Anyone else lost the love for showing?

The older I get, the less I want to show. What a weird feeling. Shows used to be the highlight of my life. Now that I have work, kids, husband, pets, etc…it’s just one more thing to squeeze into our already-too-busy schedule. The thought of finding time to bathe, clean tack, and pack up during the work week feels like the opposite of fun. Not to mention the cost!

Can anyone relate? I think this must be common among adult amateurs. Especially those of us who don’t have the means to pay for someone else to do all the hard and time-consuming work required to just GET to the show.


I think it’s pretty common. Kids in general love competition because they have nothing on their track record so far, and each competition tells them something about themselves in the world.

As an adult, most of us have won some kind of place in the world already through hard work on multiple fronts and some of us are in competitive or evaluation driven jobs. Competing at something else for leisure doesn’t seem like so much fun anymore.

While kids are out in the back yard turning everything into a contest or challenge: who can jump further, run faster, who is tallest, etc.

Plus there’s the point at which most ammies top out through some combination of limits on skills, courage, money, time, fitness, and access to quality horses. Is it fun to keep showing at the same level for years to be part of the larger thing or do you prefer to just go back country riding or hunting?

I absolutely think if its starting to feel overwhelming, you should take a break, continue riding and schooling, and maybe explore other ways of getting off the property than just showing. You may find you want to return in a few years or you may find that showing no longer feels compelling to you.


The cost of showing has killed it for me. I used to show every weekend. Now? Nothing.


I’ll jump on this train. Getting back into the show ring as an adult was a HUGE goal for me last year, and then in December I accomplished it, and then I thought, “that was fun, what’s next?” and have no real plans to show again in the near future. Not the reaction I thought I would have after completing a 15 year goal!

Now if I were to show, it would be to get miles with my new horse and see how she does off property and give her a change of scenery, but I would probably just hitch a ride and enter a warm up class or do the ticketed schooling. It’s definitely not the reaction I thought I would have, but the cost/payoffs didn’t pan out the way I imagined.

I agree with everyone here in terms of both the changing priorities and the cost. I’ve got bags of ribbons from when I was a kid somewhere in an attic that I treasured when I was a kid. Now, I treasure the memories I made. Thing is, you don’t necessarily need to show and win a ribbon to make memories with your horse, and I think now the difference is I treasure the memories more than the ribbons.


I love being at horse shows! I have been a competitive athlete my whole life so competitions are always fun and exciting for me. Plus I didn’t ride as a kid so showing is something special for me as an adult. However, the amount I spend every weekend is killing my enjoyment of showing. I can’t afford to pay to play, and the pressure I put on myself to do well because of how much it costs is just killing the fun. (I don’t have kids, so time is not a factor for me - money is!)


Some people are indeed motivated by competition and by external goals. In particular it might be easier to justify the high cost of a horse to yourself and others if you are framing it as serious goal oriented competition. I can see that; it would make everything seem a little more professional so to speak.

Some people with competitive jobs might also want to carry that over to recreation.

Other people might want their recreation to be down time.


I have the means to do it, but I really hate being hands off, I have always been actively involved with my horses and I even insist on doing my own warm up trips at shows. For me it was always about the journey and not the ribbons. I particularly enjoyed showing my last horse as he was not the model hunter, so we relied on our precision and accuracy to place. We nearly always tri-colored in our Adult 2’6" division showing against some nice 6 figure horses. We couldn’t make the move up to 3’ due to his age and conformation but had a fantastic time excelling and even winning because of our talent and partnership. That meant a lot. I nearly always left the ring with a smile regardless of the ribbon color or our placing. He tried his heart out and we were a team.

Now I have the money to buy the dream horse and I just can’t bring myself to do it. I already had a BTDT horse in the past and I know how boring it became to come out show after show and have that advantage of having the best horse in the division just walking in. It’s much more fun for me to be the underdog on a throwaway horse proving to everyone that he had value that was overlooked by so many. I look at how many people have bought their way up with horsepower, training, and more saddle time (“professional Amateurs” with no job limitations that keep them out of the tack), and I just don’t find that to be attractive in any way. I want no part of that. I prefer to build a partnership than to buy one.

As for getting something new, I don’t enjoy the trainers padding the prices, I don’t enjoy finding out that the horse’s price changes based on who came to see it today, and I don’t like the business model where I have to lesson when it is most convenient for the trainer, attend the shows that make the trainer the most money, and put my horse on a trailer several days before the show “to settle them in” because the trainer wants to make an extra buck or two. The sense of entitlement is out of control for a sport that is this expensive. I also don’t like the business model of monetizing every aspect of the sport, charging kids and their parents for everything instead of teaching them so they can be proper horsemen and women, and I really, really don’t like the shortcuts that are taken or the handoff to the groom when the class is over.

I’ve spent the last year rehabbing my horse after a significant injury, and he will never jump again. Because of his movement, he is not a candidate for dressage. The first few months I felt like I was missing out since we cannot show, but I have really enjoyed my time with my horse. For me, the greatest win has been keeping him alive and safe and having a future with him. No ribbon would ever mean so much to me. And I absolutely cannot believe how much money I have now. It’s obscene how much I spent on shows, training, lessons, performance shoes, etc… and he’s still in the nice show barn as a boarder. It’s really incredible how much we spend for this. Unless you are on a Forbes 200 list I really don’t see how most even find this fiscally responsible. I can afford it, but honestly, it’s stupid expensive regardless. I know of several families who are delaying retirement to get their kid “the best.” Is this really worth it?


Atl Hunter, you sound like someone that would enjoy doing the Thoroughbred Makeover. They say it is the happiest show on earth. ☺️


I showed a lot as a junior, both local and A circuit and then got back into showing again about 10 years ago, first with a borrowed horse and then for several years with my leased mare. I started back showing locally and then moved to rated showing. I had fun but the expense and the time spent was hard, especially when trying to juggle married life. I achieved a lot of goals and had a lot of success. After my son was born, I stepped away from showing because I just don’t have time to ride enough to be prepared to show. I thought I’d miss it again, but I really don’t. I miss going to shows, watching, and helping my friends and trainer but I have very little desire to get back in ring myself. Maybe I’ll change my mind someday if I have time to ride more often but right now I’d much rather ride for fun and then be on the sidelines at the shows.


Now that I am older I have no desire to show. When I was a junior I showed a bit in the 60s. Then quit for dozens of years. Finally got back into riding at a nice barn. Got a nice horse - several people had passed on him - but I loved him. My trainer at the time made showing affordable for me and we won quit a bit at local rated shows as he was quite competitive in hunters and jumpers. I loved it and my work schedule just needed me to have phone access so was able to work and show. Now I have had the same horse for the last 19 years and I bought him as a fun horse as showing had gotten so expensive, shows were longer in duration (shows formerly were 3 - 4 days not weeks on end), and the joy just went out of it for me.

Love hanging out with my horse and we are at a boarding barn about 45 minutes from my home but he loves it there. The barn as an eventing trainer and a dressage trainer but I ride on my own and just have fun.

No desire to show again and really don’t have the desire to even go watch although I do keep up with results on line and through magazines.


The best part about showing growing up was the ribbons and cheering on barnmates for me.

As I grew older, the ribbons mattered much less, and the barnmates mattered much more. I still like to show, but I don’t need it. I could ride and be happy without it.


@atl_hunter nailed.

I too was poised to send some (for me) serious bucks on a competitive 3’3" horse with a bit more scope than my current guy but the more I shopped the more I started thinking this is stupid. I stopped and really considered the carrying costs of maintaining my current horse (nevermind a second) and showing.

I last showed in November. “Local A” so no “on the road fees” but all in it was still $1500 by the time I added up trailering (because what amateur can take off part of a Weds, Thurs or Friday routinely to ship their horse), braiding, rides, training, stall, grooming, show bill. I get it. Its an industry and everyone gets a piece but I can’t bring myself to write those checks. For that kind of bill I gotta love it and I realized I don’t anymore. And we had a really good show. It just wasn’t worth it.

I loved it when I could take off Friday afternoon to clip and bathe my own horse. Ship in Saturday, cheer on some barn mates, show my horse (without a “prep division”) and trailer home at the end of the day, unload, pamper said horse who was happy to end the day with a good roll in the dust. All for a couple hundred bucks. That was worth it.


I hope we all remember when it was fun to show because everyone was cheering and supporting each other. Now, nobody claps for good rounds for people they know and don’t know. There is little comraderie at the big AA shows. I must say that the prize money at these shows is good and if the horse does well, at least part of the huge costs are covered. I won’t comment about some of the poor judging. That’s for another topic!


I love showing BUT here it’s nothing like it is for you guys. I go to national shows, I trailer my horse in the day of by myself (like everyone else) I warm up sometimes with my trainer (who doesn’t charge for this) and then I go in to do my round. Our horses are limited to two classes a day so for a whole weekend I spend maybe 80€. If I get a stable that’s 90€ on top of that.
We compete for fun. Next year I will maybe try out a CSI* for fun but that’s my only “big money” show if the year and that will be around 500€.


Thank you, I’ve heard that!. I have a few friends who breed them and are always looking for people to love them when they come off the track. I would need to change trainers as my current one is not fan of the Tb (my current horse was 1/2 Tb and she tolerated him). Part of me also wants to get some Knapstrupper/Appaloosa/Sportaloosa type with giant spots that can jump like a freak to see how it could place. The world is a lot more open-minded and fair these days, and it would be fun to test the hunter ring to see how far it has evolved. Stal Wilten has a gorgeous one now (giant spotted KWPN).

I would love to splash color all over the ring. But would the judge’s love it or are they all still colorblind? I’m thinking the latter.


For me showing stopped being fun when I had to leave my kids at home with my husband (they were toddlers) and take horse and me to a show. Didn’t matter how I did because no one was there who cared about me or whom I cared about. A ribbon brought home meant nothing to husband and kiddos who just wanted to tell mommy about their day.

When kiddos got older, they started showing a bit, then a bit more --but I was regulated to the job of groom (and personally, I think it is more fun to watch my kids show than to show myself).

Long before kids and grand kids stopped showing, I started fox hunting --all the thrills, all the pageantry, and it happens every week all winter long! Haven’t been showing myself in 25-30 years —but actually am going to a mounted archery competition for the second time in May — only to see if I’ve improved.


I am a middle adult who just in the past two years was able to get the horse of my dreams (who, interestingly, can be a nightmare- horses, eh?) and in the last year have been able to show at the level I have wanted to show at for twenty years. I actually enjoy letting the barn ship him and set everything up and school him on the first day (I did it all myself in my late teen/ early twenties and the thought of doing all that now exhausts me). I am having fun, but I think I am lucky. The barn I ride with is very accommodating of us working adults’ schedules, we have a really fun group that shows, so even if I ride like crap, I generally have fun and I enjoy the challenge of working with my green horse and trying to put together good trips in the ring when it counts. We generally only show once a month, so that helps lessen the burden.

I also wake up in a cold sweat some nights freaking out that I will never be able to retire. I know that this is my time now, that it won’t last forever (and frankly, I don’t think I want it to) and if at any point this horse breaks or is no longer able to do what I want to do, that is it for me. He is my forever horse and when he is done, I am done. Though I may be done before that if the money thing becomes too stressful and I frankly think pony would be just fine with a new career that involved sitting in a big field somewhere eating grass.


I went through years of not being able to show as an older teenager through my senior year of college due to a) not having the money and b) being an eventer riding with a hunter/jumper trainer and thus never really happy with going around hunter courses (also because, funnily enough, I ride better the more complicated the course gets. Hard turns and weird lines = less mistakes on my part, probably because I don’t have time to think about it and just have time to do, so I’m actually more competitive in the jumper/eventing rings than I am in hunter land).

I’m now 100% an adult ammy and I’m actually getting back into showing and enjoying it, but on different terms than I was expected to previously (aka, not going to A shows that would cost a month’s salary for a weekend). I’m currently trainer-less (though that will change as I get more advanced), but I ride with my barn owner and we’re both in agreement that we just want to have fun, so we do. It’s not about being competitive for us, it’s just about getting to pack up together for a weekend and go hang out with the horses and enjoy ourselves at local/semi-local shows and mini trials. I’ve been riding her coming 5-year-old Quarter pony while she works with her very green OTTB, so we don’t expect much. It’s just fun to get them out and see something different (and not have to pay more than $300 for the weekend), but we don’t feel any pressure to do it either. Like Another-Bay said, I like to show, but I don’t need to.

If that wasn’t the case, if I still had the pressure on me to show that I did with my previous trainer, I don’t think I’d want to go anywhere. I’m lucky in that I have unlimited PTO (within reason) at my job, so I’m able to take off Fridays and Mondays here and there over the summer on top of my usual vacation without any issue, so for me it’s a great break from work. I also don’t have kids (other than my cats :lol:) and at this point my life is just work, friends, and horses, so it’s easier to justify taking that time for myself. It’s also so much cheaper for me to be an eventer than a hunter rider that I find it much easier to justify the expense to myself given that I spend as much on 4-5 reasonably local mini trials (read: within three hours from the barn) as I would on one weekend at an A show (both with and without trainer fees).

(But also… my eventing coach would charge $100 for coaching for an entire weekend (read: Friday/Saturday/Sunday) when we’d go away. I had to muck out/feed/water myself, but that’s never been a big deal to me. I’m sure her prices have gone up since then, 'cause it’s been a while, and I’ll find out what they are when I bring her back into the fold again, but I have little doubt that they’re still cheaper than my most recent trainer (the H/J one), who charged me $100 per day for coaching, even if she didn’t say three words to me the entire time and I schooled my horse myself. I do not miss that world one bit.)


:frowning: @junipk I’m sad to hear this.
Not only did we always clap - & WOOT! - for a decent round (& even some Really TRIED ones) but even made up a sort of pompom squad for a member of our group who got called back first for a Medals class.
Doing a kind of Village People YMCA version of her name… :winkgrin:

For myself, I was never Uber-competitive and just enjoyed getting out to new places with unfamiliar fences (that I did not have to put up or take down).
After a couple years of Regional, B & rare A H/J shows I began to notice the Fun was missing.
I left the show-focused barn I was at & took up with a Trainer/Friend who put some of it back.

One of my fondest memories of showing with him was when I “dared” to ride my own horse in the 2nd Year Greens, at the time an unofficially-acknowledged Pros-Only class.
Other trainers came running up to him with their hair on fire asking “Why is SHE riding the horse?”
His answer “Because it’s her horse”
AND we took 2nd in a class composed solely of other local Pros.

@bluepece2 I think I need to move to Belgium… :cool:

Now I show strictly for fun:
County Fair (cash payback & CORNDOGS!)
Local shows to support 4H
Schooling Dressage show - with r Judge - to see how far my gaited horse has come with his trot
& the rare treat of an ADS show, merely for the lovely venue & chance to see some gorgeous horses, carriages & turnouts.