Life Beyond Horse Shows? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 05-29-2019, 03:39 PM Thread Starter
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Life Beyond Horse Shows?

I got back into horses 2 years ago after 8+ years off. I purchased a 2 year old and showed him last year a local shows. However this year i dont have the "itch" to spend my time and money on shows. However i feel so lost. I have always shown, giving me something to work towards with my horse.

Have any of you made the switch from showing to just enjoying your horse? If so what do you find you spend most of your time doing?

I truly enjoy my horse so I dont want to sell him, just looking for suggestions on how to move forward with a life beyond horse shows.
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post #2 of 12 Old 05-29-2019, 04:11 PM
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I've never showed nor do I think I'll ever really have an "itch" to do so in the future, so this is just my opinion.

What kind of shows did you used to do?
What do you like doing?

You can try to do some of the things you did when you showed. For example, if you did a sort of halter class, try doing it at liberty (without tack).

Three-years-old is still really young; you still have a lot things you could teach him. If he has not been started to be ridden, that's a goal to work towards. Even if he has been started, there are more advanced things you could teach him or improve on the things he already knows.

Although this is more about you, focusing more on horsemanship and horse psychology are two really good skills to learn.
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Last edited by LoonWatcher; 05-29-2019 at 04:30 PM. Reason: Maths.
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post #3 of 12 Old 05-29-2019, 04:26 PM
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Welcome to the forums!

LoonWatcher made a wonderful suggestion. Horsemanship and Horse Psychology are what I enjoy the most.

If I am doing my math right... you said you purchased a two year old and showed him last year, that'd put you with a three year old this year, correct? You have so much fun to do with your horse this year!

Groundwork!!!!! I love love love groundwork! Teaching manners, bending, giving to pressure, patience. With a youngster too, you can do things like ground driving to prepare for saddling! Bombproofing too. You have a lovely young mind in your horse's head and I feel he will enjoy getting a nice solid foundation on him to build upon as he ages up to take a saddle, and a rider!

I get all of my joy with horses out of groundwork and grooming. Spending time with them, enjoying them, loving on them. I get so much out of being around horses that I often don't feel the need to get in the saddle. I just enjoy any time I have and having my hands on 'em! Maybe you can even haul him to shows just to get him used to being around things and practice manners there. I would also go for walks with my horses :) I hope this year off of showing is fun for you!

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post #4 of 12 Old 05-29-2019, 04:30 PM
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Originally Posted by ZURG327 View Post
Have any of you made the switch from showing to just enjoying your horse?
LOL, I enjoy my horse by showing! We both love it. Of course, I do something different (reined cowhorse) than regular arena showing.

However, if you are no longer interested in showing there is plenty to do with your horse. Like LoonWatcher said, you could try liberty work. You could go to clinics in different disciplines to learn something new and improve your horsemanship. You can do horse camping - better is you can find a group to go with (that is a blast!). You could do trail riding - also better with other people; and you can work on horsemanship on the trail. I did that since I don't have an arena to ride in. I found it fun to work on horsemanship stuff on the trail. You can teach your horse a few tricks. Maybe try a trail trial or cowboy/obstacle race ... technically that's showing, but not like arena showing (and they are FUN).

Hope you find something you and your horse enjoy doing! Come back and let us know what you end up doing (and with PIX! ).
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post #5 of 12 Old 05-29-2019, 04:30 PM
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Showing can often revolve around competition and giving the judges what they seem to want to see. But the best riding may require skills and a relationship with the horse that many judges as well as unknowledgeable spectators are not sensitive enough to appreciate.

The more you learn and experience the true subtleties of riding, the more excited you may become. Learning to "feel" may become more important than any technical explanation of how to make a horse to do something. When you learn to feel when each foot of the horse is stepping forward or taking weight, you can achieve changes with less effort. As you learn to feel when the horse's muscles are tense or relaxed while moving in the same gait and rhythm, you will become better able to help your horse to release unnecessary tension, move more smoothly, and respond to more subtle cues or aids. As you begin to develop these skills, you will sense that you and your horse are developing a more intimate relationship. Some have described this as becoming one with the horse. This should open a whole new world to your experience of riding and otherwise being with your horse.
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post #6 of 12 Old 05-29-2019, 04:38 PM
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After 8 years of showing pretty much every year, I moved to college without my horse. Two years into college, I got to move my horse up with me and took another year off showing. Last year I showed at every single show offered, and this year, I'm the same exact way. I've gone back and forth about showing my horse, knowing that this is probably our last year showing. So, I signed up for the first show of the year to just see if I still had any interest in it. It will cost me less than $100, and if I decide I don't want to show the rest of the season, I will be saving $500 anyways. It doesn't hurt to just try it out at one cheap schooling show, and see how you feel.

And if you don't want to continue? You have a whole world of opportunities with your horse. You can try different disciplines, try out liberty, look into driving, looking into casual or competitive trail riding...There are so many ways to keep your horse and still enjoy him/her.

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post #7 of 12 Old 05-29-2019, 06:00 PM
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I don't own horses but I can sympathize with your situation a bit. I got to show for two years- those two years was a time where I really got involved with horses and for my team, the end goal was showing. I've taken a break from riding but when I do go back to lessons, I'm stuck with the question 'all these lessons for what?' I took lessons in the past to prepare for shows. Now? I'm also a little lost.

I often look at articles and youtube horse trainers for inspiration on new goals to set. I'm not sure what level you are, but maybe you can try different exercises like cavaletti sets or gymnastics, focusing on stride lengthening and shortening... or dabbling into a new discipline. Ever build trust with a horse enough for bareback riding? Etc. This is now your path to carve out how you please.

cantering on, into the familiar and unknown
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post #8 of 12 Old 05-29-2019, 07:33 PM
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I think for a lot of people, the horse is such a major investment that they feel really bad about leaving a valuable asset unused for more that absolutely necessary. "I have it, I pay for it, I might as well maximize my usage." That leads to people rushing out to the barn after their daytime job, keeping the horse blanketed to abbreviate the grooming process (or, worse, keeping it inside), and overall exude an air of hurriedness when they do interact with the horse.

The other day, I set up a lawn chair on Hamlet's pasture. I had a beer and a bag of chips, and while Hamlet stood next to me with his head above me, I scratched his chest, neck, and chin. Yes, I do enjoy burning rubber with my horse, but this is also why I have/ride one. I'm pretty sure people have been racing/competing with horses ever since they started domesticating them, but there was a time when people just had a horse just like I have a motorcycle I don't compete with and still enjoy riding and improving on.

If "not competing" takes the joy out of riding and horse ownership, maybe you can find a sport that you can compete in?

Just some rambling thoughts on the topic...FWIW.
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post #9 of 12 Old 05-29-2019, 09:10 PM
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Ever try trail riding?
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post #10 of 12 Old 05-30-2019, 08:55 AM
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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
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