SHOWTIME! by Nina Heller

So often I hear bitless riders lament they can no longer show now that they are riding bitless. 

Not so!

Attention Bitless Riders!



You can do it almost anywhere, from wherever you are on this planet!  All you need is an internet connection, and some sort of device that you can film with.  Even your phone  is a great device for this purpose!

Dressage, jumping, equitation and more, with real judges, real competition, real rosettes, and even real prize money!  The only thing that is not "real" is the showgrounds.  These shows exist on the internet, and although that might sound strange, nontraditional, and maybe even daunting, I can attest it’s none of those things, and I believe its the way of the future!

I discovered online horse showing when I decided to commit to riding exclusively bitless.   Like many people who enjoy showing, it was tough to think that giving up the bit would also mean that I would have to give up such a beloved part of my equine experience.  I knew, when I transitioned to bitless riding and training,  I would no longer be welcome at the big rated.  What I didn't know, and was very disappointed to discover, was that even my local schooling show would not accept a bitless entry, not even hors concours!  Thankfully, through some offbeat chat room, I discovered the beauty of online showing, and now several years later, I am a huge fan!  In the meantime, our local schooling show manager has finally welcomed us to participate bitless at her shows.  While I have taken my students to one of these shows, I've not yet felt the desire to get back to the showgrounds.  I have learned, once you go internet, you may never want to go back!

There are so many wonderful benefits to showing online but my favorite is the freedom of timing.  With all of life’s responsibilities, it’s often difficult to carve out the time to prepare for a show and then devote an entire weekend to attend one.  With online showing, you can do your classes whenever you like, and, as often as you like, as long as you have a generous cameraperson, or one of these new automated robot cameras.

You just cant beat the convenience, the cost, and the reduction of stress for horse and rider!  In our ever changing, overcrowded world, it just makes sense to want to reduce the footprint we make through real time showing.  Equine activities like showing create thousands of hauling trips every week around the world.  Imagine the reduction in the use of gas, the emissions, the pollution, not to mention reducing the risk of equine safety issues that are created through transporting horses and stabling them in unfamiliar and often unsecured areas. 

Online showing gives so much power back to the people!  No more waiting for your ride times, only to find out that you are the first to go at the crack of dawn, or at 3pm in a heat wave.  No more rude early morning awakenings, unless you like that sort of thing, and no more showing in bad health, or bad circumstances, or bad weather!

Just this past year, one of my students was slated to ride in a show series that was rained out on almost every selected date, and then one date was cancelled due to an equine health quarantine!  These are things that you never have to worry about when you are showing from home, online.  Of course, weather, illness, and other complications are going to happen, but with internet showing there is always another day, provided you do not procrastinate too much and find that it’s the closing date and you have not yet filmed anything!  But in that case, there is always next month!

As far as expense goes, there is no debate.  Online showing is the clear winner with no association fees, grounds fees, stabling, hauling, drug, office or late fees.  For the cost of 2 real time shows, I can compete on the internet every month,for a year!

There are several sites that offer on-line showing but my show site of choice is  Interdressage had me at "hello bitless.”  Interdressage is the most bitless friendly show on the web.  EVERY class, EVERY month, is open to bitless riders.  Dressage, jumping, showing - there is no segregation, except every now and then they will offer a special class that is only open to the bitless.

The Interdressage show is run monthly, and it works like a well oiled machine.  The judges are rated, the experience is educational, and entering is accomplished through a simple YouTube upload.  Plus, there is continual support through their Facebook page.

As far as the competition level goes, its nothing to sneeze at!  People of all ages and skill levels, from all over the globe, compete on Interdressage and I have seen individual classes fill up to over 30 competitors!  The prizes are nothing to sneeze at either!  Beautiful rosettes to 10th place, and different every month, so your ribbon wall will not look mundane!  And cash prizes, monthly!  If you are not captivated yet - they offer year end awards for leagues and individuals, with great prizes, including money and medals!  Still need more convincing?  How about a leader board that you can check regularly during the month, to watch for scores and placings as they come in, and the ability to view the videos of your fellow competitors!  Also,  Interdressage provides an ever changing assortment of enjoyable and educational tests and classes each month, and whether you show for sport, education, or simply for the fun of it, they provide a well-rounded show experience from start to finish, consistently, each and every month.  Interdressage is celebrating their 10th anniversary this year!  Unlike some of the newer sites, they have come up with a very competitor friendly system at a very reasonable price, one which feels personal and inviting.  There is nothing to join, and with their consistent schedule, its easy to jump in at anytime.

So, come on bitless riders!  Get out there and get showing, and show the world that bitless is beautiful!  And don’t forget to register with IROBE, the International Registry of Bitless Equestrians, where all points from all shows, online or real time, will put you in the running for the 2017 BITLESS HORSE OF THE YEAR!!!