Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Higgins, TX. YeeHaw!!
Now keep in mind that I don't know a whole lot about showing and have just started getting into learning how to judge. My first real experience with a show as an adult was this past weekend so I will relay some of what I learned there.
Whatever the breed of your horse, your appearance and how well your horse is groomed will play a big part. Make sure that the horse is clean and shined up. Make sure the mane and tail are brushed and tidy. If you have a show halter, make sure that it is cleaned and shined. If you don't have a show halter, then you need a clean nylon halter that fits your horse well and isn't an obnoxious color (navy blue, hunter green, maroon, black, etc are good, neon colors or multi-colored halters are not).
What would I have to work on?
Work on getting your horse fit. No grass belly, decent muscle, etc. Work on your handling and groundwork. Everything you do with the horse on the ground should look seamless and without hesitation or resistance. Make sure that they are willing to trot in hand and work on teaching them to square up when you stop them. Make sure that you know the proper ring etiquette for which side of the horse to stand on while the judge walks around.
what do judges look for?
Each judge will be a bit different in that respect. One thing that I do know.....the entire time you are in the arena, you are showing your horse, even if the judge isn't focused on you. Just because you have already lined up, that doesn't mean that you can relax and daydream for a minute. Always be aware of where the judge is at and treat every moment like he was standing right there looking right at you. Don't let your horse cock a hind leg while you are lined up, if they do, move them just a bit to get them squared back up.
Do they need to be a certain age?
As far as I know, any age is acceptable so long as the horse is trained.
I would also like to know if they dock points for white hairs?
No, there should be no dock for white hairs, especially if they are part of the horse's natural color. Even scars are acceptable so long as they are not overly disfiguring or debilitating.
Also, do they need to be purebred, and do you HAVE to know their breed?
For open shows, any breed is acceptable and I don't think that you have to know their breed. You only really need to know if they are registered or grade and with an open show, even that might not matter.
Of course, for a definitive answer for all your questions, you would need to check with either the judge or the association that is putting on the shows. Some of the rules and practices may change depending on location and who's running it.
Always remember that feeling of looking at a big, open country over the ears of a good horse, seeing a new trail unwind ahead of you, and that ever-spectacular view from the top of the ridge!!! Follow my training blog: http://robertsontraining.blogspot.com/