To Show or Not To Show

It’s getting to be that time of the year again when the bug hits a lot of riders to go show.

Of course, some people like to show, and some don’t. What absolutely matters is that you do what you love to do with your horse. Period.

Whether you show or not, you don’t have to prove anything in the show arena. In fact, I don’t think showing is about that anyway, although it is a blast to win!

I think you’ll find the perspectives I share here about showing to be thought-provoking no matter what kind of riding you do. Plus, I let you know about some fun things coming up.


Heh, it’s Barb.

Before we know it, horse show season will be in full swing. It’s getting warmer, and the days are getting longer. Thank goodness!

I see a lot of buzz about upcoming shows, and that’s awesome!

Ever since I was a young girl, I showed all the time, up until the past few years. I went through different reasons why, from no choice about it as a young girl, to cutting horse professional, to coach, to now… playing with the idea all the time, and how it could work for so many of the things I want to do in my career.

But my question to you is, first of all, do you compete?

And when you hear me ask that question, you might think anything from, “Ahhhhhhhh… “ to “Yeah! Let’s go! It’s about time!” to “I’m not into competition, so I’ll stop watching this video now”! (giggle).

Now, if you compete or not, I think/hope you’ll enjoy hearing my perspective on competition from high-performance research as well as my own adventures.

And first, I absolutely want to make clear that I am not here to say or pass judgment that riders who compete or don’t, are any better or more important than those who don’t.

In fact, just the opposite. I am saying that you… and every rider everywhere should follow your heart and do whatever you love to do with your horse.

I do, however, want to give you perhaps a little different perspective about showing and one you can think about if you show or not.

Whenever you ride, your job is to get focused within, connect with your horse, and do your job moment to moment.

It doesn’t matter if you’re at home or a clinic or in the show arena. Of course, sometimes you just want to ride on a loose rein in the arena or on the trail and chill… and that’s great, too.

That being said, here are some perspectives about showing that make it different than being at home… but can take the pressure off of you.

When you compete, by nature, of course, your ride is compared to those in your class.

There is a standard of excellence for your class that, if attained or exceeded, will bring you a prize.

So, it’s not really about the other riders… it’s about reaching that standard… and when you do, results take care of themselves.

So when you go to the show, you see how you and your horse are doing. What’s going well and what needs to be improved.

And most importantly, how did you do compared to the last time you showed?

Your real scorecard is your ride as compared to you. Keep striving to improve yourself and your horse’s performance a little bit more and a little bit more over time. Keep swinging and measure it all against your improvements.

Of course that little by little as compared to you is an awesome standard of measurement for all of your riding, it’s just that showing is a little more ‘public’… but that just means that you can grow tremendous inner confidence by practicing that discipline of knowing within yourself how you’re doing… not just externally.

Another thing about competition is that it ‘forces’ you to show up at a certain place and at a certain time, so it provides motivation. It’s not quite as easy to say, ‘Oh, I don’t feel like riding today,’ if your goal is to show next week. That can be invaluable for those of us who need a little extra push sometimes.

Last year, when the pandemic first began, I did a series of 3 totally free podcasts… all about getting ready to show. I plan to do the same, starting not this week, but the week after, the week of Feb 7th.

What would you like for me to talk about in those podcasts?

Leave a comment and let me know. And I’ll let you know when I’m far enough along for you to sign up so you can get notified when they’re available.

And, I think you’ll enjoy them whether you show or not.

Have a great week, and let me hear from you.

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15 Comments on To Show or Not To Show

  1. Kathy Humphrey on Sun, 31st Jan 2021 2:39 pm
  2. Love this!!!! Perfect topic for me right now! Thank you so much ❤️

  3. Robert;Earl Willis on Sun, 31st Jan 2021 3:04 pm
  4. The last few years I’ve been working away from home and only get to come hone 4 or 5 times a year. I try to come home when I can go to a La Stock Horse show. Believe it or not I’ll take my horses out the pasture bath them and load and go to the show. My younger horse does okay but my older horse exceeds all expectations including coming out second in the open cutting out of over 20 horses in a regular show and coming out 3rd in the open finals with an amazing effort. There must be something about the layoff that’s a positive.
    I heard many years ago that Buster Welch used to just do soft ranch work with his futurity babies the last few weeks before the futurity.

  5. Cindy Newell on Sun, 31st Jan 2021 6:27 pm
  6. I have laid off from showing for a year because of the pandemic, but I have still been working as if we were going to show next week. My horse sometimes “spooks” at things around the arena (like a photographer with an umbrella) and I get so mad when we’re done showing in that class. I think what I want to do instead is take a deep breath when that happens. I would love for you to cover some things to do about this in your podcasts.

  7. Claire on Sun, 31st Jan 2021 6:36 pm
  8. I love Robert’s experience with his lay-off’s. I don’t show-but have attended workshops on a semi-annual basis-or traveled to riding/camping areas. I also sometimes haul my girl around a show or rodeo. I consider it all good training, and am always thrilled when they exceed my expectations with all the new things happening and the unknown challenges. So that is how I would look at showing if I were to show as well. Did they do that thing we’re working on under more stressful circumstances? Was I able to keep my own seat/hands/mind? That’s a win to me!! Thanks so much Barb-I love your philosophy!

  9. Catherine Parke on Sun, 31st Jan 2021 7:35 pm
  10. So grateful for your teachings. Would greatly appreciate some details to find inner peace and clarity as you enter the show pen. Slow my heart rate down,etc.. Before I start any of my rides now, I relax ,breathe, and feel my seat bones,look up. That has helped at home tremendously. So looking forward to Sarasota Clinic.

  11. Kathy Smiley on Sun, 31st Jan 2021 7:53 pm
  12. With my last two horses, I showed a bit, mostly because the horses enjoyed it so much and loved showing off. And since I don’t ride with a trainer much, I use the comments from judges as a ‘lesson’, especially in dressage. However, with my current rescue horse, who is still rather reactive and definitely not ready for showing, that’s not an especially urgent goal for me, even though her lovely gaits would be wonderful to show. It will be a while before that is even an issue for us.

  13. Karyn Stevens on Sun, 31st Jan 2021 8:23 pm
  14. Thank Barb, I love to show because it gives me a goal for my riding. It pushes me to pay attention to top riders and learn. In your clinic in SY last year one of the huge take-aways for me was to envision the ride with a slogan. Mine was smooth and confident. It worked and I won the year end 5K saddle. Thanks for all that both you and Sandy do for us non pros.

  15. Lori Krueger on Sun, 31st Jan 2021 9:06 pm
  16. Hi Barb,
    I need guidance on shutting down my worrying brain about what everyone around me thinks in the arena. I don’t show, but I do attend horsemanship clinics and do a lot of trail riding. I know I effect my mare’s attitude. Can you help this “spaz” settle down? Thank you!

  17. Carol MacGregor on Sun, 31st Jan 2021 11:42 pm
  18. Hi Barb, I really do not show either. But I do enjoy riding with my “like minded friends” when we can, and taking one of my horses to a clinic. I know if I was ever planning on showing, I would be soooo nervous to enter the show ring. Regarding subject matter for your podcast, maybe you could cover some “common problems” that you see many riders making at your clinic–just in general. Thank you again for these wonderful Sunday videos. I look forward to seeing them. 🙂

  19. Susan J Kumer on Mon, 1st Feb 2021 8:26 am
  20. Barb,
    Just wanted to say how MUCH I enjoyed the Trail to 2021 series. It was so much fun to look forward to…I am sure the Show or Not to Show will be great. Your manner and way of presenting is so inspiring!

  21. Debbie on Mon, 1st Feb 2021 2:47 pm
  22. Thank you Barb!
    This was so gooooood!!! 🙂

  23. Sandra D Eichelberger on Tue, 2nd Feb 2021 9:16 am
  24. Shows have always Been a benchmark for me to see what I need to work on at home. I would like a podcast to review in a dress show preparation and what our rituals and routines are. I know you have gone over this in previous training. It has really helped me in the past
    Been a benchmark for me to see what I need to work on at home. I would like a podcast to review show preparation and what our rituals and routines are. I know you have gone over this in previous training. It has really helped me in the past

  25. Kelly Scilingo on Wed, 3rd Feb 2021 7:57 am
  26. Barb your timing is perfect with this upcoming podcast!
    Clarity is my focus on this show season.
    The ability to be soft and deliberate going into the herd.
    It’s an art. I see it in trainers and working on my horsemanship.
    The transition I know will take time but I have patience and would love more guidance.
    Thanks a ton

  27. Becki Stanbrook on Thu, 4th Feb 2021 5:52 am
  28. Hi Barb,

    Love these videos!

    I would really love to show my horse but my nerves stop me from going into the ring as I fear I will forget my pattern, I have a talented horse but I feel I’m holding him back, would you be able to touch on this in a podcast please? Thank you for inspiring me to carry on

  29. Chasity DeKay on Fri, 5th Feb 2021 12:23 pm
  30. Yes! I would love that series. I am considering showing and would like to know your thoughts on preparation and your experiences!

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