Saturday, May 11, 2019

Why breed shows and halter horses?

I've sat in front of my computer several times over the past month trying to write this post.  I think I'm on version 6 or 7 at this point.  Emma's recent post had me thinking as well, so I went back to editing yet again. 

Why do I show halter?  Why would you show halter in the breed world?  Don't those horses all look weird?  Wouldn't you rather ride?

All valid questions that I ask myself daily.  And the answers are complicated and vary day to day and year to year - life throwing a wrench in the works, motivation fluctuations and resources. Always with the resources when it comes to horses.  I do still ride a bit, although it is hard to work full-time, ride one horse and fit a halter horse, on top of other commitments, you know the hubby, eating, etc.  ;-)

I bought Spencer a few years ago looking for an older QH (he is 18 now!) that could do western breed type classes (western pleasure, horsemanship, trail, showmanship and maybe hunt seat) at the schooling show level. I had a lot to learn, so didn't feel the need to jump into the breed show world at that time. I had sort of planned to learn with Spencer and then buy something a bit fancier in a couple of years.
Me - having fun at a local fair.  Spencer, not so much.  Likely totally embarrassed by his human.
I did well with him the first year we showed and then life happened.  In a nutshell:
  • my coach retired,
  • there aren't any other western coaches in my area,
  • there aren't any western shows above the schooling show level (including fairs) that aren't breed shows,  
  • I have "issues" that rear up at unfortunate times (confidence, anxiety, fitness/health)
  • my husband got really sick (and is fine now, thankfully)
  • and our finances took a big hit. 
With all of that stuff going on, I had to remind myself that my love for horses covers more than riding, showing - I love doing stalls, fixing fences, feeding, mini scritches, etc. 

One of my favourite pics - this is my friend's horse - he is so handsome!  I didn't even know the photographer took this one, probably why I like it!! lol
I had showed friends horses in the past and kind of got hooked on the sweet show schedule - most halter classes are first thing in the morning and then you are done!  Grand and reserve ribbons are kinda sweet too!
stand still, mother fucker!  me, probably, circa 2016
Once my life stabilized a bit, my friends encouraged me to get a halter horse so I wouldn't have to worry about the riding/trainer/gear issue.   I was on board with that idea and the search for Fred began.  Admittedly, I don't love how halter horses are supposed to be examples of excellent  conformation and yet most that are winning big shows are post-legged hypp n/h creatures that don't have much of a future as a riding horse.   This applies to many horse-related industries though - sadly, there is no shortage of this type of stuff in our beloved horse world.
almost to Fred's farm in Kentucky
I feel that you can still be part of a breed/industry without supporting the worst parts.  Think of all of the amateurs across the board that feed into shows, breeding and the horse industry as a whole. There is a lot of good out there too and fun, let's not forget the fun!  And, to quote Emma from her awesome recent post "But the great thing about these animals is that one size does not fit all. There's room for everyone."
Showing a friend's horse in 2015...?  This is actually a showmanship class at a fair, but I showed this guy in halter at AQHA shows one year.  He is 19 now!
Now that I have Fred, I now try and look at how I want to show and take care of my horse with a view to learning, doing the best with what I have and trying to have some fun along the way.  Would I someday like a fancier horse to move up some levels and win at some bigger shows? Yes, I can't lie, I would like that. Is it in the cards for me? Who knows.  And I'm ok with that.
This has been my motto lately...
The important thing is that I don't need those things to enjoy what I have now.  And that is 3 horses, my own little barn and lots of opportunities to learn and have fun.  It is so hard to not get caught up in the points and awards and the dream of travelling to far-away shows, but it is more important for me to enjoy myself and remember that love of horses that I had as a kid. 


  1. this is awesome and i love all the pictures!! it definitely does seem like an entirely different world from what i know, but honestly maybe that's my favorite thing about horses is that there are so many different ways to enjoy them and fit them into our lives. totally love that last image too, and the idea that amateurs are what's building up the sport, no matter which discipline we go into. can't wait to see how things start going once your ankle is healed!

    1. Thanks Emma... :-) Thanks for writing a post that got me thinking and editing my original. Totally agree that horses offer so much to so many of us.

  2. The entire point to all this crazy horse stuff we do is to enjoy our time with the horses. The way we enjoy them is different for everyone, and that's what's so great about all of it!
    Thanks for sharing your story!

  3. Showing halter is pretty fun and hey those beautiful ribbons don't hurt either, but yes as Stacie said showing is just another outlet to enjoy our horses and it's always good to remember that when we are kept out of the show ring for various reasons.

    1. Yeah, I love me some ribbons! ;-) Agreed on remembering showing is just one outlet to enjoy our crazy beasts.

  4. Great insight on a tough topic! So much of the world just sees the negative in the halter world. I think that not only CAN you show in the industry without promoting the worst of it, but you SHOULD. If more people who don't like the ugly parts (HYPP, post legs, etc.) showed in halter, the breed standard would come around and judges would start rewarding correct horses who are suitable for the work a QH was originally designed for. My own sport (endurance) is in the spotlight in a bad way right now and it's so hard to explain to people that MOST endurance riders are not FEI riders, let alone in region 7. Here in the US, we don't run our horses into the ground and the vet checks are super strict. I imagine it's much the same in your world... you see good examples and lots of reasons to show/own halter horses, and it must be so frustrating to fight the stigma!


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