Horse Showing

Are You in Shape to Show? Part 1

January 26, 2011

Prepare more than your horse for your next show.

By Sarah Elder in The American Quarter Horse Journal

You already prepare your horse at home; prepare yourself as well with these tips. Photo by John Brasseaux

“To have a winning combination, both horse and rider need to be in their best physical condition,” says Shannon Klepper, 2008 president of the International Association of Certified Equine Fitness Trainers. “It’s amazing how much time and money is spent on training and conditioning our horses to be in peak physical condition, but when it comes to our own physical condition, we often let that fall by the wayside.”

Sometimes horse owners become so wrapped up in the care, comfort and performance of their horses that they forget that they are half of the competitive team. The rider’s physical fitness, nutrition, rest and overall health also play a determining role in the overall show ring performance. Here are ways competitors can consider their own personal care during competitions.

At Home

It is hard to imagine a retired award-winning barrel horse pulled out of the pasture, complete with grass belly and nose whiskers, and and taken to a show. Horse owners simply wouldn’t ask their horses to do something they weren’t conditioned to do for fear of injury or poor performance.

Ready to get started in the show ring? The Journal’s Beginner’s Guide to Showing report is packed with valuable information to help you gear up for your first horse show, find Quarter Horse trainers and more.

So why do they put themselves in position to be tired, sore and unhappy at a horse show? Some could argue that the love of horses is powerful enough to drag trail-ridden, busted-up cowboys and weekday soccer moms turned weekend Annie Oakleys to the horse show without fear of sore backs, feisty attitudes and empty wallets.

Consider this: Your wellness program at home will directly affect your horse’s performance in the show ring, your investment of time and money, and your overall enjoyment of competing with your horse.

Ring Steward Seminar

Learn ring steward responsibilities like how to assemble classes, assist the judge with unruly horses and mediate between judges and exhibitors at AQHA’s Ring Steward Seminar.

Shannon suggests exercising at least three times a week for 20 minutes to prepare yourself physically for a horse show.

“Think of your horse first,” Shannon says. “It is extremely frustrating to see an unfit rider blame all her problems on her horse. Oftentimes, a lot of ‘problem’ horses are truly a result of a rider’s inefficiency in the saddle. Improper cueing, continual weight shifting and unsteadiness are just some of the problems that can be remedied by a consistent at-home workout.”

Topics covered in the Beginner’s Guide to Showing report include how to find and purchase a show horse, how to choose a trainer, how to look your best and show etiquette. Download now and be well on your way to a wonderful horse show experience!

If you cannot get to the barn every day, supplement your schedule with programs like cardiovascular workouts and yoga to build endurance, strength and flexibility. Balance, strength and stamina are all major elements to sitting correctly in the saddle, being able to balance on your horse and maintaining the correct position.

Join us next week for Part 2 of “Are You in Shape to Show?”