Show Ring Savvy – Give the Judge What They Want to See

Dublin Horse Show

Dublin Horse Show (Photo credit: National Library of Ireland on The Commons)


Have you ever entered the ring and really not understood what the judge is looking for?

Well then keep reading.

These pointers outline the necessary information to get you into the competition with confidence and discover the secrets to a show ring win.

 How to win at Horse Shows

Winners supply the judge with what they, the judge, wants to see. Take a look at what the judge is looking for youtube video. If you are not supplying what the judge need, wants and requires to fulfill the demands and specifications of the class you will be passed over for someone who can and will fulfill those needs.

Liver chestnut Hanoverian show hunter.

You have to give the judge what they are looking for

For example, if you are competing in an advanced dressage class, say Grand Prix, then you had better be able to perform the necessary movements required. Likewise, if you are entering the equitation or hunter ring, then you better understand the requirements and specifications of the class.

Imagine going to a university mathematics exam having not reviewed the requirements of the class. Think of entering the horse show as going to a final exam. Do you want to get an A+ or do you want to get a pass?

Just for fun, take this quiz: Click here to take survey.

Top 3 Rules for Horse Showing

Rule Number 1 – Know the requirements of the class you are entering. Nothing is more exciting to a judge (me) than watching a well prepared horse and rider ‘nail’ a course and win a class, hands down. It makes my life easier to pin the best horse in the class.

The first step to being prepared is knowing what you should be doing. Here is a quote from the rule book for Amateur Owners:

To be ridden by Amateur Owners or an amateur member of the owner’s family. In either case classes are restricted to riders who are no longer eligible to compete as junior exhibitors. Leased horses are not eligible and multiple ownership is not
permitted unless all owners are members of the same family.

It is important to know the requirements and eligibility in addition to the actual class specifications.  If you are unsure, contact the show secretary or download a copy of the rule book from you national show office (Equine Canada , USEF , Australia )

Rule Number 2. Know the class specifications. Flat footed walk, light contact, hand gallop, forward seat are all laid out in the class specifications.

Light contact with the horse’s mouth is required.
Horses should be obedient, alert, responsive and move freely. They should not be eliminated for slight errors. Judges may ask horses to hand gallop collectively, one way of the ring.

Rule number 3. Be prepared. This is the culmination of rule 1 and rule 2. Know and understand the rules, requirements and specifications. Then undertake the training regime to consistently maintain and reach these goals.

Going to a horse show and want to know what the judge is looking for? Explore these powerful hand picked selection of posts dealing with what the judge is looking for.

While judging throughout the summer I kept a secret sheet of some of the things which riders did well and which some competitors just plan should have done. Each of these posts reveals what the judge would like to see and some things I saw which I never hope to see again.

From here you will see where I un-leased some secrets that no other judges are willing to share with you.

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To get survey results go here. Show Ring Savvy-answers

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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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