The Ultimate Equitation Tips Collection

Are you looking for equitation tips? Here is a list of some of my favourite equitation posts.

horse riding, horse training, thistle ridge stables, laura kelland-may, hunter jumper, hunter judge, how to improve my riding position

To your riding success

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Winter Has Arrived!

We woke up this morning to, not a dusting, but a ‘dump’ of snow.

Equitation tips, thistle Ridge Stables, equitation skill builders, ignite your equitation, riding lessons Ottawa,

Morning Surprise

This makes me think of getting in the car and driving to warmer climes and also bundling up in a blanket and sitting in front of the wood stove.

What I will do is go to the stable and look through my track and decide what items I will sell.

Buying Used Tack

Have you ever bought used tack? There are some things you should check.

  1. Is it in good condition. -seems easy right? Check the stitching and the actual condition. Has the leather been maintained? Sometimes leather, when not taken care of, will just SNAP! You don’t want this to happen with a stirrup leather, rein, or girth (I’ve judged some horse shows where competitors track have snapped. It’s not fun!)
  2. Is it needed? Do you really need that? If not don’t buy it -wait! What am I saying- YES BUY IT! I need to get rid of this stuff.
  3. Is it a decent price? Buying second hand is a good option if it makes sense. But don’t pay “new” prices for second hand gear, no matter how nice it looks. Chances are it’s been sitting around in a bid for years and not taken care of.

Used Tack Sale

You guessed it. I’m having a used tack sale. December 3rd.

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Used Girths

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Cross Border Horse Show Judging

Well I did it!

After almost 30 years of judging across Canada I had tho opportunity to judge my first United States Equestrian Federation horse show. And what a great weekend it was! Lots of horses, riders and chocolate made the day. (Not necessarily in that order)

You know you are in the right place when… Fill in the thing that you can do all day and not really think about what time it is. This is the way I felt at Lehman Farms horse show. I really forgot to look at the clock. Sometimes it is better not to see how long a horse show is running but I know I am in the right place when I can watch horses “go”, and not be concerned about eating (although not being hungry may be due to the fact that show organizers had copious amounts of chocolate, cake, pizza and candies on hand).

hunter Jumper, horse show, what the judge is looking for, thistle ridge stables, Laura Kelland-May

Horse Show Schedule


Getting there

Getting to Pittsford, New York was easy. Straight down I81 and hang a right at Syracuse onto the I90 and Pittsford is just off the I90 Interstate.

I surreptitiously went to the show grounds on the Friday evening before the start of the horse show to scout out the competition. As the manager on duty at the hotel said, “Watch out for deer”. After a near collision with a deer I arrived pulled into the only available spot left for a mid size sedan.

There were trailers, not the two horse tag-a-long variety I see at the weekend shows in my local area, but rather the six horse+ goose neck type with heavy duty trucks, most of them white. What had I gotten myself into? Thin blonde teenagers were hauling in huge tack trunks with their stable’s name proudly adorned on the side. Stacks of horse blankets (it was cold), tack hooks and saddle racks were piled into each “tack room” and set up for the weekend of festivities.

Horses stood quietly and obediently as professionals preened and gooped their manes. My first thought was, “Wow“. My second thought was – “Wait a minute, this is a weekend “C” rated show. Holy smokes!” – or words to that effect anyway! :)

Let the Horse Show Begin

hunter jumper, equitation tips, what the judge is looking for, Laura Kelland-May

View from the judge’s box 

As a horse show judge you get to see at a glance, the entire ring. This show was no different in that regard. The judge’s box was half way down a bank of permanent stabling and in a heated viewing area. With below freezing temperatures that day, I was thankful for the heated room.

The “warm up” rounds were wonderful and I felt immediately at ease when the first couple of horse-rider combinations presented their schooling jitters. Spooky high headed horses and unfamiliar territory resulted in some “drive bys” and “stutter steps”.

As the weekend progressed there were some very nice hunter rounds and some well accomplished riders.

Being invited to judge in the US was an honour (notice the “u”) and something I don’t take lightly, BUT once you get immersed into the horse show scene, it is hard to distinguish where exactly you are. You are at a horse show. There are horses. There are riders. There are young women backing up massive trucks and trailers into bumpy parking lots and hauling tack trunks on furniture dollies. There are riders and there are long days being able to do what you love, watching lovely horses and excellent riders show their horses. In any country that is an honour and a privilege.

View from the judge’s box



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General Horse Ownership and Riding Tip

I have been a horse owner, well it seems like forever.
It is not just the experience itself you have as a horse owner but rather what you do with that experience which shapes you as a horseman/person.
Every day we have interactions with our horses. Every day we have to decide what we will do with that experience. Will we keep it, reshape it, or replace it?

That choice is up to us.

If you do the same thing over and over again, it becomes a habit. If it is a good ‘habit’ great. If it is not, well then it is not so good and we should replace that “bad” habit with something else.

Take some time to reflect on the experience you are having and actually figure out why it happened.

If your horse is performing better today. Take a few minutes and reflect on why. Did I change something? Did I improve something or did I actually prepare my horse properly so it can perform the movement correctly.
It only takes a few minutes to feel what has happened and reflect on the way it happened and the events leading up to it.

I often ask my student, “What did you do to make that happen?”
If they say, “I don’t know.” – then I say, “Think about it. If you don’t know how you got your horse to do that, then how are you going to repeat it?”
So think about what you are doing and understand how you are influencing the horse with your riding…
… your horse will thank you for it. :)

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