I know how you feel, I felt the same way in the show ring, “why didn’t I win?” That all changed when I became a senior judge.
When you show your horse you are caught up in the clothes, the style, the who’s who of the show ring. For me, being a judge changed how I see the horses in the show ring. While competing you usually see the horse which is competing directly ahead of you and you may stick around for a few trips after but hardly ever watch the entire class. As a judge you are required to watch and compare the entire class.
Watch the Entire Class
Watch the entire class and you will see how you will really fare. It is not just how good you look but how you perform. Yes, having a professional looking attire and turnout in the horse show ring counts but if you want to win you have to perform as well.
The number one criteria for winning is performance. You can’t win if you don’t jump all the jumps.
If you think you should win, maybe you didn’t see there were 5 other horses put in 5 perfect rounds, or maybe their horses just have a better form or that je ne sais quios.
The other thing you must remember is even though you and your horse may have put the best round in YOU could put in, you may be competing against professionals which can show show their horse better, or against horses which have a significant history of showing and it could appear more relaxed and better at its job. In other words maybe your best round is not as good as the competitions.
How to Improve Your Rounds
You can make your rounds better. Get help. Train. And watch lots of horses go over their jumps. The more you watch and learn the better you will become.
I saw a need for horses to improve over fences and wrote a handy ebook to help people. Here are some excellent exercises to improve your horse over fences.