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Even though the East Coast is still shoveling the last of this winter’s snow, show season is right around the corner. As horses and riders start gearing up for this summer’s competitions, equestrians everywhere are meticulously planning out which shows they’ll be attending in 2022. A lot goes into choosing which horse competitions or pony shows to attend. Careful attention to detail can mean the difference between a great show season and a bust.
When to Start Planning Your Show Season
The United States is host to a lot of different climates. Riders in Florida have been blessed with the ability to show all winter long, while those equestrians in Michigan have to wait a little longer before they can head to their next horse competition. Generally, most spring and summer show seasons can start as early as March or April, depending on the weather and the facilities available. For venues with an indoor, they may be able to start their spring pony shows earlier, or even host a winter competition series.
In order to get ahead of the curve and get a jump on your next show season, many riders start planning their schedules in January or February. This way, they’ll be able to ride at as many competitions as possible without missing out on early shows due to poor planning. Plus, there’s no better way to beat the winter blues than by scheduling a summer full of exciting horse competitions!
Evaluate Yourself and Your Horse Honestly
When choosing which shows to attend, it’s important to be honest with yourself and evaluate your goals carefully. Competing in classes that are too much of a challenge for you and your horse will just set you up for failure, but competing in classes that are too easy will prevent you from improving as much as you could.
A good rule of thumb is that you should be training just a little higher than you’re competing, particularly with very dangerous equestrian sports like eventing. For example, if you would like to show in a 3’0 over fences class, you should be comfortable jumping 3’3 when training at home. This ensures that you and your horse will be confident at your next horse show without selling yourself short and entering into a class that is too easy.
When evaluating your current skill set, ask yourself a few simple questions:
- When was the last time you went to a horse show? If it’s been a while or you’re signing up for your very first show, you may want to set yourself up for success and take it easy. This will allow you to get the lay of the land and build your confidence while you’re still new to horse competitions.
- Is your horse young or green? Is this their first show season? Consider your horse’s mindset and skills just as carefully as your own. You may be a horse show veteran, but if it’s your horse’s first season, you’ll want to take it easy and make allowances for their first time competing.
- How has your training been going? Are you feeling confident and comfortable at home? If you’ve been struggling with your training at home, then maybe you want to take it down a level for horse shows. Pony shows and horse competitions add a lot of pressure. If you’re already feeling insecure about your riding, this is not the time to move up a level.
- Last but not least, are you having fun? Horseback riding is a hobby and passion that is supposed to make you happy. If you’re competing or training at a level that is too high for you, you’ll find that pretty soon all the fun has gone out of the experience. Prioritize fun at your horse shows for a good experience for both you and your horse.
Talk to Your Trainer
Your training is an excellent resource when it comes to planning which horse competitions you’ll attend this season. Not only is your trainer a trusted resource with more experience than you, but they’re extremely familiar with your horse, your riding style, and your past experiences. They may have even been with you every step of the way! They’ll be able to provide you with an honest evaluation of you and your horse and advise you on what level you should be showing at this season.
It’s also a good idea to coordinate with your trainer for the show season. It’s much more convenient for you both to attend shows they’ll already be at. That way you can trailer together, enter together, and support each other on hectic show days. Depending on the trainer, it may even save you some money.
Make Sure You’re Prepared
No matter how carefully you plan your horse show season, it won’t help if you don’t have all the tack and gear that you need! At Breeches.com, we believe in increasing affordability for equestrians everywhere. Save money on high-quality products this show season. Check out our collection of show coats, tall boots, show shirts, breeches, saddle pads, and more.
Download Our Free Horse Show Planner
We created the horse show planner below to make your life a little easier and to help you stay organized over a hectic show season. Download it for free, print it out, and fill it in to keep all the details for your 2022 horse competitions in one easy place. Click the picture below to download your planner or click here.
For more horse show season tips, check out this blog.