The “No Bling” horse show series is just the right competition level for novice rider Sarah Hyder and her new quarter horse Colby. The show is low pressure, inexpensive, casual and educational.
Saturday was the last No Bling show in a series of three for this year, and 319 riders came to Raleigh’s Hunt Horse Complex at the State Fairgrounds to take part.
The North Carolina Quarter Horse Association started the No Bling show series nine years ago in order to give new riders a chance to test out the world of horse show competitions without investing thousands in the expensive show tack, saddle, rhinestoned outfit, hat, boots, and so on. Now other state affiliates of the American Quarter Horse Association hold No Bling events as well.
President of NCQHA Randy Ratliff said Sunday, as other competition continued, that the show series acts as a gateway into the larger competitions.
“It’s a way to bring new people into the industry so they don’t have to invest a tremendous amount of money in the fancy clothing or the big expensive show saddles and the tack,” he said.
The entry fees are half of what a typical horse show would cost and riders save thousands on all the other extras.
“Here you can come in with just your plain saddle and blue jeans,” Ratliff said.
Hyder, 23, said Colby has made “enormous strides” since the first No Bling show in April. When Hyder bought 10-year-old Colby last year, he had some anxiety issues and no competition show record.
“These have been great to get him in the pin and just to relax,” she said. “Out here it’s more comfortable to correct your mistakes, and it’s understood that everyone is out here to learn.”
This year’s No Bling series was Hyder’s first quarter horse show as well. After the first two shows this spring, Hyder and Colby tried a few larger competitions.
“This was great because it taught me what to expect of the bigger shows so I wasn’t so overwhelmed when I got there. If you just go to a big show, there is a lot going on,” she said. “I was able here to develop a routine of how to get my horse ready beforehand.”
Hyder trains with Robin Lynn, the coach of N.C. State’s equestrian western club. Hyder was part of the club before graduating in the spring.
Lynn brought five of her students to Saturday’s No Bling show, a few of whom were former N.C. State students also.
Lynn likes that the series offers free clinics put on by trainers before each competition. A number of riders don’t have trainers and the clinics are one more way for them to learn showmanship skills at a low cost.
“It’s an easy way for them to get started and kind of get a taste for it and see if it’s something that they want to pursue and continue on,” Lynn said.
Lynn added that the No Bling shows last one day, unlike a bigger horse show that can last three or four. It’s easier and more affordable to drive in for the day and show a horse out of a trailer instead of renting a stall to put up the horse overnight.
At the end of the year, there is even a special awards category with the North Carolina Quarter Horse Association for the No Bling series. And Hyder and Colby just might be in the running for one of those.
“Hopefully me and Colby might get some awards for the No Bling circuit, because he’s been so good. The show series has really helped him become a show horse,” Hyder said.