While there is certainly nothing wrong with riding your horse just for fun and relaxation, competing in events can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Competing brings you and your horse closer together and improves your riding skills. Whether you like to complete intricate dressage movements, jump hurdles or rope calves, you can find an event that is perfect for you and your horse.
Most people who think of horse events think about the hunt seat sport, which actually has two parts. You will enter flat classes and jumping classes. Flat classes are classes where you and your horse are judged by the way you work together on the ground. Jumping classes judge your horse’s grace and ability as he goes over jumps.
If you want to give hunt seat competitions a try, you will want to shop for a snaffle bit, a hunt seat snaffle bridle and a hunt seat saddle for your horse. For yourself, you will need to shop for a white riding shirt, breeches, a wool riding jacket, riding boots and a hunt cap or helmet. Both the breeches and jacket should be black, blue or another dark color.
If you really enjoy working closely with your horse to complete complicated and demanding routines, you may want to consider dressage events. Anyone who competes in these events should be willing and ready to put in a lot of practice. Dressage is probably the most challenging event. However, the beauty of this event more than makes up for the difficulty of the training involved.
To compete in dressage events, you will need to shop for a dressage bridle, a dressage saddle and a snaffle bit. You will need to find a white shirt, a stock tie, white breeches, black dress boots, a black jacket and a black derby hat. Beginning dressage riders sometimes wear tan breeches and a hunt cap instead of white breeches and a derby hat.
For people who have a flashy horse and love to show off, saddle seat events are ideal. There are two types of classes in these events, equitation classes and pleasure classes. In the equitation classes, you are the one being evaluated. The judge looks at your seat and your ability to control your horse. In pleasure classes, your horse has the hard job. He has to obey commands with enough style and grace to catch the judge’s eye. If you want to compete in saddle seat events, you will need to shop for a show saddle and a double bridle for your horse and a white shirt, jodhpurs, saddle seat coat, jodhpur boots and a derby for yourself.
If you prefer Western style riding, you may want to compete in Western pleasure, equitation or horsemanship classes. Just as with English style classes, pleasure events place emphasis on the horse’s abilities and equitation events judge the rider. Horsemanship classes judge the horse owner’s skills in handling his horse from the ground.
For more active horses and riders, there are events like barrel racing, pole bending, reining and calf roping. All of these classes involve the horse and rider working closely as a team. For Western events, you will need to look for a saddle and a mechanical hackamore or traditional bridle for your horse. You will need a Western shirt, jeans, chaps and cowboy boots for yourself.
Finally, if none of these events are right for you, you may want to check out cross country jumping, show jumping, eventing and competitive driving classes. All of these classes are challenging in their own way, but eventing is probably the most difficult, since it requires horses and riders to be well rounded and to have plenty of stamina.