Contributed by: Windy Griffith
It's that time of year for most of us, looking forward to 2017 and setting goals. In this blog, I would like to encourage and offer some helpful tips to make sure this year's show season is one of the best. Some of you may be setting goals to attend large shows with your horse and I hope this helps to give you a little insight for what to expect. Most of the shows I attend range from 300 to 2,000 competitors and typically run 2 days or longer.
A huge concern for me is keeping my horse comfortable and healthy in this type of environment.
- The first thing I do after getting my stall assignment is spray the stall completely with a disinfectant. I continue to use the disinfecting spray every time I clean stalls.
- Make your horse's routine the same as if you were still at home. Sometimes, shows get very busy and time slips away. Try to keep your horse's feeding schedule as close to the feeding times you have at home.
- However, I do prefer to feed more alfalfa while on the road to help with dehydration. Alfalfa helps maintain a healthy gut. Always use a slow grazing hay net.
- Once you know your show schedule, allow for some exercise time so your horse can get out of the stall and stretch their legs. I like to hand walk mine outdoors during the longest break in their day. It allows them to get some fresh air too!
Another topic I would like to address is the change in your horse during a show.
If you're new to the show world, the biggest piece of advice I can tell you is to expect different results from your horse. You may have a finished and seasoned horse or a horse as new as you are. It takes time for both of you to perform your best away from your normal and comfortable environment. Your performance may be a little off, but that's okay. You're there to compete and do your best.
Remind yourself that getting used to competing on the bigger stage takes a little time to get the hang of.
One of the biggest mistakes I see time and time again is seeing people change their game plan at at a show because they feel more pressure to do well.
You have prepared for this show. Stick to what you have practiced.
Changing the way you want to execute your performance at a show is not the time. It will leave you feeling anxious and your horse lacking confidence. Stick to your preparation, if it wasn't working, you wouldn't have entered the show.
One last piece of advice, try to keep your warm up routine the same. Most of the time, the warm up area at a large show is crowded. Do your best to maintain your normal warm up. Do not change what your horse is used to. You may find your horse having more energy or feeling nervous. If so, help them relax and stay focused.
Just stay confident in yourself and your horse and everything else will fall into place.
I hope that 2017 is your best year yet! Remember, you have a passion for horses and this is your path, embrace it!
Windy Griffith is a Two Time Reserve World Champion Barrel Racer and Pole Bender. She is a professional trainer and clinician with almost 20 years of experience. Her mission is to help others reach their own goals in competition and horsemanship.