I'm at the Region 5 Sport Horse Championships this week and can't even begin to count the number of times I've watch the TD (steward) call people out for various rule violations - some minor and some fairly serious - and in every case avoidable if only people had read the rules.
Before you enter a show or a specific class, be sure you know the basic rules that apply and what will be expected of you. All breeds and associations have rule books - almost all are online now - that allow you to easily check everything you need to know. You can read up on everything from allowable length of hoof, legal bits and equipment, and even placement of numbers and proper attire and, so much more. Read the show's premium materials carefully too to ensure you understand the rules of the show ground and how the show will be conducted.
In show after show I see good horses disqualified because their bit was illegal or something as simple as a chin strap was wrong. I have seen riders score a zero (no score) for handling a gate improperly in a Trail class or disqualified for accidentally riding on course before the class. I've watched stewards (rightly so) remove illegal martingales and other schooling equipment. I've watched exhibitors be asked to leave the grounds because they violated a show facility's rule, and on and on and on.....
It is advisable to not only read the rules carefully but to also seek help to interpret them from someone who has a deep working knowledge and understanding of the type of show or classes you wish to enter. I also advise everyone to watch a few classes before entering them as this helps you get a "feel" for what will be expected of you.
By watching classes you'll get an understanding of what is expected in terms of tack and attire, right down to little things like where to properly pin your number. The old saying "when in Rome, do as the Romans do" is good advice! This advice also applies if you are changing the breed you are showing. Each breed has it's own particulars and even peculiarities.
Not knowing the rules is disrespectful to the other exhibitors, the judge and the class itself. If you're going to show, set yourself up for success by getting ready both on and off your horse. Always work on improving your riding but, also make time to read and understand the rules that apply to the discipline(s) you've chosen. Talk to you next week! JD