I was witness to two incidents in show rings this past year, that horsemen ringside felt out of character in draft horse circles. Incidents such as these were once addressed in The Horse Book, by J.H.S. Johnstone, whose words I would like to paraphrase.
“Make your entries at the proper time and ensure they are complete. Ask as few favors of show management as you can. Suffer inconvenience to the point of imposition. Do not lose your cool. It pays, for officials are also under pressure. It also pays to do whatever management asks, i.e. getting your horses into the ring, photographed, on parade, etc. Give the spectators a show whenever you can.
“Advertisement is all an exhibitor directly gets for his labor. His stalls should be tastefully decorated; stabled horses are best identified with lettered placards. If you are exhibiting a client’s horse, ensure the owner’s name is on the placard. Respond to each visitor’s inquiry in a civil manner. Have a pleasant word for everyone. You can never tell if a man [or woman] is a prospective buyer. Ten dollar jackets have pocketed cheques written for thousands of dollars.
“Exhibitors should take victory and defeat in a sporting manner. The exhibitor who is blatant in victory or abusive in defeat wins few customers. He turns officials, spectators and buyers off. An exhibitor should act like a man [or woman], not a spoiled child who will not play, unless the game goes his way. Each appearance in a show ring should command public respect. Know the ropes. Conduct yourself in a proper manner and show your horses for all they are worth.
“A man [or woman] must have the goods to win. He must play his cards right. His horses must be fit, schooled, shod and shown to advantage. There will be occasions when an exhibitor fails to get what is coming to him and there will be occasions when an exhibitor gets more than what rightfully is his. Win, place or show, remember; it is more important that you impress the spectators ringside than the judge who is standing centre-ring, for your continued success is in their hands. Buyers are spectators.”
This is how J.H.S. Johnstone once saw it. And, this is how I see it!