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Are horse shows really worth it?

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  • Are horse shows really worth it?

    Even if you have a perfect round, was that $40 class fee to jump a minute-long course over 10 jumps you could have jumped in a lesson or clinic really worth it? Really?

    How can a trainer charge double the price of a lesson for "show coaching" which generally involves saying the course and giving a few pointers, when you could have had 5-10 full private lessons for the price of one horse show?

    If you are not trying for year-end finals or some other reason, is competing in a horse show really the best use of your money? Are you gaining enough out of a show (which seem to be very hurry up & wait wait wait wait) to justify the costs?

    I understand having a specific goal to work towards, I understand getting show miles on a horse to sell, and I understand the feeling when you finally get rewarded by an independent judge for a perfect round that culminates all your hard work...but STILL.

    I have lost the value of horse showing, simply on the basis of paying $4 per jump to be in the "atmosphere" of a show. And we all know there are wayyyy more costs than just class fees.

    That turned into more of a ramble than I intended. Thoughts?

  • #2
    I have not shown at a large show in a while due to horse flesh and being in college, but I still love to go with friends and help out trainers.. because I love the atmoshpere! I love going to shows as a spectator, friend, and assistant! I'm not sure sure I love shows so much anymore as a competitor, but as soon as my boy gets in shape that could change.


    • #3
      Not sure who you are using as a trainer, but my trainer doesn't charge any more for a day of coaching at a show than a private lesson.

      I enjoy visiting with my show friends and seeing the progress of a horse that I put in countless hours training myself.


      • #4
        There is nothing wrong with not having interest in showing.... Don't do anything that you don't enjoy when it comes to horses, or you will end up disliking everything about horses real quick...

        Now I show, I don't show hunters (sorry an eventer slipped in), but I do compete because I have fun with my horse. I also don't spend the money competing recognized events, I stick to the local stuff that I have people that I know will be there too, and have fun with it.... One of my things that I enjoy most are the hunter paces.... I just enjoy hanging out with people in a non competitive way, but still can be if I choose it to be....

        You get out of showing what you put into it... and if you don't have an interest in it, no worries, that's the wonderful thing about horses, you don't have to force yourself into anything.... enjoy your horses for the fun and the happiness they bring you, whatever way that maybe.


        • #5
          I think I show to remind myself on occasion that I still get out there and do it. If I do not place so well, at least I have gotten to see some quality rounds that the judge pinned ahead of me.

          I don't like the outfits, waking up early, or waiting all day for classes.

          I do like the camaraderie that exists among barnmates at the show.
          The best sports bras for riders are Anita 5527 and Panache! Size UP in Anita, down in Panache (UK sizing)


          • #6
            It depends on what your goals are with riding. If you just want to ride for fun, then just ride for fun or stick to smaller, cheaper local shows. But if you have any interest in getting involved in the horse business through buying/training/selling or becoming a professional rider/instructor/judge then showing and the costs accrued are worth it. Not every rider has to be an "A" show competitor. If the trainer fees and types of shows they attend are the issue, then switch to a trainer with costs and a show program that better fit within your budget.


            • #7
              For me it is. For other people its not. To each their own.
              When I get to the show grounds at 3:30 and everything is hustling, my heart sings. When I ride multiple horses over courses as the sun rises, I am my happiest. When I go into a ring I've never ridden in, and go over jumps I've never seen and I make it all work, I am nearly ready to explode. I would be very unhappy if it weren't for showing, not because I like ribbons or beating people, but because I like the quiet and the pressure and the fear and the skill that it takes to ride a course. I show my horse that (with the help of my trainer) I trained from less than 60 days of training. When we go in and lay down the trip I get so proud of him people must think I'm crazy. When I do an equtation test on a horse I've never ridden, I can't fathom anything better. When I ride a sale horse a someone notices it, I smile a little too much.
              I get that not everyone loves showing. On paper it sucks ass. But there is nothing in the world I would rather be blowing my money on.
              My Horse Show Photography/ Blog


              • #8
                There is no one "right" way to enjoy horses. If you don't like showing or don't see the value, then there is nothing wrong with skipping shows.

                I personally LOVE to show; I enjoy the atmosphere and testing myself, and I enjoy the social aspect of it as well.

                As for the financial considerations... I stopped trying to justify or make any sense of what I spend on horses a long time ago!
                We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.


                • #9
                  Showing is, IMO, the ultimate way to gauge your progress and make sure you're not just staying static. I, personally, always try to improve and it's easy to lose sight of that if I'm not being put against others as a measuring stick..AND, my competitive side then pushes me



                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Kat. View Post
                    I get that not everyone loves showing. On paper it sucks ass. But there is nothing in the world I would rather be blowing my money on.
                    I just ordered a picture from a horse show...I am cantering through a turn on course, with a huge smile on my face, actually laughing out loud. I am old enough to know that anything that brings me that much joy is definitely worth it.


                    • #11
                      In a purely logical price/value sense - NO. But...


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Kat. View Post
                        For me it is. For other people its not. To each their own.
                        When I get to the show grounds at 3:30 and everything is hustling, my heart sings. When I ride multiple horses over courses as the sun rises, I am my happiest. When I go into a ring I've never ridden in, and go over jumps I've never seen and I make it all work, I am nearly ready to explode. I would be very unhappy if it weren't for showing, not because I like ribbons or beating people, but because I like the quiet and the pressure and the fear and the skill that it takes to ride a course. I show my horse that (with the help of my trainer) I trained from less than 60 days of training. When we go in and lay down the trip I get so proud of him people must think I'm crazy. When I do an equtation test on a horse I've never ridden, I can't fathom anything better. When I ride a sale horse a someone notices it, I smile a little too much.
                        I get that not everyone loves showing. On paper it sucks ass. But there is nothing in the world I would rather be blowing my money on.

                        This. This. This. My boyfriend always says "well, you're broke at the end of the month," (obviously not completely literally) but I have to explain to him that I'm not REALLY because I had plenty of money—I just chose to spend it on horse shows in particular, which for a non-horsey person, doesn't seem to offer much tangible reward.

                        (Oh, and I do like ribbons and beating people. No shame.)


                        • Original Poster

                          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


                          • #14
                            I like using horse shows as a test of the things I have been working on at home.

                            It is one thing to do a course or a dressage test at home but quite another to do it at a show with lots of commotion, show nerves, etc.


                            • #15
                              In a word, absolutely.
                              There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the
                              inside of a man.

                              -Sir Winston Churchill


                              • #16
                                If I didn't love what I was doing then I wouldn't do it anymore. It is far to much money to waste on something that does make me as happy as it actually does. Sometimes in the moment I'll seem miserable and upset, but in reality there is NOTHING I would rather do than be up at 5 am for a show. Even on the times I completely BLOW it, I'm still loving what I do. And honestly, the friends I've made showing will stick with me forever.


                                • #17
                                  I am a naturally competitive person and I enjoy competing in horse shows. I like to see where I stand against other competitors in my division and also like the opportunity to jump around a real course either hunter or jumper set by a real course designer. I also find that I actually ride a whole lot better at shows while competing than I do at home just schooling. It is also the best feeling in the world when you lay down that perfect trip in the hunter ring or that double clear round in the jumper ring. I like to horse show because it gives me something to work toward, a reason to make myself and my horse better. I love the thrill of being in the show ring and the atmosphere of the show grounds. It is very expensive but well worth the money to me and sometimes I even get lucky and win a lot of it back!


                                  • #18
                                    I can see where you're coming from. I love shows. I also think shows are ripping us riders off, as well as some trainers when it comes to shows. It seems your complaint isn't the show itself, it's the financial hoops many people have to jump through to go to them.

                                    I remember when I was younger we'd go out to shows, and all of us would be really excited to find time in the day to go to the booths and see what companies had stuff on display/for sale to look at. Custom show coat makers, saddle companies with test rides available, etc. I went back to the same show a couple of years ago and it was almost a ghost town. Local tack shop was there selling the same stuff at the same prices. I saw no horse people selling their artwork or offering services in exchange for goods, just the bare minimum to get the show done. And that's sad, because shows were kind of like festivals to me and that totally made the shows worth it.

                                    However even still, I think they're still worth it.


                                    • #19
                                      I pretty much stick to schooling shows. I can show in a bunch of classes for about $100. It's fun. It's cheap. What's not to love? I like the bang for my buck.


                                      • #20
                                        Everything about horses is ridiculous and absurd and impractical. I spend more money on my horse's shoes just for them to get lost forever in the mud. I spend more money on his housing than I do on my college apartment. I spend more money on his "winter jacket", his food, and his "accessories" than I do for myself. I spend extra money for a horse who can jump bigger sticks. Or one who jump sticks with his knees even rather than a little dangling.

                                        People literally spend hundreds of thousands of dollars based on what a horse's legs look like in the air. And you're trying to convince me its just the horse showing part that is impractical?!

                                        I could just as easily ask you if paying $50 is worth sitting on a four legged beast and having someone yell at you all the way you are sitting wrong while that animal tries not to do what you tell it to. Yes, that is worth it for some people. It is for me. And so is showing.