Don’t let COVID-19 ruin your plans of showing this year!

Virtual horse shows have been around for quite some time, but few equestrians have given them much notice. With COVID-19 upon us, everything has changed though! Most states are experiencing some sort of ban that prevents traditional horse shows from taking place. Because of this, e-shows have become very popular.

Spring and summer are when horse shows start popping up. Riders shake off their winter gloom and get ready for more time in the saddle. Trainers have been prepping year-round for the opportunity to showcase their skills and horse’s talent. Whether a casual rider or professional trainer, horse shows are a big reason to keep riding. The excitement and fun, the environment and community, and the long-lasting memories make shows worth all of the hard work. 

With COVID-19 attacking us for over two months now, riders have begun accepting that this show season isn’t going to look like others. Quite frankly, it’s depressing! Many were eager to earn some blue ribbons. However, where there’s a will there’s a way!

What are virtual horse shows?

Also known as e-shows, a virtual show allows riders to showcase their talent from the comforts of their home barn. It’s simple- find a virtual show, pick a class, videotape yourself completing it, and submit to the judges within the time frame. Classes and tests will be judged against each other and prizes awarded. In many cases, real ribbons and cash prizes are mailed out!

It’s a new and fun way to show off your horse. Trainers can even promote sale horses and their business, during these troubled times. Spectators can enjoy scrolling through and watching many of the entries. 

What kind of e-shows are available?

The options are endless! Riders have their pick of nearly any discipline. Many breed organizations are also putting on virtual shows. Some even offer detailed feedback and critiques. Western riders can try ranch riding, reining, showmanship, roping, trail classes, western pleasure, barrel racing, and more. While English riders can enjoy dressage, equitation, hunt seat, and even jumping. 

Check out some examples of groups and organizations putting on e-shows:

You can search Facebook and local riding clubs for other hosts. 

Helpful Tips for First-Timers

Most riders are new to virtual horse shows. It can be a little daunting to put yourself out there, but it’s a lot easy than you might imagine. First, you should plan to pay an entry fee for each class and horse you enter. An additional fee for the judge’s critique may also be necessary. It’s important that you find a trustworthy group or organization with skilled judges.

Next, treat it like a real show. Your horse, equipment, and attire should reflect a real competition day. It’s a good idea to find a copy of the rules for equipment and clothing. Some even have breed requirements.

You’ll want to carefully pick out a class and look over the pattern. Choose one that matches you and your horse’s skill level. You should definitely practice the pattern ahead of time and work out any troubled areas. 

There will likely be video requirements. Read over these carefully! See if someone in your household will help you videotape your performance. Afterwards, you’ll need to submit your entry form and video before the deadline.

Virtual shows will likely be your best option for the next few months. You might like them so much that you continue doing them, even when life returns to normal!


Emily Fought discovered her passion for horses early on in life. When she isn’t writing about them, you can find her in the barn riding. Although Emily’s background is in dressage, she enjoys cross-training and is an avid trail rider. She resides in Northwestern Pennsylvania with her husband and small dog. Together, they own and operate Humblewood Farm. 


April 28, 2020
May 7, 2020