Preparing ponies for the show ring

  • Handy hints to how to prepare and keep your pony happy while preparing for the summer show season

  • Add apples or carrots to the feed at regular intervals but not every day.
  • Do not feed carrots or apples from the hand at regular intervals otherwise it can encourage snatching, impatience and nipping.
  • Go onto the yard when you are not expected as often as you can. Eg inbetween feed/exercise/mucking out times. This breaks the routine for the stabled pony and potential boredom
  • Praise your pony and simply pat it on occasions, do not always do something when you have it tied up. This helps encourage the pony to learn to stand for inspection for the Judge in the ring.
  • Make sure the stabled pony’s view is interesting. Put yourself in their place and see what they have to look at all day.
  • Safely hung toys can relieve boredom and help stretch neck muscles while standing in the stable. Gallon water containers hung on string at nose height are a cheap solution. Always ensure that the “container” is bendable but not chewable.
  • Regulary damp down the hairs on the top of the tail if they stick up or out.
  • Groom the mane on to the right-hand side and damp it down to encourage it to lie flat.
  • When combing thick, bushy manes, use a little conditioner. It will help prevent the mane/tail breaking off and looking uneven.
  • Walk on and off your trailer or lorry in preparation for travelling. Praise the pony when on the lorry and when coming off slowly and carefully. A little effort now can save a nasty bump from jumping off later.
  • Hang feed and water buckets at chest height to encourage thepony’s topline to build up. Haynets should not be hung too high as this may encourage the muscles under the pony’s neck to develop.
  • When it is too wet for the pony to go out, handpick grass as a treat to put into the feed or inbetween feeds.
  • Ensure the pony’s feet are kept in excellent condition and are picked out regularly. Some judge will choose to lift a foot at a show and awkwardness in picking up feet will quickly become apparent.
  • Many shows have attractions other than horses and a lot of noise. Having a radio/music on the yard helps prevent boredom and prepares ponies for tannoys and music.
  • Walk past the box on occasions with an umbrella or flag or balloons and return to stand in front of the pony. This will help prevent the pony shying at busy shows.
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