Horse show bling, brands and Black Friday.

When I began judging horse shows, I was struck by how little influence fashion trends had on my scorecard compared to performance and penalties.
After spending many years in the show ring, many hours attending to grooming details and many dollars on tack and turnout, I’m more inclined to ask “Is it a need or a want?” Will this influence the judges or impress only those outside the show ring?

When things go wrong in the horse show ring. Part 2

Though it may make me wince to re-live it, every mistake is a learning opportunity! When things go wrong at a horse show, how do you manage in the moment, minimizing the incident’s impact to your score, to your fellow horse show competitors and to your confidence? A snag in the show ring need not unravel your horse training progress. In fact, a snag reveals a weak area – an opportunity to “build back better”.

When things go wrong in the horse show ring. Part 1

If you plan to step into the competition arena, expect the unexpected. Few sports have more variables than riding. What might you expect to go wrong in the horse show ring? In this issue, I’ll put on my judge’s hat and share common mistakes. So common, in fact, that every horse show score sheet has a menu of mishaps and a box to record their numerical deductions.

Riding the rail: winning tips for horse show flat classes. Part 4

Do judge’s care if…? Do judges prefer…? Horse show judging has taught me that the pressure to sort through a group of moving horses in a limited time doesn’t leave room for pet preferences. Without a good mover and correct leads, bling and brand names won’t land anyone in the ribbons for flat and rail classes.

Riding the rail: winning tips for horse show flat classes part 2

As a horse show judge, I survey the group of horses moving around the show ring and visualize the ideal- the entry illustrating the original intent of the class. Could that hunter under saddle effortlessly jump a course? Would that road hack fit the hunt field? Is that horsemanship rider not only elegant, but effective? Is that pleasure hack truly a “pleasure” to ride?

Riding the rail: winning tips for horse show flat classes. Part 1

Flat classes are the most subjectively judged of horse show events. Without the numerical scoring systems of other disciplines, a horse show judge has more latitude for his preferences. Still, there’s more to the sorting process than “The judge just didn’t like my horse”.

Teach your horse a credit earning rein-back on the judge’s score card.

Stop and back. It’s the final segment in many horse show patterns – the finishing touch. Most score cards include a separate score for the rein-back. As a young competitor, I didn’t take that final score card box seriously. With the “important” parts of the pattern in the rear view mirror, I’d be mentally reviewing the previous parts instead of earning a credit in this one. Now, I remind the riders I coach – don’t waste that maneuver score!

Horse welfare in the show ring – who defines abuse?

An interesting article about how horse show committees must navigate the tricky waters of horse welfare and abuse -maneuvering around the varied voices of competitors, researchers and public perception.
Here are some article highlights and examples of FEI angles on the issues of head and neck positions, tack, whipping, and generally “abusive riding”.