From the Horse’s
Live Show Etiquette:
A Handbook for a Happier Experience
Acknowledgements to the Contributors
I would like to thank all the generous folks who offered their terrific
insights and suggestions for this Handbook. Because of you wonderful souls
on Fallen Leaves, Model Horse Blab, the RESS Member List, the Minkiewicz
Studios Painter’s Program List and those in many personal messages to me,
this wisdom can be shared freely in our community to help make our live
shows a welcoming place for everyone. Thank you!
The live show is
our core activity, being both the competitive outlet and the social center
of the community. And happily, the boom of model horse showers has caused
the number of live shows to grow exponentially. Indeed, rarely a weekend
goes by that doesn’t have a live show somewhere in the country!
failed to develop alongside this boom was a formalized understanding of
appropriate conduct, which has proven to be a problematic oversight. In
fact, many young showers and newcomers have no idea about norms and
unspoken courtesies, and so may innocently put themselves or others in
unfortunate circumstances. And while most people are friendly and
gracious in our little slice of the world, some do tend to become
abrasive or unpleasant, sometimes repeatedly. And, truth be told, we all
have our own moments of weakness, particularly when emotions run high.
Nevertheless, because live shows are a vital link, a cohesive resource
offering practical suggestions is needed to promote untarnished
enjoyment for all participants.
As a result,
this Handbook was compiled with the generous insights and suggestions
from your fellow showers, hosts and judges alike, experienced and new.
Every insight contained here is directly from your peers, making the
entire Handbook based on practical experience and tested protocol, and
can therefore be a useful guide for attending any live show. I encourage
you to think carefully about the suggestions presented and take to heart
the spirit of the Handbook. We are each a benefactor of the model horse
world, and so have a vested interest in the atmosphere of our most
affirming and thrilling group activity.
this Handbook is divided into several sections, each addressing a
specific facet of a live show. And since many of us have to wear many
hats throughout our showing involvement or need to be aware of such
matters eventually, it’s a good idea to read all the sections to
understand the full spectrum of appropriate etiquette. These sections
Absolutely, we are
passionate about our model horses and know that our activity has a lot of
good things to offer anyone interested in horses. But it can be easy to
forget that each of us started out as beginners or as children, without a
clue as to what it’s all about or not having familiar faces greeting you.
So the truth is that as we develop as showers, we become obligated to help
those in our midst who may be new to this activity. And it’s important to
remember there is a difference between young showers and new showers, as
the latter may often be adults who are discovering this activity for the
first time, or re-discovering it after a period of absence. So while each
type of “newbie” often requires slightly different needs and strategies,
they both deserve attentive care and thoughtfulness.
Without a doubt,
we are each a good will ambassador for the model horse world and since our
newbies are our future, they should be actively welcomed by everyone at a
live show in meaningful ways. It’s important that newcomers feel embraced
and part of a supportive network and that they receive the guidance and
insights needed to help them develop and succeed. In a way, the live show
is our communal “house” and good hospitality shown to newbies encourages
them to join and enrich our whole family.
does not extend just to newbies, but also to each other, at every show.
It’s important to be gracious and affable to fellow attendees, no matter
how many times you’ve crossed paths, and to foster an atmosphere of
happiness and learning for everyone present.
the hospitality we offer each other at every live show accumulates and
builds a cohesive and friendly community that benefits not only you, but
everyone else as well.
So some things each of us
can do to offer good hospitality are, as follows:
ambassadorship by various strategies, such as:
new, young, shy, awkward or inexperienced showers before the show
(perhaps by having a special box on the entry form these folks can
check) and then assign each of them to an interested, friendly,
experienced shower who is willing to serve as a "show buddy" (and
perhaps have a special prize or award for such generous people).
It’s also a good idea to situate the tables of these people near
their show buddies to encourage comfort zones and familiarity. This
beautiful idea can do wonders for all involved.
Hook up new,
young or shy showers with “pen pals” before the show and try to
arrange their tables near each other at the show, too. This really
helps to build confidence and a feeling of being welcome.
newbies to volunteer at your show. You get the needed help and they
get to meet people and also learn about live shows from the “inside
out”. As a suggestion, it’s a good idea to put newbies to work at
socially-oriented jobs such as selling raffle tickets, organizing
the awards and keeping them ready for the judges, helping to hand
out catered lunches, handing out surveys and collecting them, etc.
If you have
a get-together planned for your show, it’s a great idea to actively
introduce newbies around.
it’s a nice idea to designate a staff person to be a newbie
“liaison” to help and offer guidance.
showers to your NAMHSA Regional list and Regional
Representative, or any other person or online source you believe
could be a valuable asset to them. It might also be a good idea to
have a flyer ready for them that provides all this information for
showers should avoid cliquish behavior at a live show, and reach out
to newbies at every opportunity. Indeed, newbies should never feel
ignored or unwelcome. You can start dialogues and relationships with
such techniques as follows:
introduce yourself to newbies in an approachable, friendly manner
and become that friendly, familiar face every person loves to see.
newbies in your circle and introduce them around.
Place a sign
on your table, "If you're new to model horses, say hello!" and also
put this on your nametag.
friendly mentoring and advice when asked.
newbies to activities or get-togethers you may be attending, so they
feel welcome and included.
their curiosity with useful answers delivered in a friendly way.
Remember that newbies are eager and able to learn, and should not be
respectful and thoughtful to newbies. They should never be ignored
or patronized at any time.
Enthusiastically congratulate newbies on any successes and
achievements, and help them achieve more success, too.
good sportsmanship with all newbies, so they don’t inadvertently do
is a hot potato, it may be a good idea to discreetly and
diplomatically inform newbies about any problematic people who might
be in the hall. Practically speaking, no matter how many great
people may be present, inevitably there’s always a couple who may
not be so fun to be around. So by gently alerting newbies, they can
choose to avoid an unexpected unpleasant situation that might upset
sportsmanship is the glue that holds a competitive activity together and
allows it to grow by maximizing an inclusive, welcoming environment. So
it cannot be emphasized enough that good sportsmanship is essential and
expected from all attendees, at all times, in all situations. Truly, a
live show should be the place where you put your best foot forward and
allow the best of your character to shine through, so friendships can
form and learning can be nurtured. So always remember, good
sportsmanship is the primary code of conduct expected of show attendees
to promote and also to practice. And it’s important to keep in mind that
good sportsmanship applies to social settings outside of the live show
environment as well, such as at parties, online discussions and large
expos. People will form an opinion of you as you behave, so it’s really
the best policy to be courteous in all social situations.
attendee’s obligation to nurture a positive, welcoming and supportive
atmosphere for everyone. There is no excuse for bad sportsmanship and it
has no place in our community. Bad sportsmanship should be treated with
zero-tolerance and be promptly reported to the host and dealt with
The truth is
that a live show is not all about you. Yes, you have come for your own
personal reasons, but the room is also full of other people who expect
to have a good time, too. And so to forget the true spirit of the day is
the epitome of bad manners at a live show. Always remember that there is
no ribbon, trophy or need to be “right” that is worth a bad experience
for you, and for those around you. There’s no faster way to become an
unwelcome person than to exhibit bad sportsmanship, because people
remember who diminished their experience and word gets around very
quickly. So please, think twice about your conduct, even when your
emotions are running high.
Some Examples of General
Bad Sportsmanship to avoid altogether are:
Do not speak
derogatorily of someone or his/her models. Negativity feeds on
itself and ruins the experience for everyone. Always keep such
opinions to yourself.
appear to be speaking about someone in an unfriendly manner or make
him/her uncomfortable with thoughtless or exclusionary behavior. You
should endeavor to make everyone feel welcome and comfortable
because that’s your obligation to your fellow participants.
people with hostility, disrespect or unkindness for any reason.
There is no excuse for it.
Keep in mind
that when you sign the entry form, you agree to all the stipulated
rules, codes and regulations of the show. And when you attend a live
show, you agree to behave according to the accepted norms of
behavior of the greater community. If you choose not to abide by
them, you may be asked to leave without a refund, as is appropriate.
If this happens, you are expected to leave quickly and quietly.
belittle, demean or patronize anyone at the show, particularly
profanity or other “colorful” language at a live show, at any time.
Foul language is inappropriate for the necessary environment at a
intentionally ignore someone in need of help or insight.
If you have
an amazing collection of show horses, do not behave in a smug,
self-righteous or superior fashion. Snobbish elitism has no place at
a live show.
are known to consistently win, but it’s inappropriate to express
arrogance or prima donna behavior, at any time. We are a community
of like-minded folks, and should all be treated with equal respect
and regard. Leave your ego at home.
When a class
is announced as “closed” and you missed it, do not demand the class
be reopened just for you. Simply concentrate on the next class.
Some Examples of Bad
Sportsmanship Related to Judging to avoid altogether are:
snide, unkind commentary regarding the judge, host, staff, show or
placings, to anyone. This includes catty remarks, proclamations of
another’s stupidity, negative grumblings or any other disagreeable
around an exhibitor or show table, gawking and rudely commenting
on the models in the presence of others, or even the owners.
Confronting the judge before, during or after the class, declaring
that you are an expert, and that the class should have been placed
the judge for any reason, and loudly declaring that a model is a
“disaster” and thusly should never have placed.
if a judge encounters something he/she doesn’t know. Remember, no
judge can know everything in all of horsedom, and while good
judges know a lot, eventually they encounter unfamiliar
information. So if you do have something constructive or
educational to offer, do so only to the judge, in a polite,
gracious and discreet manner, at the appropriate time.
judge feel bad. Remember, he/she is volunteering the time and
energy so you can show.
about judges behind their backs.
crabby and ill tempered as a display of disapproval.
disparagingly about trivial or personal things regarding the judge
or anyone else, for that matter.
tantrum, spouting such complaints as, “The judge must hate me!” or
“The judge must be blind!” etc.
scene, overt or behind the scenes, with crying, complaining or
emotional behavior. If you’re unable to emotionally cope with the
situation, it’s best to discreetly and diplomatically leave the
packing up and leaving, making a great show of your indignation.
Instead, if you feel compelled to leave, do so discreetly,
graciously, quietly and politely.
off to the side of a class, even within earshot of the judge, and
griping about the placings and how poorly you expect all the
judge’s placings to be.
of how you would place the class within earshot of the judge.
your exhibitor table and grousing, being a Negative Nelly, because
you are unhappy with the placings.
with a judge, for any reason, whether or not the judge is right.
This includes cornering a judge who didn't place your entry as you
expected, and thus possibly delaying the show.
the models, positive or negative, on the show table within earshot
of the judge.
Complaining about a placing when you placed your model in the
wrong class. If you were in doubt, you should have politely asked
the judge or host beforehand.
in anyone’s face” about a showing issue. This includes threatened
or real damage to person or property. Aggressive confrontation is
ribbons between models once they have been placed is unacceptable,
whether the model(s) belong to you, or to someone else. If a
ribbon was accidentally moved, ask the judge for the correct
placement if you are unsure where it goes.
otherwise influencing the judge, host or anyone affiliated with
show is unacceptable and those responsible should be reported.
to have fun and forgetting to help others to have fun!
shows don’t have an organized means to welcome you, making your first
experience potentially bewildering. But even though a live show can be
quite intimidating, it’s important to take a pro-active approach
nonetheless. Undeniably, becoming part of the community is dependent
on showing an interest in the activity, not being afraid to socialize
and ask questions, getting involved with groups that share your
interests, or even volunteering to help where needed.
line is you cannot sit back and wait for people to come to you.
Rather, you need to actively socialize; so build up the nerve, take
the risk, and jump in. Introduce yourself to others and let them know
you’re a newcomer. While you may be hesitant, remember, people may be
hesitant to approach you too!
Here are some
suggested tools to help you mingle (which are also very handy for
shy folks too):
advantage of the Internet since it offers several tools:
Regional NAMHSA list and other model horse mailing lists,
such as Fallen Leaves and Model Horse Blab, and
introduce yourself as a newcomer. Read the various threads and
become familiar with what’s going on and be sure to engage in
conversations in a friendly, polite and fun way so people will
want to meet you. Absolutely avoid “lurking” on lists since no one
can get to know you if you don’t participate.
online lists, find out if anyone will be at a show you plan to
attend and arrange to meet them there, if possible. Perhaps they
also have the time to show you around and even share lunch.
Go to any
and all local model horse activities you learn about online and
your NAMHSA Regional Representative and introduce yourself
and see if he/she can help you ease into the local model horse
if there’s a local model horse club in your area, and join. Also
attend the meetings and gatherings, and perhaps volunteer to help
with club logistics.
interested in customizing, sculpting or painting, join lists and
associations that specialize in our model horse arts, such as the
Realistic Equine Scupture Society (RESS).
show, it’s important to contact the host and introduce yourself,
and be sure to mention that you’re new to the experience. Ask
questions, ask for tips and insights, and just get a dialogue
to help with a show! This is one of the best ways to learn about
the live show experience, meet people, and make a positive impact
that people will happily remember. You can sell raffle tickets,
hand out packets and information, help distribute any catered
lunches, assist as a ring steward, help keep the awards organized,
assist the judges when they need it, etc. Really, there’s so much
to be done at a live show, your assistance will always be welcomed
show has a get-together before or after the competition - go to it
and actively socialize.
new local showers and get to know them.