Tuesday, October 29, 2013

How To Prepare For and Enjoy a Live Show

It's been fifteen years since I attended my first live show.  I remember the newness and the excitement of that experience, but only vaguely.  Sara Kucharski of PawPrints Saddlery is a lot younger than I am, and her memories are much clearer.  Today's guest post is geared to all the young--and not so young--new showers preparing for their first live show.  There's lots of good advice here, even for an "old pro" like me.  Thanks, Sara!

How To Prepare For and Enjoy a Live Show

by Sara Kucharski

Only a year ago my fiancé and I were preparing for our first live show. Being newbies we had absolutely NO idea what we were doing or how to do it. So let this be an education for all you newbies out there!
First gather the horses you’d like to show.
Next give them names. This can be song titles, inside jokes, or just names you like.

After that you need to figure out a breed for each horse. This can sometimes be the hardest part because it requires knowledge of breeds. The internet can be a great source to read about different breeds. Books are also another great way to learn about breeds.  If the breed you choose is not well known it is best to have a printed page that describes it. 
After you have assigned your breed it helps to have a page about the horse in a binder. The binder is the most valuable thing that I take to a show (besides the horses of course!). I use the binder to keep collectability pages and any ribbons that the horse may win.  
Collectability information can be found on either http://www.identifyyourbreyer.com/ for Breyers or http://www.stonehorseref.com/Home.aspx for Peter Stones
Tagging your horses is also very important. Tagging procedures vary from region to region.  I live in Region 8 and use tags which can be found at Hobby Lobby. One side has the breed and gender and on the other side the horse’s name and your initials.  
The first thing I do before a live show is check the class list. Most shows these days have websites where the class list is posted. I print these out and use them as a checklist throughout the day. 
I will go through my binder and fill out the list with the horses I plan on taking. 
Next I go down the list again and pack each horse in the pony pouches I have made. 
Usually I put resins in one tub and plastics in another. 
I suggest getting a good night’s sleep before the show and printing off directions on how to get there. Sometimes relying on just your phone’s battery life is a gamble! In the early morning (most shows start at 8am!) we pack the car. If you have horse holders make sure to pack those. One horse knocking into another can be heard around the hall and can damage horses.
When you get to the show hall find your table. Most people like to lay down a cloth of some sort to protect their horses and identify their tables. I use paw prints because of my studio name, PawPrints Saddlery. 

Next unpack everyone!
The show holder will announce when the show begins and the judges will let you know when to load and unload your horses. Jake and I usually work out a system so it flows and no one misses a class. When you place your horse on the table make sure the tag has the breed/gender facing up. Don’t forget your collectability page!
If you horse earns a blue (1st place) or red (2nd place) ribbon you will need to keep them handy for breed section call backs. This gives the horse a chance to win more!
Now if that happens they go up again for an even bigger ribbon!
Now the key to having a good show is just to have fun. FUN is the key word here! You may not win a lot during the day but you will meet some of the nicest people. If you have questions many of them will be happy to help and answer them. 

Thanks for all the good advice, Sara.  I know that newbies everywhere will really appreciate this post!


  1. Jen, thanks again for letting me guest blog. There are so many new people out there that need good advice about shows. If I had read an article like this one a year ago it would have been so helpful!

  2. Thank you Sara for the breakdown. I have tried to explain the group to others but I do not have the experience or understand the entire process. This will be helpful to share.

  3. It's good that Sara did this - my prep is considerably more complex or scary, depending on who you are :D

  4. Wow, I learned a lot with this! Thank you so much, Sara! I myself am a newbie, and I've never been to a live show, but I want to go really badly, haha! :)