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The Evolution of Rated Hunter/Jumper Shows

January 22, 2020
The Evolution of Rated Hunter/Jumper Shows

You might have heard the old wives’ tales of a time when horse shows were everywhere, every weekend, and did not cost an arm and a leg to participate; or maybe you were even fortunate enough to be a competitor during this era. Now, rated hunter/jumper shows are notorious for skyrocketing exhibitor costs, exclusive VIP events, and (most unfortunately) unpleasant facilities and staff. Luckily for the hunter/jumper competition world, new horse shows and management companies are making a rise in the industry and paving the way towards a new era of competition culture!

Photo courtesy of The World Equestrian Center

The most notable horse show associated with initiating this new shift towards pleasing exhibitors is the World Equestrian Center in Ohio. When this new facility opened up in 2016 to host its very first rated shows with the promise of a winter circuit, competing horse shows in Florida assumed they had nothing to fear because who on Earth would want to spend all winter in Ohio?! The World Equestrian Center (WEC) quickly proved they were a force to be reckoned with by offering free stalls to all on-time entries. This was huge. After attracting many Midwest show barns with the lure of free stalls, it only took a few shows to garner a huge reputation as a top show facility that offered indoor and outdoor competition, heated permanent barns, onsite housing, pristine footing, and quality customer service that made each exhibitor feel truly welcomed and valued by the horse show! The WEC really paved the way for a change in the show industry because who isn’t tired of rundown stalls, traveling 30-45 minutes from your hotel to the show, and a crabby office staff and back-gate crew? Especially when you’re footing a large bill at the end of the week! And here’s the best part: the World Equestrian Center is opening the gates of its brand new show facility in Ocala, FL in 2021!

Photo courtesy of The Paso Robles Horse Park

Around the same time of the opening of the WEC in Ohio, the west coast gained a wonderful new show grounds: The Paso Robles Horse Park. Nestled in the heart of Paso Robles wine country, this pristine horse park boasts the perfect destination horse shows between the months of March and December! Hosting a range of shows, from schooling shows to A-rated Hunter/Jumper shows, does not stop this incredible facility from maintaining its high standards. The Paso Robles Horse Park takes pride in its beautiful GGT footing, a lovely grass hunter field, clean and airy permanent barns, warm and welcoming office and facility staff, and (one of our personal favorites) impeccably maintained permanent bathrooms! How many times have you found yourself sweating bullets while wearing your whites in a stuffy port-a-potty that appears to not have been cleaned since the start of the show circuit? It may seem like an easily overlooked detail, but quality restroom facilities can really make or break a horse show. Another one of the best parts of the Paso Robles Horse Park is their overall high standards for every show they host; whether you are at one of their two-day schooling shows or their two-week rated series, they always guarantee a beautiful facility and inviting atmosphere with serious competition.

Photo courtesy of Nilforushan Equisport Events

As the WEC and Paso Robles Horse Park set the stage for newer horse shows, the Temecula Valley National Horse Show came to fruition under the watchful eye of experienced rider and trainer of Ali Nilforushan. These wonderful shows are hosted at the well-established Galway Downs in Temecula, CA, and they boast constant facility improvements including new fencing and a gorgeous Grand Prix arena. The TVNHS rated shows have gained a stellar reputation through their generous prizes, organized management and friendly staff, tiered stabling options, and young horse and thoroughbred discounts! Another widely talked about quality of these shows has to be their extravagant (and inclusive, forget about expensive VIP fees!) exhibitor parties! It seems there isn’t a show day concluded without a fun event for all exhibitors to attend, making these shows fun and welcoming (and worth the bill at the end of the week)!

Photo courtesy of Desert International Horse Park

Finally, the oldest horse show in this blog, but the newest management company, would be the winter circuit held in Thermal, CA! Now rebranded as the Desert International Horse Park, this 8-week winter circuit hosts the most horses of any show on the West Coast. The new management company recognized their responsibility to honor the exhibitors that invest so much to show at a winter circuit early on by making tremendous facility and management improvements. Most notably, the DIHP advertises an entirely redone lunging area that remains well-maintained throughout every show week, footing improvements, bathroom remodels (again, a clean bathroom makes all the difference!), permanent waste-reducing water bottle filling stations, exhibitor parties, friendly staff, and (our favorite!) video live-stream in every show ring plus the ability to download your rounds after you show!!

These are just a few shows that have really set a new tone for horse shows across the United States, and it is noticeable how their high standards have pushed well-established shows to raise the bar to maintain their customer loyalty! Across the board, these shows have a few key details in common: quality staff and customer service, stellar facilities, and clean bathrooms! Team Equivont is excited to see how hunter/jumper competitions continue to evolve and improve for the benefit of the competitors and their horses.