Due to the expensive nature of showing which is even greater for rated shows, I'm wondering whether to put off the rated shows until I'm doing First level. I know that scores from First level tests can count towards bronze medal requirements (assuming I make it to third level and get decent scores), but I don't know if training level tests can be used for anything specific.
I've shown my youngster at Intro and Training level this summer at schooling shows and did very well in some nice company (including some FEI level pros). We will continue to show in training level next season and possibly try some first level later next year as we begin to school it this winter.
I don't want to be short-sighted, so I thought I'd post here and get some perspectives on this. Am I better off saving my $$$ to show at First level? Or is there something useful for be gained from doing rated shows at training level with my limited budget?
It depends. I believe there is a training level rider award, as well as a horse certificate if you are interested. You can also compete in all-breeds awards if you are interested. Generally though, the benefit of rated shows is the quality of the judging. If you have access to good judging at schooling shows- thats probably fine for now.
I agree - it depends on your goals. If you think there's a chance you might sell the horse and he's doing well I would definitely go out and get some recognized scores under his belt, it will make him far more marketable. If you want the experience of bigger shows and want to compete for year end awards that's another good reason to go to recognized shows. Otherwise I don't think it's a bad idea at all to save the money and put it toward training and care.
I'm thinking ahead about this with my 18 month old. I think if he's got the gaits to do the FEI young horse classes I'll go that route at recognized shows, otherwise I'll probably consider sticking to schooling shows for training level and wait to take him out when he's competing at first. Especially with the youngsters it makes a lot of sense to me to put the money into training rather than showing. If you've got higher level aspirations then you'll have plenty of years to be out there showing at recognized anyway
I personally prefer to spend the money on education rather than lower level showing. I could have banged out First/Second/Third level scores by now for my Bronze, but I would rather keep taking lessons until my horse can really excel.
Every dollar I spend on showing has to come out of the lesson fund and when it comes down to it I would rather spend $700 traveling for lessons to learn how to improve the tempis and ride my horse like he deserves than riding a couple tests at a show and get a medal.
If I do show in order to "check in" with how my ride does in front of a judge, I do so at schooling shows for this reason. Perhaps when I have something really worthwhile to qualify for I will start showing rated. Until then, not all that interested.
Since we don't have any local shows, I would go show at a rated show largely because my friends go, and if I'm going along to watch/help groom, etc. I might as well bring my own horse. I like the social aspect of it. Good friends, food & wine (yes we pack lovely food along).
I have been showing at schooling shows all year at Training Level with my new horse. We've steadily improved so I showed at First Level at the last show and did well. I too, don't see the point in paying so much money for showing recognized at Training level unless you don't plan on going much higher. Next year, I will go to recognized shows and the first one I will show at Training level because I know it's a different ball game than schooling shows, but assuming we do well, I'll show at First level after.
I fully believe in showing a level below what you are schooling at home. I also believe that there's no point in wasting money going to a rated show at any level until you can do well at a schooling show first. If you are a seasoned professional, obviously, that may not apply, but for many one horse amateurs, we need just a little more time in the show ring at schooling shows before we are ready to play with the big wigs.
As for the judging, I have only come across one judge who I will not waste money or time to ride under again. Most of the judges have been great, as they usually also judge at rated shows.
That said, I had the ride on an Irish Draught stallion where we did rated shows at Training Level as a 3 year old. He, obviously, was being campaigned for breeding and the exposure was good for him. The owner wanted any and every award he could get. It helped that the horse was amazingly talented. He's doing PSG in Florida now as a 7 year old.
So, as others have said, it depends on your goals.
If you've never shown at a rated show, then I'd do one at Training level. But if you're comfortable at rated shows, then I'd hold off until First Level.
I think for a younger horse, you can still get the show experience and feedback you'd need from a unrated show with a good judge. I had an S judge at my last unrated show. Once the horse is settled and working well at unrated shows, then use the rated ones to achieve goals (regionals, rider awards, etc).
That's how I'm doing it. I'll let you know in another year or two whether that worked. hahah
I am in the same boat as you. I showed at training level at schooling shows this past year and will be moving up to first level in the spring. I am waiting until we move up to go to the rated shows. No point in spending a bunch of money on scores that don't count towards your goals. Instead I invested in clinics and lessons.
I did go and watch a rated show though. I watched the first level tests and it gave me confidence that we were ready for it. It was also good to see how the horses and riders were turned out compared to the schooling shows!
SnicklefritzG, there have been some really good thoughts on this thread.
What are your plans for this horse? If for sale, then it helps to have a show record. Rated shows are expensive as mentioned above, I wouldn't waste a lot of money going to rated shows at the lower levels. Do you have regional shows that are not schooling shows but are one step up?
One thing that I didn't see anyone mention is the absolutely electric atmosphere at a rated show. There are a ton more horses and chaos. What about the jumbotron? What about the sprinkler system that goes off just as you enter at A? If your horse doesn't care about anything, you lucky dog, I'd hold off.
How are your nerves? Perfectly sensible people at a schooling show become a nervous wreck at the USDF sanctioned shows. (Big red arrow pointing to my head here).
A lot of it depends on your pocketbook, your horse and you. My first PSG horse was a nervous wreck at horse shows. I had to arrive a day early and ride him. On show day I'd ride him at least one time before we showed. He couldn't stay in his stall and had to be hand walked for hours. By the time I went home I was exhausted. He was nothing like this if I trailered in that day to a show, rode and went home.
My current PSG horse could care less if Godzilla himself showed up, okay, a bit of an exaggeration but a great change. As, I said above, you have to get the experience of a rated show to see how you and your horse are going to react. I hope that your horse could care less and you can save some money!
I didn't show recognized until First Level either. The key is to make sure that the judges at your schooling shows are R or S judges. If you are constantly going before L graduates at the schooling shows, you may get a rude surprise under an S judge LOL! Not to say there aren't some fabulous L graduates, but generally the scores do differ with more experience.
My horse is very reactive. At home...pretty level headed. Away from home? Aaargh. In my area, there are LOTS of recognized shows, few schooling shows (more cropping up lately, tho'). So, anyway, just to get him exposed to showing conditions I had to show recognized at Intro (maybe 3 shows) and Training Level (part of 2009, horse injured 2010, Training Level 2011, not showing this year because I broke my arm in May). If your horse is the unflustered type who won't overreact to the "new and strange" conditions of a show, then yes, I'd probably save my money and wait until 1st level. (On the other hand, my guy did win all the divisions of his All Breeds category in 2011 and I only had 10 scores. That was kinda fun.) Since I haven't shown all year, I was kinda hot to go to a couple of schooling shows and see what we could do at 1st level, but after I thought about it (and my budget), I did decide the money could be better spent on lessons.
I'm lucky enough to live in an area that has some very competitive schooling show series, and for now, I would rather spend my show budget there. My horse is a "lifer" so I don't need recognized scores, and a slightly more relaxed atmosphere helps with "hot little Morgan mare promotion."
I did show rated twice in 2009 (before mare got hurt) and it was a good experience... In both cases I trailered a more advanced horse/rider from my barn; one of these riders finished her bronze medal thanks to that
If I was going for a goal that requires recognized scores (e.g. Morgan Nationals) I'd have to show recognized. But that's all a pipe dream right now, anyway.
"You have to have experiences to gain experience."
To me, it would depend entirely on whether I lived somewhere where the schooling shows had good judges. Here, if I only do schooling shows, I end up showing in front of the same 3 L judges year in and year out. I prefer to get some broader feedback, personally.
Now, if I'm showing a level for the first couple of times, I'm going to do it at a schooling show.
But if you are in CA or somewhere with really good "schooling" shows, I think you have a perfectly good approach.
I think that depends on your own experience, as well as the temperament of the horse.
If you are an old pro at lower level at "rated" shows, and you are fairly certain that your horse will not fall apart at rated shows, I say hold off the rated shows and spend the money on clinics instead.
If you are not experienced at Training at Rated shows, and/or you are not certain whether your horse will hold up well at one, I say go to at least one to see how it goes. The last thing you want to do is to wait until he is ready for 1st level competitions, and find out your experience and/or his temperament cannot hold up to the atmosphere, and end up having to drop to training level just to get over the nerves. I know I am cool as a cucumber at schooling shows but get nervous at rated shows, on top of the fact that it is actually more convenient for me to go to rated shows, I end up using rated shows to be my schooling shows....
I showed my young horse in 2 schooling shows before I did recognized to get her out and seeing things before I spent the money on recognized shows. That being said, I don't typically like schooling shows as I have found the judging isn't always accurate. I would rather go to less shows but get the more educated comments. This could be a regional thing, however.