To Middle Age and Beyond – Riding through your middle age

English: Horse Riders in Richmond Park The par...

Horse Riding Should be Fun at Any Age (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I sat on my first pony at a pony ride venue in Stanley Park, B.C. in 196- something.
After that I was hooked and it seems as though I have been riding ever since!

Now middle age has caught up to me and have found I have to pay better attention to my  riding so I may continue to ride well into my middle aged years.

Here are some things I think, as middle aged riders, we may have to consider:

  1. Stay fit. Being in good physical condition has allowed me to continue to ride. Get a physical fitness program and eat a well balanced diet. I have found the spare tire around the middle a little more prominent these days.
    Doing stretches, sit ups and some yoga moves helps keep my back, core and legs relaxed and strong to continue to ride.
  2. Get a responsible horse. A seasoned horse may be the safest bet. I have opted out of riding and starting young horses. They are unpredictable and as much as I hate to admit it, I am not as fast or as strong as I used to be to sit on the silly young’uns.
  3. Get a responsible coach. A seasoned coach will help in many ways. Being seen as a seasoned rider and understanding physical limitations of students is important. Setting goals, and a suitable warm up is a beneficial part of each class.

Other options are:

  • get a sheepskin pad for the saddle or a ‘Cashel – Tush-Cush’ to help absorb the shock. I find the sheepskin warm in the cooler months and it is comfy.
  • ride in 2-point. This may help alleviate any concussion on tender spines, necks and hips. You must however, have a strong core to keep yourself off the saddle.
  •  Vary your stirrup length to assist with any ankle problems or knee soreness.
  • Thick fat rubber reins for easy grip.

I’d like to know your thoughts! Send me an email with your thoughts on how you make your riding more comfortable.

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Can a Horse With a Rail Beat a ‘Clean’ Horse?

Why did a horse which had a rail beat my horse who was clear?

Horse jumping at Readville

Each Judge Gives a Numerical Score (Photo credit: Boston Public Library)

Each judge usually, and I say usually, because some judges don’t, gives a percentage score depending on the round. Generally speaking a rail gets a score of 40 – 50

horse jumping III

Judges do Their Best to Be Objective (Photo credit: janGlas)

depending on the rail and the rest of the course. See the following post regarding judging hunters.

and get a sample of the judges score card here.

Judges do their best to be objective and give fair assessment of all horses presented to them. It could have been the judge missed the horse knocking down a rail or maybe the judge thought the rail was not the ‘horses fault’. For example, the previous horse having a HARD rub but not a knock down and then the rail falls without a whisper of a touch.

If you have questions for the judge you are able to discuss with the steward and request to review your round with the judge

A ‘rail’ usually doesn’t beat a ‘clear round’ in a hunter class. But sometimes, the best clear round by a horse with poor jumping technique may not get as high a mark as an excellent mover and jumper with a ‘bad rail’. A bad rail meaning the rail just shouldn’t have come down.

What is your feeling about a horse which had a knock down being placed over a horse which ‘went clear’?


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Hunter Under Saddle

Children's Under Saddle

Under Saddle Class (Photo credit: carterse)

Reader Question:

My question is in the under saddle how is it we win at one show and yet the next we may pin low or not at all. He is a reliable horse being consistent on the flat at each show. Why can one judge obviously like him enough to pin him first and yet another judge on another day not like him at all. I understand judges have their own preferences obviously but with the majority of the same horses showing each show, how can it vary so much?

Thank you for your question.

You have questions which has been irritating horse owners and horse show-ers.

1. why can I win at one show and not at another?

This is a tough one and I know when I go to judge I often wonder if  “I picked the right one”. Meaning i wonder if I picked the one which all the other judges had picked throughout the summer. What you have to consider is the other competitors which are competing.

I think you understand the objectivity on the judges side of the fence quite well when you say,

 “one judge obviously like him enough to pin him first and yet another judge on another day not like him at all”.

This, I think really sums it up. It is like going to a movie, picking out an ice-cream or a summer pair of shoes. I may pick out a pair or Ariats and someone else may pick out Birkenstocks. They are both good shoes, however, we base our opinions on our own biases.

We as judges have formed opinions based on our own experiences. You have made your opinion of your horse. He is consistent, and reliable, and consistent and reliable is what an under saddle horse should be. Steady comfortable paces which a rider may have done to and from the field hunt. When he is put in the ring with 10, 20, 30, 40, and sometimes even more, consistent reliable horses then anything the judge doesn’t like gets crossed off the list.

According to EC, in the under saddle (different than hack division) the best mover should win! But ~ our own personal biases come into play when we get into the final placings. Wrong leads, nappiness, poor movers, inverted, runaways, usually don’t get too far! then the best of the best get judged.

When asked, How do you pick the winner in an undersaddle class, Randi Roy, one of Canada’s premier hunter judges, answered – How does someone pick the most beautiful women in the room? – That was his – however chauvinistic – answer!

I say it could be a number of factors.

The footing preference of your horse may make a difference, some horses may like softer/harder footing. Your horse may be a mudder and like to work in the cool temperatures and mud, rain and heavy footing. In this case, if you go to a show with sunny, concrete like hard footing he may not show as well. Or maybe showing against a horse which prefers the concrete like hard footing.

The temperature.

The rider’s disposition on that day. Or any of the factors which may alter the riders disposition such as weather, food/sugar level, did s/he break up with his girl/boyfriend, was his truck broken into.

The time of day when the class is held. (I always prefer morning)

The combination of any of all of the above and other factors which may not be considered, like – maybe the horse is just plain tired, or playful, or interested or disinterested, or, again, those of the rider/handler.

If you are in the Ottawa area then I would like to invite you to attend the Thistle Ridge Skill Builders Show Clinic to be held July 20th near Kinburn. This is a ‘clinic with ribbons’ and offers an opportunity to get feedback directly back from the judge. You will be able to understand exactly what the judge is looking for and practice your show ring riding over a hunter style course of fences.

These are great questions and if you would like additional explanation then please send me an email. I’d love to hear from you.



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Your First Horse Show

Have you decided to head out to your first horse show?
Now what do you do?

You have arrived and gotten your number from the horse show secretary…. So … What next?

Some Please Do’s for the Horse Show Ring

  1. Be clean and neat. This doesn’t mean having an expensive show ring attire,
    horse training, hunter jumper, hunter judge Canada, Hunter Judge USA, Hunter Judge Ontario, Hunter Judge Ottawa, Laura Kelland-May, Thistle RidgeSkill Buildersbut having appropriate clothing, in good repair and neat and clean is a must. Your horse should make a good impression as well. Your horse should be clean, neat and well turned out.
  2. Be prepared. Being prepared physically and emotionally. This also means having an understanding of the class requirements. Before heading to your first show, attend a couple of shows ‘sans horse’, so you know what to expect.
  3. Study the course. Take the time to learn your courses, if you are riding over fences. It may require you to break things down into simpler patterns. Do not rely on other competitors to assist you. Watch a few rounds and also study the course plan so there are no errors. If you go off course the judge will not be able to place you.
horse training, hunter jumper hunter judge Canada, Hunter Judge USA, Hunter Judge Ontario, Hunter Judge Ottawa, Laura Kelland-May, Thistle RidgeSkill Builders

Get your horse show survival kit

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You will also recieve inbox magazine with timely tips and techniques for successful riding and training.   You will receive:

  1. Webinar recording of the Number 1 Thing NOT to do at a Horse Show.
  2. Ebook – Insights from a Hunter Judge outlining what the judge is looking for.
  3. Handy horse show checklist. The “Don’t leave home without it” list. If it’s not on our list… you don’t need it!

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