Why is it that when people circle 20 classes they qualify to go in on the horse show prize list, they can’t seem to whittle it down to 4-5? Just because you CAN go in all those classes, doesn’t mean you should. I’ve judged countless shows where I see the same horses in 10-15 classes. That borders on inhumane! These poor horses are brought in a hot trailer, continually fed hay to keep them quiet while they wait for their classes, then are “warmed up” before almost every class with a belly full of roughage. It amazes me that more riders aren’t tossed into the pucker brush. What possesses a person to ride these horses for class after class like that? A 99-cent ribbon? Bragging rights?
After watching one Paint horse go around in circles for 14 classes at a one-day show, I spoke to the rider: “I think your horse has done as much as he can for today. Perhaps a rub down, an apple and a quick ride home is what he deserves now?” Answer: “I still have the colorbreed division to go.”
I just don’t get it. The horse was standing in line with his eyes shut. Imagine what his muscles must have felt like?
Generally, show horses are not as fit as trail horses. But showing a horse in 10 or more classes in a day is the equivalent of riding 2 1/2 trail hours at a brisk trot. You wouldn’t do that on a trail horse that only had 15-30 minutes of exercise a day 3-4 days a week. You’d take it easier, maybe a brisk walk for 1 1/2 hours until they were up to the longer trotting trails. But yet, these people do it to their show horses! Worse yet, they are spoken to by stewards, judges, show management and friends, and still do it! Is the bloody ribbon worth hurting your horse over?
In my experience, the people showing with me would pick 2-3 halter classes and then they would have to pick a total of 4 classes to ride in and that’s it. If the horse had a long rest in the afternoon, I’d let them pick a game class at the end of the day.
It is a double-edged sword as show committees need lots of entries to pay for the show but people should not enter more than 6 classes at a one-day show. How about getting your friends to attend the show with you and then everyone wins! Show committees get lots of entries and judges get to see more horses, and horses are not overworked! Win, win, win!
But how do you get people to understand that theory without ticking them off? If you see someone showing their horse over and over to the point where the horses are dragging their heads, say something to the show management, it’s a start. If they’re your friends, mention that their horse looks dog tired and maybe you’ll get through their thick skull!