Horse show rules, pasture fence lines and living well between the limits.

The latest horse show rule books were delivered to my mailbox.
These are the rules. These are the ring dimensions. These are the tack restrictions.
With clear, well laid out rules-of-play, we’re free to push the limits of excellence, within the limits of the rules of the ring. With clear, well-laid-out fence lines, horses are free to buck, play and graze.
I guess a “you-do-you”, “follow your heart” view of the world doesn’t really work, regardless of how cool it sounds in a song lyric or Disney movie…

Horse tack. Nosebands – how tight is too tight?

Standard equipment in English disciplines. Training equipment in western. While nosebands are designed to prevent bit evasion, in the horse business, we’re inclined to default into thinking “If a little is good, more is better! Glad to see that Equestrian Canada has added a 2021 horse show rule addressing nosebands. The question upstream from noseband “restrictions” – are we masking bit evasion without asking WHY the horse might be resisting?

Horse training tack – new year, new horse show rules

I’ll be speaking at Ontario’s Grey Bruce Horse Day this weekend – The Science of Bits, Spurs and Training Tack: How we choose, use and sometimes abuse them.
In light of this, and of the annual unveiling of horse show rule amendments, I was glad to see that Equestrian Canada has added a 2021 horse show rule “restricting” (pun intended) tight nosebands.

Responding to pressure – horses and humans. Part 1

I’d hedge a bet that most riders would say it’s more satisfying to be in the saddle than beside the horse, on foot. But if the reason is because it’s SAFER on your horse’s back, groundwork in yielding to pressure would add to the everyday enjoyment of your equine partner!
Does your horse ever…
• Knock you with his head, smearing your horse show jacket?
• Tetherball around you, calling to his buddies after unloading from the horse trailer?
• Snatch your arm almost out of the socket, diving for grass?
• Swing around at the mounting block?
• Chew on the lead shank (or your hand) when you’re holding him at the show ring?
Do you look for opportunities between horse show classes to hand him to your “groom” (code – mom, dad or significant other)?

Preparing for the horse show exam. 7 tips to be ready for next season. Part 2

“Good luck!” it’s heard countless times a day at the horse show in-gate. Yet we know better – horse show success is more than luck!
A horse show validates the skills you’ve acquired in the classroom of the training ring when tested in a different environment – the competition ring. Steps skipped in mastering the phonics and formulas of horsemanship will show up later in the exam!
As a horse show judge, I am giving and grading your next horse show “exam”. As a riding coach, I help you study for it!
So here are my final 3 tips to prepare for your next competition:

Preparing for the horse show exam. 7 tips to be ready for next season. Part 1

In the let-down of cancelled horse shows and fairs, as a judge, my 2020 calendar has a bunch of crossed out weekends. But as a riding coach, I’ve been encouraged by something – riders are taking lessons and working diligently on their homework in between.
• They’re preparing for next season.
• They’re repairing from last season.
Schooling shows, provincial competitions , national championships– quizzes, tests and exams. This unplanned “off-season” is a time to be mastering riding skills and working through them in your practice ring so you can have a well-rehearsed answer when the question presents itself in the horse show ring.

Red ribbon personalities –in humans and horses

It’s not uncommon at open horse shows to see a red ribbon fastened on the tail of a horse. The message? Stay away. I kick. And if I’m complaining about everyday irks, I’m a red ribbon personality.
Why does it sometimes take the loss of something we take for granted to realize what a blessing it really is?
Yet, grumpiness turns to gratefulness with each little loss restored.
Delays in a long horse show schedule? Waiting for a tardy entry? Porta potty? Food booth runs out of coffee? No problem –it’s a PRIVILEGE to be judging a horse show!
If your horse’s personal -space guarding has become assertive enough to warrant a red tail ribbon, it’s time to go back and do some homework before going off- property.
Whether the source is fear or aggression, here are 2 training tips toward expanding his social bubble…