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Help Me Help You - Put On A Horse Show

By Ashlea Wheelon

So much goes into putting on a horse show. A whole year and of lots of time and dedicated people are just part of what it takes. Here are some important issues to think about when putting on your horse show.

Choosing a Judge:

This is probably the most important part of the show and the hardest job for the show chairman. You need to choose between someone with a lot of experience or a fresh new face to judge your show. Check with your Horse Industry Organization (HIO) for suggestions and/or to find out if any judges have had complaints. Also, consider sending out suggestion cards to trainers who have attended your show in the past. Be certain you don't choose someone who usually brings a lot of horses to your show. Once Celebration judges are announced, consider that these people will draw exhibitors wanting to see what they are looking for.

Class Sheet:

It is very important to have a complete class sheet as soon as possible. The hard part becomes deciding what is important to your show. If you added every class that made someone happy you would be there all day and night. It is important to have a balanced class sheet. If you are not sure what that is, take a look at some of the other successful shows that have been holding their event for a long period of time and mimic their class sheet. If you don't understand the specifications for a class, call your HIO and ask.


MASCUP, which is now going into its third year, seems to be drawing entries to many shows. This system is based on points for the open classes . For more information on how to become MASCUP affiliated contact Russ Walther at 540-349-1381.


Not only is the location of your show important, but also the facility where your show is held. Your track needs to be firm but not too hard, soft but not too deep. Simple, right? Ask an exhibitor you trust to help.

The warm-up area is quite possibly the most important aspect of the show grounds. Your warm-up area needs to be large enough for a full class and the one following it. Also once it becomes evening you must have lighting for the warm-up area, this is not only a must for the rider to be able to warm their horse up properly, but it is also a huge safety issue. If your warm-up area does not have proper lighting, look in to renting free standing lights.


A professional photographer is a must for a successful show. Exhibitors want to remember their performance and some will advertise their performance and your show. There are many professional photographers, but be sure to get an exhibitor- friendly photographer who delivers. Currently some photographers are charging copyright fees to owners when they use their photographs. Be sure to protect your exhibitors from this practice.


It will be hard to have a horse show if no one knows where or when it is. Also when advertising make sure that the correct official class sheet is being circulated. There is nothing more confusing than multiple class sheets that have multiple times, dates and classes listed. The Walking Horse Report offers a special for horse shows to advertise their class sheets. If you place a full page ad in The Report, you can have your class sheet run on Walking Horse Report Online free for three months. If you place a half page ad for your class sheet, you can have it run on the Internet for three months at half price. Call us and we will help you make the most of your budget. We also have lost of promotional services for your show that are free.


The Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders' and Exhibitors' Association (TWHBEA) has a Horse Show Development and Support program designed to foster the development and creation of new walking horse shows and to aid and support existing ones. This program offers funds and services to help develop new horse shows. Contact the TWHBEA office at 931-359-1574 to get more information about putting on a horse show. You can also visit their web site at


Some kind of music is needed for a successful show. It is very hard to have a horse show in silence. Look at other shows in your area to find a good quality organist.


Another very important factor in ensuring that a show runs in a smooth and timely manner is a good announcer. If you are at a loss for announcers in your area check into your high-school public speaking classes. There are many talented young public speakers that would love an opportunity to test their skills. But an experienced announcer is the best choice - again look at other shows in your area.

Setting a Date:

When selecting a date for your show there are many issues to consider, but perhaps the most important of those is making sure that your horse show does not conflict with another working show in your area. Check with your HIO for a current list of shows.


Affiliating is a very important step for a horse show especially for liability reasons. Becoming affiliated with an organization such as the National Horse Show Commission, the Kentucky Walking Horse Association or the Heart Of America Walking Horse Association can save you a lot of unnecessary stress. This is necessary to protect your manager and committee with a DQP inspection program and to assist with record keeping such as entries and results. Your show secretary will work closely with your chosen HIO.

Availability of a Tack Truck:

The tack truck is something that is usually remembered after it's too late. Most of your local tack stores are more than happy to cover your horse show free of charge. Just make sure to call for this service in advance because they will fill up fast.


Last but not least - food. When running a concession stand it is wise to pick a menu that is within your reach. Choose food that cooks easily and quickly and stays fresh for a long period of time. Also, make sure that you have enough food, it's always better to have too much than not enough. You should also make sure that your concession stand is properly staffed. A long line will drive your customers and profits for your show away.

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