Have you discovered that the price of getting to a horse show plus the expenses of being there is on par with the national debt? And the reward is a few points or no points for a class win.

Jill Bradley, Las Vegas, NV brought it to my attention that there is more to showing than chasing points at the breed level. She took a year off from traveling to show in her backyard, her state’s horseman’s association, had fun, won prizes instead of points and ribbons, and met interesting people that she may not of otherwise.

There is a lot to be said positively about competing in your local area or region. Let us delve into the advantages of doing that.

One of the advantages is that it does not cost as much to show at the local or regional level. We can use less fuel to trailer our horse and there is less wear and tear on the horse, truck and trailer.

Fuel is a cost that we have in showing at any level but it is huge when we travel 40,000 to 60,000 miles a year or more chasing a national title. At the present price of $2 + per gallon and a MPG of 10 to 14 miles or less, we can expect fuel to be a major cost in our showing budget. We also have upkeep and maintenance on the vehicle and trailer plus stall fees, motel, meals and entry fees. A LQ trailer may reduce motel fees but in the long run it probably costs about the same.

If we were to show at some of the local regional events, we would reduce those costs significantly. Plus our spouse or significant others and children would get to go with us more frequently and get to make friends and see the country.

Entry fees are more affordable, sometimes less than half of what it costs to enter a large breed or circuit show. We can show in more classes, do halter, English and Western and in the process have a better trained horse.

The prizes are often more than just ribbons or points. In my area, the local saddle clubs have a small circuit of shows where first, second and third actually get monetary prizes plus points for year end awards, where they get even more than a plaque, usually saddles, use of a trailer for a year and other items of value.

The competition may be as great but the judge is usually from within the area and does not have an agenda. I have seen horses that placed well down the line in some classes place really high in other classes. This gives the exhibitor a feeling that his horse is worth something even if it is not one of the bloodlines currently in vogue.

Because of the shorter distance to these shows, one can get up in the morning and trailer his horse to a show, show all day and then go home. The horse is more comfortable in his own bed and so is the exhibitor.

Another plus is that the youth exhibitors have a place to hone their skills. As their skills and confidence improves, they can move up to better and more competitive horses. They and their parents will buy and have the horse trained by people in the business locally. A win-win situation for everyone involved. I have seen this in my own barn and so have many others.

Short war story. Back in the middle 80’s, a young girl, her sister and her father showed up at one of my open houses. Tiffany was a little bashful but she wanted to be with horses. Her sister was interested in learning how to ride and show. But when I approached Tiffany, she wanted to just clean the stalls. So I let her clean stalls. As she became familiar with the barn routine, she decided she wanted to learn to drive ponies. We bought her a pony and cart and she learned to drive. Then she went on to bigger horses and learning how to ride and show. And then her parents bought a world class gelding and she went on to jumper and hunter classes and competed on the national level. She did quite well, earning year-end awards and national high point titles. And it all went back to starting out with something that she was comfortable with.

If you are a trainer or breeder that has various levels of horses in your barn, you can create a market for that animal in your area. Most of the competitors in your area want horses that can place well in that area. If yours does, then you are going to sell or train more horses. The potential customer wants to see and ride the horse before he purchases it. He can’t do that if the horse is thousands of miles distance unless he has very deep pockets.

Most of all, whether you are an adult or a youth exhibitor, the idea is to have fun with your friends. Enjoy the camaraderie that surrounds you, learn from your peers and don’t be afraid if you or the horse screws up, there is always another class or another horse show nearby to go to. In my opinion, that is what is important about supporting your local or regional horse shows.

Source by Ralph Bain