We Ask Exhibitors: Quick Tips on Showing at the AQHA World Show
The AQHA World Show is already upon us even though many exhibitors and trainers have just finished showing at the month-long marathon known as the Quarter Horse Congress. However, there is no rest for the weary when it comes to the short downtime between the Congress and the AQHA World Show.
The intensity and pace of the Congress are completely different than the AQHA World Show, so everyone has to adjust to differences between the shows quickly. Most would describe showing in Oklahoma City as more laid-back, yet, this show is the culmination of everyone’s hard work throughout the year.
With this in mind, we asked several experienced trainers and competitors any quick tips they may have for people showing at the world show. Read them below.
Anthony Montes – I think it is very imperative to get your horses in the arenas you will be showing in. Make sure they have seen the whole arena, and they are not surprised by the end gates or monitors. I think it is essential to know if your horses need earplugs or not since these arenas can be very loud and have echoes. Make sure you know practice times for all events and your draws.
Beckie Peskin – That’s a great question because it seems so different from so many other shows. If you get a chance, it makes tons of sense to walk your path in whatever arena or arenas you have to show pattern classes. Both arenas are entirely different, so you want to get a feel for where your horse might have issues/where you need to place the various pieces and parts – especially since at the world show, patterns are somewhat cone free.
Ashley Dunbar-Clark – I go to the AQHA World Show always excited as it’s what we work for all year long. I still go over the schedule carefully so I can make a plan on what days I show and when practice trail should be set. As far as practice, since I do the trail, I practice in whichever arena the trail is set up. I also ride in the show pens a couple of times, so my horses are used to them. The most significant advice I can give is not to let the nerves get the best of you. My plan every time I walk in the pen is to hang it all out there and focus on my ride and not worry about any outside distractions.
EB Combs – I would say, know the arena schedule and know your horse. How much exercise they need or don’t need. Stick to your plan and don’t copy anyone else’s as they have a different dynamic and set of prep needs than you and your teammate.
Hillary Roberts – There’s nothing quite like walking down the chute and through the “Gateway of Champions” in Oklahoma City. It’s a little intimidating and nerve-wracking, but it’s important to keep your head on straight in those final moments before you walk into the show pen. I’ve learned to use the last few minutes before I enter the ring to leave all the jitters behind me, and focus on my horse. Clarity of mind is vital for a good run in the show pen. Taking something that used to make me nervous and turning into an asset has helped tremendously at the World Show.
Libby Rinder – The AQHA World Show is much more relaxed than most people expect, especially compared to just coming off the Congress, which makes it a great show atmosphere. My main tip would be to treat it like you would any horse show. You know yourself and your horse and how to best prepare, don’t suddenly change your entire pre-performance routine because it’s the world show. If you build it up in your head and overwork yourself and your horse you won’t perform to the best of your ability. If you can keep the mindset that it’s just another horse show I think that helps to keep people calm and relaxed so that they don’t let their nerves take over. One other tip would be to spend time in the chute going into the Jim Norick Arena. It can be intimidating when it’s just you and your horse waiting your turn to go into the pen, so let yourself and your horse get acclimated to that area a bit. It can be tough going from the dimly lit shoot into the bright arena, so just spend some time getting used to that. Most importantly, relax and enjoy every ride.
Lauren Stanley – Knowing the arena schedules, both for practice times and show times, is one the most important things you can do to make the most of your ride time. If you know which arena is available for you will save time walking from arena to arena only to find that it’s taken. The new outside arena is one of my favorite places to ride; the ground is excellent, and it’s huge which makes it nice regardless of many horses practicing. It is a great place to practice galloping and straight lines. Of course getting into the coliseum is a must (you’ll be making the finals hopefully). Finding time to ride in this arena is a little trickier. Riding in the wee hours of the morning is usually your best bet that the arena won’t be so packed. Overall, get into as many pens as you can and have fun through the journey with your four-legged friend.
Elizabeth Brown – I’ve only shown one time, so my expertise as an exhibitor is not too knowledgeable. However, as a horse show mom, I’ve got 12 years under my belt. Make sure you take your horse into the “Gateway of Champions,” aka the tunnel, a few different times. Take advantage of the outside round pens if the weather is good. Ride in all the different practice pens. They all have different situations to expose your horse to. Just have fun.
Isabel Scobie and Jessica Ross – Most of us are coming out of Congress where the logistics and pace are more complicated thus making the world show schedule seem more relaxed. But don’t get complacent. The world show differs in that most of the classes there is a preliminary which may change your approach to preparing for your class. Isabel’s trainer, Jessica Ross adds, “This is where you may want to think about playing it a little safer, trying to plus areas you and your horse excel in while trying to be correct in areas that may not be your strongest suit. It’s a time to smooth things out, not the time to try and teach yourself and your horse a new skill. You want to stay out of the penalty box more than anything and make your run count towards a final opportunity.”
Sarah Elder Chabot – As an amateur, I also show my horse in the Senior over fence classes, and I have to keep in mind that the professionals warm up a little differently than the amateurs in the warm-up pen. They are more assertive and direct which is good. I just try to remember to get my plan together early, so I don’t get rattled in warm up and ride my ride. I also never take my horse for granted. I always make sure he spends plenty of time in all the arenas, so he feels comfortable even if he has shown great there in the past.
Farley McLendon – Check the AQHA posted practices for the main arena. The big covered arena is usually always open as well as the arena in Barn 8. Prelims are held in the Performance Arena, so you have to get horses used to that and the main show arena. Be mindful that all disciplines are showing at this show too. Don’t get mad when reiners circle, ranch rider practice their patterns, etc. I love showing there because the walls are so high, and it makes it easier to show the hunt seaters on the rail. Make sure you know the order in which you trot into the arena, especially who you follow. It’s not a free for all.
Taylor Deppen – Because most AQHA World Show patterns are done without cones or with only one cone, it’s important to use visual markers to ride toward instead. The show arenas all have painted markers on the wall in various places, as well as sponsor banners, etc. I found it most important to ride in the arena the night before, or anytime you can, and see exactly what I wanted to ride toward and exactly what path I was going to take. That way, when I was showing, I knew I was staying straight or making things even, and I had a plan of where I wanted to execute specific maneuvers.
Livvie Van Lanen – As a seasoned youth competitor about to tackle my first AQHA World Show (as an amateur), I am reminding myself that though this is the World Championships, it is important to remember it is just another horse show. It is so important to trust yourself, your horse, and your trainers. For myself, practicing the night before while the arenas are crowded does not work. I get hyped up, and so does Stevie. Instead, I recommend finding the clearest arena every day, and practicing skills rather than a pattern. Stevie is extremely smart, and even after one run through of a pattern, he has it memorized. To avoid his anticipation, I practice pieces of the pattern rather than the entire thing.
Scott Reinartz – The AQHA Open World Show is a smooth run show. Practice Schedules are posted, there are arenas open to practice all day. This show is a much slower paced show than the Congress. My only advice is to know which arena your practice is and know where and when your class is going to run. Take time to visit the trade show, support the vendors, other exhibitors and watch different classes. Enjoy your time at the Show and in Oklahoma City and have fun.
Do you have any tips for competitors showing at the AQHA World Show? Let us know!