Thursday, December 13, 2018

Performance showing 101

In order to show performance, you need - at a minimum - one horse and at least one set of tack.
A basic but competitive entry owned by Teresa Buzzell
The horse is the single most important part of your performance entry. Different models have vastly different performance potential, and the easiest way to succeed is to start with a model that looks like it belongs in the class even before you tack it up.
Dun Up Purdy was built to be a Western Pleasure horse
As for the rest of it - the tack, the dolls, the props and the dioramas - it's okay to start small. Buy the basics and add to them over time. Develop an eye for quality. The good stuff is usually expensive, but will last for years with proper care.
Dun Up Purdy, Reserve Overall Champion Performance at Battle of Breeds, 2018
Shown in a tack set made by Margaret Teller in 2003
Research your events! If possible, attend a real horse show. Pay attention and take lots of photos. Watch videos on YouTube. Use a Google search to find rule books and reference photos. The more you know about the event you are depicting, the easier it will be.
The best kind of research
Prepare not just your entries, but also your show day. Study the class list and make a plan. Try not to overextend yourself. Tack changes are hard, and showing in every class is really hard. You'll have a better day if you concentrate on showing in a few classes well, rather than all the classes poorly.
Not a beginner's show plan
Practice before the show. Tack up your models and set up your entries. Take photos from several different angles and share them with friends who show performance. Ask for feedback. Take notes. Make changes
The notes don't actually have to go on your photos...
Double check everything before you leave for the show. Make sure all your documentation is printed and packed. Pre-tack your models, especially those which will be showing in the first couple of classes. Don't forget your sticky wax!
That time I tacked up fourteen horses the night before the show
At the show hall, introduce yourself to your fellow performance showers. Don't be afraid to ask for help or advice. We tend to be a friendly bunch, and it's common to see experienced showers mentoring newbies at the show table.
Allie Davidson sort of mentoring Hilary Schwafel at the Jennifer Show, 2016
It's easy to get flustered as you set up your entries, but try to stay calm and focus on the details. Before you leave the show table, step back and look at the entry as a whole. Is the tack fitted correctly? Does everything look neat and workmanlike? 
Tiffany Purdy taking one last look at her costume entry at BreyerFest Live, 2017
If there's time after the class, ask the judge what you can do to improve your entry. Take any advice with grace, even if you don't agree with it.
Judge, Renae Grinlaubs Keller handing out ribbons and explaining her placings to the performance showers at the Little Tree Youth Show, 2018
Of course, you should also take lots of photos, both of your entries and also the winners. These will be valuable reference material going forward, plus they're fun to share on social media.
Lu Heater photographing one of her many amazing entries at Rocky Mountain Spring Fling, 2018
That leads me to my last - and perhaps most important - piece of advice for new performance showers: Have fun. At its most basic level, performance showing is playing ponies with your friends. Enjoy the playtime!
Erin Corbett, Jennifer Buxton, Tiffany Purdy and Janna Shepherd having fun at A Midwinter Night's Ball, 2018
I hope this answers your question, Hellen! Thanks to Erin Corbett, Jackie Arns-Rossi, Kristian Beverly, Anna Helt, Michelle Masters, Tricia Wolford, Mary Vinyard, Janna Shepherd, Carra McClelland, Laine Lovstoan, Donna Draus Gruhn, Kim Bjorgo-Thorne, Amanda Bowe and Christie Partee for all your input!

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