News You Can Use – Top Show Ring Tips from a Senior Judge

English: A horse and rider with Hunt seat tack...

If You Can Make a Judge’s Life a Little More Pleasant, They Will Remember You in a Good Way (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Getting to a horse show can be stressful. Take these simple tips to heart and give yourself a ‘leg up’ when you head out to the show. Some people don’t think of how the judge looks at things and if you can make the judge’s life a little more pleasant, they will remember you in a good way.

  1. Be organized. If you need to make a list of things you need to bring then get a list. Start your list with this document here (got something we missed? We will add it to the list!) Documents, buckets, lead shanks, brushes, you name it put it on your ‘list’. If you are organized you will not be flustered on show day and will have a good show.
  2. Have your number visible to the judge. It is a requirement to have your number on at all times but remember to have it so the judge can see it. Sometimes the whipper in may forget to announce it to the judge and sometimes ‘walkie-talkies’ run out of batteries. If your number is easy to read and easy to find, it lets the judge watch your horse rather than looking for your number.
    Tie your number around your waist with a black shoe lace or string matching the color of your jacket. Flopping numbers, dangling bits of string  and  white yarn detract from your overall picture.
  3. Be prepared. This covers a lot of ‘stuff’, from know your course, to know what classes you are attending and their class specifications. If you are new to showing, attend a few shows as a spectator so you understand the requirements of showing.
    Sometimes, you can hear people discussing, ‘what is the difference between hunter and equitation anyway?’, so prior to the show, educate yourself and if you are unfamiliar with the class names and requirements, learn them.
  4. Never hold up a class. Judges understand you have paid money to have the opportunity to show in the ring. We also understand there are unforeseen circumstances which may cause undue delays in your day. However, seeing horses loitering at the ingate is frustrating. When you are ready, present yourself in the ring and get to the job at hand, showing your horse.
    It is not about clothing brands, saddle names and helmet status, it is about your horse’s performance.
  5. Take care of your horse between classes. Your day isn’t done because your class is over. Attend to your horse and then attend to yourself. Often times, you see riders being handed sandwiches and drinks while on top of their horses, yet, it is bad etiquette for the horse to eat with the bridle on! Please take a moment to feed, water and sponge off your horse and remember s/he worked hard as well.
    When going in for your jog at the end of a hunter class, please remove the saddle marks from the saddle. Have a clean bucket of water with some liniment in it or rubbing alcohol to remove any saddle marks.

Do you have something you think is important to remember when showing your horse? Please add it in a comment below, we’d love to share it!


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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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3 Responses to News You Can Use – Top Show Ring Tips from a Senior Judge

  1. Laura says:

    I didn’t realize it was so hard to see how to leave a comment. Please take the time to let me know what you think about this page and the information provided here.

  2. This is a great article, Laura. I think so often people forget that impressing the judge extends far beyond eight good spots or well executed transitions. People don’t often think about how tough a judge’s job can be. It makes sense to do what you can to ensure you’re not adding to the challenge. I shake my head when I see performers arguing with a judge about placement. Really – you think that’s going to improve your rankings in the next round?

  3. Laura says:

    Thank You Nanette…
    Well it makes the judges job easier if you know the rules and specifications for the class and the course! I have had people stop and ask, ‘where is the next jump’. I understand nerves play a big part of this and we always try to help out competitors.

    As you say, “you can ensure you’re not adding to the challenge”.

    Thanks again!

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