Going to Watch Schooling Shows -- Good Idea?

I’ve been interested in Dressage for years and now I finally have the chance to start taking lessons and (hopefully) competing!

To get started I wanted to go and see what the Show environment is like. There’s a schooling show about an hour away from me this weekend and I was going to go, just to watch the tests, and possibly find a good instructor/ contacts that can help me get started. I’m just wondering if this is a good idea? I mean is it likely to be considered rude or inappropriate to go to the show without having entered or being associated with any of the competitors?

I wouldn’t think it would be rude to go and observe, but it may be hard to get to talk to a trainer - they will be very busy with their existing horses and clients that are there showing (and paying said trainer to be there. If you really want to find some contacts, maybe ask some folks that are just there watching from the stands (if the show grounds have them) or the sidelines. Or possibly hang out around the vendors - food or tack. Folks hanging out in the stand or perusing the vendor booths probably have more time to chat. Whatever you do, don’t approach anyone on or holding a horse - just not the right time! If there are stabling facilities at the show, maybe a quick wander through the barn - sometimes trainers or barns will put out some cards in front of their tack room and you can get in touch with them later.
Have fun, and don’t forget your sunscreen!

I think it’s a great idea! Particularly a schooling show because it’s a much more relaxed atmosphere and it might be easier to find time to chat with instructors and their students. Agree that talking to people in the stands is also a good idea. It is in no way rude or inappropriate to go to a show without any affiliations. You are actually being really smart :slight_smile:

Don’t forget to talk to the show organizer and ask to volunteer at future shows!! An hour drive is cheap for the contacts, connections and learning to be gleaned.

Considering the bad rap dressage riders get for supposedly being snobby - any time I’ve gone to a dressage show I’ve been able to strike up a conversation with people in the stands, people at trailers, etc. I hope folks are that nice to you too and that you decide to come on over! :smiley: (Just a warning - it’s addicting!)

Of course not! If an instructor isn’t busy coaching or looking after horses, he or she will probably be happy to talk with you. As for the competitors, all you have to do is walk up and say, “Your horse is really beautiful.” :smiley: Best time to do that is after the test is over. “Nice rig,” is a good ice breaker, too.

Ooh that’s a great suggestion! Thanks!