This weekend I am competing my 6 year old PRE, Faraon, at Regional Championships in Wellington. Unfortunately we didn’t show enough to qualify for the championship classes but we went on and entered the open classes. Even though Faraon hasn’t shown a lot, he is an absolute blast to take down centerline. He is feeling better than ever, so I’m pretty excited to go show off.
I try not to change my riding schedule up too much before a show. When I was younger, I used to ride through tests like crazy a week before the show, scrub all my tack that hadn’t been cleaned in weeks on the day before we leave, and briskly be trimming manes and bridle paths on Friday night. Over the years, I’ve definitely learned that’s not the best way to do things. Horses are sensitive creatures and they love to have a set schedule. When you throw off their normal work and grooming schedule, they’re bound to know something is about to happen. Of course, that will create nerves and tension that you don’t need in the show ring. My horse show prep nowadays starts about 2 weeks out with some grooming tips first.
When I am about 2 weeks from going to a show, I body clip my horse if it’s needed. Someone once told me, “two weeks is the answer to any bad haircut”. I like to think I’m a pretty good clipper, but there’s no doubt that right at two weeks, the horses coat is perfect. Usually two days before I leave for the show, I will clip fetlocks, bridle paths and the outsides of ears. I like for these areas to look fresh and short, so I wait until the last minute for those. The evening before I show, I give the horse a good bath in baby shampoo. After the bubbles are rinsed, I fill a bucket with water and add about 1/2 cup of baby oil. I’ll take a sponge and apply this mixture over their whole body. It makes the hair repel dirt and gives an amazing shine. Just be careful not to add too much baby oil, you’ll end up with a horse that looks like a greasy old man. The day of the show, I do my normal grooming routine. Curry comb, soft brush and pick out feet. Then I’ll spray the horse down with Show Sheen and fly spray and then just run a clean towel over the whole body. I put cowboy magic in the tail and comb it through. Braid the mane and forelock. I put baby powder on any white markings on the legs to make them whiter. I finish with hoof oil on their feet and Vaseline in the corners of the mouth. Very simple and easy.
As far as my riding schedule, there are just a couple small things I change. You can read about my normal week riding schedule in a previous post here, http://kenziesaidwhat.com/lifestyle/a-week-of-a-happy-dressage-horse/ But this is my plan for my horse show prep.
Faraon had his normal schedule last week and I rode him through Sunday. I gave him Monday off. Of course, he spent most of the day relaxing in the paddock. I show on Saturday and Sunday, so I plan for Monday to be his day off until after the show. On Tuesday, I’ll do my normal riding day for after a day off. I’ll spend lots of time in a long and low frame, stretching out all the muscles, making him supple and responsive for the rest of the week. The weather is supposed to be nice tomorrow so I’ll probably go for a 20 min walk around the neighborhood as well. On Wednesday, I plan to do normal work. Make sure all of my “buttons” are working. Is he reacting to my leg, is he taking a half halt, is he making correct transitions? All answers need to be yes. I’ll go through parts of my test, but not the whole thing. On Thursday, I’m going to go on a hack. Yep. That’s right. The day before I go to the show, you’ll find me trail riding. I like for my horses brains to be clear and fresh for the show. I’ll do walk, trot and canter in the fields. Just a light 20 minutes. He worked hard the day before and he has a big weekend ahead of him. On Friday, we will go school at the horse show. I also like to keep this session light. For a 6 year old that hasn’t shown much, there’s a lot of brain activity the first day at the show. He will get tired fast and I’ll need energy for the next two days. I’ll take him in the rings he will be showing in, walk around, do some light stretching and maybe run through a piece or two of the test. Then call it a day. And that is it! By Saturday morning I’ll feel prepared and ready to go show.