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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Horse Training Solutions

“Just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do doesn’t mean it’s useless.”
~Thomas Edison

Your Horse Training Philosophy

Horse training, Thistle Ridge Skill Builders, Laura Kelland-May, How to train a horse, on line riding lessons

Training Philosophy

Your horse training philosophy can be along the same lines. I like where he says, ‘doesn’t do what you planned it to do’. In horse training ease, horses really never read the book on ‘how to train a horse‘. So when you are riding and your horse offers you something which you may (or may not) have wanted or thought you wanted, think of how you are training your horse and why they have decided to ‘give’ this to you.

Horse Training Problems

I get asked the same questions over and over again…

Laura, how do I solve <insert training issue> problem with my horse!

horse training, horse training tips

Horse Training

It could range from not standing to be mounted, not getting the correct canter lead, improving bend and many other horse training conundrums. If you have a horse training block which you would like to move past… Please send me an email and we can work through it.

Here are some horse training links to get you on your way:

Do you have a tip we should include here? I’d love to hear from you.


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Stable Safety – Plan Ahead in Case of Fire

Emergency Planning

Are you ready for an emergency? It is not very nice to think about, but do you have a plan in place? If you own your own stable or board your horse, having a plan is the safest bet in case of emergency.

What to do in case of emergency

Neighbor's Garage Destroyed in Fire

Have An Emergency Plan in Case of Fire(Photo credit: OldOnliner)

EMERGENCY! the words just makes my stomach turn.

  1. Have emergency information and plan of action posted in prominent locations.
    Have the Civic address, and directions easily accessible. This information is necessary when calling the police, ambulance and fire. Having the information readily available avoids panicked callers fumbling for information.
  2. Have contact information easily labeled and handy. This includes numbers for the stable manager, horse owners/leasers, veterinarian, and ‘other’ emergency contact people should necessary to contact.
  3. Have the property address and name prominently displayed from the roadside. This will give emergency personnel ideal information to locating your farm when necessary.
  4. The following is a list of essential items a horse owner should keep in or near their home and possibly in another location off the property as well.

  5. First aid kit – Human and horse
    Contact information for horses including photos and written descriptions of all horses – this is important in case of insurance.
    Halters and lead ropes
    Flash lights and extra ‘charged’ batteries

Have a Plan

Brandzeichen der Oldenburger

Record your Horses Identification (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Although it is tough to think about having an evacuation plan is the best course of action.  An evacuation plan should be designed to remove horses safely and quickly from the stable without anyone getting hurt.

It is important stable managers, workers, boarders, leasers and other people involved at the stable understand the importance of the evacuation plan and are involved with its implementation. Having everyone understand ensures the plan is followed even if the manager or owner is not present at the time of the emergency.

Having horse owners involved makes them aware emergencies happen and makes them think about how they will work through any unforeseen emergencies. Consider the following when developing your plan:

  1. How will horses be removed from the stable? Will each horse be lead individually or will the horses be herded outside into a holding pen?
  2. How will stallions, mares and foals, young horses be handled vs school horses, boarders and show horses?
  3. What’s the plan if the barn burns down? Where will horses be housed? This is of particular importance if it is winter and there are significant weather challenges.

Horse Identification

If you are a horse owner make a complete binder of your horse with pertinent information which will be helpful in emergency situations. If you horse is registered, tatooed or has a microchip, collect this information into one area and keep it safe. Also consider taking photographs and written descriptions.

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Are You Making These Mistakes When Getting Your Horse Straight?

Strategies for Successful Straightness

As an integral part of your training pyramid, straightness, is near the top of the training pyramid.  There are other steps which lead you into the straightness schooling step.

Why is Straightness Important?

Straightness allows the horse to use both sides of his body equally and effectively. If your horse is straight, or developing into straightness, then he will be equally developed on both sides. This gives your horse the opportunity to use his body efficiently and smoothly.

Horses which are one sided, or not straight, are often stronger on one side. This leads to horses who evade more and because they use themselves un-evenly, they are more prone to soreness and unsoundnesses. If a horse propels himself evenly, he will carry himself equally on each leg which will translate to a healthy and productive career.

First Steps to Straightness

Before expecting your horse to be straight, the rider must be straight. I liken it to sitting in a canoe. If you don’t sit up straight in a canoe, and have your spine over the ‘spine’ of the canoe, you will tip over. Same on a horse.

You should be sitting with each seat bone equi-distant from the horse’s spine and your spine over the horse’s spine. You should have equal weight in each seat bone and in line with the horse. Think of a triangle; your left seat bone, your right seat bone and your tail bone should form a triangle.

How to Tell If Your Horse is Straight

The easiest way to determine if your horse is straight is to follow his hoof prints. A horse is said to be straight when the hind hoof follows the track of the front hoof of the same side. So, for a horse to be ‘straight’ on a circle, the horse must ‘bend’. That’s right folks. Horses must bend to be straight.

Hoofprints in the Sand

Hind hoof should follow the track of the front hoof(Photo credit: Calsidyrose)

Don’t be confused. It is  quite easy to understand. The horse’s inside hind leg must step into, or follow, the path of the inside forelimb. On the left rein, or example, the horse’s left hind leg must follow the path which the left front leg is following.

If your horse is allowing his quarters to swing out, a common evasion, then his inside hind leg may step in between the prints made by the forelegs or may even follow into the hoof print of his outside shoulder. Correction – close the outside leg.

Sometimes the horse may swing the hindquarters in on the circle. This will result in the hoof prints of the horse’s hindquarters being on the inside of the prints of the front hooves.

 Exercises for Getting Straight

Here are a few exercises to help get you straight.

  1. The Straight Dope on Riding a Circle
  2. The Classic Training Pyramid
  3. How to Sit Straight in the Saddle
  4. More on how to get your horse straight right here! and other posts here.

Thank you for reading this post… If you have comments of questions, please feel free to email me. I invite you to leave a comment as well. I’d love to hear from you.

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