Showing your horse is an excellent way to share the results of your hard work and dedication with others. Whether this is your first year showing, or you’re an experienced hand, you will benefit from incorporating a few basic tips while waiting for the season to get underway.
1. Schedule Your Practice Sessions
Practice is an integral part of getting ready for show season. It can be tempting to skip sessions over the winter, but you really should continue practicing throughout the entire offseason. To make it easier, schedule sessions for at least one or two days a week. Work on basics like gaits, transitions, and cues. Set up a course with a few schooling horse jumps or obstacles to make sure you and your horse are familiar with patterns. If the weather keeps you indoors, you can still work on basic manners and ground handling.
2. Maintain Your Tack and Gear
This is also a great time to take your tack apart and do a deep cleaning. Leather conditioners can be worked into saddles and bridles to soften them and minimize wear. Wash show sheets, saddle pads and wraps so they are clean and ready to go when you need them.
3. Evaluate Your Wardrobe
If you have changed sizes or want to advance to a more formal show, you may need to find some new equestrian clothes. Shopping in the offseason allows you to take advantage of sales on new it’s as well as search for used show outfits offered by other riders.
4. Focus on Nutrition and Care
Your horse is an athlete, and you want to make sure you provide him the nutrition necessary to sustain physical conditioning. Horses may need extra calories to sustain body weight and muscle composition throughout the colder months. Learn about the nutritional needs of horses and make sure you are meeting them.
Once the season rolls around, you probably won’t have as much time for some things. That makes your pre-season prep work that much more important.