Changes to Competitive Horse Showing in 2021

Changes to Competitive Horse Showing in 2021


Major changes are on the horizon for competitive equestrians. Many of the changes to horse showing in 2021 have to do with social distancing and COVID-19, but not all of them. While social distancing will change how some classes run (AQHA Showmanship, we’re thinking about you), other organizations made rule book changes aimed at animal welfare.

At Trails West Trailers, we know that competitive riding isn’t about a one weekend adventure. Our customers train hard! So here’s what’s happening to our sport in 2021.

Go Grizzly: The FEI Whisker Clipping Ban of 2020

The Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) banned muzzle clipping in 2020. This might have slipped under your radar thanks to COVID-19. Know that if you show in United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) rated events, you’re showing under the FEI umbrella of organizations, and you should stop clipping your horse’s face. You won’t be able to show a horse who’s been clipped.

US clubs recognized by USEF include:

  • USDF
  • Western Dressage Association of America
  • American Vaulting Association
  • US Eventing Association
  • USA Reining

Various breed organizations are recognized, too. You can find a list of them here. To save you time, most American stock breed registries are NOT associated with FEI. So AQHA, APHA, and PtHA (pinto club) are not on the list.

Why Ban Clipping?

Some vets claim that facial clipping is unfair or cruel to horses who use their whiskers like cats, particularly those around their eyes. Some will argue that a facial clipping ban isn’t enough, that the long hairs on equine fetlocks exist to protect delicate joints, and that manes provide fly protection, and every hair should be left natural.

  • Conversely, some equestrians argue that of all the controversial training, grooming, and horse management techniques in the world, whisker trimming might be the least of our worries.

We’re not vets here at Trails West Trailers. Our business is horse trailers. So whether you clip or not, we won’t judge. But we want you to know about other changes to horse showing in 2021.

The Show Must Go On: Some Clubs Continue with Socially Distant Competition

The Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show is on February 11-21, 2021. However, this year the show will be closed to spectators. Arabian owners and handlers, their needed support teams and farriers, show staff, and volunteers will still be there. If you’re heading to Scottsdale, good luck!

The Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Florida is also on and currently running. It’s closed to the public, but you can watch the riders live, here.

The National Barrel Horse Association (NBHA) seems to be running as usual this year, per their website.

COVID-19 Changes to Horse Showing in 2021

While most timed events will run as usual, we expect some changes to group classes in 2021. If you pose conformation models (or show in halter/showmanship classes), you’ll probably need to wear a mask, at least for the early season and at indoor facilities. Rider line-ups may be spread out at your local fun shows, too.

It’s the Perfect Year for a Horse Trailer With Living Quarters

Traveling around your region is part of the thrill of competitive riding! This year, riders and their families might be reluctant to stay at roadside motels as we navigate life after a pandemic. It’s the perfect year to invest in a Trails West Trailers living quarters horse trailer. Enjoy the additional features that make the rodeo grounds feel like home, with dining areas, awnings, and running water at your horse trailer this season.

As always, if you’d like to know more about any of our horse trailers or stock trailerscontact us.