Non-Riding Classes to Enter at Your Next Horse Show


Would you like to participate in a horse show, but you can’t—or don’t want to—ride your horse? Maybe you have a physical condition or injury that currently prevents you from riding, or maybe you have a small pony or miniature horse that you just can’t ride due to its diminutive size. Does this mean that you have to give up the fun of going to a horse show? Absolutely not! Check out this assortment of non-riding classes and head off to the next show for some real fun!

Carriage Driving


Even if you can’t ride, perhaps you can drive! If your horse or pony is trained to pull a cart, you have plenty of options for the show ring. Driving is an exciting, pleasant activity and a wide range of classes are offered to suit the needs of a variety of driving enthusiasts. There’s pleasure driving, carriage driving, draft driving, reinsmanship (to test the skill of the driver), combined driving events, and the list goes on.



Such fun! Test your precision and skill in this class, as well as your ability to prepare a horse for exhibition. You’ll showcase your horse to the best of your ability while following the pattern that is designated by the judge. It sounds simple but it isn’t. A showmanship class can be a nice way to acquaint a young horse to the atmosphere of the show ring. (Of course, you can also enter your horse in a halter class and see how his conformation and type compares to the others in his class—always fun!)

In-Hand Trail
4H Mustang Competition by BLMIdaho on flickr/CC BY 2.0

In-Hand Trail

Who doesn’t love trail classes? Here’s a secret: trail classes are just as much fun when you’re leading the horse as they are when you’re riding. In-hand trail courses are often quite similar to the courses for ridden trail, just slightly modified so that the course can be completed as you lead the horse. (Also fun: in-hand barrel races. You have to try it sometime.)



If you love dressing up for Halloween, you’ll love the costume class. Here’s your chance to be creative and clever AND to dress up your horse in a costume. What’s better than that? But don’t be fooled into thinking that costume is an easy class to win:
exhibitors love costume classes and the competition can be fierce. It’s also memorable (ponies dressed as fairies, anyone?) and a chance to enjoy a bit of whimsy and frivolity in the show ring. (And let’s face it—we can ALL use that!)

Now, get out there and enjoy the fun and experience of a horse show!

Samantha Johnson is a freelance writer and the author of several books, including The Field Guide to Horses, (Voyageur Press, 2009). She raises Welsh Mountain Ponies in northern Wisconsin and is a certified horse show judge. Follow her on Twitter: @miraclewelsh.


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