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Horse showing involves much more commitment than most suspect

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Horse showing is a serious and competitive sport that gets hardly any press and public acknowledgement. The general consensus by those who may be uneducated about horseback riding often believe that riding a horse takes little skill or focus while others may see horse showing as a rich man’s hobby or a sport for the elite.

Despite the misconceptions, passionate riders and trainers find it all worthwhile at the end of the day. Although there are high costs involved in the lease or purchase of a horse, its feed, board, shoeing, and health maintenance, most trainers are surprisingly willing to accommodate their students who may be on a limited budget.

Michaline West and her horse Eli, warming up for the dressage portion of the Full Moon Farm Starter Horse Trials on June 13, 2010. (Photo by: Brittani Bowling/Towson University Student)

“We had shows right at our facility, which was obviously a lot less expensive, we can control the fees a lot better that way,” Shannon Christ, 33, a Maryland hunt seat and equitation trainer said.

Horse showing does not always have to involve owning your own horse either. Eileen Buckingham, 20, a rising senior at Randolph College rides on the school Intercollegiate team and shows horses belonging to the college despite a hectic academic schedule and the fact that she does not currently own her own horse.

“I like having goals to work towards. Showing motivates me in other parts of my life too,” Buckingham said.

Nevertheless, just like most other athletes, horses do risk injury and these injuries don’t always happen in the show ring. Michaline West, 22, has dealt with her fair share of poor luck and knows the ins and outs of rehabbing an injured horse.

Still, the sport takes a great deal of mental and physical preparation, not only for the rider, but for the equine and the grooms behind the scenes making the day run smoothly as well. To many, riding in adverse weather conditions, enduring hours of challenging lessons or cross-training, and persevering over injury or illness is worth the sheer minutes you have in the show ring to show the judge your very best.

“The hard work is rewarding,” Buckingham said.

Want to know more? Visit the Frequently Asked Questions page.

1. Randolph College student puts in the extra time to ensure success in the show ring

2. Despite being a notoriously expensive sport, Md. trainer and rider attest that horse showing can be affordable

3. Persistence and hard work pays off for Maryland equestrian

4. Cross-training is the solution for an athletic horse with a shaky past

5. Behind the scenes, show grooms make it all come together

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Written by brittanibowling

June 22, 2010 at 11:22 pm

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