Riding for Success- Pay Attention To The Details

You may have seen me in the judges box. From local shows to national level competitions, when you are on the other side of the fence you have to make a decision quickly, fairly, and be objective.

Some judges can say they can predict a competitors performance before they complete their round and often even before they get into the ring. I’m not talking about incessant boot polishing or hoof shining but rather the partnership the horse and rider have.

What the Judge Sees

be a better rider program

Correct the simple Things

The judge is paying attention and when I see a horse standing and waiting attentively on their rider it sets a tone for the rest of the ride. Compare that to a horse which gets jerked in the mouth by a less than competent rider. What kind of flavour does that leave with the judge?

We Are Always Training Ourselves and Our Horses

You can not handle any horse without

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

Do not Accept the Unacceptable

influencing it in some way. My advice is to guide your horse toward the behaviour you would like and reward it, rather than punishing for a behaviour you do not want. Make sense?

Studies have shown it takes eleven repetitions of a good behaviour to replace a bad habit. For example, if your horse has shied or balked at a pole rather than stepping over the middle of the pole, it will take 11 times going over the middle of the pole before the horse will ‘forget’ about trying to balk at the pole.

I encourage riders to make a decision to ride for success and be mindful of what is happening and catch it before it becomes an ingrained (bad) habit. Each time we spend on the saddle or with our horses on the ground we are influencing them. Use these instances as a training opportunity. Do not accept something which is unacceptable. A small correction not performed can escalate into a ‘big deal’ when under pressure at a competition or horse show.

Think of these instances which some people accept but often lead to future issues of control:

  • Leaning into you while being lead… Often progresses to circling around you. This is dangerous as your horse does not respect your space.
  • Rooting and pulling on the lead rope. This often translates to pulling on the reins and grabbing at the bit.

Correct the little things and do not accept the things which are unacceptable. By performing simple corrections you will be laying the foundation for improved performance from yourself AND your horse.

What have you been accepting from your horse which is in acceptable? Leavea message. Maybe we can help!


About Laura

Laura Kelland-May is the founder of Thistle Ridge Skill Builders Development Program. She more than trains horses, she trains people to train their horses. In addition she is a Sr. Judge and can offer insight into What the Judge Is Looking For. Follow her here and get more tips.
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