bay horse braided for a horse show

How to Knock Your First Horse Show of 2023 Out of the Park

The horse show season is kicking off! Are you and your horse ready to compete? The first show of the season is often fraught with nerves. Your horse may be more excitable than usual, as they’re just getting back into the horse show routine. On top of that, it’s a new show season which can often mean  new equipment, new divisions, and more! But don’t panic– the reason we compete is to have fun with our horses. We put together a few tips to help you knock your first horse show of the season out of the park, while having fun, too!

Get Your Mindset in the Right Place

horse show attire, horse show accessories, black-haired woman wearing show shirt and show breeches holding a halter.

Why did you start riding horses and competing? For most equestrians, it’s to learn, test their relationship with their horse, and have fun! It’s important to keep this in mind when heading out to your first horse show of the year. This will help you keep your mindset in the right place. 

The first show of the year is hardly ever your most competitive performance, which makes it the perfect time to take the pressure off. Make allowances for horse show nerves for both you and your horse and don’t get mad if either of you makes a mistake. Instead, use this horse show as a “test run” to see where you’re at and plan the rest of your competition season. 

Show a Level Lower Than You’re Schooling

bay horse jumping a fence at a horse show, rider wearing an equestrian show jacket online

Let’s say that last summer you competed over 2’6” fences. Your plan for this season is to move up to the 3’ division. Because you’ve been schooling 3’ fences all winter long, it’s tempting to come out for the first horse show of the year and immediately make the move up a level. But wait– slow down. 

Taking the first show of the season to compete at a level lower than you’re planning on is a big confidence booster for you and your horse. A great first show with low pressure can help you start the season off on the right foot. Instead of worrying about higher fences and being overfaced or intimidated, you can focus on your mindset and refining the skills you’ve learned over the winter. 

Remember, your first show of the year sets the tone for the rest of your show season. Start 2023 off on the right foot by setting you and your horse up for a successful first competition!

Prepare Your Horse Mentally

close up of bay horse's face at a horse show, wearing horse show accessories

Do you ever wonder if your horse gets nervous before horse shows? The answer is yes! Our horses get nervous in big, atmospheric horse show environments just like we do. In fact, our own nerves can make our horses very nervous. Your horse is more likely to be nervous at the first horse show of the year, as it may take a show or two before they get back into the routine. 

To help prepare your horse mentally for the start of the show season, try and go off property at least once over the winter. This could be for a fun trail ride (if the weather’s warm enough) or to go to a clinic. Keep this first outing low pressure and fun. 

Make sure you compete at a level your horse is confident in. If your horse can jump 2’6” in their sleep, then it’s a great level to compete in for your first show of the year. This way, if they’re distracted or nervous, you won’t be multiplying their nerves with a difficult round of fences that max out their physical capability. 

If your horse is nervous, lower your expectations.  You may not be as competitive as usual– and that’s okay! Your biggest priority should be to give your horse a good first experience of the season. 

Have Your Horse Look Their Best

woman's hand brushing a bay horse, getting them ready for a horse show using horse show accessories

When we look our best, we feel our best. It’s so important for you and your horse to present as well-groomed and beautifully turned out at your first horse show of the year. Bathe your horse the night before and make sure to use  the right products to get all of those grass and manure stains out of their coat. Our personal favorite  bathing products are listed in the checklist below. 

After they’re dry from their bath, consider putting on your horse’s cooler or tight-fitting slinky overnight. Make sure the weather isn’t too warm. 

No matter how hard we try, our horses always seem to get at least a little dirty before the show the next day. It’s very important to have grooming tools and products on hand at the show. This includes a mane and tail detangler, some clean brushes, and a coat polishing spray or stain removing spray.

Prepare for the Horse Show Early

blonde woman wearing horse show accessories leans against a jump

Imagine this. It’s the evening before the show and you’re getting all your supplies together. You shrug into last year’s equestrian show jacket and go to button it up, only to find that the buttons won’t close. It’s everyone’s worst nightmare. 

The earlier you prepare for your show, the better you can avoid emergencies like this one. 

Try on all of your  show clothes at least a month prior to the show to give you time to order new ones. Because show coats are a big purchase, you’ll want plenty of time to order a new equestrian show jacket online. At the same time, pull together all of your horse show accessories so you can ascertain if anything is missing or needs to be replaced. 

You should also dig out all of your  horse show tack and gear. This is just as important as trying on your show clothes. What if mice got to your nice white show pad while it was in storage for the winter? Or what if you got a new bridle and your old leather girth no longer matches it? Finding the answers to these questions early will give you time to buy new equipment without the stress of rushing around at the last minute. 

Get Ready for Show Season with

Are you ready for your first horse show? Find all the horse show accessories you need at We offer everything from tack to grooming supplies to equestrian show jackets online in one convenient place: With products from reputable brands like TuffRider, Henri de Rivel, and Equine Couture, we are proud to offer high-quality  horse show accessories and supplies at affordable prices. 

Use the handy horse show checklist below to get ready for your first horse show of 2023.

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