What I Learned from Judging a Dressage Show

I had the opportunity to judge a dressage development show recently and the one word which comes to mind is COMMIT.

English: A Standardbred horse going nicely in ...

You are assigned a ride time. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When you arrive at a dressage show there is a calm sense of excitement. People are on their schedule and are systematically preparing for their time to ride. Unlike a hunter show where you ‘sign in’ at the ingate; dressage shows are civilized and each competitor has an assigned ride time. If your ride time is 9:37 then you present yourself at the correct time or risk being eliminated.

Although the show was part of a schooling/development series, you could see people really put the effort into making the show count and their ride count. I saw long-tailed coats, ‘dressage’ braids  and horses bathed and clipped. On the other end of the spectrum there were flowing manes and chestnut ponies (mare perhaps?) with prominent red ribbons. Either way, they were performing and getting comments and pursuing their goals.


the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc.

When you look up commitment in the dictionary there is no picture of a person hauling off to a horse show, but rather a whole host of synonyms  such as promise, pledge, responsibility.

These are the words which came into my head as I watched people from all age groups, riding levels and horse types come into the ring.

English: Chestnut rabicano pony mare.

People from all agegroups competing.(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

They are committed to riding, they promised their horse AND themselves (and $$paying parents/spouses) to ride. They took the pledge and made it their responsibility to get to the competition ring. People who didn’t want to make the commitment, or the responsibility were probably back at the stable wishing they had.

Sometimes making that commitment is scary. Scary emotionally and even financially. Once you have made the commitment, there is one track to follow, kind of like getting on a train. You get on the train, you know where the train is heading (to competitions).  This is your commitment – to get on that train. The stops along the way are the goals along the way before you get to your destination.

Have you committed to your horse this season? Will you be committing to showing this season? Please let me knowhow you are making this commitment to yourself and your horse.

About Laura

Laura Kelland-May is the founder of Thistle Ridge Skill Builders Development Program. She more than trains horses, she trains people to train their horses. In addition she is a Sr. Judge and can offer insight into What the Judge Is Looking For. Follow her here and get more tips.
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