Time for the Majors: Luck Favors Preparation by Troy Green
It’s that time again, where people are gearing up for some of the biggest horse shows of the year. There is the upcoming Reichert Celebration, the Congress, and the AQHA World Show, to name a few. For some, any one of these shows is the culmination of a year (or more) of work and preparation. What changes when you get to the congress or one of AQHA’s three World Shows. Is the preparation any different? Is the training process any different, how should one go about being as prepared as possible? These are familiar question we field frequently from first time exhibitors working their way up the ranks to seasoned show exhibitors.
The Congress, or any of these major shows can be intimidating for first time exhibitors. It’s often a good idea for people to go show there at least once before they may be ‘ready to win.’ There is a lot more atmosphere and a lot of distraction to filter out. Exhibitors, whether youth or amateur need to learn to focus on the job at hand and not worry about the crowds, the glitz, or all the trophies, jackets and saddles. If they get too caught up in the emotions and the hype, that’s when mistakes will happen or nerves can overcome even the calmest competitors. I always want my customers to be prepared and have a plan when attending one of these big shows for the first time. If the objective is to get miles and experience and have a good time, that’s great. I never want to give anyone a false sense of security. The best horses and riders in the country will be in attendance at these shows. I am always honest about the ability of my horse and rider pairings. If I don’t feel a team is ready to be competitive I will be upfront about this so that they are aware but can still make the choice to go for the experience or to wait. Again, experience is never a bad thing. It takes some people a year or even more of showing at these larger venues to get rid of the show jitters and be as effective as if they were at a weekend show. The same goes for horses. If a horse has never shown in a coliseum and is not accustomed to the crowds, the loudspeaker, the golf carts, and midnight schooling sessions, it can be overwhelming. I like my horses to be well seasoned long before all the chips are on the table and a winning run is on the line. It takes some horses more time than others to settle in and acclimate to the atmosphere at the Congress. They may need to be worked quite a bit more than usual, and sometimes it’s a fine line between having one not tired enough or too tired. If a horse, even a young one has been on the road all year at different venues it helps quite a bit. I always tell people that horses don’t get broke staying at home. They need to go to horse shows, as do people. That’s the biggest part of doing your homework…it should be done months and even years before October or November rolls around.
Now if somebody wants to go the congress with a shot at doing well, not just gaining experience, that is normally a full year (if not more) commitment. The horse and rider team should start off early in the year showing and hit several of the major circuits. They need to show regularly, not just a handful of times throughout the summer. They will get seasoned, the judges will get to know them and they will establish a routine that works best. Advertising never hurts, especially after any wins. If you can start the year on a high note and keep the ball rolling, the momentum at the end of the year can help give you and your horse a winning edge.
As far as routine at the larger shows, if I have found a routine throughout the year that works for my horse, I’m not going to change that just because I’m at the Congress or World Show. I think that’s where some folks go wrong. They prepare their horses all year and show them with a certain amount of pressure to perform and do well and then at a larger show increase the intensity by almost double. I will ask more of my horses at some of these larger shows, but it’s all building throughout the year, you never want to have a sort of “crash course” before a large show and change your whole routine. Yes we school more and longer hours and yes we normally have our horses more tired to compensate for the “electric” atmosphere at some of the larger shows, but it’s a time game and about being prepared, not a last minute cram session. Although this may work for some horses and or riders, it won’t for the majority. You can eliminate stress for both yourself and your horse by having a winning attitude and that only comes from knowing that you are prepared to do your job. Somebody once told me that “luck favors preparation.”
Troy Green is a firm believer in the importance of a good foundation for every horse with balance, rhythm, and self-carriage being key. A good foundation equals longevity in the show pen. Troy has won over two dozen All American Quarter Horse Congress Championships in western pleasure, versatility, reining, halter and western riding, and has coached clients to over 50 Congress championships. Troy has three AQHA World Championships and two National Championships under his belt, and has won at all major futurities. He spent three years on the national board of the NSBA.
Troy Green has an extensive background working with youth and amateurs at all levels and of various disciplines. He specializes in pleasure futurity and all around horses.
Now is your chance to have your questions answered by Troy! Just submit your question using the comment section below or the email link, and he will respond to select questions in future posts.