Published: Wednesday, 20 November 2013 21:27


No matter how much you practice at home; a competition is a completely different story.  Whether it’s the different venue, the fancier fences, the crowded warm up or the ‘show jitters’ there isn’t anyway you can duplicate that at home.  Therefore the calendar lists schooling dressage and jumper shows and combined tests to prepare riders for the Eventing Season.  Hunter Paces are also included as they are a good way to get some cross country practice in a relaxed atmosphere.  Once the eventing season starts the schooling shows aren’t included as its time to Event!  The Hunter Paces are still included because they’re just plain fun!!


You may wonder what the difference between a recognized Event and an unrecognized Event or Mini Trials.  A recognized horse trial is licensed by the United States Equestrian Federation and the United States Eventing Association.  As such the recognized events are held to the standards of the governing bodies and must hire licensed officials who, as a rule, don’t live locally.  The recognized events tend to attract the more serious competitor and they will often travel many hours to attend a quality competition. 


Mini Trials are run in the same way as a recognized event but the officials do not have to be licensed and the courses are generally are a little less challenging.  In addition they tend to be more relaxed as the dress of the rider is more relaxed and braiding is definitely an option. They are run more with the education of the horse and rider in mind. Since many of the Mini Trials are run at the same venue as a recognized event, you be getting a quality event but with fewer frills.  Mini Trials tend to be a more local event and unlike recognized competitions competitors may school the cross country the day before.  Probably the biggest difference between the Mini Trials and the recognized Horse Trials is the cost; they are a whole lot less expensive because they are less expensive to run.  The Minis also offer divisions at lower levels although both South Farm and Stone Gate are now offering an unrecognized Starter 2’ division at their recognized competitions at a lower fee.


The Dressage & Jumper shows in the winter and spring are a good way to practice your dressage tests and show jumping in a fairly relaxed atmosphere before the Event season starts.  The jumper show at South Farm has a different format and requires pre-entry, but you will be in an out in an hour.  The Prix de Ville at Lake Erie College is a fancy show for teams of four in both dressage and jumping.  It gives you a whole different feel from the schooling shows and will give you a similar feeling to riding at Champs but on a smaller scale.


Combined Tests are competitions where you do a combination of a dressage test and a show jumping round for a combined score.  You can also do additional dressage tests and show jumping rounds.  Combined tests are a good way to practice 2 out of the three phases of Eventing in one competition.


Hunter Pace is a nice long enjoyable 4 – 5 mile trail ride with family or friends. It goes back to its fox hunting roots where riders had to hack to the hunt.  They had to figure out how to get to the hunt on time with a horse that was sufficiently warmed up, but not too tired to hunt.  Hunter Paces are good for Eventers because you get to ride across the country over varied terrain and jump up to 38 fences. If you’re not sure about the jumping you can enter the non jumping division and only jump what you’re really comfortable doing.  The pace isn’t that fast but its still a bit of a conditioning ride for both rider and horse.