Summer is almost here, which means that show season is right around the corner. For those of us that aren’t able to attend a show every weekend, it can be hard to combat the nerves that come with competing. I personally have always struggled with nerves, and now as an adult, the finances of funding my show season, which in turn makes my nerves worse. It’s a vicious circle. Thankfully, I’ve found a way to help me feel more prepared about my show season: schooling shows. I never used to attend schooling shows, always figuring I’d save my money for the real deal. But with two green horses, limited funds, and lofty goals it has made sense to incorporate them into my summer showing routine.

If you were wondering if attending schooling shows were right for you, here are my top 3 reasons why you should give it a try.

1. Practice makes perfect. How do you expect to get better if you don’t practice? You can’t! Athletes log hours and hours perfecting their sports. As equestrians, we spend hours in the saddle working on that goal. The only problem? We often ride differently at a horse show than we do at home! Going to schooling shows can help you fix this problem. It’s less expensive and less pressure than a regular or rated show, but you’re still traveling off property and riding in front of people who wouldn’t normally watch you ride.

2. They’re less expensive. Horses in general are expensive, but depending on your discipline, horse showing can get crazy expensive. Schooling shows give you a chance to get out and practice the exact same thing (or very close) to what you’d be doing at a rated show. The biggest difference? The price tag. They’re cheaper because typically they are not a part of a rated circuit, or they are a part of their own circuit. Being able to practice what you’d be doing at a rated show for less money can help either increase the amount of shows you can do per year, or help you better prepare so you’re in it to win it at your normal horse shows.

3. You’re supporting your local equestrian community. Owning and operating a barn, horse show venue, or really anything with horses is very difficult. The barns hosting these shows put a lot of effort into giving their equestrian community a place to ride and practice for competitions. Personally, I am all about shopping local and supporting my local barns. It’s a tough industry to make it in, and I try to do my best to give them my support. Every time you show locally, you’re helping support your equestrian community and to help keep these opportunities available for everybody.

What are your favorite reasons to attend schooling shows?