Horse shows are a lot of fun and a great way to test your partnership with
your horse, but they can be stressful.  I hope the following information will
help take some of the mystery out of it.

Most shows are hosted by riding clubs and groups and run as “circuits”
meaning if you compete at the minimum number of shows and occasionally
do volunteer time throughout the show year, then you can participate in “year-
end awards”.  These awards are usually presented at a banquet at the end
of the show season; the barn will sit together at one table and enjoy the
comradery of a year of showing together.

I start most of my students at Parkland Horseman’s Association (PHA)
Dressage Shows because these shows are run entirely by volunteers, so
costs are kept down and emphasis is made to keep it low-key and friendly.  
The show grounds are a “trailer-in” facility meaning the horse will be trailered
in the morning of the show.  Riders will warm up, show and then trailer the
horse back the same day.

The next step is overnight shows that offer stabling. This type of show might
include:  Sun-Coast Shows in Plantation or Palm Beach Posse.  Horses will
be trailered down the day before showing, and riders have the opportunity to
take a lesson in the actual show ring.  This is very helpful for you and
inexperienced horses, so they have a chance to get used to the ring.  Both of
these circuits are considered “schooling shows”.  Scores and points earned
at these shows are only applied to that circuits’ award system.

The next level of showing are “rated shows.” To compete at a rated show,
the rider and horse must become members of The United State Equestrian
Federation (or USEF) and The United States Dressage Federation (or
USDF).  Scores earned at one of these shows can go toward national and
local awards and qualify the horse and rider for national achievement
awards.  Also, scores can go toward enabling rider and horse to participate
in regional and national championships.
These shows are overnight and usually several days long depending on the
circuit.  The expenses for these shows are considerably more than schooling
shows and are much more structured with high levels of competition and
expectations.  Riders wishing to participate in these shows can look at Gold
Coast Dressage Association, Wellington Classic Dressage or White
Fences Dressage to compete locally.

Many breed organizations also offer dressage tests at their shows.  These
are rated and restricted to horses with registration papers for their breed.
We have several Arabians and Part Arabians at the barn that enjoy these
type shows and may be attending several across the states of Florida and
Georgia in the upcoming year.

Most of my students find it easier to start out at the level of schooling shows.
But, if you are interested in rated/breed shows down the road, I'd be happy
to help guide you in your chosen path!

~*A Guilde to Dressage Shows: Know Your Organizations*~

                   ~Schooling Shows (unrated)~

Parkland Horseman’s Association (PHA) – Parkland, FL   http://www.
Sun Coast Dressage – Plantation, FL

 ~Rated Shows~

*The United States Equestrian Federation (or USEF) is the national
organization that creates and enforces rules for all equine-related disciplines
as well as keeps results of all the shows. It is very important to know these
rules if you plan to show dressage at any level. The rules are available
online, but you will need to become a member of the USEF if you plan to
qualify for national awards. Memberships are due annually, and in addition,
your horse will need an annual or lifetime membership.

*The United States Dressage Federation (or USDF) provides national rider
and horse awards, and other programs such as breed shows, junior/young
rider programs, judges and instructor certifications and USDF University
sessions. To qualify for year-end awards, a participating membership is
required for the rider/owner, and your horse will need a lifetime membership.

Gold Coast Dressage Association -