Expert advice from Horse & Hound magazine on planning the perfect show day

The main requirements for a show organiser is an inexhaustible supply of energy, patience, a sense of humour and the ability to think on one’s feet.

Finding a venue

There are two ways of finding a site. You can hire an established equestrian venue, in which case most of the equipment should be available as part of the fee, or you can provide a location – which must have space for rings, warm-up areas, car and lorry parking and easy access.

Appoint a show committee

Most shows begin their preparations one year in advance. If you are running affiliated showing and show jumping classes, it is important not to clash with other similar local events, so phone calls must be made to the relevant showing societies and the BSJA.

  • Each member of the committee should be allocated a specific responsibility.

  • As well as the show secretary, you will need stewards for showing classes, show jumping collecting ring officials, an arena party and lorry-park attendants.

  • If you are hiring an equestrian centre, the owners may be able to provide staff, but this will cost extra. One important aspect is first aid cover, as local first aid organisations are often booked up well in advance.

  • Another committee member should be given the all-important task of finding sponsorship – and looking after the sponsors and judges on the show day.

Click here to read more about the show secretary’s role.

Choosing a schedule

Any committee members who are regular competitors can advise on which showing competitions are the most popular, while the number of show jumping classes must be limited to fit in with daylight hours.

A rough guide might be:

  • Ring 1 (8.30am) 12.2hh riding pony; 13.2hh riding pony; 14.2hh ridingpony; riding pony championship; 1pm: novice hunter; open hunter; hunter championship; novice riding horse; open riding horse; riding horse championship.

  • Ring 2 (10am) in-hand: riding pony 3 & under (with specials for best yearling,2-y-o and 3-y-o); riding pony 4 & over; in-hand pony championship; hunter 3 & under; hunter 4 & over; in-hand hunter championship; 2.30pm: WHP; working hunter; working championship.

  • Ring 3 (8.30am) jnr newcomers; jnr members’ cup; British novice; discovery; newcomers; small open or 1.10m members’ cup.

Show day dawns

  • Arrive at least two hours before the first class.

  • The secretary’s office must be manned by a minimum of two people, one for the showing competitors and one for show jumping.

  • As the secretary is the first person in line for every query, it is as well to make another committee member responsible for dealing with anything other than entries. But this paragon needs tact by the bucketful and the hide of a rhinoceros.

  • However, the hard work will feel worthwhile when just one competitor says: “Thanks for today. I’ll be back next year.”

Read more about running a show: