Taking your horse to different shows and allowing them to get used to the rings and environments will help your horse become comfortable with competing. It is very important to exhibition your horse at local shows before taking him/her to the big time shows. An exhibition is a run that you make at a show to just allow your horse to go through the pattern at a slower pace when there isn't anything on the line to win. The only thing you have to worry about is just getting through a smooth pattern.
When you first take your horse to shows to exhibition you should do it at a very slow controlled pace. Do not let your horse get to excited or he will start associating the new places with excitement. While you train your horse you should try and take him to places and run him at what ever level you currently have him at. Whether you are walking the pattern, trotting the pattern, or canter the pattern. Allow your horse to witness the sites and sounds of a show. Doing this will help in the long run when you travel to new places, your horse will listen better because he is used to going to shows.
Most of the time a show will have exhibitions at a cheaper price than an actual entry. All NBHA (National Barrel Horse Association) shows offer exhibitions and you pay for as many as you would like to run. I recommend doing at least 2 that way is your horse misbehaves you can go back in and correct the problem. Another good idea is to do 4 exhibitions where you go in for 2 in a row then take you horse out and do 2 later on so your horse comes out then back in again. But that is normally only necessary when you first start exhibitions with your horse. Make sure your horse stays calm during the whole exhibition and preferably the whole show. Teach your horse to stay cool headed even with the commotion of a show.
Make you exhibitions the same as you would at home or at your barn. Circle the barrels as many times as you need and stop before your barrels. Horses learn from repetition and routine so don't change the pattern on them! Make the most out of your exhibitions and your horse!
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