Category Archives: Horse Shows

Horse Shows – How to Make Your Horse More Competitive

horsejumping-How to Make Your Horse More CompetitiveBy Brittany T Factor, DVM

I can see you now, the horse crazed individual preparing for one of the most important events of the season. You have an awesome horse. You have spent countless hours in the saddle, sometimes without stirrups. Your trainer’s words haunt your dreams. Your tack has been cleaned and your horse is sporting a new set of shoes. You even spent a little extra on a new show shirt this go round. The trailer is hooked up and ready to go. You are ready. Or are you?

No doubt, attending an important horse event brings out the OCD in all of us equine competitors. Our new year’s resolution typically starts with planning our entire horse show season, strategizing around work schedules and family obligations. Our ever expanding “to do” list has been carefully devised and each task executed and boldly checked off.

We, the most relentless of competitors, have read countless articles on grooming techniques, trends in fashion, even sport psychology. Anything and everything related to horse showing we have queried on Google and Pinterest.

We have planned, prepared, and performed in the show ring… but what went wrong? The show just didn’t turn out how we envisioned. After all this preparation, our beloved horse doesn’t feel right.

Nobody plans on having a sore horse at the show.

As an equine veterinarian that focuses on the performance horse and avid competitor myself, it is my impression that one of the most overlooked aspects of equine competition is prevention. Why do we not treat our equine athletes like some of our football players, gymnasts, or marathon runners? Training and grooming only gets us half way there.

I urge you to expand your resources beyond your trainer and farrier. Utilize your veterinarians more. It is their drive and dedication to provide you with the most innovative, state-of-the art, and progressive diagnostics/treatments available.

Consult with your veterinarian regularly regarding a developing fitness program, intermittent form and function assessments, so that you may recognize and prevent injuries in your horse before they happen.

Research equine sport horse practices available at equine events you attend. There are countless non-invasive therapies available at the shows to enhance your horse’s performance without the use of medication.

Progress your program to ensure your horse feels its best while performing. Focus on creating a sustainable athlete. Add it to your list. A happy, healthy, and sound horse may win you some more ribbons next time.

Equine Sport Solutions (ESS) is a veterinary practice that promotes the pursuit of excellence in the equestrian sport by providing expertise in the general care, athletic support, and the restoration of normal form and function after musculoskeletal injury in the performance horse. We customize conditioning, treatment, or rehabilitative programs that fits both the needs of the horse and rider. We provide in clinic evaluations, traveling, and consultative services.

You may obtain more information about Dr. Factor and her practice, Equine Sport Solutions, through her website.

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Palomino Horse A Question Of Colour?

palominoDue to their unusual colour, Palominos stand out in a show ring, and are much sought after as parade horses.

The Palomino is considered a colour breed. Palomino is a coat colour in horses, consisting of a gold coat and white or flaxen mane and tail. Genetically, the palomino colour is created by a dilution gene working on a red (chestnut) base coat. However, most colour breed registries that record Palomino horses were founded before equine coat colour genetics were understood as well as they are today, and hence the standard definition of a Palomino is based on the coat colour visible to the eye, not the underlying presence of the dilution gene. Thus, palomino is simply a colour and not a set of characteristics that make up a “breed”.

Because registration is based solely on coat color, horses from many breeds or combination of breeds may qualify. Some breeds that have palomino representatives are the American Saddlebred, Tennessee Walking Horse, Morgan and Quarter Horse.

The color is fairly rare in the Thoroughbred, but does in fact occur and is recognized by The Jockey Club.

Unlike the Appaloosa, which is a distinct breed that also happens to have a unique colour, any breed or type of horse usually may be registered as palomino if they are properly golden-coloured (though, for some registries, horses may also meet a conformation or type standard).

While the breed standard states the ideal colour is that of a “newly minted gold coin” (sometimes mistakenly claimed to be a penny), some Palomino registries allow a coat colour that may range from cremello, an almost-white colour, to a deep, dark, chocolate colour (“chocolate palomino”).

The liver chestnut with a flaxen mane and tail (back), may be accepted as “palomino” by some colour registries.

A palomino at the lighter end of the acceptable range of colour, coat is still a golden shade, skin is dark, horse is not quite a cremello.

White markings are also permitted on the face, but must not extend past the eyes.

Some breeds, such as the Haflinger and Arabian, may appear to be palomino, but are genetically chestnuts with flaxen manes and tails, as neither breed carries the creme dilution that creates this colour. White markings are permitted on the legs, but must not extend beyond the knees or hocks.

Famous Palominos

One of the most famous Palomino horses was Trigger, acknowledged as “the smartest horse in movies,” the faithful mount of the Hollywood Cowboy star Roy Rogers during the 1940s and 1950s. Another famous Palomino was Mr. Ed (real name Bamboo Harvester) who starred on his own TV show in the 1960s.

Finally it should be noted that Link’s Horse Epona, from the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, can be considered a Palomino.

Horse and Travel – Getting Prepared For Show Season


Spring has officially sprung, and that means two things to horse show addicts: horse and travel. Unless you live at the center of a major show circuit, chances are that if you want to compete with your horse this year, you are going to have to travel.

Depending on your equine friend, the combination of horse and travel is either a piece of cake or a complete horror story. Luckily, there are some simple steps you can take to get your horse ready for show season and travel. In this newsletter, we cover numerous products for the various situations you might encounter during the season. You probably won’t need all of these remedies and supplements, but this newsletter might serve as a “just in case” reference guide to keep on hand as you go down the road!

Prepare Your Horse and Travel Safely: Seven Tips Aside from the training aspects of getting your horse ready for the upcoming show season, there are many horse health care aspects to consider before you and your horse hit the road. Here are seven horse health care tips to help you prepare your horse and travel safely down the road.

1. Protect Your Horse’s Immune System

Immunity is always an issue when traveling to show grounds that have a constant stream of horses traveling through. To protect your horse’s immune system from respiratory tract infections, allergies, and other possible irritants, consider adding Simplexity Health Essentials or Equilite’s Equinacea to your horse’s daily regimen. Both of these support your horse’s immune system and lungs, both of which can be stressed while traveling.

2. Keep Your Horse Calm

Show nerves, a new environment, constant noise and lights, and travel can all make show horses flighty and nervous. Fire and Water horse personality types are especially prone to nerves, while Wood horses may became bored and destructive when confined to a small stall (learn more about horse personality types on the Horse Harmony website).

To keep your horse calm at a show, consider feeding Valerian Free Relax Blend. For horses who may tip into their “fight or flight” sympathetic nervous system, two to four capsules of the herbal supplement Eleviv can be useful to help them deal cope with stress, and stay in an open and willing frame of mind.

3. Protect Against Wear and Tear

Competition and travel can both be hard on a horse’s bones, tendons, and ligaments. To protect against wear and tear, consider adding antioxidants and natural anti-inflammatory supplements to your horse’s diet during show season. Good antioxidants include Coenzyme Q10 from Comal or Simplexity Health, concentrated wheat sprouts from Simplexity Health, blue-green algae, and Citrus C/Q from Equilite. These antioxidant sources help protect against cellular damage and work to enhance healing and connective tissue construction. These supplements also provide horses with the nutrients they need to support their respiratory system and immune system.

4. Support Lung Health

Depending on your horse’s career, it may be very important to support your horse’s lung health during show season. Some horse’s have weak lungs, and may develop lung irritation, cough, allergies, or skin conditions, all of which are related to the lungs, while traveling.

These horses can be well-supported with Garlic plus C from Equilite. This combination contains garlic, vitamin C, Astragalus, Schisandra, and Zinc. In combination, these help keep insects away, and provide immune and respiratory support. This combination is also helpful when shipping horses long distances, when treating skin fungus, or for upper respiratory conditions.

For horses who have more severe lung conditions, such as Exercise Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhage (EIPH), or bleeding in the lungs, Bleeder’s Blend from Equilite is extremely supportive. This blend of tonifying herbs helps provide healthy and strong lungs in high performance equines. Use this formula to help protect lungs from stress or hemorrhaging so they may better endure the rigors of training. This formula also contains bioflavonoids and vitamin K.

5. Provide Digestive Support

Many horses stop eating when stressed, or eat but don’t digest their food well. This poor digestion can lead to ulcers, colic, and other digestive discomforts that can interfere with performance. To support your horse’s digestion during travel or at shows, consider adding products that soothe and coat the stomach, such as Stomach Soother, SUCCEED, or slippery elm plus aloe vera.

To replenish the beneficial gut bacteria, which can be destroyed by stress or when your horse drinks chlorinated water, feed Simplexity Health’s Acidophlius and Bifidus, or PreProbiotics from Equilite. As a side benefit, these probiotics also produce vitamin B, which can keep your horse calm and relaxed.

6. Keep Older Show Horses Going

If you have a “school master” or older show horse who is perfectly capable of showing, but needs a little support for his joints, now is the time consider injecting affected joints with Adequan or Legend.

Adequan is recommended for the intramuscular treatment of non-infectious degenerative and/or traumatic joint dysfunction and associated lameness of the carpal and hock joints in horses. Legend is indicated in the treatment of joint dysfunction of the knee or fetlock in horses due to non-infectious arthritis. Both will support older horses who are still competing but need extra joint support.

7. Prepare Your First Aid Kit

You never know what might happen when you combine horse and travel, and head into the competition season. For a horse show first aid kit, I like to include at least the following:

Homeopathic Remedies
– Nux Vomica and Chamomile (for digestive issues)
– Arnica, Rhus. Tox. and Hypericum (for overworked bodies and nerve issues)
– Apis and Pulsatilla (for allergies, insect bites, and swelling)

Topical Salves and Ointments
– Sore No More (for overworked muscles and joints)
– Draw Solution (for topical wounds or injuries, or wrapping joints)
– HyperCal (for topical wounds)

Stress-Reducing Products
– Eleviv (for coping healthily with stress)
– Fastrack Paste (for digestive upsets and nervousness)
– SUCCEED (for ulcer flare-ups)

Hopefully these tips help you prepare for show season so you and your horse are ready to hit the circuit and compete well. Keeping your horse healthy is one of the primary ingredients for a successful show season, and doing just a bit of preparation beforehand can save you a lot of headaches down the road.

We are proud to say that just about all of the products mentioned above are stocked in the Holistic Horsekeeping online store, so be sure to check it out as a source for one stop shopping.

Madalyn Ward, DVM, is a recognized author and veterinarian in the field of holistic horsekeeping. For free tips on horse health, horse personality types, and horse nutrition, plus one-stop shopping on holistic horse products, visit

Brand Spanking Used Horse Show Clothing – How to Get Quality Looks For Less

Why choose to shop for used horse show clothing? If you have ever fallen in love with an outfit only to experience a sudden case of sticker shock when you see the price tag; used clothing may be another avenue you may want to consider.

Let’s face it, horses and everything about them are expensive. We crazy horse people are often thought to be on another planet when we decided to put off minor car or home repairs to buy a new show halter or headstall.

Show clothes are just another piece of that pile of horse show expenses. Below we will be discussing where you can shop for used show clothing along with some helpful tips when picking the right clothes for you.

Online Shopping

Using your computer to research and purchase many items for your horse, including show clothing, has been gaining in popularity in recent years. The internet can grant you more power by offering you more knowledge on specific pieces of horse show clothes.

The internet can provide you pricing information and the ability to compare prices without the hassle of driving around. You can then use this information to purchase off the internet or when shopping in a store.

When looking for this information on the internet there are a few sources to consider. Many businesses that custom make horse show clothes will likely have some used pieces for sale.

You also have the option to check the many online auction sites. eBay is by far the largest market place for used horse show clothing. With the larger auction sites you have many more choices available to you.

There are also regular classified ads you choose from on the internet for clothing. Some ads from private parties selling clothes they no longer need with other ads from businesses selling gently used pieces.

Because you are buying straight off your computer make sure you are confident in measuring yourself for clothing. It would be disappointing to buy something and have it not fit when you get it home.

Offline Shopping

If you feel you need see and touch what you are buying, then you may want to focus your efforts into shopping offline. If you decide to go this route, you can still use the internet to compare prices before heading to the store. This will help give you an idea of what you can expect to spend and keep you on a little bit of a budget.

Tack shops may have a consignment area where you can find used horse show clothing along with other things. Tack sales are another option if you have any in your area. You may have a chance to bargain with the seller for a lower price.

If you know of anyone near you that makes horse show clothing, it may be a good idea to let that person know what you are looking for and in what price range. They spend a lot of time talking to people about show clothing and may come across something that works for you.

Buyer Beware

Whether you choose to shop online or offline, make sure you smart shopping sense. If it seems too good to be true, it most likely is. When shopping online make sure you research return policies. Some sellers will offer a return option and some won’t. Although the clothes you are shopping for are used, you can still spend a pretty penny for quality items.

Any reputable seller will have a return policy. If you are looking at purchasing something from a private party they may be less willing to take the item back.

Make sure you have a really good sense of your personal measurements and what types of colors and patterns work well for you. Please visit our website for more information on shopping for used horse show clothing.

With these helpful used horse show clothing shopping tips, and others from Stock Horse Show Source you can get quality looks for at lot less.

Looking for more helpful shopping tips? Lynn Espinoza invites you to check out for more information on finding the right fit, color, and price when shopping for used horse show clothing. Join us for our complimentary monthly newsletter, The All-Arounder and get your free printable horse show checklist.

Lynn has 7 plus years of horse showing under her belt and admits that since buying her first horse, she is an expert on not being an expert in the world of horse shows and horse ownership. Share in her lifelong passion for horses and make that learning curve a little smaller by avoiding many of the mistakes she made as a new horse owner and exhibitor.

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Preparing for Your First Horse Show

Competing in horse shows is a really great way to gauge your skill level and reap rewards for hard work. It can be a really enjoyable event, as well as a great learning experience. Horseshows show you how far you’ve come as well as what areas need to be worked on and improved. At the same time, it can also be a bit nerve wracking, especially if you’re not completely prepared. If you are competing in your first horseshow, you’ll want to make sure you have everything in order. Here is a quick guide to help you start thinking about your first show.

Day or Weekend
What type of horse show are you going to be competing in? If it’s a small, unrated day show, you’ll need to make sure you have a trailer you can take your horse to the show in, and keep tied to while you are not competing. Weekend shows require that you purchase a stall to board your horse in overnight. In addition to purchasing your horse’s stall, you’ll need a stall for a tack room as well as enough bedding to keep the horse comfortable over the weekend.

Grooming Equipment
When you go to a horse show, you’ll need every piece of grooming equipment you own, plus some special show gear. You will want to look your best, which means you’ll need every tool you have to achieve this. For example, you’ll need all your brushes as well as good shampoo and conditioner, show sheen, baby oil (for ears, eyes and muzzle) and hoof paint.

For small day shows, your regular tack should suffice for the show ring. However, for bigger, rated weekend shows, you may need to get special show tack. The tack should be all leather, well oiled and impeccably clean. Remember that the judges look at the entire image, and that includes the tack your horse is wearing. You may also want a few different bits to try out to make sure you have the right one for how your horse performs at the show.

The type of horse show you compete in will determine what your apparel will look like. If you are competing in a hunter/jumper competition, you will need breeches, tall boots, a certified helmet, show shirt and show jacket. For rated competitions, you will want to wear a pair of Tailored Sportsman breeches. They can be a bit expensive, but they are the standard for all big horse shows. As for your show shirts, make sure you have at least one white shirt.

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Training Your Horse – Host a Horse Show

Hosting a horse show is a very rewarding thing. You get to showcase your place and you don’t have to trailer your own horses to the venue.

All you really need to host a show is:

  • ribbons
  • some prizes – easiest to get prizes from local businesses such as feed store or local veterinary clinic
  • a judge or local horse personality
  • insurance
  • of course people who are willing to take part.

It really doesn’t have to be too big of a deal. Entry forms can be simple or in some cases, for in – house training shows, sign up can be listing your name, your horses name and then checking the correct column of the class number that you would like to enter into on a posted sheet of cardboard.

More elaborate shows require significant organization and financial backing. Hosting a recognized show, sanctioned by your national governing horse body is the ultimate goal but to begin with, you must start somewhere and that place is at home at a local show.

The parents were happy to go and watch their children ride, but they didn’t know some of the fundamental basic rules or specifications of classes they were to show in. Or, for that matter, did the students. Jumper, hunter, equitation, they were all over fences so what’s the difference, I would often get asked. So I developed the Skill Builders series of show clinics to provide a safe professional, atmosphere at a reasonable cost to help promote shows and the showing experience.

The format is simple. You ride the course and when all the competitors in the class have finished their courses, comments are given as to why they placed and ways to improve. So it might be something like, “Equitation is judged on riding. Number 134, you are the best rider in this group and could have placed first, but because you rode on the wrong diagonal, your placing is lower. Next time correct your diagonal and your placing could be better”.

Often, as well, we would incorporate a short description of the class requirements is read over the loud speaker to let spectators and participants alike a chance to learn and know what is required. Road hack, Pleasure Horse/Pony, Equitation can be a bit confusing for first timers so clarifying it is helpful. Hosting you own development series is a great way to promote your stable and help your students understand the requirements of showing.

I host a special series of shows at my stable, Thistle Ridge Stables, called the Thistle Ridge Skill Builders. It is what I call a clinic with ribbons. I was finding that the parents of my students did not understand what was to happen at horse shows. I thought if my students really didn’t understand then there are a lot of other students who probably didn’t understand either. Visit for more information on how to host your own Skill Builder Show Clinic.

More information can be found by contacting me at (just remove the spaces). Also visit for more horsey related topics!