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The National Academy Championship Horse Show took place Nov. 3-5 in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. For academy riders from all across the country it was the highlight of their season, and as always, it was a big success. But, as anyone who has been there knows, the show is very unique. Here are seven things you'll only understand if you've been to National Academy finals. 

Boot covers are a vital part of life.

These boot covers are normally used in hospitals to keep surgical areas sterile. But during this one weekend in November you’ll find them in every trainer’s tool belt. The red clay in the arena looks very nice and minimizes dust very well, but it can stick to patent leather boot like no other. Although its true you’ll be scrubbing it from your normal shoes for a few weeks, these boot covers make sure your most important patent leather boots stay shining for the judges.

Horse show pep rallies are way more exciting than school ones.

School pep rallies are fun, but they are missing one big thing - all your barn friends! Nothing compares to the energy and excitement you feel cheering for your barn on the first night of National Academy finals.

Packing for changing weather conditions is a must.

Tennessee weather in the fall is very unpredictable, so the key is to dress in layers. It’s not uncommon for participants to have an extra suitcase with them. Packing for both 80-degree weather and the possible 50 degree days can take some extra room.

Nothing is cooler than seeing your favorite lesson horse on the School Horse Wall of Fame.

They are the horses that taught us everything. Without them many of us would have never learned to post, or canter, or to simply steer. No matter how many years they are up there, seeing your favorite lesson horse on the wall of fame will always give you pride that you were able to learn from them.

Barn box seats HAVE to be decorated.

From homemade signs and banners, to custom chair covers and streamers, your barn is proud to be there and you show it off! The box seats look flawless and each represent the barns that sit in them.

The opening ceremonies are everything.

Each year show management seems to make the opening of the evening sessions more and more exciting! Parade horses during the national anthem are a common appearance, but don’t be surprised when on the last note a trick rider gallops through the ring standing on her horse and proudly waving the American flag. Also most of the time you see your trainers on the ground coaching you. But on the first night of opening ceremonies you can watch them hop through the air as you cheer for them to bring home the coveted “Battle of the Barns” trophy. This trophy is a sign of respect amongst the exhibitors at national academy finals, as the barn that displays it can proudly can say that their trainer can ride a bouncy horse the best.

You won’t feel the excitement of this show anywhere else.

Whether you are an exhibitor or a spectator, it’s easy to feel the excitement in the air. This show is unlike any other, the only place where academy takes center stage and its riders are rewarded for all their hard work and dedication to the breed. No matter what placings the riders receive, the joy is visible and their barns are always there to cheer them on.

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