Show Season

Show Season

No matter what kind of show animal you raise, it can take a great deal of work to prepare for show season. Good preparation, however, can make a vast difference between an average animal and a blue ribbon winner, and there are several ways to get any animal ready to look and perform its best.

Why Prepare for Shows?

Even a well-bred, high quality, perfectly trained animal can have a poor performance if it is not ready for a show. A show can be a very stressful setting with different conditions than the animal is accustomed to at home, and an anxious or nervous animal will not present its best self to the judges. Yet it is essential that an animal do well at every show, not just to win a prize, but for the other benefits that can be associated with good show performances.

An animal that places well in a show can command a higher price for sale, as well as for any breeding or stud fees. Furthermore, if the animal advances to blue ribbon or champion status, that elite recognition will enhance the reputation and credentials of the entire stable, farm, or breeding line. It can be a lot of work to raise prizewinning animals, but the effort is well worthwhile.

Preparing for Show Season

From cattle, sheep, and horses to dogs, cats, chickens, or other animals, the steps to prepare for show season are the same. While the exact approach for each step will vary depending on the animal and its needs, it is best to prepare for shows carefully and thoroughly.

  • Study the show’s requirements and guidelines. Different shows have different procedures, as well as different guidelines for what is and is not permitted for animal preparation and presentation. Reviewing those requirements carefully is essential to be sure the animal is not eliminated from competition because of a technicality.
  • Provide the best diet well before show season. An animal’s diet is essential not only for good overall health, but for a luxurious coat, proper conditioning, and abundant energy. Evaluate the animal’s diet for proper nutrition and caloric intake several weeks before show season begins, and make any necessary adjustments gradually to avoid digestive distress.
  • Schedule a veterinary checkup several weeks before any shows. A thorough checkup can highlight any potential problems leading up to show season, allowing for proper treatment and recovery before minor concerns could impact an animal’s performance. Be sure the checkup includes a dental examination, as well as hooves, skin, coat, and any areas of prior concern.
  • Increase workouts and training before show season. An out-of-condition animal will never perform its best. Increase training and workout sessions 6-8 weeks before show season begins to give the animal a chance to adjust gradually, without risking strains or injuries. Gradually increase the routine and include a variety of workouts focusing on skills and activities that will be evaluated at shows.
  • Improve grooming regimens leading up to a show. Roughly 2-3 weeks before a show, start improving an animal’s grooming so it will look its best. This includes not only basic brushing, but also specialty areas like fringes, manes, and tails, as well as trimming or clipping fur and hair so it is uniform and well-presented. Groom the animal’s feet well, and always keep it looking prepared for a presentation.
  • Pack appropriately for the show. When it’s time to leave for the show, be sure all appropriate gear is packed and any backups or replacements are available if a tool, halter, or other equipment breaks. If the animal will be transported in a trailer with the equipment, stow tools properly so they do not pose an injury risk or might be lost or broken on the trip.
  • Prepare yourself for the show experience. Be sure your own diet, exercise, and sleep routines are keeping you healthy and comfortable before a show so you can perform as well as your animal. Get a haircut if needed, pack the proper clothing, and stay comfortable right before the event so you are not ill or generally off just when both you and your animal need to be at your peak.
  • Familiarize yourself and your animal with the setting. If possible, walk around the show area before the event, including any arenas, rings, corrals, or stages. This will help you be familiar with routes to and from different areas, as well as where potential hazards or difficulties may be. This will also give your animal a chance to learn the sounds, smells, and sights of the show area, which can help reduce anxiety and nervousness.
  • Take time to relax pre-show. Give you and your animal ample time to relax and de-stress before the show begins. This will keep you calm and help improve focus, as well as conserve energy and let you both perform your best. A simple grooming session, easy workout, or play time can be part of relaxation and help you both be ready for the show.
  • Warm up properly before the show. Take adequate time to warm up and prepare for the show. This will minimize the risk of injury, and will help both you and your animal relax into the familiar show routine. Saving enough time for warm ups will also reduce anxiety and lessen any feeling of rushing or stress before different events begin.
  • Be ready for emergencies. Always be prepared for unexpected emergencies with a well-stocked first aid kit, spare equipment, and contact information for a local veterinarian. A show atmosphere can be unpredictable, and you want to be ready for anything. Bring along all veterinary records and other paperwork that may be required, and stay alert for any dangerous situations throughout the event.

Show season can be exciting and rewarding, and if you and your animal are properly prepared for different events, you can make the most of every show with ease.