9 Inspiring Different Types Of Horse Competitions

Last Updated on February 9, 2022 by Griselda M.

Trying out different types of horse competitions can be great fun for you and your horse, helping to broaden your experience and learn new skills. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular horse competition types!

Different Horse Competition Types For Beginners

If you are learning to ride, you might think that horse competitions are far beyond your reach. However, there are some fun competitions that will help you build confidence and learn new skills.

horse contests


Clear round jumping

Clear round jumping is a great way to get an experience of the show ring, without the pressure of competing! This gives you the opportunity to take your horse round a course of colored show jumps, set at a high that suits your experience. In this event, you are not competing against other people, and you can make it as hard or easy as you like.

And, if you clear all the jumps without any faults, you get a rosette! This is a fab way to build confidence and get your rosette collection off to a flying start!

In-hand showing

For this event, the horse is led around a show ring for the judges to examine. This takes the pressure off riding in a competition and gives you and your horse the chance to experience the atmosphere of a horse show.

There are many different in-hand showing classes, aimed at specific types or breeds of horses. The judges will have certain expectations about the appearance and behavior of the horse, so make sure you do your research first!

Gymkhana games

For many children, gymkhana games or mounted games are their first experience of horse competition. These are games carried out on horseback, and for very young children an adult can run alongside to lead the pony. The rider will carry out some fun challenges, such as picking up flags or throwing balls into a bucket.

Different Types Of Horse Competitions For Jumping

Horse jumping is one of the most popular types of horse competitions, and there are several different types of horse jumping classes.


Showjumping takes place over man-made wooden fences, painted in bright colors. This competition is held in an arena, and the rider will need to navigate the horse over the jumps in a specific order.

The aim is to get a ‘clear round’, where no jumps are knocked over. All horse and rider combinations that achieve a clear round will then jump a shorter course against the clock, with the fastest clear round winning first place.


Eventing combines three different types of horse competitions – dressage, show jumping, and cross-country jumping. In the dressage section, the horse and rider need to complete a preset set of movements in an arena and are judged on their accuracy and skill. Showjumping takes place in the same manner as a normal show jumping competition.

It is in the cross country jumping section where the skill and stamina of the horse and rider are really challenged. This is a course of solid obstacles through fields and woodland, ridden at a fast canter or gallop. This can include water jumps, steps, and solid log piles.

Different Types Of Horse Racing Contests

We all know that horses are built for speed, and for many years horse racing has been a popular sport! However, there is more than one different type of horse competition where speed is essential.

Horse racing

Horse racing, the sport of kings! This competition pits horses of similar ability against each other, to see which is the fastest. This can be either on the flat, or over jumps.

The most common type of horse used for racing is the noble Thoroughbred, but there are also races for other breeds such as the Arabian and American Quarter Horse. In the UK, a Shetland Pony Grand National is held every year at Olympia!

Endurance Racing

Endurance racing, also known as long distance riding or trail racing, is a form of racing that takes place over many miles. Some long distance races have a staggered start, with riders setting off at different times.

The distances of endurance races can be up to 100 miles, which the horse and rider would complete in around ten to twelve hours. For beginners, races start from around 25 miles.

The aim is to complete the route in the fastest possible time. This required a high level of fitness of both the horse and the rider.

Unusual Types Of Horse Competitions

If you fancy trying a hand at something new, take a look at these unusual different types of horse competitions!

Equestrian vaulting

Equestrian vaulting is best described as gymnastics on horseback! For this competition, the horse is  lunged, which means they worked in a circle on a long line with a handler standing in the middle. The rider then carries out complex manoeuvrers on the horse, such as lifting their legs in the air above the horse or attempting a running mount.

Scurry driving

Scurry driving involves driving a pair of ponies around a course of obstacles at high speed. The aim is to get the fastest time without knocking any of the obstacles. This takes a high level of skill and accuracy, and good teamwork is essential.

The great thing about scurry driving is that ponies can be used after their rider has outgrown them. Many people also turn to driving if they are unable to ride for any reason, such as ill health or reduced mobility.

Read more about Kentucky World Championship Horse Show?


So, as we have learned, there are many different types of horse competitions to suit any combination of horse and rider. Trying out different horse competition types is a good way for you and your horse to gain experience and build confidence. Most competitions have many levels, from beginner classes right up to international events.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the different types of horse competitions! Do you love to ride your horse at local shows and events? Or maybe you’re struggling with nerves and need some help? Leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you!