Even though I’ve always loved hunter/jumpers, it wasn’t until the last few years that I showed at “legit” hunter shows. Moving to the world of rotations and 1 million divisions under 3′ was a little confusing at first. It took a lot of hand holding by my trainer to calm my nerves and make hunter/jumper shows seem like the relaxing norm instead of a brave new world.
My showing life before hunter/jumper almost entirely consisted of open shows.
They are just as all encompassing as they sound, depending on the show circuit. Hunters? Sure, kinda. English pleasure? Tons. Western? A bunch. Throw mini horses, saddle seat, trail classes and more flat classes than you can possibly imagine and you’ve got yourself a proper open show.
Elvis was my open show extradinaire. He was a jack of all trades, master of none type… but we had a lot of fun together. I started showing Elvis a lot after I graduated from high school, and the graduation present I was VERY fortunate to have was a 2 horse aluminum horse trailer. I would wash and braid Elvis the night before, put him in a very attractive sleezy and load up early Saturday morning to head to the show.
We would haul for about an hour and spend all day at the open show. Elvis tied like a pro, and it didn’t take too long for us to get a routine together. No trainer, no groom or parents to watch. Just me and my red Quarter Horse.
Our favorite show, Johnston County, would start with “hunters”. The courses were ridiculously simple with questionable striding and almost all plain, white verticals. I was no hunter pro, but the adult 2’3″ – 2’6″ hunters were a small division at that time. Even though we had no lead change and questionable distances, we usually got some kind of points over fences.
After hunters, they had a schooling break where I would change for halter. We typically showed in Hunter Halter and Gelding Halter, although at some other shows we tried Western. Halter was my favorite, because I loved shining Elvis up. Judges either loved him or hated him, so we typically came home with nothing or some kind of halter tri-color. Still miss halter classes to this day!
Post halter there was a schooling break, where the ring turned into a mix of western, english, gaited, saddleseat and any other kind of creature that could walk trot canter on the rail. This show series had TONS of flat classes, although we typically stuck to the Adult division and the Hunter division. Walk/trot classes could easily have 20+ horses in it and not just kids… adults were welcome for walk/trot as well.
In the english style flat classes, the mix of horses were stock hunters, show hunters, gaited horses and even some drafts. We were kind of a mix of stock hunter and show hunter, but typically held our own in flat classes.
I always wanted to try Elvis western, but he didn’t really jog (or lope for that matter) and fancy Western show tack was out of the budget.
Though these shows run entirely different from the hunter/jumper shows I now love, I kind of miss my open show days. There’s some universe in the future where I hope I can get another (perhaps more talented) Quarter Horse and go play open/breed shows again.