One of our HJU readers asked us to take an amateurs’ look at the  internal battle “to show or not to show”, how much or how often, why or why not. Our bloggers’ perspectives range just about the spectrum of thoughts. We wanted to share ours with you over the course of a series of responses. Join us in the discussion!

Carter - photo by Cindy Lawler

Carter – photo by Cindy Lawler

Sue and Carter. Dressage. Showing First Level. Training Second/Third. 

Taking a look back to last year at this time, Carter and I were mid-way through our first rated show season at Training Level. We’d already captured one of our regional qualifying scores and were on our way to securing the second. We’d been awarded almost all the scores to qualify me for a USDF Rider Performance Award, as well. Our goal was to show at USDF Region 2 Championships and we made it.

Fast forward to this year. Our first show at First Level was scheduled for mid-August.

Notice, I say “was”. We’ve been learning so much this year and progressing what sometimes feels in warp speed. But, I don’t feel I’m ready to take him confidently into the show ring and do any of the First Level tests justice. I know I’m somewhat of a perfectionist, but I don’t feel I’m ready. We’re still figuring out the leg yields and working on the new, smaller, geometry. I want to feel sure in myself that I know when he’s on the bit, when I need to tweak with a half halt, when I need to better engage his hind end for a more rounded (and expected) First Level frame.

We are having so much fun this summer that I am not feeling the pressure to show, in the least. The fact that I’ve been riding for three years in July (period, not Dressage, I started learning in a Western saddle and switched disciplines to Dressage eight months later) I think I’m doing just fine and there’s no expiration date on when I need to show. My trainer is awesome, too. She’s gauging our progress in steps, not leaps. We run through a test or two during our lessons and she identifies the pieces that we need work on. One day it might be lengthening the canter, or the transition back to trot. Another day it may be the leg yield and circle geometry. You can pretty much bet that we’re working towards showing. Just maybe not this season, although there’s still plenty of time left in the season. I won’t rule it out, yet!

Here are my thoughts on pros/cons/why/why not

Pros: For me, showing is a great way to get a snapshot of my progress. I ride against my last score. I’m not competing for ribbons. I think it’s a great report card.

Cons: Aside from the cost to show, I can’t really think of a con to showing. The cost is just part of the deal, anyway.

Why/Why not? I show because I want to. If I was just into learning (which I may be this season) I’d be good with that. We ride because we love it. Showing isn’t a requirement.  There are plenty of great riders I know who don’t show. They are interested solely in being a great rider.

How often: I think that depends on your goals for the season. Last year, my goal was regional championships. I needed the scores to get there. I wasn’t score chasing, however. We chose the shows early in the season and worked on that schedule. This year I want to start working on my Bronze medal. We’ve selected four or five shows that will allow me to, hopefully, attain my scores at First Level. (If I decide to show this year). This will be my third year showing and so far, I’m good with four or five shows a season. We have a great schedule in Region 2—there are several dates to choose from with a handful of venues.

So, you see, the answer to the question is not as easy as it seems. For now, I’ll continue to enjoy riding; learning how to nail that leg yield, and downward transition from a  canter lengthening.

So, you see, the answer to the question is not as easy as it seems. For now, I’ll continue to enjoy riding; learning how to nail that leg yield, and downward transition from a canter lengthening.