When you decide to compete, whether you’re a longtime recreational rider or someone serious about going professional, there is much to consider when preparing for a competition in any equestrian show including the time needed to prepare yourself for your chosen competition or competitions, which class you wish to compete in and in which style, the type of competition you would like to enlist in and where you should enlist, and what your overall goals are for these competitions.
Firstly, when deciding to compete, there is much preparation and training that will go into the days leading up to any given show. Choosing a specific riding style, such as English or Western, and practicing their corresponding techniques while riding is very important if you wish to compete in that specific style. Styles are separated within each type of class in competitions and therefore considered very important in competition scoring. Each style will play a large role in any given class that you choose so perfecting your chosen style will definitely be important during training. Another thing to consider is which class or classes in which you wish to compete. There are many different classes including timed, equitation and pleasure classes that all have different goals.
Once you decide the style and class for which you are going to compete, planning is recommended. This will come in handy when you begin training for the big day. Decide how many hours you would like to dedicate per day or per week to your training. Depending on how many classes in any given competition that you wish to enroll into, training can be very intensive. If you are just starting out, preparing with a trainer is vital to your success and agreeing with them on allotted weekly hours to train will ensure that you do well in competition. Planning and being precise about your training hours and staying dedicated to the hours is very important as training with a private trainer is both expensive and time consuming for both parties. Your full effort is required for success and will definitely pay off given a great amount of concentration, determination, and hard work.
Deciding which class you wish to compete in and in which given style is essential to your training. If you are unsure about which classes there are or which you should compete in, researching the competition to see what classes will be competing will allow you to see what types are available to you. Within that, consulting your trainer to assess your skill level is very important when deciding which level you are at as a rider and finding where your talents lie will assist you in deciding which class you should enlist yourself. If you are a beginner, there are beginner level competitions you can compete in and their own given classes.
If you are more intermediate or advanced, discussing with your trainer for the right level for your skill level will ensure you place yourself in the correct class. Other things to consider are: the price of registration into any given competition, the cost of riding clothes and overall costs for training with a private trainer in the days, weeks or months leading up to the show. If you are planning on competing at more intermediate to advanced shows such as at the state and national level, budgeting and preparation is a must as shows are both costly and time-consuming.
Classes focus on different types of skills that riders will need to perfect in order to impress and win points from judges. One such class is the pleasure class which assesses how pleasurable your horse is to ride. This might be a more advanced type class if you are just starting out and are unsure whether you and your horse are prepare for this type of competition. Another class is the equitation class. This is a common class for most riders in which your general riding skills are assessed by a panel. You simply give your horse commands and your horse responds accordingly. Depending on the smoothness of the response during riding and your effectiveness in giving your horse commands as well as overall riding technique, your score will reflect. There are also timed classes which involves games such as barrel racing or stadium jumping. Depending on your riding style, the games will be different. There might also be a showmanship class in which you stand beside your horse and walk through various patterns with them. Other classes also depend on your style and any given competition.
The next thing to decide is where you should enlist. This process may go hand in hand with which class you want to enlist in, given that classes are different at each competition. If you are a beginner, it is recommended that you start out at local competitions. Once you establish good placements, you might consider moving onto state and national level competitions which are consider for more intermediate and advanced riders given their level of difficulty and the larger number of riders participating in the competition. Another thing to consider is your age group.
Certain competitions will cater more to younger children, teens and adults, depending. If you are just starting out or have a child who is, it is important to place them appropriately so they don’t feel overwhelmed in the wrong circumstances. Also, keep in mind that some shows last one to several days, depending on any given show and the level of the competition.
Lastly, it is important to consider your goals for competing as a rider. Do you wish to do so for recreation or as a fun hobby or are you hoping to turn professional? Either way, these goals will be instrumental in deciding where you will compete, in which class or classes, and how many hours a week you should spend training for the event. Whatever you decide, be sure that you are committed, especially at the more advanced levels if your goal is to turn this into a career, because riding is both a lot of time and money. Remember to have fun and enjoy riding and competing as can be both thrilling and rewarding.
Check out these videos: