How Not to Be a Jerk at Horse Shows

“I am not a bum. I’m a jerk.” For the kids out there who don’t get this reference, here’s some homework.

Drawn together by the hope being able to publicly display the hard work and dedication we have put into our equine friends, a horse show is a gathering of like people with one similar goal: do good.

Sometimes the stars align and we get to go home tired but happy, after posting social media pictures of our embarrassed horses standing in the trailer with giant ribbons over their noses or eyeballs. Sometimes we only get to post pictures of ourselves standing with a beer, holding said equine, who is thankfully fine, but needing to eat, drink and sleep in a water complex for the next three months.

We are privileged to be able to be a part of this sport, and even when we don’t want to, we need to put on a happy face and play nice with others. I would like to take this time to remind us all of some show etiquette that will make people enjoy our presence, rather than make people want to throw our white breeches in the manure pile.

  1. Upon arrival, figure out where you’re going, go there, unload your things and your horses, and then go park your trailer. There is no reason to hang out in the aisle. If you have a 52-horse straight load and pull it with a Freightliner, that is fantastic; however, unless you have the backing skills of a veteran OTR trucker from Chicago, its not going to fit down the aisle. And you don’t, because I see all the dings and cracked fenders on your trucks (mine too). Remember back in Pony Club when horse management used to time you unloading and then start adding valuable points? I do. But you know what? The entire rally was unloaded and settled in like two hours, and the parents were out of the barn and we were frantically looking for our sharpie so we could label our fire buckets. We all need a little PC in our lives sometimes … So unload and move. Same goes for trailerless vehicles.
  2. Stall guards. Super fun colors, shapes, sizes. Some have your horses name on it; some have your name, barn colors, accomplishments. Adorable. What’s not adorable is when your halterless horse escapes and you’re not there. Or when your horse reaches over and gets in my tack trunk, eats my hay, or flings my bridle across the aisle. Lyric can’t stall guard. He’s been put on permanent probation. He gets out, under, over, through, about 30 seconds after I put it up, with me standing there watching him do it. Good thing he’s handsome. If your horse is normal and enjoys being able to hang his head out of his stall without escaping and taking solo voyages around the show grounds, then that’s cool, but keep an eye on him please and thanks.
  3. Dogs and children. All horse people like dogs. Some horse people like children, so chances are, both will be at the horse show. Keep your dog on a leash and your child occupied, or vice versa. Whatever leads to less injuries. If your dog or your child don’t do well in large crowds and are going to act feral, take them to a park and turn them out before you take them to a show. No one likes a yapping, growling dog or a rogue juvenile human terrifying your young horse with their tricycle that has glow-in-the dark spoke beads. If you bring them anyway, offer your neighbor a beer. It’s the least you can do.

Here in Indiana, we are just getting started with shows, and not really, because we are busy dodging tornadoes and wading through mud. I have my first recognized show this weekend, am moving my young horse up a level and have only been able to school cross country once. Neato!

I wish you all luck in your 2019 showing, and I hope you all get amazing show neighbors. Until then, do your best to make sure that you are a good neighbor, and not a jerk. Happy Eventing!

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