Why Do You Show?

Being honest – why do you show? What is your own personal reason for showing up at a horse show or competition?

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The horse industry has been weighing heavy on my mind after seeing, hearing, and experiencing a few separate incidents this last year to the point that I need a break and I’ve decided to stop judging as a result.  

 “For the most part, horse people are great one on one, but get them together and they’re like a bunch of piranhas. “

This comment was made to me by a husband that’s not into horses, but is extremely supportive of his horse wife. The sad part is that there’s a ton of truth to that observation, and I’ve seen it in action.   

Earlier this year, I watched an advanced vet student judge an open horse show. Even though he knew more about soundness than most horse owners and was very familiar with all the different disciplines, he spent several late nights studying rule books of breed associations to prepare. He did a fabulous job judging the entire night, placing emphasis on quality and consistency of movement, willingness of the horses, softness, and good equitation. He was a good judge.

At the end of the night, he was cornered by a local gaited trainer and his entourage. They were extremely disrespectful, even cussing him at one point and telling him he didn’t know what he was doing. Keep in mind, this was an open show – this wasn’t the national championships.

Another fellow judge I know who is extremely fair and has tons of experience in gaited and non-gaited had the same type of experience at a local saddle club this year. A few years back, I had the same type of experience at the same venue and that’s when I vowed not to go back.

This past summer, I didn’t place a gaited rider in a Go As You Please bareback class because his horse was off in the hind end. I wasn’t the only one that saw it – two others saw it as well. As a rider, I know you can’t always feel a hind end gait deficiency, especially when a horse is smooth. Trying to be helpful I told the rider his horse seemed sore in the hind end and wasn’t moving equally in both directions. This grown man got mad and told me that when it came to gaited horses I didn’t have a clue what I was doing.

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Over the years of judging, and years ago in putting on horse shows I’ve seen that sadly, this kind of behavior is not unusual.

I’ve seen congress champions haul to a small horse show and then complain about the ground for pleasure classes when they get there. I’ve seen barrel racers come to a small show with limited resources and equipment complain about the ground for barrels when it’s the exact type of ground that they started racing on in the first place. If these experienced riders are the ones the new riders are looking up to, what kind of example are they setting?

These riders forget we’re lucky to have open shows. If we didn’t have these small shows, the only place to get any experience would be the bigger shows which costs a minimum of a $100 to just step in the ring once by the time you pay an entry fee, office fee, etc.

People that put on open shows and other small events don’t make any money. They’re fortunate to just break even, and sometimes don’t by the time they pay $300-$700 for an arena, pay $3-$7 for every ribbon, and then pay for a judge, secretary, announcer, and insurance. Putting on a horse show is a labor of love but yet it’s not uncommon for riders to gripe and complain about the limited resources.

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Photo by Laila Klinsmann on Pexels.com

It’s the same thing with judging. When a judge steps into the ring, especially at a small or open level, they want to help and share what they see and what they’ve learned. They’re there to help a rider become a better horseman and become a competitor in their event. While the pay might vary per show, judges spend hours on their feet, a lot of times in hot temperatures and high humidity in long sleeves, giving every bit of their attention for hours on end. By the end of the show, they’re exhausted mentally and physically.

I was taught to always have good horsemanship and never disrespect a judge. I also didn’t show for the judge – I showed to get the experience for me and my horse. It wasn’t about the judge – it was about me becoming a better horseman regardless of the placement. If I had a better ride than I thought I was going to, or my horse improved in some small way, I was good! After all, in the big scheme of life, it was just a horse show. It wasn’t life or death, or work for that matter.

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If the ground wasn’t good, I didn’t fuzz up and throw a fit or pack up and go home. I rode anyway and safety-ed up and went a lot easier. As the old saying goes, bad ground makes for great riders. It makes you learn how to keep your horse up and pay close attention to how you’re riding and your horse is responding.

After the house is finished, I fully plan on running barrels and doing some ranch events. I might even pull on a pair of breeches and attempt some schooling event stuff with my barrel horses – I just love trying a little bit of everything and seeing what they can do and having fun with it – that’s my reason for showing and competing.

I always told the nervous competitors I was judging, “Smile. They can’t kill you and eat you. It’s just a horse show.” Even if it is the nationals, it’s just a horse show – it’s not life or death. Life is short, and we need to be thankful to just have a horse, let alone throw a leg over one – there’s a ton of kids and adults out there willing to give anything to be in our shoes, and yet as blessed folks they gripe and complain about a judge call, the ground isn’t good enough, or that our horse or tack isn’t good enough.

We need an attitude adjustment in the horse industry so that the new folks coming into the industry see it. We lead by example. We need to be thankful, and appreciative and helpful. We need to have the right reasons to show and we need to have the right attitude before we step into the ring. While we’re at it – we need to hug the show management’s neck because without them we wouldn’t be able to do what we do.

Why do you show? Who do know that is under-appreciated in the show world? Have you told them “Thank you”?

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Dressing For Show Season

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Show season is almost here! Even if you’ve not kept up with your New Year’s resolution to feel better in your show clothes, there’s still some things you can do to look your best and boost your confidence. The key is knowing how to work with your particular build, and wearing the right foundation.

Undergarments are the absolute more important piece of clothing you can wear as a competitor in any event. They can make or break your presentation in the show ring whether you’re showing in showmanship or western pleasure. They can also help you keep your focus if you’re riding in a performance events – if everything stays in place you can concentrate on riding.

Wearing a bra with sufficient support is critical when you’re riding. While some people think this only applies to women who wear a larger cup size, nothing could be further from the truth. The right bra not only keeps your breasts from moving too much, it also keeps other areas such as your chest and sides from moving as well.

Unless you’re extremely thin, it’s likely that even a high impact sports bra by itself will still not be sufficient for riding. One option you can choose is pairing a regular sports bra with a lycra sports tank that has a built in shelf bra. The tank offers additional support through your back, sides and stomach and can be worn as a shirt during hotter weather when you’re not actually showing.

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Ultimate Sports Bra from Shefit – available from Shefit.com

The No Bounce Bra, and the Enell Bra are two popular options available for riders. Shefit also carries a bra that guarantees no bounce and an absolute customizable fit. Sara Marie, the founder of Shefit Apparel is not only a high impact fitness expert, but she grew up in a barrel racing family and knows first hand what it takes to get around a can without bounce!

Sundial Show Clothing offers several options for your show day. Their Intelliskin Second Fit line includes a sports bra, posture support pieces, and their Second Skin Tee.

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Second Skin Tee from Sundial Show Clothing

If you’re showing in In-Hand classes such as Showmanship or Halter, you also want to consider the bottom half of your foundation. Traditional polyester blend show pants tend to accentuate every move – and unfortunately jiggle – that is amplified by trotting with your horse.

Spanx or a similar lycra support garment works very well under show pants and jeans to smooth out the hip areas and support the stomach. Spanx by Sara Blakely offers body suits in addition to regular support briefs.

One thing that can distract from a polished look is stomach and/or back rolls. Rolls are just a part of being human and unless you’re literal skin and bones, we all have them. The key to minimizing them however is having ample support in your clothing, and wearing the right size.

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Show clothes are supposed to be fitted so that the outline of the body can be seen and judged. However, fitted doesn’t mean tight!

For chaps, jeans, or pants make sure you have ample room through the waist. Keep in mind if your waist band is tight, it’ll be even tighter when you sit on your horse! A tight waist will cause your stomach to bunch up either below or above your belt line causing a roll that will bounce when you ride or walk. Giving yourself a little more room will allow your clothes to lay flatter and will give you a smoother profile that is not distracting.

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The same fit guideline goes for shirts and jackets, especially if they’re made out of thin smooth material such as lycra, polyester or knit. The materials that are commonly used for show ring attire tend to cling to your shape and settle in crevices. A tight fit will actually accentuate any rolls or bumps you may have. This is another reason to wear a lycra tank under your show clothes – it will keep your top layer from sticking to your skin and will let the shirt move freely causing it to lay much better against your body.

When choosing a shirt or jacket, make sure you have enough room that there isn’t any pressure on buttons or zippers, and that the material can lay flat.

For western events, a jacket that hits right below the belt line is a good option if you’re trying to smooth out your stomach area – just make sure you read your breed or discipline’s rule book to make sure they are allowed.

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Waiting on our turn to sort cows

In events where a certain attire is not required such as play days, open barrel shows, etc you’ll want to follow these same basic rules. If you wear an un-tucked shirt, make sure it’s fitted through your midsection as any excess can easily get caught on the saddle horn. If you’re competing in hot weather and opt to wear a tank top, make absolutely certain you wear a substantial sports bra underneath and that the tank top is a sports tank with lots of additional support as well. Traditional bras and knit tank tops do not provide adequate support or coverage for riding. Not only that, regular bras can easily get hung on the saddle horn even if you don’t wear a large size cup. I’m sure I’m not the only gal that’s gotten her bra stuck on the saddle horn coming off a barrel pattern, or seen a pair of boobs pop up and out over a regular tank top at a race!

Shirt patterns and color placement can make a difference in overall appearance in the show ring. Wearing darker solid colors will make a rider look thinner and are classic but solid colors will also accentuate your movements as a rider or handler. You can use patterns to help draw the judge’s eye away from your weak areas of riding, or to help balance out your overall presentation. Vertical stripes can help you appear taller and thinner, patterns at the shoulder can make your shoulders appear wider. Keep in mind that anywhere there are patterns or embellishments, that’s where a judge’s eye will naturally be focused.

In regards to drawing attention in the show ring by what you’re wearing, it really comes down to your skill level as a rider and the size of the show. Clothing that draws a lot of attention will keep the judge’s eye on you and they’ll notice everything about your ride – good and bad. If you’re a skilled rider at the top of your sport, that’s not a bad thing. However, if you’re a rider that’s still working on your horsemanship skills, or you have a horse that’s still learning going with a classic outfit might be a better choice as it doesn’t draw as much constant attention.

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Fireman & me waiting to run at the Ft. Smith Futurity

With the proper preparation – and foundation – you can go out and enjoy your show season and feel more confident no matter what your size.

What are you plans for your show season this year? What are some of your favorite clothes for competing with your horse?

Sundial Show Clothing

This time I talk with Kaitlin Lorman who owns Sundial Show Clothing

Tell us how the company got started, how long have you been in business?


My name is Kaitlin Lorman and my company Sundial Show Clothing is based out of Cleveland, Ohio. I had an apprenticeship at another clothing company for several years after graduating from the Equine program at Lake Erie College. Going in, I did not realized how badly I wanted to be creative and really bring my style to the forefront. I am all about technical, chic, and fabulous styles that are flattering for every figure and can fit a variety of different riders flawlessly… and allowing for versatility for different events.

What is your mission statement or goal, and philosophy behind the company?

Help other talented and beautiful cowgirls feel fabulous while creating a “team” that can collaborate and lift each other up positively through a network of support, fun, and good vibes! 

What types of clothing do you carry?

Limited Edition Show Shirts

Sundial’s Second Skin Compression Wear (like Spanx)

Statement Swarovski Jewelry (Mostly Earrings)

“Squad Gear” Casual Wear

Accessories (like Belt Buckles & Hats)

Sundial is co-branded with Intelliskin to provide “Second Skin” liner garments that reduce fatigue and enhance posture to prevent injuries and provide peak performance to our athletes.

What are some of your favorite pieces, and why?

I love my show shirts–all of them. I have personally designed and crafted a figure flattering fit that I am so proud of. I have been told many times from my girls that they never want to ride without their Sundial!

Do you plus size clothes run smaller or larger?

They run true to size. The shirts are made from Spandex… they allow for give in all the right places! There is a wide range of stretch and allow for a tailored fit even if you fluctuate between sizes like I do!!

What new items are you looking at carrying?

Painted Feathers
Matching Equine Accessories

What stores carry your brand? 

We are mostly an independent brand that keeps operations close to home. We can be found with multiple traveling vendors. You can find up to date information through our social media!

ADDITIONAL INFO

I encourage people to contact me, the deisgner, directly with any questions about fit, etc! kaitlin@sundialshowclothing.com