Thursday, January 19, 2017

Horse Shows in the Old Days

As we age, we all like to refer to the "good ole days" when everything was different - better, easier, cheaper - you know the drill.  But in the horse show world, I truly do believe that older was better.  I'm not talking about the 80's, the 90's but I am going back further, let's say to the 1950's, 1960's and possibly the 1970's.

Today we've "dumbed" down our horse shows offering every division known to man, starting at 18 inch jumps in some cases.  We have the 2'0 division, the 2'3 division, the 2'6 division (ad nauseum) in 10 different varieties.  There are few riders now in the 3'0, 3'3 or 3'6 hunter divisions. It is sad to me as people don't "ride" as much as they get on horse or pony that has been lunged forever, so it won't "peak" at a 2'0 jump and it goes around like a machine.  That is not riding to me.

When I learned to ride and started to show, we had a 3'0 division and a 3'6 division.  You rode in either or both.  If you had a large pony, no matter how green you jumped 3'0.  There were no "beginner" divisions.  You either rode well enough to conquer 3'0 feet or you stayed home. The horse shows were fun.  They didn't start at 7:30 am and go on until after dark to accommodate 50 classes.  The jumps were solid and they didn't move.  We jumped post and rails, chicken coops, outside courses (more akin to some of the eventing jumps today) and horses were judged also on their conformation (how they look).  There were no Warmbloods back then.  All the horses were Thoroughbreds.   There were far fewer shows and they were well attended.  Everyone came out to watch and made a day of it.

The names of the horses and riders/owners are printed in the program.

The classes were simple and straightforward.  Look at the options.  You did ponies, junior hunters, green, working, ladies, and open.  That's all folks!

Sometimes older really is better.  You stepped up to the plate or you stayed home - those were the options. No trophies for showing up.  You could either compete at "the level" or you found another sport. 


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