Virtual Horse Shows – All Riders to Demonstrate Their Skills at Home

Frustrated by horse show cancellations? You don’t wait for in-person events to resume. Try a virtual horse show. Online horse shows offer a platform for competing at home while having a chance to win prizes and receive constructive feedback.

“Riders have the chance to compete in a low stress environment for the chance to earn cash and receive great constructive critiques,” said Elizabeth Lawhorn, the American Paint Horse Association (APHA) Director of Performance Development. APHA planned to introduce E-Shows in 2020, but moved up the launch date due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Lawhorn offered tips for helping exhibitors prepare for a digital competition.

  • Use the pattern and instructions provided to correctly set up the course.
  • Ensure the exhibitors know their patterns.
  • Video a rider’s run as many times as needed. Riders can use this to their advantage by making sure they’ve stayed on pattern and that the camera person hasn’t accidentally cut off the beginning or end of a run.
  • Read the rules. New virtual shows are being created each week and each have different rules on tack and attire and may differ in their entry and video process.

“That way you know how each one works so that you don’t miss a deadline or get disqualified for something as small as illegal attire or tack,” she said.

Nearly every phone has a built in video camera making it easy to record an entry. Quality video is vital so the judge can clearly and easily see a rider’s performance. Filming horizontally works best.

“We prefer exhibitors shoot the video in landscape, or wider than it is tall,” Lawhorn said. “This makes sure that the subject is as easy to view and judge as possible.”

Zooming when appropriate ensures that the horse and rider are in the frame at all times. If they are videoing in a covered arena, avoid open windows or doors behind the exhibitor when possible. Back lighting makes the subject dark and impossible for the judges to see clearly.

“Online horse shows aren’t designed to replace physical horse shows, but they give exhibitors a low cost option to get out there and show their horse,” she said. “It can even serve as a stepping stone for those exhibitors who are new or getting back into showing, or new to a specific event.”

Katie Navarra is an award-winning writer based in Upstate New York. She regularly covers horses, farming, business and leadership.