0 comments / Posted by Ann Wilt

As we’re approaching the 2018 show season, we’ve been reflecting on our academy show adventures  from years past.  We believe the academy division is an invaluable tool to help our riders become better competitors, better horsemen and women, and  better sports.

Fortunately, we’re located in an area where the academy division is very strong.  It actually started in the Chicago area, and the vision of the founders remains to this day.  The horse show associations in Wisconsin and Illinois recognize the importance of academy showing as well, and offer classes at big shows and offer entire dedicated performances at many of the smaller area shows. In 2017, our academy team consisting of 48 riders competed in 13 different shows away from home!

Here at Knollwood, we believe the academy division is the entry point for our riders to discover the adventures of showing horses without having to own one.  We are proud of our many National and World Champion riders, and also proud to say that most of them started in our academy program.

Our group of academy horses that travel with us love it as much as we do, too.

Here’s why horses and riders alike love it so much:


Academy Showing Builds Riding Skills.

Our riders learn in both private and group settings at home, and many choose to enter competitions at the in-barn shows held at Knollwood.  Those events offer a great challenge to our new riders as the arena looks and sounds very different on show day.  Our lesson horses are ‘old hands’ at showing at Knollwood shows, and offer little reaction to the ‘spiffed up’ arena and the audience.  These old pros give the rider time to think and react to the crowd, the announcer, and the music in the arena while they do their jobs.  In short, they build confidence for the riders.

For riders who move on to academy riding away from home, they’ll learn to ride in different arenas in different show atmospheres, gaining confidence all along the way.  The starter academy shows take place in smallish, quiet arenas with minimal distractions where riders can easily hear their instructor’s voice for guidance. New riders will also start on our academy professionals who will help the rider if they get caught up in the excitement. Our starter academy horses have been with us for years, and know the ropes.





Academy Showing Builds Resilience

As in life, things in the show ring don’t always go your way.  They just don’t.

Our sport involves a judging process, not a numerical score.  We’re asking a hard working judge who’s trying their best to rank a class of riders in a short amount of time.  They judge what they see in front of them, and they make their best decision. 

  Successful riders quickly learn to respect the judges decision, and to move on. Instructors are happy to share their insights, and always do.  Then we prepare the plan for the next class.

Team Knollwood is known far and wide for their good sportsmanship.  We cheer each other on, congratulate the winner and all the other riders in the class as well.

Good sportsmanship is required, and bad sportsmanship is not tolerated. Fortunately, we have an unbelievably great group of parents who believe the same.   




Academy Showing Builds Confidence

It’s amazing to see how quickly riders become confident after a couple of shows. The experience of taking a horse through a class and having a blast doing it lets a rider know they can do this.  Confident riders progress to pushing their horses a little more, making their position a little stronger, and looking around the arena to get great ring position. We love watching the progress of our riders!


Academy Showing Builds Teamwork

While horse showing is not by definition a team sport, our riders become a team of support. Team Knollwood riders cheer each other on, congratulate each other, build each other up, and have a great time together.  We have the best parents, too.  They build up all the riders, and our families often stay in the same hotels at shows for pool time and dinner excursions.


Riders also form teams with the horses they show. Horse and rider combinations spend hours at home together before a show, and get to know each other. Time spent in the stall lets a rider really get to know their 'show horse' and the bond is formed. Our academy horses are really personable, so we're not sure who enjoys this time the most, horse or rider.




Academy Showing Means New Friends

Riders get the chance to meet riders who ride on different days of the week at Knollwood, and they also meet riders from other lesson programs. Horse showing brings joins riders together with the love of horses in common.  Many of these friendships last a lifetime.


         Academy Showing Means Fun

Many of the shows we attend offer activities beyond the show ring.  Riders can participate in Junior Judging where they stand in center ring with the judge and try to match their opinion. The judge then discusses the class with the participants, offering a useful education of the judge’s perspective.

Some shows offer events such as craft activities, exhibitor parties, and even water balloon fights.




Academy Showing Introduces You to The Nicest Horses

Our academy show horses are special. Reserved for riders who compete away from home, this unbelievable group of grand horses really enjoys traveling to shows. Eddie, Hooper, and Klem take care of our newest show ring stars, and the sky’s the limit with where riders can go with this. We have academy horses who compete on the ‘B’ show circuit, and even have some that live in the show barn and are used for lessons with our show barn staff.

This group of horses is the best.




If you think you’d like to learn more about the fun of academy showing, please join us at our academy seminar on Saturday, January 27 at 6:00 PM.

We’ll share information about our 2018 schedule, and about clothing requirements. We’ll offer demos of how to make the perfect horse show bun, make up for the show ring with a Mary Kay rep, and we’ll showcase some of our current academy stars in the arena.

Of course, we’ll also provide snacks as well!


Whether you're collecting information, already thinking of  attending a couple of shows, or if you'd like to fast track to the show horse world, we'd love to help you discover the possibilities.

Please come with your questions about the process we love so much. We know you’ll feel the same way!





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