Do you like when people whistle during classes like the trail? Vote in our poll and let us know. Photo © Kirstie Marie Photography

We Ask the Industry: Do You Like the New Trend of Whistling in Classes?

GoHorseShow has noticed the recent trend of people whistling during classes including the showmanship, trail and western riding. In previous years, whistling was typically heard only during classes like the reining, cutting and working cow horse. Now, you can listen to people whistling in the stands and from the warm-up pens at any level show in all types of classes.

We asked several individuals in our industry if they like the new trend. If so, why? If not, then why not? Do they find it distracting? Empowering? If they are a judge, does it bother them? Find out what everyone had to say below.

Let us know your opinion in the comments and vote in our poll.

Kelly McDowall – I am guilty! I’m not a fan of it when I judge, but it doesn’t make a difference one way or the other. Knowing that it’s weird that I whistle when my students are showing, mostly to cheer them on and be supportive, but also it’s a bit of a nervous habit and sometimes I don’t even realize I’m doing it until I watch the video later.





Lauren Stanley – I showed in the all-around events as a youth, but switched to the reining and cutting for a few years once I turned amateur. One of the things I loved about showing in those classes was the excitement that was acknowledged by the cheering of the crowd as well as the cheering from your trainer. It made me want to push myself to be better and I felt that the more cheering there was, the more confident I felt. Now that I’ve come back home to the all-around events, it makes me so happy to see and hear people cheering for one another. The classes have become so refined and competitive that when someone does something amazing during their run, they deserve a little cheering. If I see a horse lope over a set of six poles all elevated in different directions, and they do it with incredible cadence, ease and have “that look” then I want to be able to give them a whistle. I know that when I ride in my horsemanship class after every challenging maneuver, I still crave that little whistle acknowledging that I nailed it. I think the whistling is great and hope it sticks around.

Emma Brown – I personally really like the whistling. It helps me when I’m in the show pen. When I hear my trainer’s whistle, I know that I am doing well in my pattern. We also use whistling to get each other’s attention in the warm-up pen.






Scott Reinartz – When I am exhibiting and doing a pattern, I don’t hear a thing. My thoughts are completely on my horse and myself. I find it to be a distraction when I am watching other people show. I find it to be annoying when they whistle and the maneuver was not “Whistle Worthy.” I can see a point where it does bring some life to the pattern classes, but a little goes a long way.




Andrea Kengis Foss – Yes, I like it. It keeps me motivated and amped up. It’s not distracting to me. I like being appreciated when a maneuver is executed well.





Nicole Barnes – My general opinion is that it’s unnecessary. I’m not a judge so I cannot speak to their perspective, but I do hope that a judge is paying more attention to the exhibitor’s performance than if there are whistles during a class. As an exhibitor, I spend so many hours trying to perfect my craft that I hope the judge takes his job just as seriously as I do in trying to have a good run. Our job is to show our horse – no matter the whistles, fancy stall fronts or shiny show shirts. I do it for the love of the sport. So, I say whistle if you want, I certainly won’t stop you. Let’s show our horses and enjoy that.



Ellexxah Maxwell – I personally think if it was a very credit earning maneuver then you could whistle. However, when people whistle or continue to whistle after a mistake or if the rider is off pattern, I think that whistling at that point shouldn’t be done.






Heidi Padelsky – I like when my trainer whistles and cheers for me after I have a great pattern in the showmanship, horsemanship or equitation. It lets me know I did a good job. Having that cheering section in the crowd is not only a confidence booster, but it just feels good to hear. That being said, too much whistling and cheering can be daunting. They don’t need to whistle after every single maneuver in a pattern or for rail classes, that is unnecessary. But, if someone has an awesome pattern, I think it’s nice to give them a little extra credit at the end and let them know “good job!”




Meg Whelan – I, for one, in the pattern classes, like hearing communication from the crowd. When I’m in my pattern and I hear whistles from the stands, I feel good. I hope it’s because it looks great in their eyes or a maneuver was done very well. Mostly, however, I’m listening for my trainer, Clint’s whistle. There is a whistle that tells me to breathe and slow my pace in the trail and western riding and another whistle to hustle.





Melissa Shetler – I feel that some whistling is appropriate. It allows the exhibitor to know they did a good pattern. And in reality, sometimes shows can feel so serious and quiet. It’s nice to see that good rides are applauded. However, I do think people can get out of hand. I don’t think it’s appropriate to use whistling to let judges know that an individual rider is with them.





Sarah Lebsock – I like it. If I’m in the pen, it’s a little piece of reassurance that I’m nailing the plan that Brent, Melissa and I set. In fact, if I don’t hear whistling, I know I need to step up my game and try to plus the rest of my maneuvers. If someone else is in the pen, I don’t even know I’m doing it, I just love the performance I’m seeing. I think it’d be pretty cool to see other people show appreciation for the pattern another competitor is laying down.




Hilary Reinhard – I understand the whistling or applause when a trail horse negotiates an extremely tricky obstacle after several others haven’t succeeded, but that is rare, and it isn’t every obstacle at every show. I find it distracting when people start doing it every time a horse makes a maneuver. The first time I heard it I did a double take and thought, ‘huh, that wasn’t that great. Why are they cheering?’ I think most judges are smart enough to know what makes a plus half or plus one maneuver. So, I don’t think it affects the score much, if at all.



Jessica Hadlock – I find it encouraging when I’m showing, as long as it’s not excessive to the point that it’s distracting to the judges. I thanked a barn mate, Savannah Hauer, for whistling so perfectly during my pattern at the AQHA World Show. It gave me the assurance of knowing that I was doing well and kind of hyped me up. I believe whistling in moderation and at appropriate times is acceptable.



Beckie Peskin – As a person who is out showing, I don’t find it distracting. It’s a great way to feel confident that what you’ve done is good, but without taking a chance of scaring your horse while you’re doing it. I guess you could say that at smaller shows it could allow judges to know “who is with who”… but at larger shows like the world show or Congress, I can’t imagine the judges would be able to link the whistler with the competitor.





Ashley Hadlock – As an exhibitor, I find myself liking it at times. When I’m participating in a very tough, competitive class and someone begins whistling, my confidence is boosted as I maneuver through the pattern. It can often be overwhelming and intimidating when participating against other top competitors. To me, knowing someone is whistling, I feel as though they are helping support me. I believe judges know what they are looking for and don’t necessarily use whistling as any indicator.



Taylor Deppen – Personally, I like the whistling. Unfortunately, I can’t whistle, but if I could, I definitely would. I love rewarding someone for a well-done maneuver in a class or complimenting someone on a nice ride. As a competitor, I like to hear feedback from the stands when something looks pretty. It’s encouraging and makes me keep riding even harder. I think it’s great to be able to do more than just sit quietly and golf clap. It makes the shows feel more relaxed and supportive of one another.




Do you like the recent trend of whistling in classes?

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