This series is based on a guide I drew up a few years ago ahead of a clinic I delivered to novice adults and children. There are a wealth of showing experts out there and I will not pretend to know as much nor more than any of them. This guide is not intended for experts, it is intended to give showing novices (and parents!) some sound and basic advice on how to understand what ridden showing is, what the different ridden classes are and what their horses and ponies might be eligible for. I have been showing as an amateur for years and really enjoy it but will admit when I first started, especially when showing Connemaras, I didn’t really know what was right or expected so I needed and sought expert advice. Given how often I hear people asking what is allowed, what type their horse is and how to get started at showing, I believe this document might provide some help to anyone looking to go showing for the first time. I have also tried to include tips and tricks I learned along the way. This chapter looks at the different types of classes and horses. The next chapters to follow will cover class formats, turnout and a guide for grooms.
“Luck is when preparation meets opportunity” is one of my favourite phrases. So often in competition, especially when things go wrong, we talk about what you can buy – the best horse with the most potential, the expensive clothing, the sessions with the best coach / instructor / sports psychologist. However it is the existence of luck that levels any playing field. You cannot buy it, sell it, create it, harness it or control it. Luck can be at your back propelling you to victory or pushing against you to defeat. Luck will defy all odds and laugh in the face of assumption. Luck is the unlucky pole down that your horse barely touched, it is the lost button, the bad weather or the little spook or buck that the showing judge was looking away for.