I had a very interesting time this weekend at the Arabian Nationals horse show in Tulsa, OK. John and I have family in Tulsa, so we were able to visit family and share in *baby excitement* for the weekend as well as see the show.
In the past, one of my favorite things to do at shows was to window shop and look at all of the booths. This year I was surprised to ind that there were about half as many booths as in years past. There were whole expo centers closed down that had been full the year before. The seating areas around one of the arenas had been lined with booths last year and was empty the whole weekend.
I was also surprised to find that there were fewer people in general at the show. It just wasn't busy. It seemed like at any given time, there were only two of the three arenas in use. The warm up arenas are usually busy, but were not this year. I was there for the last few days of the show, but it still didn't make sense as to why things were so slow. It was sad to see this horse show being hit by the economy, but luxury entertainment spending is the first place people cut back in hard times. I guess I was more disappointed than surprised.
One thing that did surprise me was how my perceptions changed on showing and the industry in general. I used to LOVE showing and show horses. I thought it was the epitome of riding and training. Somehow, in the last year my thoughts have shifted. I was unimpressed by most of what I saw and really only enjoyed myself when watching the working cow horses and cutting classes. I think that my major shift has been that I just prefer to participate in and watch horse activities that give the horse a job. Endurance horses have a job. It is a VERY involved sport for the rider. Working cow events give the horse a job. Extreme trail challenges give the horse a job. I like that. Dressage has shown its self to be a wonderful training tool and I LOVE what it has done for Boomer and myself, but even then I don't enjoy watching dressage competitions. It is more 'showing off' than performance based to me.
So, it was an interesting thing for me to realize all of this while at the show. The excessive amounts of money spent just doesn't make sense for me and I am glad to find that I have finally outgrown wanting to be a part of that world. I would much rather take lessons in dressage and cutting and compete in endurance and enjoy having a well rounded horse.