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  • Writer's pictureLiz Moorman

Navigating Show Etiquette: Dos and Don'ts for a Respectful Show Experience

Participating in horse shows is both exciting and rewarding, offering a unique blend of competition, camaraderie, and of course, horses. For amateurs, understanding and practicing proper show etiquette is crucial not only for personal success but also for contributing to a positive and respectful environment for all participants. Here's a guide to the dos and don'ts of show etiquette to help you navigate your next show with confidence and respect.


The Dos

1. Do Arrive Early

Arriving early gives you ample time to acclimate your horse to the new environment, check in with show staff, make your entries, and prepare for your classes without feeling rushed. Being early also shows respect for the event organizers and your fellow exhibitors.

2. Do Be Prepared

Ensure you have all necessary paperwork, such as registration papers, Coggins, and any other required documentation. Have your tack clean, organized, and ready for use. A well-prepared exhibitor contributes to the smooth running of a show.

3. Do Respect the Schedule

Pay close attention to the show schedule and be ready for your classes on time. This helps keep the event running smoothly and shows consideration for other competitors and the judges.

4. Do Follow Arena Protocols

Always enter and exit the arena as instructed. If there are specific warm-up areas or longe pens, adhere to them. Be mindful of other riders, and give them ample space to avoid accidents.

5. Do Show Good Sportsmanship

Congratulate your fellow exhibitors on their performances, regardless of outcome. Maintain a positive attitude, and be gracious in both victory and defeat. Remember, good sportsmanship enhances the overall experience for everyone involved.

6. Do Keep Your Area Clean

Whether in the stall area or around the arena, make sure to clean up after yourself. Proper waste disposal and tidiness reflect well on you and help maintain a pleasant environment for all participants. Yes, this means taking your manure out to the manure pits and cleaning up your your dogs.

7. Do Ask for Help if Needed

If you're unsure about any aspects of the show, don't hesitate to ask more experienced exhibitors or show staff for guidance. Most people in the industry are happy to help and provide advice.

The Don'ts

1. Don't Be Disrespectful to Judges and Officials

Judges and show officials work hard to ensure fair and smooth goes. Refrain from arguing with or disrespecting them. If you have concerns, address them calmly and through appropriate channels.

2. Don't Overwhelm Your Horse

Understand your horse's limits and avoid pushing them beyond their limit, especially in a high-stress environment like a show. A stressed or exhausted horse can lead to poor performance and potential safety issues. We are here because of the horses, after all.

3. Don't Distract or Interfere with Other Exhibitors

Avoid loud noises, sudden movements, or any behavior that could distract other riders or spook their horses. Respect the space and focus of your fellow exhibitors, particularly when they are in the ring or warming up.

4. Don't Neglect Your Horse's Well-Being

Ensure your horse is well-fed, hydrated, and comfortable throughout the show. Regularly check on their condition, and provide rest and care as needed. Your horse's health and happiness are paramount.

5. Don't Be Afraid to Accept Feedback

Constructive criticism is an essential part of learning and improving in any sport. Be open to feedback from judges, trainers, and fellow riders, and use it as an opportunity to grow and enhance your skills.

6. Don't Forget to Have Fun

While competition is a key aspect of horse shows, remember to enjoy the experience. Bond with your horse, make new friends, and savor the moments of being part of the community.

Navigating show etiquette is fundamental to ensuring a respectful and enjoyable experience for all exhibitors. By following these dos and don'ts, you can contribute to a positive atmosphere, enhance your own performance, and build lasting relationships within the community. Embrace the spirit of good sportsmanship, respect, and preparedness to make your show experience both memorable and rewarding.



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