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Are horse shows really worth it?

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  • #21
    Others have made good points regarding showing that I won't repeat. But let me just give a little perspective on what a trainer charges for a horse show day. A trainer is working on a weekend, usually long hours, quite often traveling out of town. As for me, I leave the comfort of my home, leaving behind the majority of my clients to spend a weekend with a few clients. I don't charge a per diem for my meals. I don't charge gas for traveling to and from the hotel. I am the first one at the show. I'm usually there before the sun comes up. I'm the last one there- usually after dark. My client may have a 7:30am class and a 5pm class. I also work on the following Monday to catch up on management items and to stay on track with my training obligations.

    OP, do you really think I should make the price of an hour riding lesson for that? I treat my business like a business. Personally, I charge more for this type of overtime work.

    Horse showing isn't for everyone.
    http://patchworkfarmga.com

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    • #22
      meh. Not for me.

      I do show about once a year. I usually get an itch and then afterwards, Im just reminded that its not worth it. Too tired, too expensive, too sunburnt, too hot, too cold, etc.

      I DO enjoy going to shows with others and helping them compete. I DO love watching classes and hanging out with friends.

      I showed A LOT as a teenager. Maybe Im still burnt out?

      Comment


      • #23
        Originally posted by equestrian13 View Post
        Thanks for the responses...I feel I should clarify: I actually do love competing. I work extremely hard to be able to afford to attend shows, because I love making showing my goal. I love having something to work towards and I love the challenge of a new atmosphere and learning experience, etc. I know exactly what you guys mean with waking up before the crack of dawn, creating new memories, the thrill of the warm-up and the smile after a perfect course, and I frame the wonderful pictures of lasting memories. My original question does not stem from not having an interest in showing or feeling like I would rather just have fun and be content riding in general. If I never had to think about money, I would love to show more often. What I am having trouble with is the expense and whether the money is really justified. (And I realize this is an extremely personal decision for each individual).

        I should also add: I do not own my own horse. I gain wonderful experience leasing for the day a variety different horses when they are available, but I do not have a single bond or history built up with my own horse. Sometimes I get the opportunity to ride a fantastic horse and it feels wonderful to be able to compete against riders who own their own horses for months, when I can jump on and do just as well. However, other times it feels like this sport is all about how much one can afford to spend on a horse, because I end up riding a much lower-level school horse to try to compete on, and how can that possibly be a good way to gauge my progress, when I am forced to simply focus on getting around the course and it seems like many other riders can do more point-shoot-pose on their own, more responsive and fancy horses? (I realize this is getting into sticky territory about money to buy "push-button" horses, and I never "blame" the horse I am able to have the opportunity to ride at all, but the thing that frustrates me about showing sometimes is the "politics" of it all and the fact that you really are only as good as your horse). Could this stem from not having my own horse? With more details and in these situations, is showing still worth it?

        It's getting late here, not sure if I am making total sense. Thanks for the help and insight
        Are you asking if it's worth it to spend hard-earned money showing on a horse that you don't think is competitive?

        That's a different question entirely, and doesn't necessarily change if you own the horse in question.

        This is a very, very expensive sport, and 99.9% of those who play at it have to face the reality that there is always going to be someone with more money/a fancier horse. That said, though, I personally wouldn't find it fun to regularly show a horse that was completely outclassed; I'd either find a show where that horse *was* competitive (maybe a local show vs. an A show, for example) or I would find a division to show in (equitation or jumpers v. hunters) where the quality of the horse mattered less than the quality of the ride.
        **********
        We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
        -PaulaEdwina

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        • #24
          I *love* to show, and if it were just me I would feel no compunction about the cost. But I can't really justify it right now given my family expenses/situation. I hope to show a little in the next few years.

          One thing that I have always found important is just what Lucassb says above -- I know I can't afford a super-nice, winning hunter, so I have focused on the jumpers where I can win my share if I ride well and compete at a level my horses are capable of doing.

          Showing hunters has been like throwing money away for me, as my horses have tended to walk in the ring with a top score of 80, while competing against horses that walk in on a 95. It's just not worth it to show when you are already 15 points behind the others.

          I have a nice 3 year old that I might try in the hunters if he turns out to have the jump for it. But if he's not capable of winning, I'll steer him to the jumper ring too.

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          • #25
            A score card!

            I just wish for the money we spend, in the hunters and equitation, we could get comments from the judge. A score card, like riders get in dressage, would be awesome!

            Comment


            • #26
              We love shows....

              We have a different perspective than many posters in that we are not showing but our daughter is. She is young and fairly new to Hunting. She gets no points in Walk Trot, so we are not trying to qualify a pony for Devon. So why do we take her to the shows and spend that money?

              Well...she gets to spend all weekend with her pony and her friends from the barn. Sure, she could just do this at the barn, but the atmosphere at the shows is a ton of fun (Sunday around 4:00 is always a little depressing!). The kids just have a total blast with each other.

              Some of the best moments are when we are all just sitting around doing nothing but talking and the kids are playing, jumping over jumps or playing musical chairs on the golf cart. They are simple moments, but still very meaningful. As older parents, we both appreciate that these times are fleeting and she will be onward and upward way too fast.

              And perhaps most importantly, the kids genuinely care for the ponies, and take care of them. I don't think it is lost on any of them (including our daughter) that but for the ponies, none of us would be at the shows. Respect, responsibility and compassion are good things for her to learn at this early age.

              Finally, we don't measure the experience in purely monetary terms. If you look at it so through such a narrow prism, it's hard to say it makes sense to do it. But the same is true for traveling soccer or traveling hockey, or anything else that requires time, travel and commitment. For us, the package and memories are worth it, even though we sometimes cringe when we get the bill!

              Comment


              • #27
                Originally posted by equestrian13 View Post
                What I am having trouble with is the expense and whether the money is really justified. (And I realize this is an extremely personal decision for each individual).
                LOL, I think you answered your own question, right?

                If you are not meeting your required financial obligations in order to show, if your entire self worth is wrapped up in your accomplishments in the ring or you are not enjoying yourself and see no path for that to change... then I think you have to take a long hard look at why you are showing, because you probably shouldn't be doing it.

                I've done it before, and now I'm at a place in my life where I am not sure the fun I had is worth the $$$ (and time) it costs, but I'm glad I had the opportunity to show for a good chunk of my life, and I had the good fortune to bring along my own horses and enjoy a successful partnership with them. I don't forget for a moment how fortunate I am to be in that group of people, but now I'm just not sure I will miss it if I don't compete like that again. And the nice thing about life is there are plenty of new adventures out there.
                Your crazy is showing. You might want to tuck that back in.

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                • #28
                  I haven't chased points for 2 decades, but I still love the show atmosphere. For me, getting my fix of it means staying AWAY from rinky dink little local shows (the atmosphere I like is missing there IMO) and working really hard at home to do a few select shows per season where I can compete against good horses and riders, and hopefully not embarass myself. Sometimes I leave with ribbons, sometimes I leave just knowing I bested my last trip from the show before. But I enjoy seeing the tougher level of competition and higher entries because it makes me strive to get better. And I'm not always talking rated shows, there are some top-notch, well run, non-recognized shows out there too (like Thoroughbred Celebration Horse Shows in Lexington, VA) with low fees, good competition & prizes, and lots of exhibitor perks that just make them fun to do.

                  On the flip side, I know someone who skips lessons because it takes away their "horse show money" and then goes to 10 little local shows a year, where she can be proud to win Champion in a 4 horse division. I guess that's what makes her happy, so to each their own. And neither one of us is spending a fortune on it.

                  Comment


                  • #29
                    You know, it's like most things in life. Some people want a Ferrari, and they can afford it. Is it necessary? No. Do they enjoy it? Yes. So, to that person, the fancy sports car is worth it. Sure, they could get a less expensive car and get from point A to point B just as well. But they LIKE the fancy car, therefore don't mind the expenses. You could substitue showing with the fancy car, the competitive travel hockey team, figure skating. We all spend our money somewhere. I guess most of those things are only worth it if the participant loves it.

                    On that note, I can't afford A shows, but love to do the local shows when I can. And when I can't, I still love taking lesson, and jumping here at home. The showing to me is not a be-all-end-all. Just another part of it.
                    “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
                    ¯ Oscar Wilde

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                    • #30
                      I love to show but have to admit that it is getting harder and harder to justify the expense of it; everything is going up except my income. Just went to a local show, very small, spent $75 for three classes and I live close-by so no real transportation or lodging costs.

                      I used to try not to really think about how much money I spent on horses, but not any more. It is just too expensive. Period.

                      Comment


                      • #31
                        In general, the money we spend on horses is just ridiculous! Especially, to those of us who don't have much extra. However, we each have our reasons for doing it and justifying just how much and what expenses we are willing to pay. I feel like riders and young horses learn so much more, so much faster at a horse show. For a young horse, it is a whole new experience and they really seem to grow up a lot at each horse show. As a rider, I feel like I learn more at a show, than in a lesson, because each time you walk in the ring, it is a test from start to finish. In a lesson, you make a mistake, you get to try again to fix it. When you make those mistakes in a show, they sink into your brain a little better and you think more about not repeating them.

                        I, also, really enjoy showing off my horse and getting compliments on on her. I bred, raised, and broke her myself.

                        We have a nice little group from my barn and I enjoy spending the time with them and cheering each other on. When we go to A shows, we get to go out to dinner together and just have a good time. It is a break from the regular grind.

                        I can't afford to do a lot of shows, so I try to pick out the ones I really enjoy. I don't win a ton, but I do sometimes. My horse is pretty fancy, but I am not. I learn a lot each time and I've been doing this for decades, now. Sometimes, I feel the same as you. Why am I spending all this money I don't have, when I'm not even all that good? There are always going to be people out there with more money, talent, and nicer things than me. That is something you just have to get over, if you WANT to do this horse show thing. You do it to the best of your ability and move on. If you don't love it, then you certainly should not be wasting the money.

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                        • #32
                          I do it because it's fun for me...is that weird?
                          Originally posted by rustbreeches
                          [George Morris] doesn't always drink beer, but when he does, he prefers Dos Equis

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                          • Original Poster

                            #33
                            Originally posted by Lucassb View Post
                            Are you asking if it's worth it to spend hard-earned money showing on a horse that you don't think is competitive?

                            That's a different question entirely, and doesn't necessarily change if you own the horse in question.

                            This is a very, very expensive sport, and 99.9% of those who play at it have to face the reality that there is always going to be someone with more money/a fancier horse. That said, though, I personally wouldn't find it fun to regularly show a horse that was completely outclassed; I'd either find a show where that horse *was* competitive (maybe a local show vs. an A show, for example) or I would find a division to show in (equitation or jumpers v. hunters) where the quality of the horse mattered less than the quality of the ride.
                            Thanks, this is what I originally meant to imply and it came out as an overly general question (my fault for wording, and I am enjoying reading the responses anyway). However, I have realized that for this time in my life/situation, and despite the fact that I DO have a strong desire to show competitively and I DO absolutely love what everyone is saying, I have been forced to come to terms that my money would be better spent in lessons and clinics, and I can wait to show until I can actually be competitive with a certain caliber horse or some sense of consistency where I am progressing and being tested as a rider, rather than having to bridge a huge horse-gap to even begin on any sort of marginally even playing field.

                            ...also: LOVE the idea of scorecards! The best show I ever went to was one in which the judge actually took 10 minutes after every class to individually critique each rider and give them suggestions for the future! That should be standard at every show!

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                            • #34
                              You sound like my boyfriend! While he supports me participating in shows, he wants me to think about it from a realist point of view. His thoughts, save the money for other equine activities I want to do but can't afford such as foxhunting, hunter paces, etc. I'm not a points chaser and recently purchased a horse with the intent of only participating in the TB Celebration Shows in Lexington, VA. People are pushing me to participate in more and I have almost given in, but your post has made me think long and hard about it. Thank you!

                              Comment


                              • #35
                                Originally posted by equestrian13 View Post
                                Thanks, this is what I originally meant to imply and it came out as an overly general question (my fault for wording, and I am enjoying reading the responses anyway). However, I have realized that for this time in my life/situation, and despite the fact that I DO have a strong desire to show competitively and I DO absolutely love what everyone is saying, I have been forced to come to terms that my money would be better spent in lessons and clinics, and I can wait to show until I can actually be competitive with a certain caliber horse or some sense of consistency where I am progressing and being tested as a rider, rather than having to bridge a huge horse-gap to even begin on any sort of marginally even playing field.

                                ...also: LOVE the idea of scorecards! The best show I ever went to was one in which the judge actually took 10 minutes after every class to individually critique each rider and give them suggestions for the future! That should be standard at every show!
                                If you love the show atmosphere you can still participate via other means. If you are a junior, you can help your trainer at the shows with the younger kids. Instill in them that same enjoyment. Plus your trainer might offer some additional lessons for your help Just going to shows and watching good horses/riders will improve your skills.

                                I've also sat with judges at a number of local shows, running cards, announcing numbers, etc. Many of them were willing to share with me their thoughts on the trips that just went. Offer to volunteer at shows in your area.

                                I try not to think about all the money I spend yearly on horse, equipment, lessons, shows, etc. My bank account would be much richer, but my mental health would be much poorer
                                “You'll always miss 100% of the shots you don't take.” - Wayne Gretsky

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                                • #36
                                  I own two horses, one a hunter, one dressage. Both are rescues that I've trained/re-trained to the level they are each at now. I like showing enough to sort of say, hey, look what my unbranded, not-popular-breed horses can do! I love that I can pin at all in some nice regional level shows against far pricier horses that are in full training programs.

                                  I take lessons regularly now, but do not board at a trainer's barn. I prefer training to riding, if that makes sense. I want to see what my work has done when I go to a show, not show off the fact that I can afford 3 lessons a week and 5 training rides or whatever.

                                  I also have a full time job, family, and other hobbies I enjoy. I do not want to blow the family fortune on shows, but more than anything, I hate losing my whole weekend to just ride for what, 30 minutes or so, in the show ring (minus warmup). I mean, really? I like doing lots of things with my weekends throughout the year. I will therefore show on a limited basis. I plan to show just one day even if the show lasts longer, do just a few throughout the year, and only go to shows where my trainer is already going so I can get feedback from him if not the judge.

                                  When training my horses, I did go to some local shows by myself for the new place experience, did fine, but definitely not as rewarding when no one is there to watch/comment on what I was doing. I also really hate that hunter shows don't give ANY feedback other than the final placings on how you did or what to improve. I love dressage shows for that AND the fact that we get ride times - perish the thought! I know exactly when I'm going in the show ring, so I show up in time to get ready, go in, and leave - my whole weekend isn't wasted sitting around. Time, for me, is probably more valuable than the money at this point in my life.

                                  I still enjoy progressing and learning, and improving how I ride my horses and how they perform. So I do find I get more bang for my buck and more out of the hours in the saddle in lessons and clinics than shows. I like showing just enough to showcase what the training has done, but I'm definitely not blowing the bank on shows.

                                  I also think the economy is sort of leveling the playing field a little bit to where enough people are scaling back that you can show at just a few shows and still do well at year-end. Some of the champions in our local circuit last year only attended 2-3 shows! The gap between those showing at the big AA shows and those doing the nicer local circuits and maybe some As in the local area is widening. The 1% and the 3% or whatever - those that aren't truly filthy, stinking rich are tightening their purse strings and not showing EVERY weekend, either. So I'm sort of hopeful that with continued lessons and a few nice outings at the shows, heck, maybe I could be competitive in annuals? Well, I'm also not paying all the fees to join, so I won't be collecting any coolers or plaques even if I win every time we go out, but I may earn enough points to know I could have, given the apparent changed landscape at shows.

                                  Comment


                                  • #37
                                    I would say it's not. In reality; whats the point? I stopped showing several years ago when I just didn't want to do it anymore. I showed competetively for many years, the travelling, the expense, lack of sleep, toll it took on my personal life, huge ego trainers,lack of respect from other competitors, price of horses, etc. Somepeople are really happy to be showing and at a show.

                                    I do understand. It got old for me after awhile. Realistically, there was no "point" in doing it anymore except throwing a lot of money out the window every weekend just to canter a course and win a ribbon and perhaps a year-end ribbon and living up to everyone else's stipulations and expectations as to what I should be doing. The "fun" wasn't there for me anymore. I have more fun just enjoying my horses doing smaller events. I've even switched over to some eventing to change things up and add a real challenge to my riding.

                                    It's all about having fun and what makes YOU happy. Showing isn't everyone's cup of tea and it's honestly OK if it's not. You don't have to prove anything to anyone; enjoy your horses however you'd like

                                    Comment


                                    • #38
                                      Great thread. I was having a similiar dilemma last week.

                                      I was planning on competing in rated shows this season with my coming 5 y/o but I have started to question the worth....
                                      I took her to schooling shows last season to get her out and avoid the stress and spent next to nothing with great results.
                                      Though, it was slightly satisfying it just isn't the company I want to be pinning in. Something in me yearns for the competitive thirst to be quenched!

                                      I am convinced that I go to shows for the recognition that I am riding correctly and schooling my horse correctly.
                                      It isn't all about the ribbons but the ribbon is a symbol to me that all the sweat and tears my horse and I have put into 'our' education is for some greater goal.
                                      IMO The lower we pin = the more correct we have become.
                                      That's satisfying to me!

                                      Although, as of late, with all the dollar signs being thrown around with our new home being built, I struggle to pay $1000 for shows when I can spend $5 a class locally. I feel like its just not the same but I think that might be my child-brain kicking in....which could explain why I feel I just cannot have any other helmet but a GPA now that I need a new one
                                      http://dotstreamming.blogspot.com/

                                      Comment


                                      • #39
                                        Originally posted by equestrian13 View Post
                                        Thanks for the responses...I feel I should clarify: I actually do love competing. I work extremely hard to be able to afford to attend shows, because I love making showing my goal. I love having something to work towards and I love the challenge of a new atmosphere and learning experience, etc. I know exactly what you guys mean with waking up before the crack of dawn, creating new memories, the thrill of the warm-up and the smile after a perfect course, and I frame the wonderful pictures of lasting memories. My original question does not stem from not having an interest in showing or feeling like I would rather just have fun and be content riding in general. If I never had to think about money, I would love to show more often. What I am having trouble with is the expense and whether the money is really justified. (And I realize this is an extremely personal decision for each individual).

                                        I should also add: I do not own my own horse. I gain wonderful experience leasing for the day a variety different horses when they are available, but I do not have a single bond or history built up with my own horse. Sometimes I get the opportunity to ride a fantastic horse and it feels wonderful to be able to compete against riders who own their own horses for months, when I can jump on and do just as well. However, other times it feels like this sport is all about how much one can afford to spend on a horse, because I end up riding a much lower-level school horse to try to compete on, and how can that possibly be a good way to gauge my progress, when I am forced to simply focus on getting around the course and it seems like many other riders can do more point-shoot-pose on their own, more responsive and fancy horses? (I realize this is getting into sticky territory about money to buy "push-button" horses, and I never "blame" the horse I am able to have the opportunity to ride at all, but the thing that frustrates me about showing sometimes is the "politics" of it all and the fact that you really are only as good as your horse). Could this stem from not having my own horse? With more details and in these situations, is showing still worth it?

                                        It's getting late here, not sure if I am making total sense. Thanks for the help and insight
                                        I like horse shows. Kat. and others have listed some nice reasons as to why showing is so addicting and fun even though it can be quite torturous at times. But is expensive and time consuming. So is all that awesomeness (and torture) worth the money? At various points in my life, I have informally done a cost benefit analysis to determine whether the benefits are really worth the price of admission.

                                        Right now it is for me. I have a young horse who is talented enough to be competitive in the divisions in which I want to compete. We are slowly moving up the ranks and the challenge for me is to get both of us to put it all together on the same day and to see how we stack up against the more established pairs.

                                        In the past oh, 20 years, it was not worth it. The first and biggest reason was I couldn't afford it. If I had a few bucks to throw around for a horse show, I am not sure I would have spent the money to take lease a horse for a show, just to go horse show. I was fortunate to be able to go to shows as a groom, so I was able to participate in the social aspect of the shows. I was perfectly content improving my riding at home and watching other people show, which helped me establish a better foundation from which to draw on now when I am ready to show.

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