Every exhibitor wants to win or achieve a personal goal, but in doing so, one should not forget the true love and enjoyment of horses. Photo © Sun Circuit

Eight Ways to Make Horse Shows More Fun

Why do exhibitors show horses? For some, it may center around ribbons, titles or money. Though, many dedicated equestrians would answer “for fun.” Horse shows can be exhausting and lengthy at times. Therefore, it is important to come up with innovative, exciting ways to make the events more pleasant.

This is a sport of love that requires hours of dedication and challenging work. Every exhibitor wants to win or achieve a personal goal, but in doing so, one should not forget the true love and enjoyment of horses.

Here are eight ways to make horse shows more fun for all exhibitors.

1) Fun classes

From racing western pleasure horses at the Sun Circuit to donkey races at the Buckeye Classic, “fun” classes have proven to be a favorite among exhibitors and trainers alike. Precise focus and discipline are what keep top exhibitors performing at their best, yet taking a break to laugh with friends or socialize is just as important.

Many local shows also offer classes such as bareback, bridleless, etc. It is important to consider what season the show is being held. If it is around Halloween, try to incorporate the spirit of the season by holding a costume class, or if the show is during the holidays, add a festive class to the show bill.

By incorporating these relaxed-atmosphere classes into a horse show, exhibitors are sure to enjoy their experience more.

2) Exhibitor parties/dinners

Restaurant owner, food writer and Chef, Yotam Ottolenghi once said, “Food can bring people together in a way nothing else could.”

This statement especially rings true in competitive atmospheres. Exhibitor parties and dinners allow everyone at the show to socialize and develop connections with fellow equestrians.

Potlucks are perfect for horse shows because if everyone brings a dish, the cost of dinner is reduced and there are more options. Pleasant, entertaining exhibitor parties are always a crowd pleaser.

3) Hospitality cart/booth

Implementing a hospitality cart or booth can make exhibitors feel a part of the greater community. Examples of this are giving out donuts, offering coffee to people in the barns or guiding those who have questions. This idea ties into creating a positive atmosphere, which ultimately leads to a more fun show for everyone.

4) A welcoming atmosphere and show office

Nothing is more important than a welcoming, positive atmosphere. The equine industry is very competitive, yet it does not need to be intimidating.

A simple smile, wave or small conversation does not cost anything and will better someone’s day, Create an environment that people want to join.

It is also crucial that the show office and staff be understanding and helpful to all exhibitors. Conflicts with other exhibitors or show management do not promote a fun atmosphere.

5) Door prizes or giveaways

Giveaways and quality prizes make an enormous difference to exhibitors. By offering contests or door prizes, they feel more connected with the community.

Also, there is a certain excitement that is contagious when it comes to contests. Hosting a giveaway contest for something as simple as a show pad, halter, headstall, etc. promotes fun within a show circuit.

6) Vendors

Sometimes there is extensive down time between classes, which leaves exhibitors with extra leisure time. Clothing, tack and other vendors give equestrians the opportunity to shop during the hours where they may have nothing else to do.

Selling items at shows also make it easier for the everyday equestrian. Everyone, at one point or another, has that “oh no” moment when the realization hits that an item has been forgotten at home. Vendors make the experience of showing more enjoyable and convenient.

7) Smarter scheduling

Horse shows start early and end late. This routine leaves many dedicated equestrians exhausted and left with little time for socializing. Some circuits, such as in Florida, schedule their shows to end around the early evening. This allows those who are showing, family and friends to spend more quality time together. By implementing an efficient schedule, there could be extra time for parties or dinners as well.

8) Perspective

Keep an open mind to both new people and new experiences. Face challenges with positivity rather than negativity. An encouraging and enthusiastic perspective is key.

American Professor Randy Pausch, who is largely known for his inspiring “Last Lecture” speech before he passed away from cancer in 2008, simply stated, “Never, ever underestimate the importance of having fun.”

Chase your dreams, challenge yourself and enjoy the time spent with your horse.

About the Author – Cat Guenther of White Lake, Michigan is in the 11th grade at the Academy of the Sacred Heart. She has ridden horses for eight years. When Cat is not at the barn, she focuses on her small business “Behind the Bit Tack Sales.” She hopes to one day attend Michigan State University and study to become an equine veterinarian. Cat is extremely excited for the 2018 show season with her horse, Royal Invite.