Riding for Success- Pay Attention To The Details

You may have seen me in the judges box. From local shows to national level competitions, when you are on the other side of the fence you have to make a decision quickly, fairly, and be objective.

Some judges can say they can predict a competitors performance before they complete their round and often even before they get into the ring. I’m not talking about incessant boot polishing or hoof shining but rather the partnership the horse and rider have.

What the Judge Sees

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Correct the simple Things

The judge is paying attention and when I see a horse standing and waiting attentively on their rider it sets a tone for the rest of the ride. Compare that to a horse which gets jerked in the mouth by a less than competent rider. What kind of flavour does that leave with the judge?

We Are Always Training Ourselves and Our Horses

You can not handle any horse without

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Do not Accept the Unacceptable

influencing it in some way. My advice is to guide your horse toward the behaviour you would like and reward it, rather than punishing for a behaviour you do not want. Make sense?

Studies have shown it takes eleven repetitions of a good behaviour to replace a bad habit. For example, if your horse has shied or balked at a pole rather than stepping over the middle of the pole, it will take 11 times going over the middle of the pole before the horse will ‘forget’ about trying to balk at the pole.

I encourage riders to make a decision to ride for success and be mindful of what is happening and catch it before it becomes an ingrained (bad) habit. Each time we spend on the saddle or with our horses on the ground we are influencing them. Use these instances as a training opportunity. Do not accept something which is unacceptable. A small correction not performed can escalate into a ‘big deal’ when under pressure at a competition or horse show.

Think of these instances which some people accept but often lead to future issues of control:

  • Leaning into you while being lead… Often progresses to circling around you. This is dangerous as your horse does not respect your space.
  • Rooting and pulling on the lead rope. This often translates to pulling on the reins and grabbing at the bit.

Correct the little things and do not accept the things which are unacceptable. By performing simple corrections you will be laying the foundation for improved performance from yourself AND your horse.

What have you been accepting from your horse which is in acceptable? Leavea message. Maybe we can help!


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Is Your Horse Getting Enough Hay… how would you know?

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Are You Using The Eyeball Method

Do you feed by the ‘eye ball test’? You know the one. “I feed this much.” It may be 3 flakes, 2 flakes or half a bale. Or perhaps you eyeball the horse and think… Hhmmm he looks a little thinner today. Maybe I should bump up his hay/grain a bit.

Your horse should get as much hay to satisfy their daily requirements. The best and only way to do this is to get your hay analysed. Rural to your local feed supplier. They may be able to help you.

It a is recommended by veterinarians and horse nutritionists, horses consume at least 2 percent of their body weight in hay or pasture grasses and legumes each day. This means if your horse weighs 1000 pounds s/he should get 20 pounds of hay a day.

To me, this doesn’t sound like a lot. If a bale of hay weighs approximately 40 pounds that is only 1/2 a bale! Right now my guys are get 2 times that! A bale a day per horse.

Other Considerations When Feeding Hay

Horses should consume at least 1 percent of their body weight in hay or pasture grasses and legumes each day.

  • Age of the horse. Mature horses performing minimal or no work can be maintained on high-quality forages without supplementing their diet with grain. Growing, breeding, or working horses require supplemental grain or concentrate to meet their additional nutrient requirements. Generally, for optimal horse growth and development, forages should supply onehalf or more of the total weight of feed consumed daily.
  • Time of year. I have noticed when it is cold the horses eat more. Roughage often help keep the digestion moving and creates internal ‘heat’ which helps keep the horses warm during cold winter.
  • Time the hay was harvested. When your hay was harvested will determine its quality. Poor harvest conditions will lead to poor hay. Good harvest conditions-good hay. Hay should be harvested just before it comes to seed, dried correctly and stored properly. Each step will ensure a good crop. If one step is missed the hay will lose some quality. Hay should never be moldy and dust kept to a minimum.
  • What type of riding schedule your horse is doing. Horses in regular training may require more hay. And depending on the work the do, endurance horses and eventers, racing their hay intake will be closely monitored.

So… What does your feeding regime look like?



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Getting to the Jump is Important

What the Judge is Looking For

In a hunter class the judge would like to see a horse rounding his back, bascule, and admiring the jump and surroundings. Any expert horse show judge knows this can happen only if the horse gets to the right spot.

Three options for take off

  1. too close – if your horse takes off too close they often do not jump properly. The horses often swing their legs to the side when they jump and what the judge is looking for is even knees and smooth take off.
  2. just right – This is what the judge is looking for. It is like the Goldilocks of the three take off points, “just right”. This allows the horse to rock back onto his haunches and lift up his knees evenly and bascule over the jump. This is what the judge is looking for, the correct take off spot.
  3. too far – When your horse takes off too far from the fence or ‘long spot’, it often makes the horse flat and reach for the fence.

If you can get your horse to the correct take off spot you may have a chance to be in the ribbons. If you miss your spot, it could cost you a placing. Other things which the judge is

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Getting to the right spot is important

looking for are:


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What Does a Horse Show Judge Do Exactly?

I took this video recently so you could see what a horse show judge spends their day.

Traveling, hotels and the opportunity to see some lovely horses go over jumps…

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