The fact of the matter is that horse shows are a lot of work. Weeks of preparation go into just one show, from memorizing and practicing your dressage tests or jump courses, to meticulously grooming your horse and cleaning all your tack and gear. During the stressful prep process I usually ask myself why on earth I'm doing this to myself.
Well, because it's worth it. Why? Because horse shows test you, challenge you, and help you grow in so many ways. They give you a solid, unbiased read on where you and your horse are with your training. They teach you about yourself, and about your horse. They help build community and camaraderie between you and the other riders in your area. They bond you with your horse even deeper. They give you something to work towards, and afterwards hopefully something to feel proud about. AND, if you're doing it right, they're fun.
Last weekend Clay and I did our first horse show together. It was a huge success for me because I learned so much about my horse, whom I've never seen in that kind of situation before (I had no idea how he would react) and because we went out and did our best for where we are with our connection and training.
We had a blast with our friends, and came home with helpful and honest notes from the judges. Now we know exactly what to focus on in our every day training. It feels great to have that experience under our belts. I couldn't be happier with how Clay handled everything–it was truly a bonding experience for us, which is important since we are new to each other and still forming that all-important bond.
If you're on the fence about showing, I hope you'll go for it!