If you’re showing in a pleasure class, odds are you’ll be one of a dozen or more riders trying to be seen by the judge. Considering that the average class time is around 7 minutes, that’s not much time to shine! So how do you get your horse noticed (in a good way) when there’s a crowd? Here are some tips.
Make an Entrance
If possible, be one of the first few into the ring. You’ll have the judge’s undivided attention for a little while. Or, if you can’t be the first or second into the ring, come in last. I say this because you don’t want to come in with a crowd, flanked on each side by other horses, and it’s easiest to avoid the crowd if you’re last. But whatever you do, make sure to space out your entry so that you are by yourself coming through the gate. Ideally, you’ll enter the ring into a dead zone, where no horses are competing with you for ring space, but that’s not always easy to do since seeing into the show ring from the entry chute isn’t always possible. Obviously, watch out for other riders, but if you have the room, come straight in – don’t turn towards the rail. You want to stay off the rail until you’ve reached the far turn.
Don’t Be a Railbird
And that leads me to my second tip – you don’t have to stick to the rail during the entire class. If you find yourself rounding a turn in a pack, cut the turn or slow your horse for a few steps to allow yourself room to come off the rail and make the inside pass. This is especially useful if your horse is slower or smaller than the others.
Use Your Turns
And that leads me to my third tip! Use your turns to observe what’s going on around you. Is someone charging hard on your tail? Trying to cut past you and get to the inside? You don’t always have to go deep into the turns – like I said above, you can cut them short to get off the rail. But you can also go deep to get yourself behind the pack. Going deep takes up more time which works the same as slowing down, without actually having to slow down. If you find yourself in a big group of horses all going about the same speed, go really deep into the turns and let them get out ahead of you. You’ll come out of the turn all by yourself!
Find Some Alone Time
Which leads me to my last tip. Try to get a few passes alone on the rail. There is no better way to get seen than to be by yourself – there are no horses nearby to directly compare you to or cover you up. Using your turns wisely can really help you find that moment where you won’t be surrounded by the competition.
But whatever you do – don’t get too close to the judge and don’t make circle after circle trying to stay off the rail and away from the pack. Find a spot where you can show off and maintain it!
Latest posts by Tiffani Frey (see all)
- Fixing the One-Sided Horse – March 28, 2016
- Running Martingales, Draw Reins and German Martingales – A Physics Lesson – November 23, 2015
- What to Do in the Off Season – October 14, 2015