First Show of the Season: Going for a Buckle (Also I fell off my horse)


I had a fun time this past weekend at the first English and Western Pleasure horse show of the season. My mare did pretty well for her first go, winning a 5th and 6th place ribbon in an English Pleasure and Equitation class. I need to make some adjustments and work on conditioning her to maintain a canter, but hey! Placing at all among tough competition at her first show was awesome!


Now for the less than positive part of our day. There is a trail/obstacle course that you can ride for extra points and as a tie breaker in the buckle series. I thought we would have a few issues, but overall I thought my horse was ready for the obstacles. I was incorrect.

I should have known it wasn’t going to go well when she refused the rope gate (which I had been working with her on gates, but this gate was different to her), so I finally moved on to the next obstacle. She struggled with that. So I moved to the third obstacle. She was ok, but not great. Then it came to the fourth obstacle which was backing through three cones in a “zigzag” pattern. I thought she would be able to handle that since we had been backing a lot and she was ok with it. She started to dance around when I asked her to back around the first cone, so I tried to work with her and get her to understand what I was asking her to do. After only a few seconds or so of me trying to get her through the obstacle, she worked herself into a tizzy and before I knew what hit me she reared up and almost over backwards and I fell off of her. Thankfully I was well out of the way and was unhurt, but still! Holy crap!

I got up, grabbed the reins and told the judge she didn’t seem to be in a good head space for that today and we’d try again at next months show. I walked her to the mounting block, got back on her and we waited quietly for the next class to start. No one besides the judge and his assistant saw the incident, and my friends were all mortified when I told them. My horse just stood there, looking like she was asleep and nothing had happened. So needless to say I will be working on obstacles with her so we can at least make it through the next trail class in a month. Don’t really want to get squished.


After the fourth class my mare started to feel like I was lugging around a bag of bricks beneath me. She didn’t have any energy left so she went to the trailer to rest and I took my friend’s horse into the ring for his first ever day of being ridden English. He did great for his first time! The picture above was my first time ever riding him. He’s going to be a fun horse to show this year!

Going to Your First Horse Show: What to Wear?!

Going to compete in your first horse show is so exciting! If you’re like I was getting ready for my first show, you maybe don’t know what all you’re expected to wear.

Obviously certain disciplines require different attire, but I’m going to go over what you will typically need if you’re riding in an English class. Here’s a list of what you’ll want to have in order to impress the judges and be “up to code” for the show.

Your Outfit:

Tan, or light colored breeches: For pretty much all English pleasure/flat classes you will need light colored breeches. If you are a jumper, you can do a wider variety of colors since Jumper events are more about speed and a clean round than what the rider looks like, but tan is a good, safe option.

Black/navy/dark grey/dark green show coat: A dark, more neutral shade is best when competing in English Pleasure classes. It’s also important to consider what environment you’ll be showing in when making your coat decision. If you’re showing outside in the summer, a heavier coat fabric might be too hot, so it might be better to get a lightweight coat.

Light colored show shirt: You can typically wear any kind of undershirt (long or short sleeve), as long as it has a closed collar/collar piece. If you look up “English show shirt”, you’ll see what that looks like.

Field Boots (black or brown): This is usually the most expensive part of the outfit, but you can get synthetic leather that looks classy and wont break the bank. That is currently what I have since I only show once a month, about 5 times a year. If you’re showing on a more regular basis, you might go for the real leather. You’ll also want boot socks to wear with those.

Black or brown show helmet. There are several good brands of helmets out there, but I would avoid anything too inexpensive for safety reasons. You get what you pay for and when it comes to a helmet, you don’t want to go too cheap and have inferior protection in the event of a bad fall.

Black or brown riding gloves: These are optional in most cases, but they definitely help to complete your look if you choose to add them.

Black or Brown belt: You will want to have a belt that matches your boots since you will be expected to have your undershirt tucked into your breeches. This is really important if it’s too hot out for your show coat and you are permitted to just go without your coat.

The last part of your look will be the hair. You’ll want to have a nice, clean, pulled back look that’s held together with a hairnet that matches your natural hair color as much as possible. Just make sure you style your hair low on your head so your helmet fits properly. If you have very short hair, just keep it clean and loose hairs out of your face as much as you can if it’s way too short to pull it all back. Guys obviously don’t have to worry so much about their hair if it’s short.

Your Horse

It goes without saying that your horse should be well groomed and their mane and tail should be clean and combed out. It’s usually good to at least braid the mane if you really want to gain points with the judge.

English Saddle: A basic, all-purpose English saddle in black or brown is preferred for the show ring. Depending on where you show, you may even be allowed to show English Pleasure in a dressage saddle. Obviously the cleaner you can get your saddle, the better.

English Bridle: There are a lot of different styles of bridles out there, but if you are showing in a pleasure class, you just need a basic leather bridle and bit. Anything in addition to a basic headstall, bit, and reins is considered “schooling equipment” (such as martingales and draw reins) and is not allowed in most classes (unless stated otherwise).

White saddle pad: You can go with a couple different styles of English saddle pad, but make sure whichever one you choose, it’s bright white. That’s just sort of the show standard for English disciplines.

Most English pleasure/flat classes don’t allow your horse to have any wraps or boots on their legs, so if you typically train in front or overreach boots, skip them during your class.

Some other little things that are helpful to have on hand:

Hay and a hay net for your horse while they are being groomed and tacked up, as well as for post-showing so they have a snack after all their hard work. This wont be a concern if you are stalling your horse at a show, but if you’re just testing the waters, it might be best to just trailer in for a day. This will also save you a ton of money.

Water and a bucket. This depends on the location of the show, but having some water is always a good idea, especially if it’s going to be a few hours of showing.

Lint roller to keep your coat clean looking and free of hair

Braiding bands in case your horse loses a band in their braids mid-show

Washcloth and some water to keep your horse and tack dirt-free between classes

Sunscreen if you’re showing outside

Water bottle and a snack or two for you! You’re going to be sweating and working hard to look your best out there, so don’t forget that you need to hydrate and eat a little something throughout the day to keep your energy and morale up.

I hope this helps you to prepare for your first show! Remember that the best thing you can bring with you is a smile. Have fun!