I am probably more old-school than most, so I see our industry as being very different than it used to be.

I’m not sure if it’s for the good or the bad; it depends on whether you’re talking to the business side of me or the horsemanship side of me. Saying that, I will stick to the question of how this is impacting our riders, not the horses.

As a trainer, I believe riders need “time in the tack” in order to become great. So, if you are lucky enough to be able to have multiple horses, you will be able to get lots of time in the tack. Even if you’re showing a lot, you can rotate through horses, so some can show, and some can be at home lessoning. If your barn is on the road, you can show some one week and lesson on one or two another week. So, essentially, this question doesn’t affect the multiple-horse owner

If you are not lucky enough to have multiple horses, then, yes, the continuous horse show cycle will affect you if you are fair to your horse. The decision required of riders with only one mount is how to pick and choose the ‘smart shows’ to help you reach your goals while still building in time to lesson and give your horse downtime at home.

As a trainer, the planning part is so important—now more than ever. It costs more to attend the shows and enter classes to qualify for end-of-season finals; not only that, but you have to attend way more competitions in order to qualify.

You must map your year out well in advance. If things aren’t going the way you want, you will sometimes be required to come off the ‘qualifying’ thought process, step back, and decide whether your client needs to lesson more, or maybe give his/her horse more time off. For sure, in this day and age, having multiple horses is a huge advantage for the show world we live in.

As a judge, this cycle doesn’t impact me, as I don’t really know what horses and riders are competing nonstop or planning it out for the benefit of the horse. I would say that we see a lot of riders that could, for sure, work harder on basics. But I can’t say whether this is because we are horse showing too much, or if our industry has just become lazy in terms of making riders work hard at becoming good at home vs. just allowing them to show.

I see so many horses and riders in my ring that make me wonder why they are spending the money to show, but that is on the trainer. Trainers don’t have to open the door to go to a show before the rider or horse is ready, and the choice is theirs.

There is something to be said about being truthful about your clients’ capability and spending their money wisely—something that I often wonder about. But I would say this isn’t true because of the number of shows on the horse show calendar, it’s due to a lack of discipline in our sport.

As a mom, it’s so frustrating! The horse show cycle lasts all year long; there is never a break. The Florida circuit, alone, has taken over. If your kid wants to be competitive, you must plan to be there for at least three months if not more. That makes participating in this sport nearly impossible for the average person, as it’s made the financial requirements more expensive than ever.

Add to that the fact that your kid must have multiple horses to be in the thick of it, and good horses to be competitive and in the top.  I think that’s not only financially insane but also insane in terms of the time commitment it puts on families. Do people not want to rest? To go on vacation with their families? Or just enjoy a week off at home?

Your kid is also nonstop with the same people, in the same world, and they (and you) live and breathe it from a young age. In the end, that can make kids into not-very-well-rounded humans. And, I should say, if you are a trainer that wants to keep all your clients happy, and you are showing non-stop, that isn’t fair to everyone either!

I sit back and watch as a mom, and I think the USEF and the horse show world at large needs to put a limit on the number of shows offered in the USA. It’s just not right on so many levels—and that’s coming from ‘just a normal human being’ point of view.

No sport, with the exception of maybe golf, truly goes on all ­year long. Even then, golfers have times when they could take breaks if they choose to—and they don’t have animals involved that don’t have a choice in the schedule!

Dana Hart Callanan is a successful hunter, jumper, and equitation coach, an ‘R’ judge, and a sales broker. In this column, she answers common questions about A-level sport. Send your questions to news@horsenetwork.com for consideration in a future column.