I have been successfully showing my horse at local, 4H and schooling shows for three years now - through Training Level test 4, scores in the high 60s (last show we did in August was T1 67%, T2 69%, & T3 68%), and year-end GMO championships 2 years in a row. I have always wanted to do a USEF/ USDF show but have never had a ride, the money, and a trainer to help me all at the same time
Now I am looking at shows coming up in May, as it is still frozen up here in New York, and I am wondering whether it will be worth it to go for one or more shows.
A) resign myself to another year of schooling shows, move up to 1st level and be able to do several shows for the same amount or less thana couple of USEF/ USDF shows
B) start saving for expenses now and plan on one or two recognized shows for the summer, which could be fun or really stressful...
C) try to do one recognized show and one or two schooling shows which would probably put me out of the running for any sort of year end awards
Also, if I do decide to work towards recognized shows (which my trainer has told me I and my horse are more than ready for) I need to start saving NOW. But for what?
Should I get a USEF membership or pay non member fees? Should I get lifetime registration for my horse or get a one time horse ID? Should I try to save for a new coat (I have an old, not great fitting black hunt coat that has seen me through shows since I was 12!) or should I try to save for new boots (I have comfortable, WRINKLY field boots!)? Should I bother getting a Participating Membership w/ USDF (I have a GMO membership) - what if heck freezes over and our scores end up being great???
Unless you are a SERIOUS competitor and/or professional who is trying to build a resume or create a name for yourself/your horse, I would stick to the schooling shows. They are fun, less stressful and give you an opportunity to get feedback on yourself and your horse. Go to as many as you can afford. To me that is more valuable than going to 1 or 2 expensive rated shows where you will be more stressed. Going to enough of these to get over the jitters is probably unaffordable, let alone the new coat, boots, etc., etc.
I'd say you should do at least one recognized show just for the experience. I always had fun at mine. It's just such a different atmosphere than a schooling show. Might be a bit more stressful, but in the end I really enjoyed it. I did think the judging was a little better quality (just for the record I have had many fabulous judges at schooling shows too). You should really try one since you and your horse are doing so well. I would not go unless I was doing really well at the schooling shows, which in this case you are. Good luck!
I really do enjoy showing and many times I am one of the only people around me that is not stressed out - and this is at SCHOOLING shows! I totally understand where my horsey buddies are coming from when they say they hate showing, but I like the challenge!
I guess I should start saving regardless of what I want to do, as there are no free rides
I would stay with the GMO membership for USDF, but unless you are sure you will be only going to one rec. show, you'll save money by joining USEF. ($55 for membership, versus $30 for non- member fee at each show!)
As far as horse registration: you'll pay $20 for a HID, but that fee will be counted towards a lifetime registration, if you change your mind later on.
I like schooling shows, but I am going the recognized route right now to earn scores towards my bronze metal.
I'm biting the bullet and going for it this year - I have a fantastic horse who just became available, and first-class instruction, so I would feel bad at least NOT trying. But I'm nervous. I get nervous at little shows, so I can only imagine what the pressure is going to be like. I've been coached well to focus, and I love the horse, so I'm going to try to just concentrate on us.
Sounds like you've been very successful at TL for the last few years. My advice would be save the money that you would put into shows (schooling or recognized) and put it into training you, the horse or both so that you can move up to the next level. I had a very successful year at TL with my 4yo and then took a year off from showing in order to be able to really get better and be ready to move up.
I absolutely LOVE showing....I think it is just loads of fun and my horse seems to like it too. But putting the show money into extra lessons/clinics/etc has done me worlds of good and now we are ready to get back out there at First level and beyond. I don't see the point in wasting my money over and over for someone to tell us we're good at the same thing. I want to be good at NEW things
And I wouldn't waste the money on new clothes or boots. I showed in my old hunter field boots forever, they have only been replaced this year because I am just sick and tired of pull ons. I showed in a borrowed coat & stock tie for over a year, the only thing I bought for showing dressage was a pair of white breeches. Everything else is hunter-ring carry over!
Lots of luck whatever you decide!
"There is just as much horse sense as ever, but the horses have most of it"
It sounds like you are ready to take the plunge!! If its affordable without stressing you out finacially, I think recognized shows are worth it. I am not sure where "the frosty north" is, but around here many schooling shows are judged by "L" judges....which doesn't make them bad judges, just less experienced with less formal judges training. In a recognized show, you might end up riding for a large R or an S judge and get a more trained eye.
I find that showing recognized will also take me out of my comfort zone and nudge me a step higher in my horsemanship. You will learn to deal with additional issues..... more pressure (you cant help it...now matter how friendly the environment....you will probably feel more nervous...its natural), usually a more crowded warm up, and more to think about in preparing for show time such as braiding, taking off boots or wraps, etc. You will tend to see a higher quality of riding and see higher levels at a recognized show and this can train your eye. I always find that I ride better at a high quality recognized show because I naturally try to fit in with all the hot shots around me in the warm up!! lol!
If you can only do one or two recognized shows this year, I would choose the show based on the judges and the footing. I don't necessarily want to ride in front of the easiest or kindest judge...I want the one with the keenest eye for the basics. Also, your horse will go better on good footing so that is a key component for me in choosing a show. If your horse is not used to being worked on grass, try to avoid a show that puts training level in a grass ring. Otherwise your horse may feel less secure and be less likely to strut his stuff.
Don't worry about buying new clothes as long as what you have meets the rules for show attire and is neat and tidy.
You will need 8 scores at training level (see USDF website for complete rules) to qualify for year end USDF awards. So if that is not a possibility and year end awards are an important goal for you, you may want to leave some schooling show money in the kitty so you can qualify for your GMO awards. Of course you could also try to qualify for Regional Finals and go to that Championship....that only takes two qualifying scores at the highest test of the level.... and you can win jackets and money and really cool neck ribbons!!
As far as blowing enough money for a couple shows on a coat: I never think tack or clothing is important. Neither does the judge. People fuss like mad and wonder if brown goes with black, but the judge really does not care, if he's a good judge. A coat can be bought used or borrowed.
I think a lot of it depends on your goals and your area.
As to the area, if the schooling shows have very good judges, footing and facilities, as they do in some areas, the schooling shows are fine for most purposes.
But it really depends on what you want to do. If for you shows are a place to win ribbons and local awards, and you don't care if you move up the levels or not, that's one thing.
If on the other hand, these lower levels are simply a place for you to check your horse's training and you view them as preparation and a guide for moving up the levels, that's a very, very different thing.
If the judge is for you actually giving you an 'examination' on your training so you can progress on a sound foundation, rather than a ribbon, it's' a very different kettle of fish.
Many people are in this situation - they have a helpful local person, but the person hasn't trained horses or competed beyond training or first level or has very limited experience doing that with only 1-2 horses. They serve more as an 'eye on the ground' or helper than a trainer, and the student relies very heavily on the judge to keep him on the right track as he moves up the levels. He is VERY concerned about who judges him, and the judge is going to be the ONLY contact he has with a much more upper level, experienced trainer who's brought many horses and students up the levels; he can't afford to take a few weeks off work a year and toodle off to a top trainer.
In some areas, schooling shows have L candidates or small r judges, and less broadly experienced 'R' judges, and even, judges with no certification or training as a judge at all.
In some isolated areas, many judges are 'lapsed little 'r's' or lower, and may not have gone to a single judge's seminar in decades; some of the judges 'got in when it was very easy' and never had much experience training dressage, or behing trained as a judge. This isn't even that unusual in some of the stronger dressage regions. Local riding teachers often judge schooling shows, even judge their own students, and they may have very obvious biases.
They have no hope of affording anything higher for schooling shows. While some of these judges are quite good and DO have experience moving horses and riders up, many do not.
In that situation, the rider has to make a choice. He may even get a lot of blue ribbons if he sticks to the schooling shows, but he may doubt he's really getting what he needs.
If the schooling shows had tougher, more experienced judges, they might suit him quite well. But if the judging or footing is in doubt, he may be putting his horse and himself further from his real goals.
The barn where I board usually has two or three schooling shows a year, so I would be able to do those without any new equipment OR any trucking, so I think I will enter those, but also shoot for the stars with one or two recognized shows.
I live in Central NY and while we used to have a recognized show here every year (the CNYDCTA Classic) it is no longer being run. So the closest shows to me are ~1.5 hours away
I was so excited about the prospects of doing a recognized show that I googled all the show grounds and made an excel doc with how long it would take to drive to each
slc2 - good point about the clothes, I hadn't really put two and two together there but yeah, a new coat or new boots would cost about the same as a show or two! I am just COVETING a beautiful 4-button frock with velvet collar but I guess I will scour ebay and keep on using my trusty hunt coat. It's gotten me this far!
I definitely want to move up this year to 1st; one of the only things we had a hard time with in TL was the stretchy circle, but I incorporate some long and low into most rides now and he is much more willing to stretch down and out instead of down and... OMIGODwhereareyou?? nose to the chest So maybe I will do 1st at the schooling shows but stick with TL at recognized?
I don't know enough about the different judges to know who would be good to show under but I will talk to my trainer. She is also against grass footing so I'll bet she knows where to avoid.
Again thank you all, I will keep everyone posted on what we do once it thaws out up here!
another path is to volunteer at the recognized shows and get a feel for the environment. Scribing allows you to sit with these judges and eventually learn stuff you can use!!! If you cannot ride for the judges, sitting with them can be as good ( sometimes better) and costs nothing but gas money.
Also shows are a great place to find used clothes. A larger GMO or a regional web site might alsohave a source for used clothes.
I will be selling my show clothes this Spring as I am getting out of showing and retiring my horse.
Another thing to think about. If you ever decide to go for your USDF medal(s), you will need two scores at each level from recognized (USDF) shows. So this might be the chance to get your Training level scores. Next year, you can set your sights on your First Level scores.
I wouldn't worry about going for USDF Regionals - that adds so many more expenses. Your horse would have to be both USEF Registered and USDF Recorded, and you would have to be a USDF Participating member (instead of a GMO member). So you've added several hundred $ just in memberships.
The only reason to bump up to USDF Participating membership would be if you hoped to go for USDF HOY or All Breeds, and as already pointed out, that is 8 scores (from 4 different shows and judges). $$$$$
SLC is totally right - if your tack fits your horse and is legal, and your clothes fit you and are legal, why bother buying new stuff? Ask for that dressage coat for Christmas
I do think you can get good feedback from schooling shows, and some of the L judges have more formal training than some of the old time r and R judges, but there is nothing like getting the real thing from a real judge who is out there judging on a regular basis. Before you jump into spending the $ on a big show, maybe volunteer at one, watch what goes on, get an idea of how much the expectations bump up, and if possible scribe for a judge.
Big warning - you might get hooked and want to attend recognized shows all the time.
Forget the new clothes. Really, as long as you don't look like a mounted bag-lady, no-one is going to notice.
Personally, I prefer recognized shows because the judges are generally far more experienced--or at least that is the case around here--and the feedback is better quality.
I agree w/both parts of this.
FWIW, I use schooling shows as exactly that - opportunities to school in a different place. The feedback I get at schooling shows is not really relevant for the most part. Sometimes I get outrageous scores just because the horse is on the aids.. sometimes I get crazy comments (horse needs more bend in training level, and the judge asked me to approach so she could tell me to torque his head around so I would get a better score ) sometimes the comments are accurate and thats nice but..
if it means something to me, I would rather show at a recognized show in front of a judge whose opinion matters to me, and whose commentary I can trust to be accurate.
But that's just me.
"Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
--- The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.