4 Common Mistakes To Avoid In Your First Showing Class

4 Common Mistakes To Avoid In Your First Showing Class

The world of showing can be exhilarating and rewarding; it’s a chance to put your horse and riding skills to the test, and even if you don’t go home with a rosette, it’s a valuable learning experience. However, if you are a novice, entering your first show can be a daunting experience as there seem to be many rules and unwritten expectations.

Here are some common novice showing mistakes and how to avoid them.

Not wearing the right clothing

Being marked down for incorrect clothing can be a frustrating experience after all your hard work. The exact dress code will vary depending on what type of class you are entering, and your age or whether you are showing a horse or pony, so check the specifications carefully. 

However, as a rule of thumb you will be expected to wear white or cream breeches; an equestrian show shirt and jacket; black leather riding boots and a black riding hat. You will be judged on your turnout, and looking immaculate will boost your confidence and sense of professionalism in the ring. 

Making your personal show too long or too short

You will be expected to perform an individual show in front of the judge to showcase your horse’s paces. In some cases, this will be a set show, but in others it’s left to the discretion of the competitor. Novices often make their personal show too long and complicated, or they go the other way and don’t demonstrate a wide enough range of movements.

Your show should last for about two minutes and include a halt in front of the judge, followed by transitions to walk, trot, and canter, and a couple of moves such as a figure of eight or a serpentine. Include some examples of lengthening the stride in trot and canter. 

Not observing ring etiquette

You will be sharing the ring and collecting area with several other competitors, so it’s important to observe etiquette or ‘ringcraft’. This is for safety reasons because we all know that even the best trained horses can sometimes be unpredictable. It also demonstrates that you are respectful of others and will be able to show your horse off to the best advantage.

If you get too close behind another horse, circle away rather than crowd behind them, but do not overtake if you can help it. Keep your horse’s pace at a steady rhythm that is neither too fast or too slow for the pace of the other horses. 

Greet the judge in a polite and friendly manner even if you are feeling very nervous, and teach your horse to stand patiently in a lineup without fidgeting and stamping. 

Not preparing your horse for the judge to ride

In many classes, the judge will briefly ride your horse as part of their assessment. If your horse is normally only ridden by you, this can highlight weaknesses that you weren’t aware of and your horse may be too surprised by a change of rider to perform well. If possible, ask different people to ride your horse during training and ask for their feedback. 

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