Does Your Horse Do Anything That Embarrasses/Frustrates You in the Show Ring, but Not At Home?

Just curious about folks’ experiences with their horses and show-ring only mess-ups. For me its more discouraging if its not reproduce-able at home…

yes. We can work oh so nice at home and at trainer’s. We warm up wonderful! We go around the show arena fine! He hears to bell and immediately says - I got this! Except he doesnt. He wants to do it his way - on his forehand and his response to a good HH is to curl poll low. Yes, even if I ride only on the snaffle. Last two shows (5 rides) were so depressing I was in tears at the end. He completely blows me off in the arena. He knows I cannot do anything such as haul him up, back him steps, and go on… He has done it to my trainer as well - but hopefully, since he will be spending June with said trainer, he will go to some schooling shows and get it fixed.
ANd yes, vet is due this week to check for joint issues, altho there are no off steps at all. And yes, on appropriate support for both gastric and hind gut. And yes, gets regular body work from PEMF and massage therapist (including a PEMF session in the middle of those 5 rides…)

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My mule never says a word at home. As soon as we enter a show ring she has to call out to let everyone know she is there. Once we walk out of the ring she is back to her normal quiet self.


Last two shows (5 rides) were so depressing I was in tears at the end.

Oh yeah, can totally relate.


I would expect a change in behaviour at a show. They need to get used to it slowly just like every environment.

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The numerous instances of “winning the warm-up” and then having a meltdown in the show arena were always embarrassing and frustrating! I’ve learned to expect consistent inconsistency with my mare, and we continue to work to develop show day routines that satisfy her requirements.

And while this isn’t exactly a show only mistake, it’s one I pass on to all of my riding students. A friend of mine used to always let her horse stop to poop, regardless of time, place, or what they were doing. She was strongly encouraged to teach him to keep moving but she did not. So, they get to a show, he’s pretty mellow but a little anxious about the whole ordeal, but trotting down centerline they go… until a few strides in and her horse hits the brakes and starts to poop! And she’s squeezing and kicking and he just barely shuffles along. :smile: She was mortified but got the message.


Stop and poop. And refuse to move until he’s done.

I swear my gelding NEVER pooped under saddle when training at home, so we never had an opportunity to teach him that he could, in fact, poop and keep moving at the same time.

The first two years I showed him he came to a dead halt on centreline or in the first turn at C to unload.


You just can’t predict! My Paint mare is very inconsistent with her attitude to arena work and I’ve never considered showing her. But she’s a fantastic trail horse. Last year a friend talked me into going to a little 2 day “mountain trail” clinic. The first day, we schooled over obstacles set out in a big field in hand and under saddle. The second day, was a little show with inhand and under saddle phases. We left the horses there overnight and stayed in a motel.

Maresy was good the first day, except for the very last obstacle of the day. She was either getting bored or tired from walk work, and she suddenly decided to treat a series of steps up a hill as a bounce jump chute at the canter. I just grabbed mane and laughed, no harm done.

When we got to the farm the next morning, it turned out the little schooling show had grown past what I expected and a couple dozen riders had shown up, unloaded, and were warming up in the arena. My mare was all excited, running the paddock fence line and whinnying.

I took her out for the first inhand phase of the competition all things we aced the day before, and she was so distracted I withdrew because it just wasn’t safe taking her through things in that mood. I let the coach/property owner walk her back through the warmup arena to the paddocks, and maresy was rearing and spinning for her.

Later on at lunch time I walked her through the course and she was fine.

So yes, show environment is something totally different from the task per se.


Not my horse, but a friend’s.

The mare slobbers. Like a lot. And hacks up what I can only describe as loogies. The vet has seen her, its an ongoing mission to understand it, but so far, nothing conclusive.

Anyway, its mostly contained at home (and who cares at home). However, in Showmanship classes, apparently its not a good look when your horse blows a “loogie” ALL OVER THE JUDGE’S SHIRT!! its happened multiple times. so embarrassing!


A mare I used to ride very much had my number because I was super nervous jumping cross country, and she picked up a nasty habit of rearing just enough that she knew would freak me out and make me get off and quit at a show :sob: I never once even fell off the horse, she was normally super safe but was too smart for her own good and if she didn’t wanna go somewhere she’d just start getting light in front and very quickly learned it was her get out of work free card. I eventually just quit trying to event her because she would feel how nervous I was and do it immediately out of the start box on xc :sob: it was seriously horrible!!!

Years later I realized that if I just sat there and did nothing when she pulled her trick she would eventually stop and we could then calmly go forward… however that was unfortunately long after I literally just gave up on eventing with her and had switched to straight dressage.


I really would not WANT to go cross country on a horse that didn’t.

Until the time you get fed up, say “screw it” and do those things. You’re not winning anyway right? (This is just what popped into my head when I read your tale.)


I about had heart failure when I went to hay one of my charges, a 30yo WB gelding, and found multiple horse loogies in his stall & him working on another. Thought he had a choke :scream: It wasn’t. Vet’s best theory was allergies. Never seen anything like it!

The horse I leased pitched a minor fit when he realized we were “only” doing Intro instead of the fancy stuff he’s capable of. He eventually recovered his composure, but wore an expression of mild disdain the whole time. So, I embarrassed my horse. Does that count? Lol


My nice, nice, nice horse is a complete disaster in the english flat classes. I think there was a lot of pressure put on both of us when we were younger, and while we have the talent for it (won Congress unanimously under eight judges)… our brains melted with the pressure. He gets edgy and worried, I get frustrated that he’s edgy and worried, and it’s just a mess.

My goal this year is to take him to local H/J shows and just enter a couple of the flat classes with no pressure, see if repetition with no stakes involved makes it better. He’s fine in a western saddle, but if you have him in an english saddle and you’re in show clothes? Forget it.

At home? Or in a ring with no announcer/tall boots? He’s fine. A packer, even.


dressage not cross country. Recognized judges tend to frown on that behavior. And really, we are SO conditioned to believe it is ALWAYS the rider - and I do accept a good part of this! I DID whack him good when he threw in the “piaffe not canter” evasion and he did not try it again that weekend. Hopefully my trainer will get him to a schooling show this summer.

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The XC sentence was to @sportyspicepony in the post above mine. I knew you were talking about dressage, and so was I in “paragraph 2.”

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My pony says hello to every horse he sees. A nice friendly whinny. It’s pretty cute until some horse wildly screams back at him on course :grimacing:


We have one pony that is kicking quiet at home, but get him to a horse show and he is at the races.
It is hard on the kids in that they go from having to ride up a line at home to having to work hard to not leave out a stride.
It is not that showing is new to him, we have checked all the usual culprits.
We have moved him to pony jumpers where he is much better. Still a very forward ride but the unpredictable courses help. In the hunter ring I think he could figure out the courses with no input from the rider.


That sounds so frustrating! Is there any warm up or schooling classes you’re able to take him into? I have reiners and we do something called paid warmups where you get a 5 min slot in the ring by yourself. You can do whatever you want. No judge. I use it to school
on my horses a bit if they’re anticipating or doing something in the show pen and not at home. I get dressed like I’m going to show and surprise them by schooling them.
Your pony might benefit from something like that?

My last horse did the opposite. Was a saint in the show ring, didn’t matter what was happening around him. At home…argh. He would periodically turn into a raving lunatic. Airs above the ground, bolting, leaping, rearing. My one trainer asked him something simple - stop poking your nose out at halt. He threw an EPIC hissy and rodeo’d her around the arena. When it was over and she had marched him thru his paces (under the idea of if you can throw a fit like that you can get to work at all medium and extended paces) she got off, smiled sweetly at him and said “If you had been 10 years younger, you might have gotten me off.” Oh boy, did he sulk.


All of mine did something stupid in the arena - and of course were perfect saints at home. The common denominator was me. I’d get into the ring and freeze up, because everything had to be absolutely perfect, with no mistakes - so of course, there were mistakes.

Things got a little better when I moved into dressage and did schooling shows. But there’s a huge reason why I don’t show anymore. The stress of it is just not worth it.