Online showing isn’t a new idea. These competitions are all over the internet and usually consist of sending in a photo of your horse and it will be judged by the organisers and the winner will receive a rosette etc. I have never entered these classes because a photo can hide SO MUCH and I don’t know who is doing the judging. Is it just whoever runs the online showing classes? Or do they have qualified judges doing the judging? I also don’t really see the point of online showing.
However, E-Dressage has just dropped a hint that there will be lots of changes coming soon, including the introduction of online showing classes. They haven’t released any information as of yet as to what these classes will be, how they will be run and what is so special about them. However, if they focus on feedback and training, like they do their dressage, they could be very interesting!
So while I am waiting for more information on what these showing classes will be like, I thought I would write what I think would be a good way to go about it!
More than just a photo! I think a riding class should have a video of a short ridden show, like you would at a normal show! As well as a 360 video of the horse or good quality photos of the horse from both sides, behind and front of the horse, probably without the saddle. Similarly, in hand classes should also show the horse from all angles and possibly have a video of the horse walking and trotting in hand.
Feedback! One of the downfalls of showing is that it is so hard to get feedback back from the judges. And a lot of the time, if you manage to get feedback, it is often just the judge’s opinion. I think to make online showing classes a success and a useful training tool, they need better feedback options.
A scoresheet could be created so judges can give each horse a score for different areas of judging such as; conformation, temperament, paces, turnout. In each of these sections there could be a small box for the judge to leave a comment, similar to a dressage feedback sheet.
Help and Tips E-Dressage currently has a very useful training vault to help improve your dressage, I think this would be very helpful to get people started in showing. They should have articles and videos to help you work out what ‘type’ your horse is. It can be a bit of a minefield trying to work out whether you should be in hack, riding horse or hunter. And once you have worked out what type your horse is, what should you be wearing and what will be required of you?
Dress and Turnout? This is a bit of an issue for me as I am unsure what direction they will go down. One of the biggest benefits I find in E – Dressage is we don’t have to dress smart and you can wear boots etc. Therefore, if I am having a particularly good schooling session and there is someone within shouting distance, I can call them over and quickly film my test while we are going nicely.
However, a HUGE part of showing is how you look and wearing the correct clothes. So I feel any online showing has to make the decision as to whether they are going to stick to tradition and expect plaited horses and correct attire or if they are going to focus on using this as a training tool and allow more casual clothing and focus on how the horse is going and how true the horse is to type.
I personally can’t decide which way would be best. I find the idea of plaiting up and getting dressed up a lot of effort for online training. However, plaiting in particular can improve your horse’s neck and a judge will be able to tell you if your attire is suitable for the class you are entering, which is useful if you are planning on going to a show soon.
Perhaps a way around it would be to have 2 sections in each class (if they get enough interest) where you either enter in full show gear and marked on turnout, or you enter a section where turnout is ignored (to a degree!) Either way I will be interested to see how it goes.
Multiple Experienced Judges I think it would be very important to have different judges each time, or at least swap them round the classes as much as possible. This is because all judges have a type they like and will likely always place that over other types. Which is fine and that’s how showing works. However, if a judge judges the same classes each time, people are unlikely to stop entering as they know that judge isn’t going to place them any higher.
I think it is also important to have experienced judges. Either qualified for show judging or an experienced show rider. This is because they will have a good understanding of what a horse of that type should be like and what is likely to do well in the real world. A pet hate of mine is in classes such as best condition where judges place overweight horses over horses what are in good condition. Fat does not equal good condition!
Lots of classes When you go to a local show, it is generally always the same small group of classes. Last year in particular I found it REALLY hard to find any ex racehorse classes nearby. There has been a few more this year, but I think online classes should have as many classes as possible. Classes I would expect to see are:
- Riding Horse/Pony
- Hunter Horse/Pony
- Lead Rein
- First Ridden
- Pony Club/Riding Club?
- Ex Racehorse
- Coloured/Odd Coloured
- Mountain and Moorland
- Driving Type/Ride and Drive
- Working Hunter Horse/Pony?
- Best Condition
- Tack and Turnout?
Some of these classes tend to require the horse to jump at least one jump, which I am unsure how you could judge via online, but I still think they are worth considering. You could also include novelty classes, but these could follow very different rules to the above classes and could be judged from a single photo with very little or no feedback as it is purely just judges preference with no criteria.
Over all, I think online showing classes could be a fantastic training tool, especially if it follows a similar structure to E-Dressage. I am very interested to see how they decide to work it as this will ultimately determine if I enter. I am also wondering if the current membership schemes will allow for a free entry into dressage and showing each month… but we will see!
What would you expect from online showing classes?