I was 13 when I entered my first horse show. The judge advised me that the yellow macramé browband I’d crafted for my gelding’s bridle was not customary horse show attire. In 25 years as a professional riding coach and horse trainer, I’ve worked with 100s of horses and coached even more riders. What I’ve learned from horses and their people! What I’ve learned about myself in the fishbowl of the show ring! Horse shows have enriched the lives of so many – and been the catalyst for the train wreck of others.
“Should I try another bit?”
In watching hundreds of horse and rider conversations, I’m convinced that the bit operator- the hands at the other end of the reins have the most dramatic effect in achieving the light mouthed horse. Here are my 5 most common bit operator errors and suggestions to improve communication with the hands at the other end of the reins:
“Should I try another bit?”
In some cases, a bit change for your horse is the magic bullet. But rarely. Often, there’s something else overshadowing a bit issue. In watching hundreds of horse and rider conversations, I’m convinced that the hands at the other end of the reins have the most dramatic effect in achieving the light-mouthed horse.
Stay away. I kick. 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. Instead of donning a red tail ribbon, train towards expanding his social bubble. Though there’s a few red ribbon PRICKLY people, thankfully, there’s another kind of red-ribbon personality to be spotted at horse shows… gracious, grateful, curious, helpful
If you plan to step into the horse show arena, expect the unexpected. Few sports have more variables than equestrian. This is the 1st of a 3 part article I wrote for Canadian Horse Journal. What might you expect to go wrong in the show ring? I’ll put on my horse show judge’s hat and share common equestrian mistakes. Additionally, I’ll wear my hat as a specialist in equine behaviour. Fixing WHAT happened depends on discovering WHY it happened.
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.
First impressions are lasting impressions in horse show flat classes. Enter the show ring with confidence – in show mode, not training mode. Though judges aren’t yet officially scoring, they’re forming opinions as they organize bookwork and check tack. Get in there promptly. Don’t dilly-dally and contribute to a delay. That’s irritating to a horse show judge – the judge you’re hoping to impress. As a bonus, making an early entrance into the show ring carves out extra warm up time while the judge is recording numbers…and waiting for the tardy entries.