Getting Your Horse to Stand Still While Mounting

We’ve all seen them. Those tricky devils which move just enough so you can’t get your foot into the stirrup. Here are some tips to get you back into the saddle and get riding rather than standing and waiting at the mounting block.


What do you do when your horse moves away from the mounting block

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Scoring the Hunters…. what is an 80 anyway


Scoring hunters, horse, horse riding, hunter jumper, Laura Kelland-May, Thistle Ridge Skill Builders

The Best Form Over Fences Should Win The Class

Have you been watching a show and noticed some riders continue to win and place and others seem to do all right things but never place? Points are important and there could be a one point difference between first and second place.

Don’t throw points away

Judging hunters is not as easy as it looks, as a horse show judge some competitors lose points on simple things which can net you a first place ribbon or championship.

Number 1 thing a horse has to do?

The horse must get to each fence.  This means:

A summary of the scores

Most judges award points or score hunter rounds based on a score of 100. Remember the horse with the best form over fences should win the class.  So:

  • 90-100 Excellent – good form, gets all the spots and beautiful turnout.
  • 80-89 Good to Very Good/or an excellent horse with minor mistakes
  • 70-79 Average/or a good horse with minor mistakes –
  • 60-69 Poor or a below average performance with minor mistakes, no major faults

    horse show tips, What the judge is looking for in the hunter ring, hunter judge, Laura Kelland-May, Thistle Ridge Stables, Judging Hunters

    Good form, gets spots and beautiful turnout

  • 50-59 One Major Fault: Hind Knockdown, Adding astride in an In & Out
    Very bad fence
    Dropping a leg
    Trotting on course
    Cross canter – disunited canter
    Wrong Lead
  • 40-49 Serious Major Fault: Front Knockdown, Refusal, Extremely dangerous jumping
  • 30-39 Two or more serious faults
  • 10-29 Very Unsafe and dangerous; but avoids elimination
  • Elimination

I invite you to send me an email and share your experiences. You know, we all have unique experiences and sharing our stories will improve our showing abilities.

Some Judges do not award a series of points but use a ‘ladder’ system which rates one horse higher/lower than another. Either way, this will give you an idea of how some judges may judge.

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Being Happy With What You Have

behappyAre you looking for the big prize and think a bigger, better horse, new saddle or new boots will make a difference in your horse. You may have to take a step back and think about how these things may change only the SURFACE.

If your goal is to become a better rider, improve your horse, and excel at your training it really won’t matter how big your horse is, how new your saddle is or what type of boots you are wearing.

What really matters is what you are doing with your horse. Your training methods and your consistency.

We often get caught in the trap of things being ‘greener on the other side of the fence’. We understand something is not working and it is easier to change things on the outside rather than digging deep and changing on the inside. This means buying new boots may be easier rather than rolling up the sleeves and digging into your training regime.

Before things change, you have to change something. If your horse is not doing what you think it should then take a look at your training regime.

Owning up that you may have to change is the first step. Take a look at this video where you can see a camel performing some lateral movements and flying lead changes. If a camel can do this then your horse can to and you can do it with your horse right now with correct and consistent training.


Do you think you have the training regime and consistency to compete with this camel?

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Stay Cool When Riding at a Horse Show

Stay cool when riding, keep relaxed when showing, horse show anxiety, how to stay calm when riding

Stay Cool

And by staying cool I mean keeping your cool when you really think things are going bad.

Most of the time things are really not as bad as you may think. You may have missed a distance, or got a wrong lead but most of the time it really wasn’t that bad!  Things happen on course. You can make the next trip better and if you do make a mistake, I think of this as a great place to start your training program.

Think of it as, if I messed up, then this is what I would like to work on.

keeping calm at horse shows, staying focused at horse shows, winning at horse shows, what the judge is looking for

I wasn’t really as bad as you thought

– If you had a refusal, then try this exercise .

– If you had a bad distance, this may help.

– Or a rail. Then maybe you should do some gymnastics.Gymnastic Jumping – Exercises to Improve Your Horse Over Fences

In any case you have time and corrections can be made.

Keep Breathing!

A horse’s life depends on fleeing from a scene of pressure. Whether it is a likely attack of a wild beast creeping around the edge of the enchanted forest, or whether it is a single round of eight jumps in the ring by themselves, the horse will treat it in the same fashion.

how to stay relaxed at a horse show, what the judge is looking for,

Keep Breathing

When we are frightened, nervous or ill-at-ease, our first primal reaction is to hold our breath. When someone shouts “BOO!” in your face, your first reaction is to take a short, sharp breath in, tense all your muscles and search for the impending attack of the wild lion.

When you ride and hold your breath, your horse can feel it. In his/her mind, you are holding your breath because there is an attack of the aliens around the next corner. You, holding your breath,  acts as an advance warning and the horse reads it as a warning to flee the scene.

Breathing helps to reassure your horse all is well. 

Get a hold of Yourself

Feeling nervous and upset will only be telepathically transferred to your horse.

“What is in the brain, goes down the rein

To help keep yourself calm when showing keep your body relaxed and reassure your horse with a calming voice and patting on the neck, shoulders and withers. Predators usually stare a horse down by looking at them in the eye. Be non-threatening to your horse by keeping your arms relaxed, body relaxed and taking the time to spend with your horse when not in the actual show ring.

Other Helpful Posts

What the Judge is looking for – 5 tips MOST Judges won’t tell you; but I will!
If you would like some visuals on how to improve yourself try this popular video.

If you would like to understand what the judge is looking for and to get your own comments please feel free to send me your photo to get some valuable feedback.

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