23 Jul The Importance and Benefits of Showing a Horse
Owning a horse and being a skilled equestrian are each accomplishments in their own ways, but not showing the skills of both horse and rider in the ring is not taking full advantage of what the sport can offer to each.
Training schedules, which are the maps that will guide the instructor and rider, are created to determine goals and competition is an important aspect of the process. Showing allows a horse to be exposed to life outside the barn, which prepares him for new environments and accustoms him to different sights and sounds. Ultimately, he becomes a better behaved animal, one no so easily spooked or distracted in new situations. Showing helps your horse to stay in practice and builds confidence, which in turn maintains or improves his value — an important consideration if selling him is on the owner’s radar.
Horses have personalities and abilities that when channeled in the proper direction will yield results in the ring, a place many believe brings out the best in them — perhaps an innate competitiveness and desire to please the partner with which he has developed a bond. This connection between horse and rider is an inevitable result of the time the two must spend together as they strive to reach goals that will give them a competitive edge in the show ring. Together they are working toward the prize, but the tangential benefits of preparing for competition and showing are skills that for the equestrian extend to everyday life and for the young rider can last a lifetime.
Showing a horse requires problem-solving, goal-setting and organizational skills. The rider must face issues as they arise and determine how best to resolve them, whether it relates to the horse, logistics or even time-management. For young riders, they often will be juggling school, homework and other extracurricular activities with riding lessons and the accompanying duties that may fall to them — for example feeding, grooming, and readying for competition — as well as travel time and, of course, the actual shows. And showing requires incredible attention to detail, down to tack, appearance and performance, so the ability to prioritize and execute — often under pressure — are vital.
Setting goals during training for both the horse and the rider are imperative, and determining how best to achieve them requires communication skills. Too, goals outside the training environment may need to be set in order to achieve results as a competitor as well as an accomplished teammate, student or co-worker. Preparation and competition can help refine a competitive spirit and instill confidence in a tentative personality. The intricacies of the sport can inspire compassion and patience as well as foster a sense of responsibility for another living being.
For youth, showing a horse might help set a path for their futures in perhaps unexpected ways. There are equestrian awards and scholarships that could help offset college expenses, not to mention the ability to compete on a collegiate level. Further, the field of employment in the equine industry is vast — from training to advocacy, course designing to veterinary medicine — for those who envision themselves pursuing a career in which they can combine their love for horses with making a living and serving the sport.