Don’t Lose Your Cool – Ten tips to keep your cool at horse shows

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Being Nervous is OK

 

Most athletes have butterflies prior to the big game. When you, as a horse back rider and competitor have a case of nerves, your horse can feel it. Remember:

 

what goes in the brain, goes down the rein

 

Keep these simple tips in mind when heading out for your show to help you keep your cool while in the show ring.

 

  1. Recognize your nerves. Before being able to get a hold of your nerves you must first recognize them. Feeling queasy, nervous, agitated and irritable are all signs of nervousness. If you feel this way take a deep breath and relax throughout your body. Your body, when under pressure, tightens up and breathing and relaxing helps to get oxygen to your muscles and relieves tension in your body.
  2. Be confident you can do it. You will feel more secure if you know you are within your depth. If you are schooling 2’6″ at home, don’t enter a 3foot class at a show. Develop a schooling program to prepare yourself for the big day and be assured you can do this.
  3. Sleep. Get enough sleep leading up to the show. Rest assured you will not get to
    much sleep the night before the show so make sure you are well rested on the nights leading up to the show.
  4. Get organized. Have a list and check things off as you put them into the trailer. Keep things organized and prepare your equipment in advance.
  5. Don’t be rushed. Arrive to the show grounds in plenty of time. Get a routine so you know what you should be doing while at the grounds.
  6. Stay away from negative people. Being around negative people just brings everyone down. Negative comments erode your confidence. If you need to be by yourself to review your round or class, go and be by yourself and concentrate on the good points of the round to help maintain your confidence.

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    Most Competitors Have Pre-Race Jitters

  7. Know you belong. Don’t be intimidated by others around you. Concentrate on your horse and know you have the knowledge and ability to handle situations which arise at horse shows. Most situations which arise at horse shows have been dealt with while schooling at home.
  8. Get help if you need it. If you need help don’t be afraid to ask for it. It may be from a knowledgeable friend, your regular instructor or coach, if you get into a sticky situation with some last minute challenges, enlist the help so you can get your confidence back on track before heading into the ring.
  9. Know it’s all right to feel nervous. Nerves can work to your benefit. They make you feel more alert, and more engaged with your horse so use them to your advantage.
  10. Breath and have fun! You will be surprised how much fun you can have if you make the decision to enjoy yourself rather than win ribbons.

 

 

 

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Anatomy of A Hunter Round Part 5 – The Exit

atticuseye

Finishing Your Hunter Round in an Efficient Manner is Icing on the Cake. (Photo credit: carterse)

Think of the hunter round of being composed of  five parts:

  1. the start
  2. the approach
  3. the course
  4. the finish
  5. the exit.

The first four were dealt with in previous posts so we are moving onto the exit.

Finishing your hunter round in an efficient manner is the icing on the cake. After completing your finishing circle, bring your horse forward to the walk and leave the ring. There is no need for dramatic hugs, pats and ‘good boys/girls. Acknowledging your horse is paramount, but dropping the reins and squealing with delight is just a recipe for disaster (and it looks bad).

We as judges are excited to see excellent rounds. And I know of a few riders who have dropped down a few placings because of exuberant well wishers exclaiming within my earshot, “too bad you added a stride in the last line”. Too bad indeed!

It is good enough to pat your horse and acknowledge their efforts. It shows good horsemanship, compassion and integrity for the sport.  Exclamations of GOOD GIRL/boy after the horse has refused, knocked down and bucked are not warranted. If the rider thinks that is good, well, maybe they should rethink their training strategy.

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Anatomy of the Hunter Round Part 4 – The Finish

Eye of a Horse (Andalusian)

You Are Being Judged Until You Have Exited the Ring (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Think of the hunter round of being composed of  five parts:

  1. the start
  2. the approach
  3. the course
  4. the finish
  5. the exit

The first three were dealt with in previous posts so we are moving onto the finish.

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A Good Finishing Circle and Downward Transition Could Boost Your Placing

Although the course itself is completed remember you are being judged right up until you have exited the ring. The final circle is the last thing the judge will see of your horse.

It will leave a lasting impression. When completing your final circle before exiting… ride the circle. Allowing your horse to fall into a poorly executed transition, or pulling the horse back will leave a lasting impression with the judge.

Most judges will, by this time in the course have a score figured out, or have you situated in the placing line-up. A professionally executed transition could boost your placing. Likewise a yanking back, complete with horse opening its mouth could drop you a placing. Be aware the judge may be marking the card, but they may also be watching to see if they ‘like’ you better than the previous competitor.

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Anatomy of the Hunter Round Part 3 – The Course

Ali learns the course

The Course (Photo credit: carterse)

 

Think of the hunter round of being composed of  five parts:

 

  1. the start
  2. the approach
  3. the course
  4. the finish
  5. the exit

 

The first two items were dealt with in previous posts so we are moving onto the course itself.

 

Here is a live video which I recorded which discusses what the judge is looking for.

 

Each horse gets a numerical score based on its form over fences. A great horse with good form over fences and jumps out of stride will get a good score. Phenomenal horses will get a better mark say 90 + . Each mistake you make, will detract from your score.

This is the ‘meat’ of the judging. How you approach and get over each fence is important. In addition to how each fence is approached, the horses form over each fence is paramount. There are horses with tight, exemplary form, and then there are horses which get the job done but have mediocre form. The number one job is to get to each and every fence correctly and let the horse do its job.

If your horse doesn’t meet the fences correctly – it really doesn’t matter how wonderful and scopey your horse is. It must first get to the jumps correctly to be considered.

 

You can see a judges score card right here. Judges score card looks like this.

 

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