The Dramatic Highs and Lows of Horse Shows

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Horse shows are a window into what it means to be an equestrian. A microcosm of what equestrians experience daily, monthly, and yearly all heaped into one chaotic and exhilarating experience. 


That is, if you like to compete, which I don't. No one is harder on myself than I am, which I write about in Riding Through My Winter Funk.  Recently there was a Facebook post in one of my amateur equestrian groups about amateur horse shows. A mock up of what a fun, no stress horse show would entail. Rumor is they may actually be holding it in Georgia this year because there was so much interest.



There is often a lot of chaos. Which classes are best for me and my horse? When should I tack up? When should I school? When is my class going to be called? Do I have time to eat something? All the frantic rushing around to be ready on time. Of course then there is a lot of hurry up and wait. It doesn’t matter what discipline in which you are riding. Barn time is a real phenomenon.  




Some people and horses thrive in the chaos. Others need to be desensitized to the noises, the other horses, or the people running around. You can tell a lot about an equestrian by how they react to their horse bucking after a jump or randomly spooking and stepping into a water bucket while waiting for their turn at the gate. Or they could be like Delight and fall asleep while patiently waiting. 




Maybe that is why I like to watch, and photograph. There is so much drama! So many personalities (horses, humans, and often dogs too) in one small snippet of the world all competing for points or ribbons.



I get anxiety being a part of the chaos, but with my camera I get to experience it as an observer. I am by no means a great photographer, but blogging certainly improved my photography. The only exception to the rule is working as a groom or massage therapist in the barn during the show, which I welcome.


There are highs and lows, disappointment, and elation. It’s a microcosm of society and you can see it all. Green horses, fresh horses, packers, and bombproof horses. Competitors of all ages, trainers, parents, friends, and pets. 



It’s better than watching reality tv. It’s unpredictable and exciting whether in the stands or in the ring. How can someone not have come up with this premise yet? 


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About the writer: Heather Wallace of Monmouth County, New Jersey is a certified equine and canine sports massage therapist, co-owner of Bridle & Bone Wellness LLC, and equestrian & canine blogger at Bridle & Bone. She is an adult amateur equestrian and has two rescue dogs, Gonzo and Beau.