Virtual horse shows, a new and growing event |

Virtual horse shows, a new and growing event

What can you do when you have a horse in training and shows lined up, when suddenly, it all just stops? The shows are canceled and training seems pointless if you aren’t preparing for an event.

Ashley Kluz Villmow of Kluz Performance Horses, Gillette, Wyo., had heard of Virtual Horse Shows and e-shows, but hadn’t had anything to do with them. But, when the COVID-19 virus came in the picture, much changed in the horse business. People who make a living training horses are losing those horses from training. If they can’t haul and show, many owners don’t want the expense of training, so it is a difficult situation for both trainers and owners. Horses taken out of training now will have to make up ground when the shows are scheduled again.

Villmow says “I’ve gotten to know a lot of trainers around here and they were suddenly struggling to keep customers horses in their barns. There needed to be a reason to keep training, so I looked into this way of showing.”

She got the idea from seeing what others in the industry were doing. “There are other groups doing this and some associations are offering incentives to show this way. What some have said is that this gives a person a reason to keep riding and training their horses. Plus, it also helps folks stay positive through this trying time and to not get down in the dumps about not being able to show.”

Villmow had hosted clinics with Jennifer Bull, a judge and clinician who was wanting to do some virtual western dressage clinics to stay in touch with the people who had been at the live clinics. “When the virus outbreak became news, it was time to try it,” says Villmow. “I have several judges who are lined up to judge each week and they are all people who have judged the live shows in the past.”

Reining, ranch riding, ranch trail and walk/trot horsemanship classes are available. Divisions are open, amateur, youth, rookie and green horse. “If people don’t have an arena to ride in, they can also do it in a pasture, or in the walk/trot class, on a road,” says Villmow.

The cost for the class is $30 and riders will win money back just as if they were at a regular show. The judge scores the run and gives written notes on how they can improve their run. “That’s an added bonus for showing this way,” says Villmow.

It’s simple enough to get into the show. Go to the website, find the pattern you have to run for your event, video it wherever you can, then upload it to YouTube and fill out the online entry. Payment is made online, as is pay back. Videos are usually three to four minutes for reining, two minutes on ranch riding and under a minute on horsemanship. The video cannot be edited or it will get a no score.

Villmow is enthusiastic about the response and says “The first week there were 15, then 28, and it’s catching on fast as people adjust to the current situation. I applaud the people for getting out and doing this. Just figuring out how to upload things onto YouTube is a new experience for many and it could end up helping them promote their horses and business in a new way. There’s even a YouTube video on how to upload your YouTube videos!”

Villmow enjoys watching the submissions, which are available for the public to view online, and likes seeing the similarities between the live shows and online events. “It’s neat because you can still see a bit of the horse show nervousness. I think even when these shows aren’t necessary we’ll keep doing them so that people can have a chance to overcome some nerves and still show if they can’t haul for some reason.”

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