Here are seven “rules” that we think everyone should ride by at all times. Photo © Tiffany Anne Photo

7 Rules to Ride by in the Show Arena

Horse shows are a magical atmosphere where yesterday’s leader can quickly become today’s loser. As blunt as that may sound, we all realize that this sport that we love so dearly is entirely controlled by an animal’s willingness to participate, which is not always an easy task.

Emotions tend to run high in and out of the arena, so it is important to keep every helpful reminder and bit of advice in mind when tensions rise. Here are seven “rules” that we think everyone should ride by at all times.



1. What Other People Think Of You Is None Of Your Business

In horse showing, keep in mind that we are paying for someone else’s opinion. HOWEVER, bystanders will always feel the need to give their input whether it is welcome or not. Though it may sound cliché, please pay these people no mind. Champions do not dwell on the opinions of others. Instead, true champions will mind their own business and focus on themselves instead of what everyone else is doing. Not to mention, most people have their own way of doing things – especially in the horse world. The easiest way to maintain a positive attitude at a horse show is to live and let live.

2. The Only Person In Charge of Your Happiness Is You

Sure, we understand that a bad ride can ruin anyone’s mood. However, bad trips don’t have to dictate the rest of your day. A bad day horse showing can still be a beautiful day in all reality. Being surrounded by these talented animals and friends with common interests can be taken for granted so quickly. Even when the going gets tough, it is important to take a step back and reflect on things that matter. Instead of dwelling on the negatives, turn your frown upside down, give your horse a kiss and get back out there.


3. Do Not Compare Yourself to Others

Comparison is the thief of joy and comparing one’s self to other riders is a quick way to destroy your confidence. Keep in mind when you see another competitor that is continuously succeeding, you don’t see the countless hours of preparation that has gotten them to where they are today. Sure, some riders seem to make every element and transition look effortless, but everyone has their flaws no matter how good they are. Another good point to keep in mind is that horsepower matters. While you may be envious of another competitor’s skills, remember that they are competing with a horse that may have certain positive qualities that others struggle with. Just like riders, all horses are not created equal.

4. Time Heals Almost Everything

Most people have suffered a loss in their lifetime, but nothing can come close to the feeling of losing a trusty equine companion. While we all understand that horses can be immensely sensitive creatures with quirks and traits that are unique to each and every one, nothing will patch the void of a missing horse like another. The individual bonds and relationships that people make with their horses are often hard to imitate. Horse lovers who experience the loss of a beloved horse can gain a new understanding and love for the sport when they learn to be thankful for every ride, no matter the placing or the ribbon color.

5. Stop Thinking So Much

Still, the most common form of self-sabotage comes in the shape of over-thinking. Regardless if you perform patterns or ride the rail, there can be a lot to reflect on in a very short amount of time. Not to mention when riders get nervous, they tend to over-think and over-analyze every situation. It’s no secret that our horses are in tune with our emotions and can feel the anxiousness through our body language which will begin to put them on edge. Taking a deep breath and attempting to keep calm and relaxed when it’s time to show will not only give you a more confident look, but it will also reassure your horse that showing isn’t so scary.

6. It’s all right not to know all the answers

Even the most professional and established horsemen and women have their doubts sometimes and will often admit that, though they specialize in training and reading horses, they still learn something new every day. As for the non-pro riders, it can seem overwhelming at times with so many new trends and techniques to keep up. Rest assured, it is ok to admit that you don’t know everything and will never know everything that horses have to teach us. If horses were easy creatures to predict, many people would be out of their jobs. We love horses due to their tricky and sometimes stubborn nature, so much that every day can be a new puzzle to solve.



7. Smile, You Don’t Own All The Problems In The World

Whatever you do, do not forget that someone always has bigger problems than you do. Sure, you might not have placed as well under that last judge, but at least you had the opportunity to show. On second thought, at least you have the ability to show because there are so many people who can be found on the sidelines wishing they were in your position. I cannot stress enough how lucky we are to be able to call horse showing a hobby. Yes, things can go wrong at times, but try your best to live in the moment and smile as much as possible because it’s a wild ride and we’re just lucky to be living it.


While many of these tips may be easier said than done, keeping them in mind whenever possible is just another way to increase your happiness and chances of success during your next trip in the show pen. Did we miss one of the rules you ride by? Comment below and share your inspiration with riders everywhere.


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