Horse Show Exhibitors Continue Participation Online Despite Health Shutdown

“Virtual horse shows are becoming as perfect a substitute as possible to continue competing in the show ring this spring.”

The coronavirus health concerns and stay-at-home government mandates have heavily impacted horse shows.  

Although there have been updated rulings permitting specific horse events to continue after postponement, many have been canceled.

Most public meetings and business sessions are being conducted through computer-generated or virtual gatherings.

Virtual horse shows, sometimes referred to as online horse shows, permit equestrians to compete against one another from home.

Actually the concept is not new, but awareness and participation interests have expanded sharply in recent weeks.

Virtual horse show patterns can be set up anywhere and recorded by a video camera.

“Exhibitors in virtual horse shows are video recorded riding their horses in a set pattern,” according to Justine Staten.

“The video is sent to the sponsoring organization and evaluated by a qualified judge,” the Kansas Horse Council executive said.

“These videos cannot be edited in any way,” Staten emphasized.

Videos of horses and horse performance as well as other livestock have been used as judging training tools for decades.

Events in virtual horse shows often are the same as at a live show. They might include horsemanship, equitation, showmanship, pleasure riding, trail, ranch riding, cow horse events, sometimes even jumping and more.

Halter competitions are also a part of certain virtual shows especially those evaluated by various judges for circuit recognition.

Even speed events can be included in virtual horse shows with riders evaluated for horsemanship rather than given a time.

Such competitions have been sponsored by a number of horse groups over the years. However, since the health stay-at-home orders major national horse associations are also conducting virtual horse shows.

Among those are Buckskin, Paint Horse, Appaloosa affiliates, stock horse, ranch horse, dressage and numerous local horse clubs.

“Depending on the organization, entries often compete against other riders for prizes,” Staten said. “Several associations are also tabulating points for each entry from a rider with yearend awards.”

Some groups are having jackpots with prize and stipend incentives while certain organizations are hosting online events as charitable fundraisers.

With worldwide health stay-at-home orders, horse show enthusiasts can now have their performances evaluated through online computer clinics.

However, other horseback riders are using the e-shows as virtual events are also sometimes called for learning opportunities. “They are not yet interested in competing, but want to become better riders,” Staten said.

“The BlackJack Saddle Club is hosting a Virtual Horse Show Clinic at this time,” noted Staten, a longtime BlackJack officer too. “This group has always been family oriented stressing horse handling, learning and safety as a key part of circuit shows.

“Following that objective the video entries will not be for competition,” Staten emphasized. “Qualified judges will critique the riders online and provide a written evaluation that should help the entries improve their performance.

“Nobody except the official judge will be allowed to view the virtual show clinic videos. Especially important to some riders, likewise nobody except the exhibitor will have any access to the printed evaluation,” Staten clarified.

Entry fees will be accessed and release forms must be signed by participants and parents or guardians of youth entries.

“This eliminates liability for the BlackJack Saddle Club from anything destructive which might occur while recording the video,” Staten noted.

Three patterns with marker measurement information for showmanship, Western horsemanship and English equitation are available now at www.blackjacksaddleclub.com.

“You may register for one, two or all three patterns,” Staten said. “There are also instructions about where the camera operator is to be situated to record the video.”

Pattern can be set up on any flat open ground or arena area. Any type of marker such as a bottle or can may be used to set up the course.

“Just make sure you measure the correct distance between markers,” Staten insisted. Show clothes are optional for all riders.

The virtual speed clinic will include barrel racing only with the evaluation sheet to provide technique tips.

Registration form and payment check should be mailed to BJSC, P.O. Box 622, Manhattan, KS 66505-0622.

Video entries in the BlackJack Saddle Club Virtual Clinic must be submitted by May 30, 2020, to www.blackjacksaddleclub@hotmail.com.

Judges will send evaluations directly to the exhibitors by June 9, 2020.

Many similar type virtual horse events are available for participation across the country and around the world.

While horse show exhibitors anticipate getting back into live competitions with other horsemen, virtual shows are here to stay.

“Online evaluation of horse show participants can provide year around competitions but most importantly lifetime horsemanship improvement learning experience,” Staten concluded.