Tips for your first hack show

Blog post: Tips for your first hack show

Hack or breed showing can be intimidating if you don’t know someone who is already going out, especially if you are new to the competition scene. One thing I found that helped me was finding a coach that specialised in showing to come along and help but I know this isn’t feasible for everyone so here are my top tips for making the day fun and overall, less scary.

  1. Read the rules for your competition/society

This one is big. Whisker trimming is now being banned to protect horse welfare however there are some small things you will want to consider when clipping up ready for shows. Some associations do not allow clipping of facial hair or clipping out ears. For some breeds you may not be able to pull and plait manes or clip feathers, breed showing may require the horse to be left natural. The competition guidelines may also give you an idea of what to wear. A good thing to remember is navy is smart and timeless when showing hack or open and a good tweed is never out of fashion when showing a hunter.

  1. Decide what classes you want to enter

This one is an important one, do you just want to do led to get a feel for the day or do you want to compete in your ridden classes. I generally recommend that you do at least one led class as it allows your horse to get a good look around without you on their back. If you do decide to do your rider class be aware that you will be required to sit trot. Make sure you don’t enter too many classes for you first show so that you aren’t overwhelmed. Remember there is no shame in scratching if the day is not going to plan, there is always another show.

  1. Practise

This is perhaps the most important one. If you are doing led classes make sure your horse can walk and trot obediently with you at their shoulder. Practise setting your horse up square so the judge can easily evaluate their conformation. For ridden classes practise transitions and your sit trot if you are planning to do your rider class. Make sure you are confident in your diagonals and canter leads. Practice make up and braids until you find what suits your horse. Good quarter marks can hide flaws and enhance your horse’s natural beauty. There are tonnes of online resources available.

  1. Make sure you have a helper

Show days can be chaotic and having a helper will help aid your stress levels. If your helper is horsey they can help trot horses out before led classes enabling you to stay clean, they may even be able help you get your horse ready. Now if that isn’t an option any friend or non-horsey partner will do if they are dressed appropriately and have safe shoes. It is always nice to have someone to hold the horse while you run to the toilet or head to the coffee van.

  1. Relax and have fun

Horse shows can be intimidating especially if you are new on the scene, however, you must remember why you do this and what you aim to get out of the day. Don’t get too hung up on results and make sure you enjoy just being able to spend time with your horse.


There are hack shows at every level from walk trot to national qualifiers (and national events). Make sure to practise and then just enjoy the atmosphere, there is always another class or show if it doesn’t go to plan.


Written by - Olivia Aston



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