A rider’s eyes

At this week’s AQHA show judge’s update, I really liked how  one of the clinicians described what judges are looking for in “looking ahead”, scoring  equitation over fences.

“I want to see the plan of the course reflected in their eyes.”

Here’s how the rider’s use of eyes is described and assessed in the AQHA rule book, under western horsemanship: “…directed slightly toward the direction of travel. Excessive turning of the head to the inside of the circle or down toward the horse’s head or shoulder will be penalized.”

I like to coach riders to find a destination dot on the track ahead. Soft eyes alternate between…

1. charting your precise path

2. glancing intermittently at your horse’s ears and alignment

3. and watching for oncoming rider-traffic in your peripheral vision!