EST. 1965                           Dan, Marlene & Neva La Fleur                              West side Madison, WI


The horse show is a proving ground for American Saddlebreds and their riders. As the skills of a rider progresses, it's natural to want to compete and see how you compare. Men and women compete on an equal footing at most shows, although some larger shows offer separate classes for men and women.  All horse shows, large or small, have many things in common--the excitement of competing, the thrill of achievement, and a keen sense of belonging and fellowship among riders.  Competition builds sportsmanship and character. Often entire families participate in the sport. Families travel together and, in some instances, show together. That's why showing becomes one of the best experiences of owning a Saddlebred.

“Guide on Watching” a show
    Let us address the issue of good sportsmanship first because it is the single most important lesson the riders will learn; and it starts with the parents’ attitude.
    First and foremost, please remember that these competitions are intended to be fun for everyone involved.   This means that whether your child is first, last, or someplace in between, you and your child realize that going into the show ring and competing is quiet an accomplishment and success in itself.

The Judge’s View
    Take a moment and imagine that you are the judge. It is your duty to compare all the riders in any given class to the “ideal rider” in your mind.  Next you must compare all the riders with each other and arrange them in order from first to sixth place.  As if this isn’t hard enough, you have a limited time to do this.  You will only be able to view each rider for a few seconds as they pass you on their way around the ring and you want to be sure to give each rider a good fair look.  It doesn’t sound easy, and it’s not, judging is a tough and thankless job.  You can only award one-first place and sometimes first and second place are so close it’s hard to make a decision.  And always remember, a judge can only judge what they see.

How to Watch your Child Compete
    The ability to watch your child objectively while he/she is showing starts with you, the parent, learning what is expected of your child in the show ring.  Is your child on the correct diagonal? Do you know what a diagonal is?  How about the correct canter lead?  How about leg, arm, and body position? Is it correct? Do you know what correct is?
    The most difficult part of watching your child is to do so objectively and compare your child to the other riders.
    Diagonals,  leads, and position are the tangible aspects of riding.  There are also intangible aspects, something that makes a certain rider stand out among the others.  The intangible aspects are composed of confidence in oneself, serenity, enjoyment, and a true understanding of riding. Some riders seem to possess these qualities right away and others need more time to learn them.  Please remember that this takes time, practice, dedication, and experience.
    The judge’s professional opinion is just that, an opinion.  It is not a personal insult to you or your child.  We as instructors are dedicated to each and every child equally.  If you notice that we seem to be paying more attention to one child that another, take a moment to access the situation.  Is the child scared or having trouble?  It is easy to forget that the other riders need our attention as well as your own child.

The Horses
    The horses that make it into the lesson program possess special qualities, safety, and dependability.  While some of our horses are very beautiful, others may appear quite plain.  Since they are chose for qualities other than looks they are all beautiful in our eyes.

    It is important that you realize that reasoning behind mounting the riders on certain horses. We have to match the riders with horses that they have the ability to handle safely.  Horses are living creatures with thoughts and feeling.  Like us, they react differently in different situations and environments.  We will mount the riders on horses according to how we know although they will react at the show.  This means that although your child has a favorite horse to ride at home, we might put your child on another horse for the show because we the rider’s abilities and we have a good idea what the horse’s behavior will be.

Ribbon Winners vs. Non Ribbon Winners
    Awards that are won are the icing on the cake.  The most important accomplishment is that your child has learned enough to take a living creature with thoughts, feeling, and sometimes opinions into competition.  It takes guts, hard work, and dedication; each and every rider should be applauded.

What is Equitation …………………….And What is the judge looking for?
    Equitation is defined as the art of horsemanship.  Horsemanship is being able to control the horse while still maintaining the proper form.  When judging a class, the judge must know what position is required, and how well a rider can maintain it.  Academy shows allow riders to demonstrate how well they have learned.
    When judging Academy shows the type, breed, and quality of horse is not judged. How well the rider control the horse is being judged. If a rider lets a horse quit at the canter I did not do anything about it, the rider will be penalized.
    The basic position a rider is mainly what a judge is looking for. A rider should sit up straight with their shoulders over their hips. At no time should the riders shoulders pass in front of the hips while at the same time a ride or should not be leaning to far back.
    Lower leg position is also very important.  You should be able to draw a straight line from a rider’s hip to their heel.  A rider will be penalized for the lower leg being too far out in from.  Heels should be down, with the stirrup placed straight across the ball of the foot.  Heels and ankles should be well away from the sides of the horse.  Heels that are up and/or dropped into the horse’s sides is a sign of weak legs and improper position.
    The knee and the upper thigh should be turned in tightly allowing no light to show between the knee and the saddle.
    Hands also are a major factor to be judged.  Hands should be at an appropriate height, just slightly about the elbow.  The hands should also show a “fell” for the horse’s mouth without pulling and harming the mouth.  They should also show that they work independently from the rest of the body.
    Diagonals are to be judged in all levels unless it is established ahead of time.  Diagonals are the ability to stand at a post with the leg on the wall. By doing so allows the horse’s back to be free when taking a corner.
    Leads are also very important in a canter class.  Leads are when the horse leads off with the inside foreleg when cantering.   Being on the correct lead makes it easier on the horse to maintain their balance when taking a corner.  Failure to be on the correct lead will also be penalized.
    When judging a class the judge must determine which rider best accomplishes all the requirements, and then place the class accordingly.
    All classes are judged on the rider’s style and ability to control their horse.  Certain fundamentals of equitation are rigidly observed in judging

Show Attire

Conservative Saddle Suit or day coat and jodhpurs - jods should be dark and conservative

Jodhpur boots regular or patent leather

complementary button-down collared shirt

rolled derby

hair in a bun with hairnet (women)


Before the Show

  • Goal Setting- We know that it's every dream.  It's our privilege to be able to make these dreams come true.  La Fleur Stables can help you sharpen the focus of your dreams and set goals for yourself such that they become a reality.
  • Finding the right Equine Partner - Whether it's buying a horse of your own or leasing a horse to show for the season, we can find you the right Equine Partner to take to Horse Shows.  
  • Show schedule is customized according to your plans and wishes.
  • Strategizing Sessions - Practice starts long before the week of the show.  
  • Conditioning/Training Program for your Equine Partner.  Our training program is designed to maximize his performance at the show.
  • Clothing and Equipment - Works with top equestrian tailors and within your budget to outfit you like a champion.

Preparing for Horse Shows & Horse Show Expenses During a Horse Show

  • Your equine partner will get body treatment before the show.  
  • Directions provided
  • Hotel/Restaurant
  • Rider Presentation 
  • Coaching during the Show
  • Transporting horses/Hauling check the horse show chart
  • Day care check the horse show chart; included Groom, Groom meals, Trainer's Fee, Trainer meals, Coaching Fee
  • Hotel Fee divided by the number of horses to the show
  • Tack stalls / Decorations divided by the number of horses to the show 
  • Hay, oats, and bedding
  • Stable supplies  
  • Entry registration and fees to the show
  • Rental car or golf cart
  • Use of LaFleur Tail switch    
  • Show Harness Rental:   

                   Two-wheel cart, or            
                   Four-wheel buggy

  • Hauling fee for buggy and cart

When you have a horse(s) that's ready to show, the following will take place: 

  1. LaFleur Stables staff will assist in selecting classes to entry and in completing show-entry forms. Horse shows require entry fees and stall fees be paid up front. Most shows accept credit cards. At shows that don't accept credit cards, LaFleur Stables will pay the fees and itemize them on an owner’s next statement.
  2. The number of days “day care” is determined ahead of time for each horse show. This cost is listed on the horse show schedule chart. 
  3. Shows, fees for tack, feed, and grooming stalls is prorated among the entrants from LaFleur Stables and those fees appear on the owner's next monthly statement.
  4. Shipping charges to and from a show are listed on the horse show chart.
  5. LaFleur Stables asks it entrants to decorate their stalls in the stable's traditional blue and green colors. It's a "show of team colors" and adds to the festivity of a show. The colors help friends and family locate the stable. Decorations also provide privacy and quiet places for riders and their steeds to take a rest between classes. Fees for stable decorations are prorated among riders attending the show. 
  6. Traveling Fee when the trainers go on the road their hotel and meal expenses are prorated between the number of horses attending the show.  
  7. Medications Prorate extra supplements used for your horse at the horse show.
  8. Box Seats some facilities have very limited seating and require the purchase of box seats.  This fee is prorated by the number of owners.  
  9.  Tickets, parking passes, trainers/groom passes are prorated with owners. 
  10. Horse Show supplies needed for that show.  
  11. Veterinarian Health Certificate ALL HORSES attending horse show are required to have health certificate from the veterinarian for out of state horse show.  
  12. Incidental Fees - While we are on the road with your horse, we may find the need to replace a shoe, or make a change with your horse's shoeing.  
  13. If it's necessary to withdraw from a show, the entrant is billed for half of the day care and half of the shipping costs. There are  no refunds on prorated fees for items such as tack rooms and golf cart rentals because those fees were determined and prorated when entries were submitted. 
  14. Customers are liable for damages to rental equipment such as buggy carts and tack (harnesses, bridles, saddles, etc.) .
  15. At shows, customers are asked to schedule work-out times 24 hours in advance. Similarly, a three-day notice should be given for release of a horse so that all tack and equipment can be assembled and readied by the time of departure.

After the Show

  • Goals Setting - we are here to help you learn, grow, and develop new goals and dreams to chased in the next.


Quality caretakers for your horse(s) are valuable and we believe that we have the best in our business.  Caretakers spend hours with your horse each day attending to their every special need.  At the show, they stay with them 24 hours a day to ensure their safety away from home.  They take great pride in their horses.   We feel reward them by tipping them an amount at your discretion at each show.  Their dedication to your horse exceeds their weekly salary and we appreciate your help in keeping them a part of our staff.


American Saddlebred Association of Wisconsin 

American Saddle Horse Breeders Futurity of Wisconsin, Inc. 

American Saddlebred Horse Association

United States Equestrian Federation

United Professional Horseman’s Association—Adult & Child

Mid-America Horse Show Association 

Illinois American Saddlebred Pleasure Horse Association

Horse Show Advertising Magazines

Helps promote you and your horse and create stables families. 

Saddle and Bridle Magazine              

The National Horseman Magazine             

The Saddle Horse Report

Doug Shiflet Photography
Howard Schatzberg Photography
Jane Jacobs Photography
Richfield Video Production

Getting Involved with LaFleur Stables & Saddlebreds

Learning to ride is best done in the saddle. However, learning about being around and riding and showing horses also can be done while still on the ground. A person interested in horses should first understand what's involved in riding and what kind of a commitment is needed in terms of time and money. La Fleur Stables has worked with and trained some of the best Saddlebred riders in the country. So, we stepped back and asked ourselves, “What does it take to make a rider successful?” Here's how we answer that question.

LOVE WHAT YOU ARE DOING.  A person who loves riding can’t wait for the next chance to ride. 

MAKE THE COMMITMENT.  Commitment takes the discipline to ride and train regularly. Not only does a rider need to be dedicated but support must come from everyone around that rider.

FIND FOCUS. No athletes define focus more so than Olympic athletes do. Watching those athletes demonstrates how they find “the zone" and do not let anything shake them out of it.

BE A GREAT COMPETITOR.  Everyone wants to win. But the key point is to become a better competitor. The trick is to be a gracious winner and a gracious loser. That’s what we strive for at LaFleur Stables. Being gracious in victory or defeat allows you to appreciate the strengths of your competition and understand how to develop those strengths in yourself.  A true win is achieving your goals.

UNDERSTAND THAT RIDING IS A SPORT. We treat it that way.  It's not just sitting atop a horse.  And like any sport, riding requires a higher level of physical conditioning.  

DEVELOP A BOND.  Unlike other sports, your teammate is a living, breathing, half-ton animal. That animal requires your respect and compassion.  A rider has to understand their horse's strengths, fears, and personality. The better they do, the better a rider can synchronize with their horse and become a team.

It takes commitment, discipline, time, and compassion to become an extraordinary rider and bring the full potential of a horse and rider to the show ring.

We have Horse Events in Madison. For more information ask at the stables.