If your horse doesn’t stay awake in showmanship class, here’s a tip that’s helped me keep my horse alert. Before you enter the arena, smear a thin coat of Vicks VapoRubTM or MentholatumTM on the thumb of your right-hand glove. Whenever it’s critical that your horse be alert (e.g., right before you execute your pattern), subtly run your thumb across his nostril so he can get a whiff of the medicated rub. This wakes up my horse right away. I don’t overuse this technique, so he doesn’t get used to the potent smell.
This article first appeared in the November, 1997 issue of Horse & Rider magazine.