3 Lessons From A Show Ring Flop – How Not to Win Ribbons at a Horse Show

Sure there are lots of posts from experienced hunter riders on how to win, get noticed and know what the judge is looking for. But what about for the rest of us who had to learn by the school of hard knocks.


vintage horse show ribbons 010 copy

Hunter Courses Should Look Effortless (Photo credit: shabbyscraps)


Here are some lessons from a show ring flop.


  1. Attend a few horse shows sans cheval so you can see what you are up against. As a horse show judge I can see right away which riders are attending for their first time. They have the deer in the headlight stare.
    In the worst case scenario they are under prepared in all areas. This means not braided appropriately, or worse, not at all. Some riders come to shows without the understanding the level of horsemanship and training required. Do your homework and attend 3 shows as a helper with your coach or friend so you can truly understand the level of equitation required for the show you are doing.
  2. The rider (and horse) should be at the level of the show you are wanting to attend or slightly higher than the level of show you are going to attend. This may sound a bit ‘stuffy’ but if you are hoping to show and be competitive, your horse, if you are new to showing, show be at the level or slightly higher than the level you are showing.
    This means if you are schooling 2’6″ at home, you should show at a 2’3″ level at a horse show. Do not attend a show and expect the rider and horse to perform above a level they are not comfortably schooling at home.
  3. Have a horse of the quality required for the show you are competing. The quality of horse makes a good impression on the judge, even before you start the round. Good, safe ‘all-rounders’ are excellent to give riders necessary experience in the show ring. However, the quality of the horse, it’s jump and movement are also considered and if you plan on attending up-scale shows the quality of the horse will be different than a horse which will be expected to
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    perform at local schooling shows.

Are you a show ring flop? do you have a show ring story you can share with us so we can learn from your experience? Send an email we’d love to hear from you.





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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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One Response to 3 Lessons From A Show Ring Flop – How Not to Win Ribbons at a Horse Show

  1. Pingback: Hunter Judging, Don't Beat a Bad Horse With a Bad Horse | Thistle Ridge Equestrian Services

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