For one thing, everyone has a dog. No one has a pedigree dog, unless it's an aussie. And they look like mutts anyway. The dog hangs out at the tent and the horse trailer and guards territory. The dog does not go with the horse into the arena, as ours tried to do, no matter how often he's trotted alongside at practice.
If you're really cool you have a horse trailer slash RV. Those were very popular with the camping crowd.
Horse judging is like ice skating. There are cerain manditory criteria. Then the horse (or rider) is judged on the technical skill and then the overall appearance. In one event they had the technical part, and then one where each rider submitted their pattern and were judged on how well they did it. I guess that would be the artistic portion. For example: lead changes. As near as I can figure, that's when the horse changes from beginning with his right front foot to beginning with his left front foot without breaking stride. Extra points given if you do a "flying" lead change over a "single" lead change. I have no clue what the difference is, but it seemed to be the difference between a flawless second and a flawless first place.
Horse people are not dumb. They've figured out how to make an animal ten times their size mind. They may not use necessarily all the parts of a sentence properly. Or in the right order. And "l-y" doesn't exist. Neither does the distinction between "good" and "well."
I'm going to stop before Allie, who reads this blog, disowns me as "making fun." I'm not. I was totally out of my element. It felt like the odd sporting events I've been to. People were going "oooooh" and shaking their heads and I had NO IDEA what had been done improperly. A lot of the time it seemed to have a lot to do with whether or not the horse "stuck the landing." I'm sure they have a better word for it. And if the rider's hand moved. That was big too.
And if all else failed, and everything else was the same, it came down to who had the coolest hat.
Allie kicked butt. She even went out for some new events she'd never tried. One was an open scholarship class where she competed against juniors and seniors in high school.
And I actually got on a horse. Twice. And got tickled by a foal trying to eat my t-shirt. And I fed a horse an apple.