Producing a great show

August 14, 2020 12:29 pm by
Posted in Jayne Ross, News

Finally, I can say that showing has started up again, albeit in a very different way and under careful scrutiny.  We have been to a couple of shows now, with only 5 allowed in the ring, a separate way in and out, no ride judge and of course all the social distancing measures we have come to expect.  It is not what we would wish for, but we are out and about again and that is the most important thing.

Without a ride judge it is imperative that we show off our horses best attributes and that means producing a great show, bearing in mind we will be performing it not only in front of the judge, but  the whole line up!

What constitutes a good show?

First and foremost, don’t make your show too long.  Less is more and it is better to do something simple, really well than attempt something complicated and do it poorly. Stick to what you know.

Judges are not looking for a full-on dressage test, rather they want to see fluid, soft and supple movements. You should aim to make it look like you have all the time in the world, if you do make a mistake, simply correct it and move on.  If you look at someone like Charlotte Dujardin doing a dressage test, she takes her time, nothing looks forced or flustered.

If you have a horse with a really good walk, then make the most of it by walking across the middle to change the rein and really let it swing through. Conversely don’t attempt to rein back unless you know you can do it really well because that can spoil an otherwise good show. If you are going to rein back it is advisable never to do it straight in front of the judge, do it sideways on because horses never go quite straight and that will make it less obvious.

The type of show depends on the type of horse you are riding – whether it is a hack, hunter, cob or riding horse.

What type of show for which horse?

Hunters and Cobs:   Should have 4 really nice paces, be scopey but move effortlessly over the ground. They should be able to stand still at the end of the show to prove that they are still calm after their gallop. The gallop should show lengthening of the stride and lowering along the long side of the ring.

Hacks: Ideally, you should show small circles one handed, change of rein one handed, a serpentine loop, halt, and rein back and a walk to canter.  Adapt this to what you can do well.  This all proves they are well schooled, balanced, attentive, and capable of extending but in a quiet way without getting over excited.

Riding horse: Is a combination of Hunter, Cob and Hack, so show a bit of anything!  You should be able to rein back easily, change leg through trot and back to canter in a straight line, and move on to extend and back. However, as stated before if you can’t rein back well, don’t do it and ruin an otherwise good show.

Top Tips for planning your show:

  • You know your horse so you will know its strengths and weaknesses. If you know your horse strikes off better on the right leg than the left, make sure your first transition to go off in canter is on the right rein, and choose carefully where you will change the rein and ask for left canter on a helpful bend.

Remember it is easier for a young horse to go into canter after a circle so maybe trot a figure of 8 then ask for canter or if the ring is on a bit of a slope it is easier to ask for canter going uphill than downhill.

Read your terrain, read your ring, see where your judge is standing because you don’t want to do everything with your back to them!

If you have a young horse, how will it react to cantering past a line-up of horses? If possible, you could practice this at home with a couple of other horses standing still.

Expect to do your show in front of the line up, so be aware your horse is going to walk away from the line-up. If you think your horse might be inclined to hang towards the other horses don’t’ go into canter as you turn away from them, do it at the far end so you give your horse a bit more time to concentrate on you.

Use the ring and the space you have but bear in mind the show you have practiced at home and planned out might not be possible when you get to the showring. It might be where you had planned to go into trot for the first time, there is a fair ground in the corner or the place you had planned to gallop towards is the exit!

Remember, judges prefer to see a simple, short show well done, rather than complicated manoeuvres which fail miserably.