Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Showing sport horses in hand

Skip to resources on Showing in Hand

Bob and I spent a good part of last summer taking Riley (my yearling hanoverian, left) to breed shows. Although I was counseled against taking him out as an awkward yearling, it was a great experience. Everyone was helpful and friendly, from the show management to the competitors to the judges. At Fair Hill, we ran out of hay for Riley. A passerby heard us talking about it, and two minutes later, he plopped a bale in front of us. He wouldn't take any payment but said we could return what we didn't use. If you're thinking about showing your youngster, I can tell you that it was fun and educational.

Handler Recommendation
Oh, and BTW, if you need a handler, Bruce Griffin (Bruce Griffin Sport Horses) and his wife Staci are terrific. Bruce was recently featured in the January 2008 Dressage Today, and I had not realized the extent of his experience and reputation. They're professional, down to earth, and very busy at these shows!

Something missing...
In the midst of the fun and excitement of the show, though, we realized something was missing. Most of the competitors are breeders, and they have a coterie of assistants to help manage their stock. Each barn had its own polo shirts with farm logos (like the one pictured left). It looked super sharp. Bob and I had on what we had hoped would be suitable for a breed show, t-shirts and cargo shorts. We weren't all matchy-matchy, and we lacked a logo. Bob joked that it was like trying to compete without the team's uniform.

Breed show fashionistas, 2008
This year, we are so ready. Did you know that you can custom design these shirts online? Well, that's what we did, and now we have matching polo shirts with the logo pictured opposite. Harvster Farm is of course, named in recognition of Harvey, our farm's foundation gelding. Well, actually, there is no farm, at least not in terms of actual land--we live in a half-twin in the suburbs. I guess we're like those impressive sounding companies that are actually just a post office box. Well, no farm, but lots of espirit de corps. See you at Fair Hill!


USDF Showing a sport horse in hand video (review of a video)

In-Hand: A Practical Guide to Preparing & Showing Your Horse by K.J. Fitzgerald (book)

Presenting a horse at a breed show article by Scott Hassler from Equisearch

Taming the triangle: How to Show Sport Horses In-hand by an arabian sport horse handler

Showing your horse in hand from Nebraska Dressage

ONLINE VIDEOS Devon breed show classes 2007 from
No guidance here, you can watch watch top handlers in action (a great educational tool)

Where are they now? Does success in hand lead to success under saddle? USDF Connection, July 2005
An interesting article about long term success of breed show winners.

The most useful information that I found was on bulletin boards, especially the Chronicle of the Horse and Uncouthbb.

Chronicle postings
In hand showing: the triangle
Sport horse in hand. Blemishes?
USDF Sport horse in hand: expenses
Bitting the two year old for in hand classes

Uncouthbb in hand showing forum
This bulletin board has a whole forum on showing in hand.


  1. I was recently at a clinic at Virginia tech that Griffin Sport Horses did. I was absolutely amazed with Bruce and Staci Griffin. I heard of them through a friend who had a horse in training with them. I highly recommend their clinics if you can find one in your area.

  2. Thank so much for posting this info with the wonderful links. I wanted to start showing my yearling in hand and where I live not much in the training department to go to someone for help. So again thank you so much for this. I met Bruce a few years ago and he is wonderful. I would love to attend one of his clinics.

  3. Thank you so much for the article. I have a yearling sport horse filly that I'd love to start showing in-hand. I'm having trouble locating shows though, any suggestions?


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