Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Western Massachusetts
I don't do competition of any kind whatsoever -- I think "hate" wouldn't be too strong a word -- so shows are right out for me. Showing is actually a quite separate thing from riding. It has to do with camaraderie, adventure, goal setting, dressing up -- and competition. Riding is simply one vehicle to experience those things.
For me, my main joys to do with horses is 1.simply being with them, spending time with them, 2. learning from them and teaching them, 3. being out in nature with my horse experiencing it together, 4. becoming a better rider and a better communicator with my horse.
There are many many things to do with your horse besides take him to a show. Trail riding is probably the most common. There are trail riding clubs all over, for those who like to ride in company. And there are all levels of trail riding, from short slow moseys on flat groomed trails to 100 mile in a day endurance runs over steep terrain (the sport of endurance is not focused on competition but on finishing with a healthy horse). There are people who camp with their horses, which is a blast. There is the whole world of driving. Almost any horse can be taught to drive. Then there are clinics, where you can learn to work cows, do tricks with your horse, get started on a new discipline, troubleshoot your particular issues, or pretty much anything else. Spending your money on lessons with a great teacher is a good investment.
If you have a horse too young to ride much, liberty work is a wonderful way to build connection with your horse.
I could go on. I've been around a long time, and in that time, a whole world in which arena shows are the entire scope of a rider's experience has come into being. When I was a kid, showing was like going to a party -- something you did on special occasions. The rest of the time, we just rode. We rode to each others' houses, we swam our horses in rivers, we picked fruit from horseback, we went on horse picnics in the hills. There were no particular goals except having fun. I could not even conceive of a horse or a rider who was afraid to go outside an arena, which is now a common thing. It would be like a person who never left their house.
So go out there and do things with your horse. If you need goals, find a teacher who will help you set some, or just do it yourself. It's a big world out there.
Short horse lover