Sometimes, people give us advice that drastically alters the way we do things for the better. Sometimes, the knowledge they share is so amazing that we wish someone had told us earlier. Here are five things related to showing horses that I wish someone had told me earlier in my career.
1.Trail is NOT a race.
It’s ok to take your time and take a breather mid course. Sometimes, when you and your horse get too far ahead of yourselves, perhaps from adrenaline or nerves, things can get a little messy. Take a moment to gather your thoughts, relax, and plan your next move. Your horse will appreciate this too!
2. The fastest horse WON’T win Hunter Under Saddle.
For the longest time, I was under the impression that a Hunter Under Saddle horse needed to be fast, cover lots of ground, and have you posting so quickly that you couldn’t feel your legs. I used to push my poor 14.3 hand gelding so quickly that we would be doing laps, and I never understood why we didn’t place well. A Hunter Under Saddle horse should have a comfortable, forward, and fluid movement that gently sweeps across the ground, but these things don’t mean fast! Show your horse at a comfortable, fluid pace that looks easy to ride and that doesn’t leave you puffing like you ran a marathon afterwards.
3. Accuracy in a pattern will ALWAYS win.
When I first started showing in patterns, I thought that my maneuvers had to be perfect, and the rest of the pattern wasn’t too important. It didn’t matter if my circle was perfectly round or ended on the wrong angle, as long as it looked good and his lope was nice, right? Wrong! It didn’t matter if I over spun one of my turns as long as the turn was good? Wrong! The person who shows the pattern the most accurately will win over the person who rode nicer but missed all their lines, angles and points of execution.
When I began to really get my stuff together, and started showing classes correctly and consistently placed, I started slacking on my presentation. Why? I thought that if my horse was nice enough, and I showed him well enough, it didn’t matter if his socks were a little dirty or his mane wasn’t trimmed or I showed in the same shirt with a dirt stain on it that I wore yesterday. I didn’t look well put together, and I didn’t look professional. Yes, my horse was going better and better, but I was looking worse and worse! A well presented rider and horse shows respect and dignity towards the judge and the sport. It shows you want to be there, and you have the presence in the ring that makes the judge think you know what you’re doing, even if sometimes you don’t!
5. You DON’T have to enter everything at the show.
Sometimes, you may feel the pressure of others to enter more events than you’re comfortable with. “Why don’t you do the Horsemanship?” “You should do the Showmanship, your horse is really good!” Sometimes, your trainer or coach may encourage you to enter classes that you’re not comfortable with for the sake of experience. Perhaps you were under the impression that entering every class you’re eligible for is a good idea. It’s common knowledge that both horses and humans get tired, grumpy, and sore after a long day of showing. Sometimes, entering the extra Horsemanship or Western Pleasure class, for the sake of experience, can have a negative effect, because sometimes you and your horse are just over it. Keeping your schedule of classes small enables you to concentrate more on those specific classes and what they entail. That keeps you and your horse fresh and happy for the next show.
My name is Ruby Macarthur. I’m 20 years old and I’m from Australia. I have been showing in all-around since I was eight years old, and I now run my own business, training, showing, and teaching all-around and Reining. I enjoy sharing my knowledge and experiences in a simple and and easily understandable way.
If you’d like to write a blog post like Ruby, email B.Bevis@EquineChronicle.com for consideration.