Use the months, weeks, and days before the show to prepare yourself by . . .
- Getting completely comfortable riding in your show turnout (boots, breeches, gloves, hunt coat) and using any and all show equipment (spurs, a different stick, another bit, double reins, etc.).
- Competing in "pretend" classes - warm up, learn hunter and equitation courses, ride the courses at the heights in your division, even have awards ceremonies.
- Lining up a horse-loving friend to groom, especially if you're showing on your own. Your friend can free you up to keep your focus by braiding, longeing, and bathing your horse; tacking up and changing equipment; picking up your number, keeping tabs on your classes, and checking in with the gate-person; carrying water bottles, tack, spurs, rub rags; setting fences and keeping an eye on warmup-area traffic; listening while you rehearse your course . . . and holding your ribbons.
- Arriving early so you and your horse can settle in: the day before or (for a one-day show) at least a few hours before your first class.
This article first appeared in the December 1997 issue of Practical Horseman magazine.