Trying a new class can be scary, but it can also be gratifying if approached with the correct mindset. Photo © Sun Circuit

Eight Things to Remember when Showing in a New Class

Theoretical physicist Albert Einstein, once said, “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” Trying a new class for the first time can often be intimidating.

However, if approached correctly, it can be the beginning of an intense passion. To be successful, you must allow yourself to make mistakes and grow from them.

Learning never stops, therefore, do not place great pressure upon yourself. Remember these eight tips when you show a class for the first time.

Keep an open mind

It is crucial to be open-minded when showing a new class. Even if you do not love it at first, give the class a chance. It may end up being your favorite. If you are closed minded, the event will not be enjoyable for you or your horse. Even if it ends up not being your favorite class, the principles may help you in a different event. Remember that there is always more to learn. If you close yourself off from the beginning, how can you gain any newfound knowledge?

Everyone was a beginner at one point

From barrel racing to western pleasure, everyone was once a beginner. Exhibitors often harshly compare their abilities to others. Do not forget that everyone has their horse showing journey. It is okay that you are not a world champion right away, good things take time and dedication. Everyone has their strengths and weakness. Therefore, recognize this and do not compare your skill levels to someone else.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes

Making mistakes allows us to grow, both as exhibitors and human beings. When trying something for the first time, whether it be showing a new class or trying a new sport, you are bound to make errors. Analyze the mistakes you make and work to grow from them. You will learn more from them than you will from a blue ribbon.

Be prepared

Preparation is key. For you to have a positive first experience in the show pen, you must be well equipped. Proper attire is an essential component, do some research and see what everyone is wearing for that class. Read up on what is acceptable and not acceptable. The same strategy works for showing “trends” in that specific class. The AQHA rulebook is an incredible asset to all exhibitors. It would be highly beneficial to give it a glance. Lastly, watch videos of the class. You will want to know what to expect and what is being looked for.

Discuss with your trainer

If you want to show a new class, make sure to discuss it with your trainer. For the entire picture to be complete, the trainer, horse and exhibitor must all be on the same page. Convey your hopes and fears regarding the event. Proper and efficient communication is key.

Have realistic expectations

When you show a class for the first time, you probably won’t have a clean sweep of the blue ribbons. Remember that you are just starting out and give yourself room to learn. Set small goals and add to them step-by-step. Do not rush your progress to the point where it becomes a constant struggle. Make your expectations realistic and work toward your end goal.


No matter the class, sometimes exhibitors become increasingly nervous depending on who is watching. Everyone has experienced that moment in the show pen when you look into the stands and see someone you wish wasn’t watching. However, it is crucial to ignore the urge to tense up. Focus solely on you and your horse. The best way to experience a class for the first time is by relaxing and focusing.

Have fun

This is the most important tip of all…have fun. Horse showing to most exhibitors is about having fun with your horse. Try something new and enjoy it. Do not let nerves overcome you and enable you from performing to the best of your ability. Whether it be the ranch riding or trail, go in with the mindset of “I am going to try my best and have fun.”

Trying a new class can be scary, but it can also be gratifying if approached with the correct mindset. Preparation, focus and keeping an open mind are essential components to having a successful experience. Discuss your expectations with your trainer and set some goals. Remember that everyone made mistakes and was a beginner at one point. Most importantly, do not forget to have fun.

About the Author: Cat Guenther is a devout equestrian and a senior at the Academy of the Sacred Heart. She has been riding horses for almost nine years and has loved every minute of it. Cat started and runs her successful show clothing business, Behind the Bit Show Clothing. She expanded her business last year and started to dye show tack. Her favorite classes are equitation, showmanship, and trail. She hopes to attend Michigan State University in the future to study veterinary medicine and possibly also study business. Cat is excited to show the all-around classes with her new horse, Zippos Kat Man Do aka Teddy.