Ready, Set, Show!

Ready, Set, Show!

An earlier version of this article first appeared in The Iberian Horse Magazine in 2019.
Written by Kim Johan-Nass and Kaye Phaneuf, edited by Kaeli Dressler

Sometimes completing a horse show entry form can seem a bit daunting.  

You and your horse have done the hard work; training, practicing, cross-training, grooming, conditioning … you are ready!  Then you look at the show entry … and see a lot of little tiny lines that need a whole lot of information.  Yikes.

How do you start?  Just take a deep breath and follow this checklist!


First, get prepared:
  • Make sure you have renewed all memberships and print copies of each:  
  • Make sure you have completed USEF SafeSport and print a copy.
  • Ensure your horse has a USEF number.  Access and print out a card or a Master Verification Report. (Horse, Rider and Owner will be on this report.  This is also done for USDF.  Both USEF and USDF can be accessed and printed from the USEF website . Example:
  • Look up any rule changes that may have gone into effect with the organization(s) since the last time you entered a show. For example, IALHA A/L rules which can be found here.
  • Gather and make copies of your horse’s registration paper (front & back).  If you recently purchased a horse that you’ll be showing, be sure that the transfer has taken place and the registration displays you as the owner.
  • Familiarize yourself with any Out of State travel requirements. Health Certificates, Coggins, Vaccines, these can vary by state. 
  • Plan ahead and have your horse vaccinated within six months of the show. This is a USEF sanctioned show requirement.
  • Have your Coggins test done in plenty of time. They are good for a year.  Don’t wait until the last minute.. weekends and holidays can slow down the time it takes to get the results. 


Get organized:

Personally, in January, when I renew all my memberships, I prepare a show binder with a section for each horse I may show.   Even in this digital day and age, you still need a hard copy, and they need to be valid (not expired) for the entire duration of the show dates.

What I put in my binder:

1. A synopsis sheet for each horse and myself. It has my & my horse’s information summarized on one sheet.  It acts as a clear, and easy-to-read cover sheet.
2. Master Verification Reports (example pictured above). 
3. A copy of all my current Membership cards, (fit on one page if possible). Show management does not accept cards that are expired, even if your membership is current.

“…please don’t cut out all your membership cards and send an envelope full of confetti. Lay them out on the copier in a logical fashion – for example all the USEF cards on one sheet, or all the Owner’s cards on one sheet – and if you really want me to swoon, place them all facing the same way, not topsy-turvy. ;-)”Kaye Phaneuf

4. My USEF Safe Sport Certificates.
5. USEF Horse Identification cards (HID)
6. Working Equitation horse recording
7.  Copies of Vaccine record
8.  Copies of my Horse’s Registration papers

9. If you lease your horse, make copies of the signed Lease Agreement.

10. If your horse has an FEI Passport (required for CDI competitions) make sure you bring it, and that it is stamped/signed by your vet with up-to-date vaccination information including the vaccine batch number.

For each item, I print enough copies for all the shows I think I will enter for that year, plus one (for me!)

Complete the entry form:

Along with the entry you will include a copy of each of the documents listed above.  Some shows will have a checklist for you, some will not.  The requirements for each show will be different, depending on the level of competition, disciplines offered and entered.  Some competitions will require two, or even three separate entries.  

For example, if entering a concurrent open show in addition to the Breed/Performance classes show, there will be separate entries for each.  Opportunity classes within a rated show do not require memberships.  (They are a great way to get your feet wet if you are new to showing!)

“Kaye says:  If you handwrite your entry, be sure to BE NEAT. I must be able to read what you put in those tiny little boxes. 

Some online forms are ‘fillable,’ – which is a great opportunity to fill out your entry clearly without having to start over if you make a mistake… just backspace and continue! Then print as many copies as you need… at least one for the show secretary and one for yourself.   

BE ACCURATE. Do the owner’s cards say your name is Frank, Frankie or Franklin? Is the trainer’s name Green or Greene?
If the horse is registered as ‘King Reginald of Fir Grove’, that’s what you put on the entry, not his barn name ‘Reggie’.
If the horse doesn’t have a USEF number, leave that box blank or write NONE. 
Triple-check class numbers.
A section that people sometimes get wrong is the sex/gender of the horse…  S=Stallion. G=Gelding M=Mare

Make note that there are spaces that ask for a Rider, Owner, Trainer, & Coach: 

  • The Rider is the person riding in the show and is a required field.  
  • The Owner is the owner of record, found on the registration papers.  This is also a required field. If the horse is leased, you will need to include a valid copy of the Lease. 
  • The Trainer is the person responsible for the care and handling of the horse while on the show grounds, they must be over 18 years of age.  This is a required field also.  (Often the rider and trainer, or rider, trainer and owner is the same person.)
  • The Coach is the person you have hired to give you instruction during the show, if they are not coming, do not fill out this section.  This is not a required field as some people do not have a coach.

“Kaye here…USEF defines Trainer as the adult person responsible for care and custody of the horse at the show. That might be the Owner, in which case the Owner will sign twice – as Owner and again as Trainer (and perhaps as Rider/Driver/Handler, as well). If the person in charge of the horse is a minor, then his/her parent must sign as Trainer. Note that a parent signing on behalf of a minor is exempt from all membership requirements and non-member fees. ” 

  • Sign or obtain signatures in ALL the appropriate places. If you are the Rider, Owner, Trainer, you sign three times. If they are different people, you’ll need to gather those signatures, so plan ahead. If the Rider is a minor, a parent or guardian must sign

“An entry isn’t complete until it has been signed by ALL riders/drivers/handlers (or their parents, if minors), at least one owner (the one with the current memberships cards), a trainer, and perhaps a coach.”


Send in that entry and breath a sigh of relief!

Don’t be afraid, just be organized.  And ask questions… Remember, you can always call the show secretary with any questions you may have.  Having an accurate entry will reduce the risk of late fees or disappointment, etc.

“Confused, overwhelmed, OR just can’t find the answer? Please call and let me help you. The goal of all show secretaries is to help you have a great show experience! The future of our sport, and our breeds, depends on it.
My advice is to be sure READ THE PRIZE LIST. The show committee spent a lot of time putting together this document and all of the information you need is in it… Special awards, the refund policy, to whom you should write the check, where to mail the entry – it’s all in there!

As Iberian owners, we are in the unique position of being able to show our horses competitively in so many disciplines and shows!  Dressage, Working Equitation, English, Western, Doma Vaquero, Driving, Halter, Sport Horse in Hand … So versatility plus a little paperwork equals FUN!

If you have questions about the IALHA National Championship Show, IALHA Nationals Open Working Equitation, or Caballos Bailadores Nacional, don’t hesitate to reach out. Email show chair Jody Sydow – or Contact Us. We are happy to help!

Special thanks to Kaye Phaneuf – a USEF Dressage Technical Delegate and C2 Steward. Kaye has 30+ years of experience as a show secretary for Dressage and Arabian competitions.