Kirsten Farris Asks, "When is enough, enough?"
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If showing isn’t fun or becomes a cause stress, either emotionally or financially, then you may want to take a step back and reassess why you are doing this in the first place. Photo © Carey Nowacek

Recently at a horse show, I overheard a few people venting about how they placed - or didn’t place - in their classes, and that they were going to hang up their spurs and stop showing. I know that is how they felt in the heat of the moment, and I don’t really think they will never show again, but that got me thinking...When is it time to call it quits? When is enough, enough?

When it isn’t fun anymore

For most of us, showing is a hobby. We do it because we want to, and we enter shows voluntarily of our own free will, and (hopefully) with a sound mind and body. If showing isn’t fun or becomes a cause stress, either emotionally or financially, then you may want to take a step back and reassess why you are doing this in the first place. Winning is a lot better than getting gated, but at the same time, there is a lot more to horse showing than the placing of the classes. If you focus on the things that you really enjoy, the trophies become the icing on the cake.

When you are not getting the results that you want over time

We’ve all had times that we felt we had an amazing ride and got overlooked by the judges. But how many times have we gotten under-looked and ended up winning a class because nobody saw your horse buck in the corner? If you have one of those days where you feel like taking your toys and going home, it’s OK to feel that way, but don’t let one class or show cloud your entire career. Feeling like you were ripped off is an emotional feeling, and the best way to extinguish an emotional flame is with huge blast of cold, hard facts. If you haven’t done it, get a copy of your show records and take a look at your statistics. Because of our brain’s negativity bias, we tend to remember the times that we didn’t do well, not the times that we had a great ride and were rewarded for it. If you notice that you are consistently down in the placings, then you may want to do some further investigation and come up with a game plan for improvement.

Keep Your Own Record Book

After each class, take a minute or two and just jot down what you did well, and what you can improve upon for next time, and give performance a score from 0 -10 based on how well you rode, not how you placed. Let’s face it, in deep competition, like it or not, if you feel like you performed at a 7 or an 8 out of 10, you probably shouldn’t win your class, and maybe the judging was not that far off.

On the other hand, if the only reason you are showing is because you like to win, and you consistently feel that you are riding at a 9 or a 10 in each class, and you are placing at the bottom of the class each time, then you may need to drastically change what you are doing in order to consistently place in the top 3 every time.

Kirsten Farris is a regular contributor to and a Certified Sport Consultant, Certified Equestrian Fitness Trainer, and the Author of The Workbook for the Equestrian Athlete - A Guide to Showring Success. For more information contact her © 2012

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7 comments for this article Reverse Comment Order
Added: September 14, 2014. 03:53 PM CDT
enough is enough
after working so hard to get my half point on my filly and AQHA refusing to cut me an incentive check because they don't write checks under $10 was the last straw for me. Where's the incentive in that? Way too expensive and too much drama in showing these days. Always said when it's no longer fun, time to quit. Quit 5 years ago. Will never show AQHA again.
no show for me
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Added: October 19, 2012. 10:43 AM CDT
enough is enough
enough is enough when a competitor walks half way around the pen when they should be loping, judges see but competitor still wins because their trainer, or their mother is close personal friends with the judges.
had enough
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Added: September 29, 2012. 04:38 PM CDT
I really liked this article and the honesty it entails. I once worked with a handicapped riding program. I was a young college student and realized how fortunate I was to even own a horse, let alone show one. I think we all lose sight from time to time due to the competitive nature we must all share. Everytime I see a RWD class, I am reminded again of my blessings. I may not ever win the "big" one, but there are so many people that would love to ride a horse and know it would be Heaven to have one in the back yard. Those people may not even phathom showing too! How luck are we all to associate, some of us everyday, with one of the grandest animals God lent us on this earth?
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Added: September 28, 2012. 07:56 AM CDT
I love the little guy!
Great article, great comments by others. So nice to see that there are great people out there that "get it"
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Added: September 27, 2012. 06:04 PM CDT
It is so annoying to me to hear negative from an exhibitor who paid a ton of $$ for their horse and see them on a brand new, more expensive ride at the next show. When normal people have a bad ride, we go home and work on the flaws in hopes that we do better the next time. Most of us do not discard our horses so easily. I have the best horses I can possibly afford and I'm stuck with them because I love them and I work hard. To me that is the most rewarding experience and feeling that my son can take with him. I'm so happy if I hear my name called out because I know that some of the horses that I did beat were more expensive and more highly trained than my baby. :)
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Added: September 27, 2012. 04:40 PM CDT
I would also like to add. What are we teaching the kids of today when we act like this? And then go off & see a child ripping on a horses face because they didn't place well in the ring.
Our horses are tuned into our body reactions. If we are thinking about anything but what is going on in the ring. Then our horses are not going to pay attention.
I ride pleasure 90% of the time. When given a chance I throw a hack on my pony & do some barrels. My husband & I have found out. I cannot sit on my horse before a barrel class because my heart is racing & I am ready to go. My horse REFUSES to sit still because I cant calm down. With that being said IF your not thinking about the class you are in - Neither is your horse.
There is an old saying & hopefully I don't slaughter it. "When ridding my horse we become one." IF this is true then thinking about anything other then the class you are in, your horse is not going to read you the way it needs to.
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Added: September 27, 2012. 04:28 PM CDT
enough is enough
enough is enough when the small local horse shows that were fun have dried up and gone away, leaving me to show at big circuits where the top ten in the country are showing.
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