The movement of the National Show Horse is what makes it a crowd favorite and has led to the huge amount of interest in the breed in various shows around the country. While still most common in the United States where it was first bred and developed, the National Show Horse is used in dressage, hunter seat and show as well as driving competitions. The goal of the original breeders of the National Show Horse was to develop a flashy, gaited horse that combined the refinement and athletic ability of the Arabian with the gaited and elegant American Saddlebred.
The majority of the competitions that National Show Horses are entered in are monitored and supported by the National Show Horse Registry. There are also an increasing number of exhibition events at other national and international horse One of the most common events that the young NSH is entered into include halter classes where the horse is judge based solely on his or her conformation and qualities. This type of event is often for the younger horses but any stallion, mare, filly, colt or weanling can compete in their respective class.
In the riding events country pleasure is one of the favorite events for most spectators. In this event the National Show Horse can show all the various gaits including the rack and slow gait as well as the walk, trot and canter. The riders are dressed in a variety of styles of western dress and the saddles and tack are beautifully designed and decorated. The English pleasure class is designed to allow the horse to be shown under English saddle. In these events the riders are dressed in very traditional English riding attire and are very formal in their presentation. In both the rack and the slow gait with the high lift on the front legs and the extension to the front is the really crowd pleasing gait. Hunter seat classes and equitation that judge both the horse and predominantly the rider in the case of equitation are also popular with both the spectators as well as the participants. It does take an experienced rider to work with the National Show Horse in the ring to truly bring out the best in the horse.
Driving classes or competitions can really highlight the action of these amazing horses. The racking gait allows the horse to cover the ground with almost a floating motion and the dramatic front quarter movement is eye-catching. Either men or women can drive in the competitions that are broken into amateur handler, country pleasure driving and Show Horse Alliance pleasure driving among others. Each type of driving class evaluates both the horse and the driver and their ability to perform in the ring.
Learning the judging systems for National Show Horse competitions is a bit of work and is best done by attending the events and actually watching what is going on. Find someone that can help you through the questions you have, or even plan to video tape the event and play it back until you understand what the judge is looking for.