lip.  You’ve seen how a horse will curl their lip when you scratch just the right spot, well that’s what her lip looked like.  It was only about 30 seconds later and she was out of her stall.  She went next door and got her lip working over that latch.  Soon, her friend was out and they both went over to the gate.  Iggette once again got the lip going.  Fortunately for us, I had figured out where she was going and just got to the gate before it too went flying open.

An escape artist had been born.  Now the hard part was going to figure out how to keep Iggette in her stall and keep her safe.  We start with making sure the “horse-proof” latches have a way to lock it closed.  Get a swivel snap or double ended snap & secure the stall door latch.  A simple $2 piece of hardware can give you piece of mind.  It may be more of a pain to the open the stall door, but wouldn’t you rather have a friendly face meeting you at the stall instead of you meeting your worst fears opening an empty stall?


Magazine Must Haves For The Novice Horseman

I just received my Horse & Rider magazine.  This is just one of my magazines that I read front to back.  There is an article in this issue that you, as a novice looking to buy a horse, MUST read!!  The article is “7 SIGNS YOU SHOULD WALK AWAY FROM A HORSE FOR SALE (OR SELLER)” by Bob Avila.

This article tells you what bad habits to look for.  The article goes into bad attitude, this would be cranky, rude or impatient.  It tells you about being barn sour and also about not respecting your space.  There is a small section of information about lameness.  There are also signs to look for in the seller.  This article is only 4 pages long, but it does give you information that you will need when you go to look for that dream horse.  READ IT!! & READ IT again!!

And when you are done with this article, read the one from Clinton Anderson on getting your foot shy horse  to let you handle those ticklish feet.  Oh and don’t miss YOUR HORSE YOUR LIFE for a few pointers.  There are some really good common sense things a novice horse owner may not know.  There are also on going articles on conformation, riding & horsemanship.  AND THIS IS JUST 1 ISSUE!!!

If you don’t have this magazine . . .  go out now & get it at your local bookstore, drug store or grocery store.  It is well worth your time and effort for this one.  This is just one MUST HAVE magazine for any novice.  It is just full of information.  There is also EQUUS.  I highly recommend this magazine for the latest in  horse health.  Practical Horseman & Dressage Today are outstanding magazines for the owner who leans more towards English riding.

These are the magazines that I subscribe to for the latest information in health, riding and horse related products.  Over the years, I have gotten an enormous amount of information from these magazines.  There have been articles on legislations that effect the horse world.  There have been articles on which hay may be better for your horse, oats vs sweet feed and which plants in your pasture are deadly to your horse.

If you don’t have a subscription for any of these, check out the MUST HAVE MAGAZINES in the right column of my blog.  Just click on the magazine that you would like to subscribe to.

Subscribe today, don’t miss another issue!

What Horse To Look For – Part 4

It’s been a few days.  Have you read up on the type of horse that is right for you?  I do hope you’ve spent some serious time on this subject.  You don’t want to go into horse ownership on just a whim.  To make it work out for both you & the horse, you have to be as prepared as possible.  So in all fairness, it’s time to talk about what a novice should not consider as their first horse.  That’s not to say you should never consider one of these next types, but maybe you should wait until you are a little more experienced.

I already talked about my #1 horse a novice should not consider.  That is the stallion.  I won’t go into stallions much more  than I did in my previous post.  Stallions need absolute distinct differences between what is breeding routines and normal everyday routines.  You need to be to the top dog . .  horse. . . with a stallion.  They need to respect you as the herd leader and you need to respect them for what they are.

My #2 horse a novice should not consider is a foal (weanling) or 1 year old.  But you say they are sooooo cute & irresistible.  Just remember foals are babies . . .  big babies . .  big babies growing bigger.  Their nutritional needs are more  than an older horse.  This will end up in a higher feed bill.  As with all babies, they take an enormous amount of time to raise and train properly.  They absolutely need to learn who the leader is.    If you don’t have the time EVERY DAY to spend with a foal/yearling, you are not doing yourself or the foal any good.  You have to teach these guys everything a good horse should know.  The only real discipline you can do with a baby is halter and if they are 1 year old maybe longe line.  You can’t ride them until they are closer to 2 years old.  Remember these are growing babies.  They need consistency and repetition, repetition, repetition.

The #3 horse is the unbroke or green broke horse.  I want to teach my horse myself you say.  Green horses need consistency in their training, which means either you or the trainer needs to do something with them at least 5 or 6 days a week.  Training a horse needs a steady hand that is also gentle and forgiving.  A cool temperament on the rider’s part is an absolute must.  If you can’t keep your cool when stressed, trying to train a green horse will be a disaster. If you are a novice, you are still learning.  It is better to get a horse that can teach you.

The last horse I’ll talk about would be one fresh off the race track.  These horses are trained for speed.  While they can make excellent horses, it will take a lot of just quiet riding time to retrain them for gaits other than running.  I would also watch for injuries to their legs.  I tell you this from experience.  My 1st horse was off the track.  While I knew of the injury to her legs that ended her race career, she had another leg problem that took a little time to show up.  I would definitely have a pre-purchase exam on an ex-racehorse.

This is my list of the top 4 horses not to consider if you are a novice.  You can buy one of these if your heart is set on a horse from one of these groups.  Just remember that you will probably need the help of a professional trainer not only for the horse but for you also.  You can make it work, just don’t expect miracles overnight.  Any of these will take a lot of time and even more patience.

What Horse To Look For – Part 3


Let’s talk horse breeds.  There are soooo many breeds and color breeds to choose from it’s mind boggling to a novice.  Take your time, figure out what discipline you want to pursue (riding, jumping, halter, trail, etc).  While any breed of horse can do just about anything, I would suggest that you read up on the different breeds.  There are lots of books and magazines at the book store and on the web.  I could go on for a long time about the breeds but you should consider this more homework.  Choose a breed that will be best for your desired discipline.  An example would be if you wanted a miniature horse, your desired discipline shouldn’t be dressage or trail riding.  If you want to show in the quarter horse shows, you shouldn’t get a loud spotted paint.  Talk with your riding instructor or horse friends.  Talk with the people at the shows.  Unless you are smitten with a certain breed, picking a breed will probably be a tough task.   


Don’t just consider a pure bred.  There are lots of show circuits and fun shows that you don’t have to have a pure bred horse to show.  You don’t have to have a pure bred to ride the trails.  If showing in the breed show is not your cup of tea, you might even consider a grade horse.   What is a grade horse?  This is a horse that can’t be regisitered in a recongnized breed registery.  This could be a solid colored paint that the owner just didn’t want to register.  This can be a cross between 2 different breeds that don’t recognize the other in their registries.  This could be a pony breed that the pony just grew too tall.  There are a lot grade horses and all of them have the same potential as any pure bred horse. 


I will say right up front, I’m partial to the quarter horse.  This would include the Quarter horse & any breed that recognizes it for acceptable breeding.  Why you ask?  The only reason I can give you is this is what I grew up on.  I personally own a Quarter mare, a Paint mare and a Palomino gelding.  They are all mostly quarter horse in their breeding.  They are not a small horse nor are they too big.  I like their temperment and they are versatile.  With that said,  these qualities can be found in any breed.


You can have just as much enjoyment from your equine friend no matter what his breeding.  The key is picking the right horse for you.  Have you read my slogan? 


Success is not what horse you have . . .  but what you do with that horse.