Show Ring Etiquette

Show Ring Etiquette

If you are competing then it is important to make the right impression both in and out of the ring. Poor show ring etiquette gets you noticed for all of the wrong reasons, shows disrespect to fellow competitors, impacts safety and will not help you to develop useful relationships. Here's how to win friends and influence people and to behave safely in the show environment.


Always arrive punctually and leave yourself plenty of time to prepare and to warm up. Rushing will stress you out and will cause you to make mistakes. Your horse will sense your stress and this will have a negative effect on their performance. Make sure that you present yourself in the collecting ring or at the arena at the appropriate time. It will not help your cause if officials have to come looking for you.

Passing to the Left

When warming up and moving to and from the show ring, you should pass your fellow competitors left shoulder to left shoulder. This will help to prevent collisions in a very busy environment.

Speed Awareness

Don't pass others at speed when warming up or moving between the practice area and the arena. You will be a danger to those on foot and your actions can spook other horses. You should never canter past other horses in tight spaces as this can trap them in corners of the practice ring or push them towards fences. When travelling slowly in the practice ring you should yield to faster horses.

Practice Area Etiquette

The practice ring can be a hectic place. Everyone wants to warm up before the event and will be concentrating on what they are doing. It is, therefore, important to jump practice fences in one direction only so others know where you are heading. You should never cut across another competitor when they are approaching a jump as they will be focusing on that jump and their striding and not on you. When you have finished your warm up, leave the area. Don't hog space in thering or block the entrance whilst you have a chat with friends. You will be taking up valuable space and obstructing access to the ring. Worse still, if a horse spooks for any reason, you will be putting yourself in harm's way for no good reason.

Showing in Hand

When walking with your horse in the show ring do not overtake other horses as this will annoy everyone including the judges. When you turn your horse, push it away from you and around, don't pull it towards you. Leave at least one horse's length between your horse and the next so that there is no chance of being kicked.

Respect the Judges

Always show respect to the judges and don't make a direct challenge if you disagree with their decision. You must not make any attempt to unfairly influence their decision. If you have an issue or require clarification of a judging decision then take your query to the event organiser or secretary and ask that they speak to the judges on your behalf.

Take Note of Coloured Ribbons

Equestrians place ribbons in their horses' tails for a reason. The different colours have meanings which you should be aware of.

  • Blue - The horse is a stallion
  • Green - The horse is young or inexperienced
  • Pink - The horse is a mare in season
  • Red - The horse may kick
  • White - The horse is for sale

Be Happy

You must take pleasure form your sport otherwise there is little point in competing. Enjoy every minute, don't throw a tantrum if you lose and don't behave badly to those who beat you. Keep smiling because tomorrow is another day!

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