Safety Tips for Horse Showing Success

Whether you’re a horse-show exhibitor or the person in charge, these smart show safety tips can help everyone stay safe at the show.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

It’s great when your horse’s buddies come all the way out to the show to cheer them on, but keeping them on a leash makes for a safer environment for everyone involved. Journal photo

Although horse showing is typically a fun experience for both horses and competitors, it does not come without risks. The Journal gathered tips for exhibitors and show management to maximize the chances of a safe horse-show experience.

Advice for Exhibitors

As an exhibitor, you have an influence on how smoothly a show runs. Enlist these 11 tips so you can be an exemplary horse-show exhibitor:

    • Never tie a horse to anything he can pull down, such as a stall front, a lawn chair or wall rack.
    • Even if a horse is safely tied in the alley, stay with him.
    • If you’re using hay nets in the alley, be sure they don’t become loose and low enough for a horse to get a leg hung up.

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    • Discourage people from letting dogs run loose.
    • Don’t tie a dog in the stable area, where a horse can become entangled in the rope or chain.
    • Never hesitate to ask a person not to walk past your horse if you think there will be a problem. Be polite, but firm, in your request.
    • Stay aware of any electrical cords or equipment that is reach of horses or children.
    • When switching a horse from a stable halter to a show halter, or halter to bridle, try to do it inside a stall to lessen the risk of the horse getting loose if he becomes frightened by commotion in his surroundings.
    • When you first arrive at a show, check the walls of your assigned stalls for protruding nails, wires or twine that might have been left during the last use.
    • Unload your horses and tack with a reasonable amount of speed and immediately move your rig to the designated parking area.

Advice for Management

If you’re running the show, there are certain steps you can take to increase chances for a safe event. Examine these eight tips to help run your horse show safely:

    • The area next to the stalls should be the warm-up arena on one side and trailer parking on the other
    • There should be an in-gate and out-gate for the arena, which allows for smoother traffic to and from the stalls.

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    • Make sure there is a designated parking area for tractors, disks and harrows to keep them away from stalls and horse/handler traffic.
    • Post signs to designate for warm-up. Also post “no smoking” signs.
    • If there is not at least 20 feet between barns, don’t let trucks and/or trailers drive into the alleys to unload horses or equipment. Ask for this to be done at the ends of the barns.
    • Have your crew stay on alert for unsafe or unwise conditions. You can first ask exhibitors or spectators to desist. Then demand they desist. After that, it is your responsibility to see that they leave the premises immediately if they do not stay within the confines of safe practices.
    • Always post patterns for classes out of the way of gates, preferably on a bulletin board or high on a fence or wall. This way, exhibitors can see them over the tops of several other people. Often, patterns are posted at the end of a barn row and horses are caught in a corner while their riders check their patterns. This can prevent safe entrance and exit from an alley.
    • Make sure there is always a way for exhibitors and spectators to get out of the stabling area and off the show grounds. Have a plan for an organized departure in case of fire or terror alerts.