Possibly one of the most positive things to come out of the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown for horse people was the emergence of the virtual horse show – which shows no signs of disappearing any time soon. While online judging has been going on for years at sites such as Horse Shows Online, most involve still photos being judged, whereas now the norm is quickly becoming videos of hunter rounds and dressage tests as new show sites spring up.

The main advantage of the online show is that you can easily compete without the expenses of travelling, saving on shipping costs, entries, coaching, braiding (unless you want to!) and day fees while you remain healthy and socially-distanced at home.

Here is a primer about Online Horse Showing:

Ready to give it a try? Here are some tips for achieving the best level of success in your soiree into the world of video virtual competitions.

1. Download and study the rulebook. Every show is different and the rules may vary regarding everything from courses and tests to tack and dress.

2. Speaking of the latter, while you are generally not required to wear your best show clothes and have your horse and tack sparkling clean, if can only help and indicates that you care and respect the process and organizer.

3. Most shows ask that the video you submit must be of your first attempt at the course or dressage test ‒ the honour system applies here! Videos of tests or courses must also be one continuous filming and unedited from start to finish. “Video submissions should be presented as one continuous round, not your best trip out of four or best bits edited together,” says Christina Reupke, who runs the new online show and coaching site, Horsemanship Society International Inc.

4. Some sites ask that prior to entering the ring, your videographer must show a cell phone displaying the date and time and announce your name, your horse’s name, the level and test you are riding (if dressage). The videographer may also be asked to circle the horse and rider showing the spurs and the bit following the completion of the test.

5. Test readers calling the dressage test are generally allowed.

6. Coaching during a test or round is not allowed.

You don’t need an expensive video camera to shoot a test or course, just a decent cell phone and these useful tips:

7. Take your video for the long side of the ring.

8. Hold the phone horizontally when filming

9. Make sure the sound is turned ON.

10. If you’re outdoors, make sure the sun is behind you.

11. Film from a slightly elevated position, if you can, never from ground level.

12. Do not video too close to the horse, or too far away. “You need to have enough perspective that the judge can see as the horse approaches the jump and the jump has to be in the shot,” advises Reupke.

13. Avoid the shakes! A shaky video will be difficult to judge and may even be rejected. Use a tripod for best results.

14. Make sure there are as few background distractions ‒ dogs and kids running around, other people riding in the ring ‒ as possible.

15. Be careful not to submit videos which may be deemed inadmissible due to :

  • rider is not wearing an approved safety helmet
  • your horse appears lame
  • unsafe actions of the horse, rider or other participants or bystanders involved
  • unsafe surroundings
  • course or test requirements not being met
  • extremely poor quality video

Some of the most popular online showing sites include:

Online Horse Showing
In-hand and under-saddle photo competition since 2016, potentially win rosettes to 10th place; first place winners also receive a prize/voucher.

Global Showing
Offers a varied schedule which changes each month, a variety of photo and video classes to suit all competitors and all types of equines, whether ridden or non-ridden. Also fun classes and even pet classes. Rosettes to 10th, prize money for first.

Horsemanship Society International Inc.
While many online showing sites are European-based, this newly-launched initiative created by Christine Reupke is a Canadian venture. This global competition site offers education, interactive lesson programs and video competitions designed to encourage riders to become more knowledgeable, better athletes. Receive scores and written feedback from licensed officials or respected horsepeople.

Dressage Today
Well-known judges provide each rider with their test sheet and detailed feedback. Premium offering for $100 per ride sees entries receive a 30-minute, one-on-one phone consultation with the judge.

The Mane Show 
UK-based site which aims to make showing fun and accessible to all by offering a huge variety of classes. Rosettes and Championship sashes.

Horse Shows Online
Established in 2011, HSO allows you to compete your horse against others all over the world without leaving the comfort of your own home. Rosettes 1st-10th place and prizes, gift voucher/discounts to the winners.

(For tips for taking good photos if you prefer to go that route, click here.)