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We Ask Exhibitors: What Do You Wish You’d Known Before Showing at the APHA World Show?

Preparing for a world show is an exciting, yet stressful time. It can be challenging to navigate your way around the endless to-do lists, packing and boot camps. However, the sense of opportunity and possibility is truly exhilarating.

The APHA World Show is set to get underway later this week and whether it be your first time attending, or if you are a seasoned veteran, this time of year can be a little overwhelming for APHA exhibitors. Therefore, it is crucial to stay focused and work hard toward your personal goals.

What do you wish you’d known before showing at the APHA World Show? Do you have any tips for competitors showing this year? We asked this question to competitors who have shown at the APHA World Show in Fort Worth, Texas.

Elizabeth Combs – So I was thinking a lot about this…I wish I had the same advice a trainer gave me last year as I entered the pen and was a nervous wreck, that I did going the first time. It completely changed my mindset going into every show. She told me, “There is absolutely no reason to get nervous or have anxiety before going out in that ring. You aren’t here to impress me or anyone else.“

It made me realize I am here to show off how hard I worked with my horse to be here. If I don’t go into every class with a smile and flat out having the time of my life with my horse, why am I doing this? Ever since then, I started riding to have a good and fun ride with my horse. I still get nervous, but honestly, this last world show was my favorite because I was there to have fun, win or lose. It didn’t matter. I let go of winning a world title because honestly, when you take that pressure away and look at how far you have come, you are already winning if you have fun riding and you made it to the world show.

Jenna Tolson – My first thought is to say we all have anxiety surrounding the world show.  Anxiety happens when we’re on the right path, and it happens when we’re on a path we’re not prepared for. If you’ve done your homework, then it is just anxious energy, and I like to view that as a good thing. It’s normal. We all feel it because we care. My tip would be to get there early and familiarize yourself with EVERYTHING. I love Fort Worth, but the show grounds there can be overly stimulating to some horses.  Ideally, I like three days to let the horses soak it all in, so they’re ready to focus by game day – no need to make it harder on you than it already is. Also, if you have to ride in the middle of the night to get into the show pens, then DO IT.  We get very little sleep at the world show, but it’s worth it.

Megan Ryden – It sounds overly simple, but when it comes down to it, even though it’s the world show, it’s important to remember it truly is just another horse show. Practice and school the same way at the show as you do at home – don’t let pressure, nerves, or watching other people ride at the show change how you prepare yourself or your horse. Also, make sure to check the arena schedules to see when they will be open. They’re often reserved in several-hour blocks for only certain classes/types of horses after the show ends. So, it’s essential to make sure you know when and where you can ride, so you don’t have any surprises. But most importantly, remember to have fun and enjoy the experience.

Paige Wacker – My first time at the Paint World Show, I didn’t even know my way around the fairgrounds. I was confused about where everything was for the first half of the show. But that’s like showing at a new facility in general. I loved the paid practice options also. Tune out the outside noise. Use your nerves to prepare better. Use the anxiety to work harder on strengthening the bond between you and your horse. Then, when you’re in the arena, you’re so in sync that nothing can desynchronize you and your horse.

Erica Owen – Some tips I have for exhibitors are:

1) Don’t forget to get your horse inspection done before showing.

2) Ensure you have all your paperwork in line – memberships, registration papers, Coggins, health certificates, etc. 

3) Make sure to read the specific world show rules in regards to leases and ownership transfers. Honestly, refresh yourself on the rulebook, period, before showing at the world show.

4) Take copies/screenshots of your entries before submitting them in case there are discrepancies. Also, check and double-check your class numbers when checking in.

Stephanie Mohindra
– I would tell anyone to take advantage of the paid practices and to make sure to smile. I mean, you are at the world show.



Sheryl Biondahl
– Last year was the first time since 2014 that I showed there. At my age, showing at the world show means taking a deep breath many times, trusting my horse to do his job, and being grateful that my trainers have prepared the horse and me for this adventure. So, if you are going to the world show, take a deep breath, enjoy yourself and listen to your trainers as they know your horse and you best.


James Saubolle – Make sure you know your way around to all the arenas. Make friends with the back gate/check-in station people, as they can answer all your timing questions. Also, be very kind to the show office, even in the most stressful moments. Finally, remember to have fun and don’t overthink. It’s just like any other show.


Anna Thron
– What I wish I knew before going to the APHA World Show was the amount of prep it takes. Once, my friend Paige Wacker told me to start running and I took it lightly, thinking that I would not need to condition that much. So, I ran once or twice a week before the world show. Once I got to the world show and was in the pen for the youth, I was so tired and out of breath, I had no energy left.

Another thing I wish I knew was to relax. I wish I knew that there would be more world shows, and this show did not define me as a rider.

So, now, preparing for the 2021 world show, I am doing yoga sculpt, which is intense yoga mixed with cardio. I have been doing it since February to prepare me for the show season, and especially the world shows coming up.

I also wish I knew how competitive the world show is. You never really know what it is like unless you experience the world show. However, I wish I realized before I left how competitive it was, so I knew all the hard work I was doing at home was worth it.

What I would recommend to competitors showing this year is to prepare. The more prepared you are, the better. Get in shape, post without stirrups, practice your patterns and figure out how the pattern is laid out. The more prepared you are, the better your nerves and everything will be.

Lydia Menossi – I wish I would have known before showing at the APHA World Show to be more prepared. I love to run the pattern once and then work on pieces the rest of the time, so my horse does not anticipate the patterns.

Some tips for my fellow competitors are never to be intimidated by the other competition or doubt yourself. As long as you feel confident in your horse, then that is all that matters. One thing I used to be terrible about was getting intimidated by my other competitors. However, as I have become more experienced in the horse world, I have learned to trust my horse and worry about my horse and myself.

Vanessa Froman – Bring a jacket or sweater to wear when you sit in the stands to watch. I froze in there my first time.  And read the signs on your walk down the ramp. They are one of the things I look forward to the most.

Tracey Howard
– This will be my first world show. I have a three-year-old with trainers Shannon Vroegh, Hannah Lind and Spencer Orr. I plan to watch the classes. I will compete next time, meet new people, and take it all in and enjoy the experience to feel more prepared in the future.

You never know if you will get the chance again, so go and make the most of it. You have done all the work and training to be confident, and remember you and your horse are a team to treat you and your horse’s body well. Good luck to everyone and see you there.


Are there tips you’d like to share with competitors showing at the APHA World Show this year? Let us know.