I absolutely love going to a show and putting what my horse knows to the test and coming out knowing what I need to work on. But being put up against horses who are out of our reach, at the moment, its hard to compare yourselves to them if you know what I mean.
@Dreamcatcher Arabians- Hehe that's the same path Faith and I are following. Except next year, when we do more breed shows, we will be doing w/t/c. If she isn't ready then we'll skip the breed shows and still do w/t. (:
AQHA, when I was younger (like 100 years ago) I used to show at this little backyard show in San Bernardino, CA at 6th & Tippecanoe. It was the grubbiest little place, all of the ETI Corral arenas were kind of grubby and shabby, at least back then. I was 12 years old and riding my very first "owned" horse, a 3 y.o. OTTB named Bruiser LaRue, nicknamed Boozer because he liked to steal beer. He and I were both green as grass and barely doing Hunter Hack in an area where you had to travel 4 hrs to buy a hard hat. The footing was awful, but we frequently had 50 or more riders in those classes, and that was just for my age group. My trainer was all about getting miles so I rode in my age group, open, and 18 and under. After I'd been at it about 3 years, I discovered I was riding against the likes of George Morris, Rodney Jenkins and Hap Hansen and being judged by Clyde Kennedy. I got my a$$ kicked around that ring many times but I could never ever replace all I learned at that grubby little show. I didn't know who those guys were THEN but I learned. I learned about them and from them and when we all met up at Rancho Bernardo in a jumping class.......I'll tell you what...I knew I had done something to come in right behind those guys for time and clean rounds. On BOOZER, the racetrack reject, my one and only horse at that time.
Don't you worry about comparing yourself to the other folks who may have more expensive and more trained horses who've been doing it longer. Just watch what they do, copy what works and throw out what doesn't. Be friendly and get to know them and ask them for tips. They'll give 'em to you, there's nothing an accomplished showman likes to do more than show off and tell stories. LISTEN and LEARN and come back and beat their butts at the Worlds. Be GLAD you have tough competition, it will make you better much faster than if all you had to do was compete against other folks at the same level you're at.
If I can get thrown out of the ring by Clyde Kennedy because I DARED to wear a colored hunt shirt (back then everyone pretty much wore livery, black coat, white shirt and tan or yellow breeches) in HIS ring, by God, you can go through it all too!
He gave me 30 seconds to get a white shirt and get back in the ring. I don't think the old f*rt (God rest his LOVELY, knowledgable soul) thought for 1 minute that I'd fly out that gate and strip right there and borrow my trainer's shirt and get back in there before the gate closed on me, but I did it. This was at State Champs in Santa Rosa and NO I didn't win, not a thing except food poisoning, that trip!