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The Horse Show Bug

the horse show bug header

Why go to a horse show? Why don’t you just light $2,500 on fire and then have someone push you in dirt?

Yep. That pretty much sums it up. But showing your horse is also gives purpose to the many hours and days you spend training and grooming, which can motivate you to do your best even on those days when you just don’t feel like doing it. Shows are also a great opportunity to meet other owners, to socialize and to share knowledge.

Below are some of my experiences with horse sows, the good and the bad, and the reasons why I continue to attend them.

Getting ready

You plan for the show, make your entries. Choke a little at the size of the check you just wrote. Pay your trainer and hauling fees. But, smiling all the while you feel confident that you are about to show the judges the result of your hard work. You don’t know if you will wow the judges, but you know that the scores you receive will at least reflect your effort. Maybe you have even moved up a level, and you feel great about meeting the directives and expectations of said level. You are a bright eyed and shiny girl ready to have fun with your pony.

Arriving at the show, setting up, getting the horses settled, you are ready to go school!

Let’s go work. You wait for the time that works best for your trainer. That, of course, also happens to be the time the grounds keepers are weed whacking and setting up the viewing tent. After your horse has finished having a stroke and is still quaking in his shoes, your lesson begins.

Has your trainer always sounded this grumpy? She must be having a long day. Wait, why is she talking to you like you are not riding well? Why is your horse feeling different than he does at home? Have you always struggled so much to keep him round? Has the diagonal across the arena always been that long?

Somehow you get your act together and have a productive training session. Still feeling confident, after cleaning your tack and polishing your boots, you leave to enjoy a nice dinner with your barn friends, eager to start showing the next day.

You sleep horribly.

Show day!

The next morning everything runs smoothly. The horse is clean and braided. Every part of test preparation miraculously flows. Heading to the ring on time for your warmup. Your trainer meets you and you work together to make final preparations. You run each step of the test through your head one more time and climb into the saddle.

Then everything goes blank.

Walking back to the stalls you hear your trainer say, “Well, you had some brilliant moments.” In painful slow motion your memory starts to return, and you replay every moment of your warmup and test with excruciating detail. You did not wow the judges. You want to crawl in a hole, realizing that you are now going to feel really awful until after you have the test back.

Why, why, why do we do this? We could have taken a vacation (that’s the thing people without horses do). We could have sat under a tree and enjoyed a book. We could have stayed inside, clean and in the air-conditioning. I don’t have the answer. I know why I do it, and maybe some of my reasons are yours too.

I love horses. I love every minute of trying to partner with them to perform a move of beauty in balance and harmony as a team. I love making those pointless 20-meter circles. I love sweating on a summer day. I love riding in the winter despite the cold, because I am just that tough. I love having my trainer evaluate me and help me ride better. I love having her challenge me. Although I don’t love struggling, I do love making baby steps on the way to mastering a task with my horse. I love the challenge of working hard at something I am not overly talented at, but desire doing well. I even love stepping out of my comfort zone to present myself and my horse in front of the frightening people to allow them to lift me up or tear me down with their remarks. Then I come back for more.

Here’s $2,500 to burn. Now, will you push me in the dirt?

115 thoughts on “The Horse Show Bug

  1. The time and attention you give to your horse before you think about showing is when all the work gets done. If you feel tense and lack confidence your horse will know it. Regardless of what the ‘test’ results are you know and should bask in all the hard work you’ve done to get here!

    1. Sounds expensive

  2. 😁😁😁👍👍👍..omg.. totally agree.. could not have said it better myself..

  3. It is beautiful the show with horses that shows the great complicity between horseman and horse and how he responds to his indications are very intelligent animals

  4. Sounds like fun! <3

  5. Thank you for the great article, loved reading about the show day.

  6. Horses like any animal gets anxiety too, learning to cope together through experiences with your horse is a crucial thing.

    1. I have friends who show horses and they’ve always loved it!!!

  7. The idea always seemed so stressful to me, interesting to see the lack of sleep commentary for this one, I believe it

  8. interesting thank you

  9. It certainly takes commitment including financial commitment.

  10. horse shows are amazing!

  11. It’s addictive!

  12. It’s super fun, and makes it all worthwhile!

  13. I remember my first ribbon! Although I was shaking and absolutely horrified the whole time, I was bursting with pride by the end. Totally worth it.

  14. Great article.

  15. So much fun to watch and do

  16. Beautiful reflections! I love the feeling of working hard at something and slowly seeing progress.

  17. Horses , like most animals can sense our emotions . And they definitely will know if you lack confidence.

  18. Love the honesty of this post, and how it gives you a glimpse into a show day for a horse and rider 🙂

  19. Love the articles and advice, thank you!

  20. Relax and enjoy

  21. This blankness often happens to people when taking exams. I remember once being asked in an oral what I’d had for breakfast (nothing at all to do with the subject) and my mind went blank, I had no idea of the answer. Luckily the blankness disappeared when the proper subject matter came up.

  22. Always to busy working on a horse to take time for shows

  23. Horses are very smart and beautiful animals.

  24. Wow you’re really amazing! Always so much great information!

  25. The show should not be the purpose: it is about the dance with a great creature and being present.

  26. And hopefully your trainer is also someone who loves horses and doesn’t mistreat them. In any way.

  27. I love Horse shows! I used to participate in them as a child.

  28. Sounds like a lot of hard work but also a lot of fun

  29. Very informative

  30. horses take a lot of time

  31. Horse Shows are Wondorous !!!

  32. cool article

  33. you learn something new every day 🙂

  34. Great Article. Thanks!

  35. Definitely not into horse shows
    Our horses are working ranch horses.

  36. I enjoyed reading this informative article

  37. Thanks for giving us insight into the horse show.

  38. Well-said getting her ready for a show is a must.

  39. The shows are amazing and watching all the horses step is even more amazing.

  40. Love being able to see the horses. I’m glad to see an article on how to get them ready!

  41. I love horse shows. Thanks

  42. I love watching horse shows!!

  43. I teach in a private school where there are girls who participate in horse shows.

  44. Beautiful horses

  45. Fond memories of my showing days

  46. My husband and I had a couple horses, when our kids were growing up. They rode them very well and their father taught the horses and cared for them.

  47. Great looking Horse!

  48. great article

  49. Advice that will help your horse be ready to be in any horse show.

  50. I have always wanted to see a horse show! This was very interesting.

  51. Super cute!

  52. Really enjoyed the article. Thanks

  53. Showing is the best and worst thing to do lol. But I still do it.

  54. Once you go to one, you will want to go to more, whether as a contestant, or a spectator.

  55. A horse show is always exciting to see. It must be more exhilarating participating.

  56. Love to watch shows would nrver enter one it would affect my anxiety level to much and affect the horse anyway.

  57. I saw horse riding during Olympic Games and I’m impressed how the riders get the horses to do so many stunts ❤️

  58. All the prep is part of the fun!

  59. great insight

  60. Beautiful!

  61. Thank you

  62. I enjoy watching horse shows. I know I would be nervous if I participate in them.

  63. You described it so well! Rewarding torture.

  64. I loved this article!

  65. Slick article here y’all!


  67. awesome

  68. Nothing beats the feeling of knowing you are a winner

  69. Great

  70. Would love to go to a show one day.

  71. I love attending horse shows but have never participated in one.

  72. Great tips!! We don’t have the money to show but it’s fun to go and watch everyone!

  73. Most interesting.

  74. Get the wins!

  75. sounds fun but expensive

  76. I thoroughly enjoyed this article on show day!

  77. Interesting persepective

  78. Nice article. Hopefully one day I’ll make it to a horse show.

  79. Thanks for the awesome article!

  80. sounds fun

  81. the info you have and then the time and money goes in to teh show and then the time that they can hlep with the show is a family affaair

  82. Thanks for the great article.

  83. i never participated in one but their fun for sure

  84. Great read

  85. Wow, $2,500 is a lot of money. I had no idea. Thanks for posting!

  86. These are always such fun events to watch!

  87. loveley article

  88. Thanks for the great article!!

  89. Great article thank you!

  90. Oh wow reading the preparation and the reasoning even makes me feel excited inside. What great insight.

  91. Interesting point of view

  92. Lots of hard work but so worth it, I think at least! 🙂

  93. Nice in depth look into a day most only see the surface of. Cool to let us in on the secret.

  94. I love the detail throughout the process. Thank you for sharing!

  95. More of a show watcher so great to know how much effort goes into it

  96. oh that show day excitement is like no other! wonderful read!

  97. Good article!

  98. Hrose shows are great , horses are such beautiful graceful animals

  99. I Need to go to more horseshows.

  100. 5 am nerves and the smell of barn hay lol!! I remember the days well!

  101. Wow, I never knew any of this wnout shows!

  102. I have never been to a horse show but i am planning to do so. I love anything to do with beautiful animals . they are Gods wonderful creatures

  103. That’s a good way to look at things!

  104. So much fun!!

  105. I had no idea it cost so much to enter! I’ve been to a couple, but we mostly did rodeo events. They are beautiful to watch.

  106. Great post! You can tell how much you love horses.

  107. I never have put my 2 horses in a show never thought about it. I know it’s hard work to get ready for one. You are right.

  108. We could not afford to own our own horse. Glad my daughters’ stable was about riding and care. She helped on show days and found it a really rewarding experience!

  109. Great story – have never done shows but admire people that do!

  110. Shows can be a lot of fun, but they take a ton of commitment – and money!

  111. Bet if I was in that situation i’d feel more uneasy about showing myself than the horse, lol.

  112. I’ve never shown a horse before. It seems like so many things, though. Talking about blanking out…and then you think about everything you did or didn’t do.

  113. Beautiful show horse

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