Showing, or competitive riding, can be a great experience for therapeutic horseback ridingstudents. It can increase self-esteem, self-discipline, and become a definitive goal for their riding sessions. Many families tend to overlook the benefits of show riding as a potential factor in their child’s riding. While there are these many benefits, there is also a very big commitment involved in showing, some on the part of the rider, and some on behalf of the facility.
Dedication: While participating in a small show at your therapeutic riding facility may be a fun occasional experience, long term showing should involve dedication to the sport. More prestigious shows require a large commitment to the show series, where points are accumulated throughout the season. Showing on this level may also involve a large audience, and judging on the individuals’ skill level for their class.
Preparation: While students are required to ride in ‘show attire’, the horses are also must be well groomed. Preparing a horse for a show usually begins at 5AM that morning. Students typically need to have a black show helmet, a clean button down shirt, riding britches, and well shined paddock boots or high boots. Girls under a certain age usually need to have braids with a bow. Horses should be washed, spotless, and have button braids in their mane. Saddles and bridles should not show signs of wear, and usually are reserved only for shows.
Timeliness: Horses will be trailered to events, while students should arrive well before their scheduled classes. Lateness, or not being fully prepared, can lead to point deductions or total disqualification from the event.
Ribbons and Awards: While most shows have prizes for all participants, some students really want the first place ribbon, or want to receive Grand Champion of the entire show. Preparing to be happy with whichever prize is received can be a good way to emphasize good sportsmanship. Congratulating all participants can also be a great way to encourage a positive behavior, even if there is a little disappointment in their place.
Showing can be a wonderful experience for a therapeutic riding student, but it takes a lot of time and commitment and money! If you feel your family, and your student, are up to the challenge, showing may be for you. If showing seems to be too much of a commitment, typical therapeutic horseback riding sessions still offers a wide range of benefits for its’ participants.