June Show – What Worked, What Didn’t

June Show – What Worked, What Didn’t

I know y’all are probably tired of hearing about the show… but hey it’s a slow week and I promise this is more entertaining than me blog about trying to lunge Simon over the log jumps last night when I went out to pay board and check on him.

Overall this show pointed out to me (roughly at times) how much I have to learn and how much work we have to do.  I already went over how the classes themselves went, but the whole experience itself was some trial and error.


What Worked

Not wearing a coat.
Yes, even in 107 degree heat there were lots of riders in hunt coats. I need to remember that I do not do well in the heat, and for the level of showing I’m doing right now… a polo shirt is juuuuuust fine. I also bought an Adidas Climacool polo shirt off of Amazon, and loved it. If you need a LIGHTWEIGHT, sweat wicking, breathable polo shirt – get Climacool. They seem to run a bit big though, so I will be ordering a smaller one for our next summer show.

Oh. My. God.  Y’all.  This is going to have a whole review post devoted to its amazingness, so I will refrain from saying more now.


My trainer.
I had a great experience going to my first show with my new trainer/barn. Everything was smooth, she was very positive when she needed to be and gave me great feedback before, during and after my courses. I’ve been very happy with the move, but after the show it confirmed just how happy I am in our current situation!

Bringing show snacks.
I know this is dumb, but I usually only pack for the horse and never for me. This has literally left me at a show with no water for myself, because by the time I was done showing the concession stand was closed and I was too busy taking care of my horse to go before it closed. Also, most concession food is nasty and makes me want to puke with nerves/heat. This time I brought TONS of water and sports drinks, and packed string cheese, plain rolls, carrots/dip, and a lunch meat rollup thing. All fairly protein heavy and in small snack sizes so my stomach could tolerate it.


Showing a height down from schooling.
For me, going smaller is the right plan. For the first time ever, I didn’t worry about the fence height or how scary they were. That’s huge for me.

What Didn’t Work

Pulling bell boots off while Simon was tied up.
This is going to merit it’s own post… with illustrations. I’m still shaking my head at how all that went down – literally.


Hacking in a small ring.
Right now, if the ring is small and crowded I need to scratch from the hack entirely. Tiny ponies flying at Simon and around him just blew his poor little TB brain wide open – and he’s usually a level headed guy.

The 15 minute lunging session.
I’m not trying to say I need to lunge him to death… but I need to lunge him to death. LOL Jk! I do however, need not to let him fool me into thinking he is tired… he is not tired. Will lunge in multiple locations and bump the time up some.


My Mattes pad.
I usually ride with a square pad underneath my Mattes half pad, but for the show I just rode in the pad itself. Well, it gave him hives. All over his back. They were kinda ouchy after schooling, and I’m certain ouchy by the time we were done. Next time I will show with a fleece fitted pad under the Mattes pad… and use less Melp when washing it.

Conditioning my reins the night before.
Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Slippery. ‘Nuff said.


What kind of things do you know do or don’t work when you go horse show? I can use all the help I can get!

27 thoughts on “June Show – What Worked, What Didn’t

  1. Okay, now i’m very curious about the bell boots…

    I know this doesn’t really help you, but ride times eliminate so much of my show stress. I think it has to do with never really giving me time where i’m just hanging around waiting, so my brain doesn’t have a chance to freak out. A coach/friend/parent/random sucker to hold my horse is also nice between classes so I don’t have to panic about leaving her to use the bathroom.

  2. I always bring a cooler with water and Gatorades for me. And a few snacks. Shy is real low key and luckily (especially at the last show) I was able to harness her, hook her to the cart, and head straight to the class without a warm up. We were running super late. And while I feel a warm up would have resulted in a better drive for both of us, at least she didn’t do anything stupid. I think I am going to scratch a class to have a warm up time at our next show. Having someone to help is always a good thing! And not feeling pressured to go in a class just because. If for some reason it doesn’t feel right, it’s okay to skip it!

  3. 1. Did you get the Men’s or Women’s Adidas shirt?
    2. Please explain Melp. I have an ECP half pad with sheepskin around the edges and I cannot successfully clean this sucker to save my life. Mostly it’s the drying time when I hand-wash it that kills me.

    Finally, the best thing I do at shows is school the night before. It lets me see the jumps and ride them to know how my horse will be: always push on lines going away, and soften on the lines coming home. That jump right next to the gate? I better tell him to go or he won’t. All things I learn the night before and then have time to process and plan for before showing.

    It also helps me plan how to prep in the morning. I can’t be out in the heat schooling for 45 minutes or I will literally pass out and fall off. If my horse is soft in schooling, we can just walk into the ring and show. If he’s not, I can lunge and/or hack him in the morning.

    I am 100% a planner and I need to feel prepared or I will stand up in the stirrups over every fence and look like a deer in headlights the whole time… which usually does not equal a blue ribbon.

    /end novel

    1. I got womens and ordered from my measurements. I think they’re designed to fit looser/boxier more like a true golf shirt than a fitted polo. It was fine, but I tucked in a lot and especially if I were slimmer would want less baggy fabric.

      Melp is a special detergent for washing sheepskin, because I’ve been told you can’t use normal detergent or bleach on them bc they’ll turn yellow. It’s made by Mattes. I had a BITCH of a time cleaning/drying my Thinline sheepskin pad, but the Mattes is easy peasy to wash and dry. I think with less Melp it won’t bother Simon, but need to try it out.

  4. I will be interested to hear about your bell boot experience. My horse was being shown by a friend one time and freaked out while tied and having his bell boots removed. He has never had a problem with bell boots being pulled off, either before than incident or after. Horses!

  5. Both of you look great in the pictures! I’m glad you’re happy with your trainer, thats always made a big difference for me. When I showed, I would make a check list to make sure I have everything I would possibly need at the show (money, cell, clothes, tack, etc). During the day of the show I wear pajama pants over my breeches to keep them from getting dirty. I’ll groom my mount ahead of time so that he/she is ready to go incase I get behind with time. I always take a towel with me, after tacking the horse up I use it to wipe the slobber off their mouth and wipe the dirt of my boots when I mount, most handy thing ever. 🙂

  6. I use a Fleeceworks 1/2 pad for shows (haven’t found a fitted one that is shaped well for my saddle) and I use Pepede leather wash to wash it. I’ve never used MELP even when I owned Mattes pads – the Pepede worked great, so can’t comment on that. I also use Pepede to wash all my AP pads. So maybe a brand switch for cleaner?

    I also take photos of the courses with my iphone so I can review the courses without having to maneuver my way around everyone else on horseback to get a peek. I just have my ground crew (family, trainer, friend) hand me my phone. 🙂

  7. I think it is a great idea to articulate what does and does not work. I constantly tell my fifth grade students to do that very same thing. After all, how can we make corrections if we don’t know what we’re doing wrong? Of course, they tell me that if they knew what they were doing wrong, they wouldn’t do it! That’s when I make them look at their work step by step so that they can see that yes, this part is correct, and then, oops, here’s where I went wrong.

    It looks as though you did that very thing. If we simply say, oh, the show sucked, then so will the next one. But when we break it down and say, uh-oh, had a problem with the bell boots, then we know exactly where we went wrong and we eliminate that goof for the next show. And if you specify what went right, bringing snacks, then you keep doing those things, and before you know, everything at the show goes well and you earn a blue ribbon!

    But you already knew that! :0)

    When I showed on Sunday, it was hot, too. I didn’t even pretend that I was going to wear a coat. I usually like to wear one as it makes me feel more polished, but there is no way that was healthy to do on a day that hot, so good call on your part.

    Endurance riding taught me everything I need to know about eating! I ALWAYS pack a small cooler for a show. I load it with small Gatorades, bottles of water, canned lemonade, and sometimes a Coke or two if it’s a two day show. I need the caffeine and sugar by the second day. I always pack bananas, string cheese, granola bars, a sandwich, and anything else we have in the ‘fridge that is small and portable. If you pack something you can just grab and pop in your mouth, you’re more likely to eat it. Or, at least I find that to be true.

    I am so glad that the show was a successful one for you. Leaving with a good feeling inspires us to come back for more. Here’s to your continued success! :0)

  8. Sounds like you’ve got some great ideas on making showing a smoother process. The people food is a big one. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve let myself get super dehydrated because I forgot to bring my own water and snacks.

    The only thing I can really add which is probably a gimme is that I make sure to have all of my stuff organized and ready to go the night before. I’ve had too many show experiences where I’ve had to start out feeling rushed b/c of the last minute prep and that rushing feeling just does not go away easily. This past show I was able to start of the day on a nice, slow and steady note and it helped me to keep that calm demeanor through my riding.

  9. When we used to show, which was sometimes two times a week-sometimes three days shows, I always kept everything packed and ready to go in the trailer. Water and drinks were a big plus to bring and some snacks too. Show food is nasty except for a very few places. The horses were schooled and bathed and braided the day before. We never really lunged them at shows just popped them over a few jumps. You’re lucky you could show in a shirt our trainer was a pain and we always had to wear coats even when the show didn’t require them. I think you’ve got lots of good things that worked and for the stuff that didn’t, well, at least you know it now.

    1. Yikes! My trainer would have preferred that I wore a coat in equitation, but she also is pretty chill and lets us decide what’s best for ourselves in that regard.

  10. Always bring snacks! You’re not going to do Simon any good if you’re not feeling so hot yourself. My favorite thing to bring to horse shows is cut up watermellon. Not only does it keep me feeling good and hydrated, most horses love the rind (and weirdly enough so do my dogs).

  11. Sounds like you have a great list made up.

    I always have a check list of necessary items because I am a freak about forgetting things. I now know to bring my own shavings (saves money…) although without a truck this will probably be a no go now. Cooler (food and water) – plenty of small grab and go snacks. Extra breeches and shirts. Stuff happens… First aid. Ponies have a fine way of hurting themselves when it is least convenient. And last but not least… Pack a few extra lady products. It sucks to be caught off guard without the necessities.

    Sounds like a good plan for the future. Also on bell boots. Hue wears pull ons at home but when we go to a show I try to remember to take them off and put on velcro boots so that I can school with them on but easily remove them without a battle.

  12. Like others said, when I showed in the jumpers, I liked to school at the show grounds the day before, or just be there super early on show day to school, relax, and just settle in. I would bring a million snacks, too. One of my fave pre-show snacks was homemade pasta salad with light Italian dressing, chicken and veggies mixed in – it had carbs, protein, and was low fat = easy on the stomach when it’s full of butterflies! I also packed pb & j sandwiches, Power Bars, fruit cups or fruit cut up in bite-sized pieces, trail mix and Gatorade.
    I always liked to bring someone who would make me laugh when I was stressing about my courses. 🙂
    I’d be careful with putting a fleece pad under the Mattes pad under your saddle – that much fleece can really alter the fit of your saddle, making it really tight if your saddle fits him well without that much padding. Maybe a contoured cotton pad under the Mattes half pad? Or just use a sheepskin/fleece contour pad by itself sans Mattes pad.
    Congrats on an awesome show! It sounds like the big stuff worked overall and you both had a really good experience!

  13. I think establishing a ‘show’ routine is he best trick in the books.
    As in- everytime you go somewhere, do the same routine.
    For Maestro, I used to walk the showgrounds with him before anything happened. We’d keep walking until all he wanted to do was graze. With my horse before him (who was a nut) I had to do lots of groundwork- backing up, walking forward, yielding etc.
    With Simon, it could be the lunging?
    Anyway, you look awesome in the photos!

  14. What works for me at shows: getting there really, really early. Really early.

    What doesn’t work: forgetting my stirrup leathers. Telling the judge I know the workout when I don’t :O

  15. Love that you had such a great time at your show and weren’t stressed about the fence height. — I would say just remember to feed/water yourself haha

  16. I am always nervous at shows… I swear no matter what I do I am still nervous.

    I try to make sure I have light snacks that I know I can stomach and lots to drink that are cold. I try not to have to rush to anything cause that makes me feel less prepared. I try to stay distracted or watching the bigger classes so my fences look smaller when I go in (pathetic i know lol). Staying out of the sun and taking off my jacket between classes if I have time. I like having hubby there too so that he can help with the little things I need. 🙂

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