Routine. Stick to whatever routine you already have with your horse. Feed the same thing at the same time in the same amount in the same way. This is not the time to make any changes. Horses like routine!
Feed, hay and water. Bring extra hay and feed so you will not have to alter your feeding schedule. Keep in mind that you are likely to feed additional hay to keep your horse occupied during the long hours he spends in the stall, so bring extra bales. Also, make sure your horse is used to drinking water from other sources. One way to get around this is to add Gatorade, Kool-Aid, or another electrolyte source to his water. This must be done some time in advance of the show. Remember, don’t change your routine at the show.
Certificate of veterinary inspection. You will not be admitted onto the show grounds without the correct health papers. Check your show’s requirements (negative Coggins, Piroplasmosis, etc.) well in advance.
Farrier. Have your farrier trim and/or shoe a minimum of one to two weeks in advance so any issues will be resolved by show day.
Truck and trailer. Service your truck and trailer before the show season starts. Keep a tool chest with basic repair equipment (including a jack) on the truck. Stock the trailer with an extra halter and lead rope, leg wraps and a first aid kit. Miscellaneous items to keep on the truck include: a map of the area, pocket knife, screw eyes/webbing, snaps, rain gear, sewing kit, safety pins, duct tape, twine and clean rags. As a precaution, always stock your trailer with water for your horse to drink in case the truck breaks down. Stock a minimum of two 5-gallon water jugs, and take larger amounts on a long trip and/or if the weather is predicted to be very hot/humid.
First aid kit. Clearly label a first aid kit with emergency phone numbers (your and your family’s numbers, your veterinarian, and any other pertinent emergency contact information). A basic first aid kit should include: rubbing alcohol, poultice, clean towels or rags, disposable diapers, duct tape, Epsom salt, a topical antibiotic ointment such as nitrofurazone, gauze sponges, latex gloves, hydrogen peroxide, povidone-iodine topical antiseptic, needles and syringes – 1" for IV and 1 or 1.5" for IM – (only if you are proficient at injections), plastic wrap, roll cotton, saline solution, sharp scissors, silver sulfadiazine, sharps container, thermometer, vet wrap and wet wipes.
Dry run. Get your horse used to the trailer and show grounds by taking him to smaller local shows before attempting a trip to a large or important show. Let him experience the hubbub and excitement when breaks in his concentration won’t count against you. Putting in extra time in preparation will ensure a better show experience for you, your horse and your family.
Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Especially if your class requires patterns! Patterns are posted well in advance, so know what is expected of you.
Read the rule book. Read it, understand it, use it. The rule book lists in black and white what is allowed and what is not allowed. For instance, some of the tack you use at home may not be permitted in certain classes. Know the rules so you don't encounter any problems during the show.
Body condition score. Know your horse’s BCS. Horses scoring below a 4 will not be allowed to participate in 4-H shows. This rule promotes animal husbandry that upholds year-round horse health.
Have fun. Competing in any horse show, whether at a local, state or national level, should be fun! Remember to enjoy the culmination of your hard work.
Planning is one of the major responsibilities of a participant. Aiming for and getting to the State 4-H Horse Show takes a lot of planning, a whole year’s worth. And while only one person from each class wins a sterling silver belt buckle, every State 4-H Horse Show participant earns the satisfaction of a job well done.
For more information, visit http://www2.ca.uky.edu/4hguide/Horse_State_4H_Horse_Show or http://www.uky.edu/Ag/4hhorse/ or contact the Logan County Cooperative Extension Service. Source: Fernanda Camargo, Equine Extension Professor.
Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, sex, religion, disability or national origin.