10 Tips for Managing Prizes at a Horse Show

Updated July 14, 2023
horse show ribbons in boxes

Whether it’s your first show or you’ve managed dozens, horse show management is not for the faint of heart. It takes a strategic vision, efficient use of time, and organization to pull off all the elements needed for a successful show. So, when you are asked to handle the prizes at a horse show, it’s important to be prepared. Here are ten tips for seamlessly managing prizes at your next horse show.

1. Start Early 

Start your organization and order ahead of time. While your responsibilities may end with handing out pretty ribbons, it starts with ordering those ribbons and prizes weeks in advance. Make sure to take inventory prior to placing an order so you don’t  have duplicates. Once the ribbons arrive, sort them by day, ring, and class.

2. Storage is Key

trailer filled with prizes for a horse show

If you don’t have storage, find it. You absolutely need a trailer or office area on-site. This area needs to be on the show property and will serve as storage space for  ribbons, trophies, table linens, prizes from sponsors, and catalogs from key sponsors.

3. Get to Know the Show Manager 

Introduce yourself to the horse show manager and their team as soon as you can. Fess up early if you’ve never done this before and ask for guidance. Creating a good working relationship with the team will only cost an occasional hot cup of coffee or errand run when they are stuck at the in-gate booths!

4. Be Organized

Wake up early and get all the ribbons and prizes to the ring before the classes begin. This is especially important if there are more than one ring at the show. Golf carts can be lifesavers for your legs if the show grounds are expansive!

5. Keep Chapstick and SPF Handy

Get ready to smile and smile some more, then keep smiling. If you are standing in an outdoor arena, don’t forget to apply sunscreen or wear a sunshirt and hat. It’s easy to lose track of time and end up with an uncomfortable sunburn.

6. Be Enthusiastic

horse show trophies and a scooter on display

It’s so much fun to be able to hand over gorgeous ribbons, trophies, and prizes to riders for their hard work. Sometimes large prizes like scooters and saddles are awarded!

7. Get up Close!

Be ready to be up close and personal with some accomplished riders. Depending on your discipline and the type of show, you may have an opportunity to meet some riders you admire, maybe even some famous ones like Peter Leone, Lisa Wilcox, or Boyd Martin! It can be fun to ask those burning questions to your favorite riders!

8. Take Advantage of Down Time

In between running to rings, enjoy the great rides around you. It’s fun to watch the competition from the schooling area, from amateurs to professionals.

9. Appreciate the Comradery

horse show staff in a golf cart

In what other sports can competitors share insights about their rounds to help each other ride the best course they can?  Sometimes they help find the right spurs and equipment for next the round as well. 

10. Enjoy the Ride

Horse shows are a crazy experience for everyone involved. Make sure to take the time to enjoy  it.. From watching incredible rides to learning interesting back stories of certain horses, shows can create life-long memories.

11. Tic Tacs!

Bonus tip #11, Tic Tacs are perfect for shaking in the air, behind your back, or down on the ground to get a horse to pay attention with ears up in your direction for a beautiful award photo. Plus, they are great for keeping your breath fresh all day!

The information provided in the Horsemanship Library is based solely on our SmartPak authors' opinions. SmartPak strongly encourages you to consult your veterinarian or equine professionals regarding specific questions about your horse's health, care, or training. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or behavior and is purely educational.