What is a horse show? Simply put, a horse show is a judged exhibition of horses and ponies. Many different breeds of horses and equestrian disciplines hold competitions at the local, regional, national, or international levels. Horse shows can be held over the course of a day or over several weeks.
Most shows in the United States are either specific to one discipline or style of riding, or to one breed or type of horse. For example, many different breeds of horses or ponies may compete at a hunter/jumper competition, while only Quarter Horses will compete at an American Quarter Horse Association show. At a Quarter Horse show, horses of this breed may compete in classes in many different styles of riding, from western pleasure and team penning to hunt seat equitation.
Horse Show 101
The number of divisions and types of classes offered at a horse show is endless. Classes are often split by age and experience of both the horse and the rider, professional versus junior and amateur riders, and level of difficulty. For example, at the International, the High Child/Adult division is available for junior (under the age of eighteen) and adult amateur (non-professional) riders, and the jumps will be set at 3’9” in height and 4’ in width.
Horse shows are governed by their local, regional, national, and international agencies. The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) is the major governing body of most equestrian disciplines in the U.S., and oversees recognized horse shows across the nation.
The international organization for equestrian sports is the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), or International Equestrian Federation. Nine different disciplines are recognized by the FEI, including show jumping and dressage, which will be featured here in Omaha.