So today I went to the Sound Equine Option’s Ride to Provide Horse Show as a vendor for my art. My goal was to do a dry run of my booth and maybe to get a couple of equine portrait commissions.

Makeshift "booth"
Makeshift “booth”

I arrived and discovered that my booth wouldn’t work. The vendor area was really more a table area. It was in a great spot (right near the entrance to the viewing area), but there was no way a 10’x10’ tent would fit and still allow horses to move around.

Okay. Plan B. I used what I brought to set up an attractive little table.

After this minor adjustment, I spent the rest of the day very pleasantly, alternatively talking to people, petting horses, and taking pictures (230+ pictures…)

I have never been to a horse show like this before. While I have taken riding lessons, been to a few dressage clinics, and been to the racetrack, I can’t remember being at a “show” before.

The day started with halter classes, followed by showmanship, English, and Western classes. Halter classes focus on how the horses look and are presented. Showmanship is another “ground” class and the focus is on the skill of the handler in presenting the horse. English and Western classes are as you might expect, though each was divided into a “pleasure” and “equitation” class.

It was the pleasure classes that mystified me. I have heard complaints and read articles about the artificial headset required from horses in these classes, but I assumed it was restricted to Quarter horse (or at least western) shows. Not so! Even in the English classes the judge was looking for a very low headset and slow paces. I have spent the most time riding English dressage, and to me this “pleasure” type just looks wrong.

English pleasure horse, cantering slowly (jog) with low headset
English pleasure horse, cantering slowly (jog) with low headset and no contact
English pleasure horse, still cantering slowly but on the bit with contact
English pleasure horse, still cantering slowly (not as slowly) but on the bit with contact

Outside of this, I saw many other things I haven’t seen before.

I also learned a new color: “Smoky Black.” It’s black with a dilute gene. Frankly, to me, it just looked brown. But I endeavor to be educated…

In addition to education opportunities, the day was very flattering for me. Many people who stopped by admired my art. A couple different people inquired about pet portraits and took my card. And most flattering, a customer who bought two of my paintings a few months ago admired my newest work, “Sizing Up the Competition”, and asked to be kept in touch about its fate!