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You have decided that you are going to attend you first ever live show. You are very excited at the idea of going but you are unsure of what to do. Let us Help!

Firstly, make sure you have means of getting to the show. Car travel is the most convenient, and if you don’t drive perhaps an obliging friend, relation or nearby collector will take you there. Also make sure that you know where you are going- a good old fashioned map and directions are always handy!

Going to the Show
The weekend before the show is a good time to check your models over for scratches, cracks, etc., (leave any broken or 'marked' models at home, they will probable not do very well at the show and just be extra items you’ll have to carry!!) You should dust all the models that you intend to take to the show so they can look their very best for their big day!

Take care when packing your models. Use more packing rather than less if in doubt. The best way to pack is to place each model first in a clean plastic bag; this will help to prevent its finish being scratched. After this, they can be packed into boxes with plenty of bubblewrap, tissue paper or newspaper.

If you don’t have boxes big enough for your Traditional size models they can stand up in a plastic or cardboard box, provided they’re well covered in bubblewrap.

Most shows hold the ridden classes first so that you can transport your models tacked up and save time on the day, so do take advantage of this if possible. If your stirrup irons may scratch the model, run them up the leathers as you would on a real saddle, or else leave the saddle off: they generally don’t take as much time to put on as bridles anyway. Make sure you have packed all the necessary tack, riders, obstacles, etc., plus Blu-tak or sticky wax for attaching bits and a comb or brush so you can spruce up manes and tails before your model goes in the ring.

When you get there always say hello to other showers - even if you’re dreadfully shy - but do so quickly, so that you have time to find your table and get yourself sorted out. When unpacking your models, try to use only the space allocated to you by the show-holder - don’t spread into someone else’s area if you can help it. If there isn’t much room you may prefer to leave some models in their packing until it’s time for their class, provided the boxes aren’t in the way; you might also prefer to do this with the precious ones rather than trusting them to what may be a wobbly table! If you are a little late, try to get your models ready for the first couple of classes so that you don’t hold the show up.

Time to Show!
When the Show Starts keep your ears open to the show-holder or steward so that your models are in the right ring at the right time, wearing the right number if numbers are being used. While the judging is going on, you can chat with your friends, prepare models for later classes, or if you’re really nervous, wait outside! Whatever you do, don’t sit and stare at the person judging the class, as it can be extremely off-putting! Try to be prompt in removing your models from the ring once the class has ended.

Now, how have you actually done in the class? If you’ve won or placed there’s no harm in looking pleased. However, loud gloating will only get people’s backs up, so show a little discretion. If you don’t place try to accept it gracefully, difficult though it may be. Either your model was placed as it deserved, in which case complaining will only make you look foolish, or it did deserve better, in which case it will certainly get its recognition another day. Arguments or whinges will only make things unpleasant for the show-holder and other exhibitors. Most judges don’t mind explaining how they placed a class, as long as you phrase your question so it doesn’t sound like a complaint!

This is one of the best things about going to a live show, so try not to sit shrinking in your corner all day, but do go round and meet people. This can be a bit intimidating, especially at shows in hired halls where everyone tends to stay behind their well-spread-out tables, but do take the plunge! Don’t be afraid to ask people’s names, and to ask again if you forget! The easiest way to get into conversation is probably to look at and ask about other people’s models; most will be only too happy to talk about them, and the great thing about live shows is that you get to see so many different models. However, never pick up someone else’s model without asking them first: just think how you would feel if you dropped or damaged it.

When you’re leaving, don’t forget to thank the show-holder, and anyone else who’s helped (e.g. stewards, show organiser etc.) for their hard work. It is particularly important to thank the show-holder, even if you feel some of your models might have been hard done by - good manners cost nothing, and you can always have a private moan to your friend about it one the way home! Remember to make sure you’ve taken all your belongings with you and left everything tidy.