By Kim Lemmon
During my lifetime, I have attended many horse shows. My parents started taking my sister and I to shows as babies and they continued that practice clear through our high school years. In fact, I still attend horse shows with my family from time to time.
When we first started attending horse shows, we didn’t own horses; we were just spectators. When I was in the third grade, my parents bought their first horse and a few years later we started participating in horse shows.
I have competed in open stock horse shows, 4-H shows, open draft horse shows, open miniature horse shows, and college team-oriented horse shows. I have judged 4-H, open, and middle, high school and college team-oriented shows.
I’ve watched many different breed shows. During the 1980s and 1990s, our family vacation was spent watching two weeks of horse shows at the Ohio State Fair. During those decades, the horse show was a big deal. There were many entries and it seemed like there were more spectators than there are today. We were always excited to attend the fair to see if there would be any unusual breeds represented that year.
Here’s a list of the breeds of horses I can remember seeing at those shows (some of them might surprise you): Quarter Horses, Paints, Appaloosas, Arabians, Half-Arabians, Hackneys, Shetlands, Miniatures, Saddlebreds, National Show Horses, Morgans, Friesians, Paso Finos, Andalusians, Belgians, Clydesdales, Shires, Percherons, POAs, Mules, and probably a few others that I have forgotten.
From watching the various breeds and types of showing, I learned to appreciate nearly every breed for their special talents. Although, I grew up showing Appaloosas and showed and gave lessons on stock horses throughout my early adult life, I can easily say that none of these breeds are my favorites to watch.
I shouldn’t admit it, but I often find stock type breed shows kind of boring to watch. It was fun to participate in those shows, but I can get sleepy pretty quickly while watching a Quarter Horse go around and around at a snail’s pace. I do highly recommend Saddlebred shows.
Saddlebred shows are action packed; there is never a dull moment. The crowd hoots and hollers for their favorite horses. There are western, hunt seat, saddle seat, driving and all kinds of classes in between. You have to pay attention or you will miss something.
One year while watching a show, we were sitting in a box at the state fairgrounds and a horse’s heavy shoe came off and flew through the air and into our box. It was an exciting event, but we moved back to the first row in the regular section after that.
Of course there are training methods and show practices that the Saddlebred trainers and exhibitors practice that I do not agree with, but that can be said of every breed that I have watched that I know anything about. There really is nothing natural about showing horses.
So my advice to all horse lovers, is don’t be a horse snob. Put all your prejudices aside and attend a horse related event that is outside of your usual interest. You may be surprised at just how much you learn or how much you are entertained. You might even find a new breed of horse you are interested in owning.