I’ve ridden a bunch of different disciplines, but my heart lies in a ring where there are 8-10 jumps and a familiar quarter-line, outside, inside, outside, course reigns supreme. There’s something about it that tickles my heart. Call me crazy, or just a fan of routine. Either or, really.

I’ve evented, I’ve done dressage, I’ve raced the clock in the jumpers. I haven’t, however, ever competed in a breed show, or even spectated really. I think it’s a really wise move to watch horse shows of all kinds, which allows you to get a taste for diversity. There’s priceless wisdom at every ring, at every show, and from very discipline. So when the opportunity to watch a friend’s stallion at a local breed show came up, I was game to take it.

Here’s what you can expect of a day at a breed show.

You’ll arrive (and if you’re like me with no prior sense of the endeavor, you may also arrive confused) starry eyed, and quickly become enamored with your surroundings. Why, you ask? Breed shows offer ample opportunities to watch foals dance around in all their glory. And who, pray tell, doesn’t like baby horses?

There aren’t too many opportunities for your average horse-person to watch foals do their thing. Which is to say, you’ll be starry eyed quick. These foals are bred to show their lineage, to show how phenomenal their trot will be, and how fabulous their canter will develop. Not to mention, the foals will also show you their sass, desired independence, and ultimate unamusement with doing something a human of all creatures asks.

One of the foals, a stunning chestnut filly, decided she had had enough of the handler. This might have been nerve-wracking considering the amount of height she put between her front legs and the ground. However, the handler dealt with the little red head’s riot quickly, and the class went on as scheduled.

After the excitement of the baby classes wears off, you’ll begin to look at the surrounding rings. What’s more is that spectacular horses stand everywhere, a quite literal feast for the eyes. They’re groomed within an inch of their lives, poised to show off the time and effort spent in researching the bloodlines that might produce such a horse. The time and effort is worthwhile, of course. You can see it in the strength of a colt’s hindquarters, or the jaw-dropping trot a filly shows after a quick temper tantrum.

Spending an afternoon at a breed show can help develop your eyes. As I’m in the business of developing a fair, educated, and knowledgeable judge’s eye, I was more than happy to partake and get some new perspective.

The basis for the classes is rooted in confirmation while handlers show the horses with energy and lightness. They also help boost the horse’s performance. In a way, these experiences help teach horses an affinity for performance. They learn, young, how to have presence in the ring. By watching a breed show, or a class there, you can begin to develop an affinity for spotting good confirmation, good temperament, and ring presence.

Okay, okay. You caught me. I personally loved watching the energy all of the horses came into the ring with. You might also spend the afternoon giggling because of baby horse antics. Oohing over the young stallion championship. Finally, you may finish the day feeling inspired to reconnect with your own horse.

Needless to say, you can expect a new perspective into the world of horse shows. Handlers must be taught how to help a horse perform at his or her best. And that’s something we could all apply in our own disciplines.