Difference Between Local Shows and AA Shows

Difference Between Local Shows and AA Shows

Last week, Diary of a Horse Obsessed Girl wrote an excellent blog post about the differences between local and rated horse shows. Since she has a lot more horse show experience than I do, I can go ahead and tell you that her post will be way more informative and accurate than this one.

So go read that if you want to know the nitty gritty.

This post however, is more about pictures and silliness.  Since I haven’t actually shown rated, I’m just pinging observations here… but  per always, I’m doing it with a giant camera lens.

The Differences Between Fancy AA Shows and the Local Shows I Go To… As Told By Someone With a Giant Camera Lens


Prizes are pretty legit.  Since Pin Oak is a heritage horse show, the ribbons have an old school feel.  First place also comes with a hand painted plate that is pretty retro chic if you ask me.


Why yes, I do want that neck ribbon.


Pretty much everything on this table please.


You also have to jog at rated shows… but only for rated divisions and only for hunters.  Yes I know this is confusing – welcome to hunterland.



Grooms are everywhere.  Sure, some barns have grooms at local shows as well but in rated land pretty much every horse is trailed by a groom.  A lot of riders pick up the reins when they hop on, and hand them off when they’re done showing.  Grooms also will constantly wipe/brush/clean in-between classes.



The footing is a lot better, and maintained a lot better. At Pin Oak, it poured pretty much three days in a row.  Did they have to stop the show?  No.  Did the footing look bad the next day?  Not at all.


There are more vendors than at local shows, and the vendors are typically more awesome.  Goodbye money.  I will miss you.


Also, various and delicious food trucks.


More importantly, lots of access to alcohol. For sale at tents. For free at exhibitor parties. Horse shows everywhere should take note of this… I’d probably jump a division higher if there was constantly a glass of wine in my face.


The quality of your competition is typically nicer.  I’m not saying my locally shown Thoroughbred could never beat a horse that has been to an AA show… but there’s a reason sales horses who consistently pin at rated shows have a high price tag.



If you’re riding in a big class, like a jumper classic, you may get a cool dude in a red coat serenading the start of your division.


I may volunteer my husband to do this at our local shows.  Hey Tim – I will accept your silence on this issue as proof you a) agree and b) have stopped reading my blog.  You’ll look great in this outfit! 🙂

Everything at AA shows is fancified.  Curtain all the things!  Throw the show logo on all the things!  Make the judge and jump crew area purdiful!




Most of the jumper jumps at AA shows are sponsored.  Hey… gotta pay for that classic money and all the fancy decorations!  Sure, some local shows have sponsored jumps but that’s not typically the norm.


Really the biggest difference between Pin Oak and our smaller A shows in the area that I can’t take a photo of is the prize money involved.  On the second week, there as a $10,000 Low Child/Adult Jumper classic that you had to qualify for.  That’s a lot of prize money for 1.05m!

A lot of the rated show allure is pomp and circumstance, but I can’t help it… I still want to show at a big show like this 🙂  Until then we will be happily getting miles in the local rings!

28 thoughts on “Difference Between Local Shows and AA Shows

  1. Thanks 🙂
    I’m curious about the classic you mentioned. I’ve never heard of 1.10 being low child adult jumper. 1.10/1.15m is high child adult jumpers in the zones I compete in. Lows are 1-1.05m. What did the show list as the high’s height??

  2. Now you just need pictures from local shows that are humorous. We have one local show (that I don’t haul to…lol) that uses paper plates as back numbers. Requirement for shows: must use real back numbers. 😉 Supposedly if you aren’t from the area/a member of the club hosting and you win you get dirty looks and fear that your tires will be slashed.

    1. Plates? That’s terrifying! I used to be the official photographer at a local show in NC, but have since lost all the photos. There were definitely some sights to be seen!

  3. Everything about this post makes me SO nostalgic for hunterland. Granted, most of the time I was there, I was doing what the guy in photo 7 is doing, and NOT what the girl in photo 1 is doing… but still. I miss everything about that gypsy lifestyle. Sigh.

  4. “I’d probably jump a division higher if there was constantly a glass of wine in my face.” <- THIS. I totally wanted a Super Big Gulp sized margarita this weekend. And maybe one for Paddy too!

  5. I used to show at GSWEC for local shows when I lived in Houston – and I do recall someone saying that the footing in the outdoor Otto rings cost something like half or three-quarters of a million dollars EACH. With that price tag, they darn well better be rideable always! I’ve never been to another rated show to know if that’s the norm or just unique to GSWEC.

    As far as alcohol – local shows just means you bring your own to help you through 😉

    Someday…someday I will win a fancy neck ribbon…

  6. I love the unrated shows out here in Virginia 🙂 We don’t have any tents, nothing is sponsored, and we have to bring the wine ourselves (which we totally do), but there’s lots of really nice facilities with good footing! Small shows also means that my draft cross has a chance in the hunter ring…

  7. ” Hey Tim – I will accept your silence on this issue as proof you a) agree and b) have stopped reading my blog. You’ll look great in this outfit! 🙂 ”


  8. I can understand the appeal of showing at a big rated show. But then when I’ve shown at the KHP for a recognized event during the event I’m always like “why did I do this to myself, whHY???” Of course afterwards it’s almost always worth it. Just expect lots of extra nerves. 🙂

  9. if i ever ride a good hunter-y horse again i’d like to do something rated maybe…. also – that booze factor sounds interesting (in a good way). i admit to being a bit peeved when a recent show explicitly said no alcohol on the prize list, and then the hosting barn trainer was walking around w a beer bottle… wtf at least cover it up or let us do the same lady! haha

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