You’ve done the training, your horse is groomed, and schooling went okay, now it’s show time. Are you ready? You go into the show ring thinking, “How will I add up? And what is the judge looking for?” We’ve all been there, and wished we knew what the judge was thinking.
Here at Rod’s many people spend their time with horses. We have trainers, judges and riding experts. So, we’ve compiled some helpful hints from our experts to take with you in the show ring. We hope these help, and if you know someone who could benefit from them, pass this along. The goal is to make everyone the best rider they can be.
- Appearance- Each rider, trainer and judge with whom we spoke to agree appearance makes at least 50% of the judging processes. Depending on the discipline in which you are showing, the appearance can be geared toward the horse or rider. Showmanship, Equitation and Horsemanship classes judge appearance on the handler or rider. Trail, Western Pleasure, Hunter and Under Saddle classes judge appearance primarily on your horse. However, in these classes the rider or handler is also judged on a smaller scale.
What the judge is looking for:
* Outfit- A proper fit is essential for show clothing. A well fitting outfit that is pressed, clean and color coordinated can make one stand out in the crowd. Always assume the judge is going to be looking at you from 50-100 feet at the judging table. You want an outfit that will compliment you and your horse’s features from a long distance, not only up close. Check out Rod’s blog “Show Stopping Colors” for what color looks good with your horse.
* Hat- Judges like to see a clean, shaped hat in the arena. The hat polishes your outfit and pulls the outfit together. Ask the hat shapers at your local tack shop to crease your hat according to the discipline in which you will be riding.
* Horse- Make sure your horse is clean and presentable. You’ll want to wash, clip, braid/ band, and enhance your horse’s features with Show Touch Up, Chalk or hoof polish as needed.
2. Presentation- The next most important point is presentation. Are you having fun riding your horse? If so, smile! The judges love to see you comfortably and genuinely smiling and having fun. If you are not showing, how fun it is to ride him? Why would the judges think he is fun to ride? This point is especially important in your Trail, Western Pleasure, and Hunter, Under Saddle classes. For pattern classes, presentation is judged by how you handle your horse. Always smile and show you are having a great time!
3. Elements in Riding- Know your stuff! Know what pattern you are performing or how to ask your horse what is expected of him. Judges like to see that you have a sharp, responsive horse and that you know how to handle him. Work with your horse to get the perfect end result.
4. Sportsmanship and Ring Etiquette- Show how you stack up against other competitors by sharing the ring, and riding cohesively. Be kind, courteous and helpful in the show ring and outside of the show ring. This shows that you are just as good at riding and competition as the next rider, but you have great personality and dedication to the sport you love.
We hope you have found our helpful hints of use. Please share these with your friends, students or other trainers. We would love to hear your thoughts. Please ask questions or leave comments below.