Five Secrets to Winning at the Horse Show

VR is so excited to welcome Kathy Farrokhzad from Horse Listening to Horse Show Week!  She has been involved with horses for the last 20 years, and her website is full of great how-to’s, tips, advice, and much more.  She also just had her first book release so be sure to pick up a copy! Today, Kathy is sharing with us “Five Secrets to Winning at the Horse Show,” and you are sure to find some helpful advice to aid in your competitions.



It is a given fact that people go to the horse show wanting to win the ribbons. The idea of competing (in anything) is to outperform our peers in aparticular activity, and competitions at their core are about success and achievement . The problem arises when the goal turns into winning that ribbon.

Many riders get caught up in their placings at the horse shows. They want to win first place, acquire points, be better than the other people and prove how great their horses are.ribbon1

Then they are disappointed when their goals are not achieved. Their horse spooks, or something small goes wrong, and their vision of achievement fades to nothingness.

It’s no wonder that they leave disgruntled and disappointed. In getting “competitive”, they forget the real purpose behind showing: seeing if you can perform at your best under pressure and find out how you fare in comparison to the standards of the discipline.

Here are five sure-fire ways that will prepare you to do your best at the show:

1. There is only one way to be competitive.

And that way is to NOT be there to compete against everyone else. The only person you are trying to beat is yourself. The idea is to perform personal bests, achieving a higher level of success than you did last time.

What were some problems you ran into last show? What were some things you worked on at home? Are you able to break through those problems this time at the show?

If you can do better than last time, rest assured, success will follow your hoofprints!

2. Set Goals

Before heading out to the show, set three realistic goals you want to achieve. Your aim is to do all the prerequisites up to and including those goals.

For example, if you had trouble keeping your horse round at the last show, this time, your aim could be to keep up a steady rhythm, keep the horse moving strong through his back and develop a balancing but soft contact that helps the horse stay round.

Whatever your goals, make them reasonable and achievable, knowing that thanks to the distractions of the unfamiliar surroundings (for both you and your horse), your performance at the show will likely be 50% weaker than what you produce at home.

3. Focus on the Goals

No matter what distracts you at the show, focus on the goals you set for yourself. Even if the sky falls around you, your mission is to meet those goals.

Do not focus on trying to make a placing. The minute you start thinking about beating others is the same minute you lose sight of why you went to the show in the first place. You are not in control of how the judge places you and how the other competitors perform. But you are in control of what you do and how you work with your horse in the show environment.

4. Win Your Ribbons at Home First

This one is the easiest but also the toughest part. If you can be patient enough to “win” your ribbons at home first, before you ever enter the show, you are well on your way to being successful when you do step foot into the show ring.

How do you win ribbons at home? You decide how well your performance should be, then work on it until you think you would have done well in a competitive environment. After a little practice, you will be able to pinpoint a “ribbon-winning ride” every time, whether it was at home, at someone else’s barn, or at a clinic. You don’t really need a competitive environment to win ribbons – give yourself a mental ribbon each time you can meet your own expectations!

5. Prepare for the unexpected.

Things don’t go as planned on show day. Be ready for that, and be able to forgive yourself and your horse if everything doesn’t fall into place at the same time. There is such thing as luck and it does play a factor in everything we do, and luck at the show is no exception. There are so many variables involved in producing your best performance at any given time that it is quite something when it all does come together nicely!

Going to the show should not be about the ribbons – it’s about winning ribbons “at home”, setting achievable goals and reaching your own personal bests. If you can improve and develop your skills and your horse’s, the ribbons will surely come!


Kathy just released her first book, Horse Listening – The Book so be sure to pick up your copy for more great tips!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *