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what to know if you've never shown


GENERAL INQUIRIES about Rules and Regulations? 

CALL or EMAIL our Show Liason Ron Farrow at 


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SHOW SPECIFIC QUESTIONS pertaining to entries etc. Contact SHOW HOSTS directly. Contact info can be found under the Events tab.

SRCHA gets it...

Your first cowhorse show can feel a little intimidating! We strive to be a friendly, welcoming organization that works to ease the transition in to cowhorse events for our new members. In keeping with that spirit, we’ve assembled this Primer for the New and Nervous! We’ll cover the basics of the rules, what to expect when you get to the show (it’s always nice to know where to park ahead of time!), how to enter, and more. We hope it helps ease the stress of getting started in the cowhorse.


Let us know if we missed anything!

How to enter...

When it comes to the SRCHA, each show is going to be a bit different in regards to entering.  

Entry packages and info will be posted on our events page under the applicable show as well as on Facebook.


Any questions in regards to entering the said show should be directed to the SHOW HOST. Show host contact info will be posted under each event.

Parking and Checking In...

Our shows are held at different venues across the province, so every show will be a little different.  Usually if you follow the other trailers and people, you can find your way. If you are still unsure of things, do not hesitate to contact the show host directly when you pull in. Show hosts can tell you where to park your trailer and where to put horses(pens or stalls).

The arena is usually open Friday evening for open riding, and it's always a good idea to confirm your fees are paid before you show. The show office usually opens about an hour before start time of the show.

Warming UP...

It’s a great idea to get your horse in the show pen ahead of time to get used to our sponsorship banners  and any scary corners.


Warm up pen etiquette is important for both manners and safety. Go the same direction as the other riders, make sure you look behind you before stopping or slowing down, and find a place out of traffic to dismount, work on turnarounds, or put boots on. You’ll also want to watch for riders working on stops. For the most part, the person doing rundowns has the right of way.

You’ll be free to ride in the arena until 6:45 when we start settling cattle. The area outside the cutting pen will stay open as well. There is also a warm-up arena available for use throughout the show (see map above).

Depending on the size of the show, there will be breaks that allow you to get horses in the pen. Check the draw sheets ahead of time so you can be prepared for these breaks.


You’ll need to know when you’ll be showing! The draws may be posted on Facebook within a day or two of the show. They’ll also be available in the show office and are usually stapled up by the announcers booth.  If you can’t find them, the office staff and person at the gate during the show will have a copy or know where to find one. 


Look for the name of your class, then find where you sit in the working order. It can be helpful to remember who is a couple draws ahead of you. That way, if you hear their names announced over the loudspeaker, you’ll know it’s almost your turn!


Pro tip: you can approximate how long until you show by counting up the runs and drags. Here’s how about how long everything takes:

Herd work run: 2 minutes 30 seconds
Cattle change: 15 minutes
Breaking down panels after herd work: 15 minutes
Reining only run: 3 minutes
Working the ground: 10 minutes
Reining + fence work: 4 minutes
Fence only: 2 minutes
Reining + boxing: 4 minutes

Your Run...

When it’s close to the time for your run, it’s best to head over towards the arena gate. Someone will be stationed at the gate to open and close it for you.


Herd Work:

If you’re showing in the herd, you’ll want to find turnback help before your run. You’ll need four people. Don’t be scared of asking someone to turn back for you! Trainers are (their show schedule permitting) almost always willing to help in the herd, even if they don’t know you.


Rein/Boxing/Fence Work:

The gate person will open the gate once the cow from the run before is cleared out. Wait until the previous rider is at least mostly exited, then ride in the gate and start your reining pattern.

After you stop and back up, hesitate to complete your pattern. The cattle help will be ready to open the gate and let a cow into the arena. Ride up to where you’re comfortable starting your boxing and nod at the cattle help so they know you’re ready for your cow.


After your awesome run, and the cheering stops, exit the arena. YOU ARE NOW ADDICTED FOR LIFE!

Why are all those Open riders getting zeros?

We got this question alot, and it’s a good one.


These trainers are getting zeros on purpose!

Here’s why: horses are smart. The more they’re shown, the more they begin to recognize that being in the show pen is a little stressful or a little scary, or even begin to notice that they’re not being reprimanded for acting up as they would be at home.


Because of SRCHA's affordable entry fees, many trainers use our shows as an opportunity to get their horses ready for larger shows. Using a run to train the horse instead of trying to win is called schooling.


This may mean that the rider may use a non-legal bit to train on their horse a little more, or they may counter canter a horse that worries about changing leads, or they may turn around more than the pattern calls for to stop only when the horse is feeling correct, or they may work on getting their horse to stop straight instead of making a fence turn.


There are as many ways to school a horse in the show pen as there are trainers.

Schooling is an essential tool in keeping show horses tuned up. Talk to your trainer about it!

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