Your horse is in consistent training, you make countless sacrifices to spend as much time as you can practicing in the saddle, you make sure that your riding attire is perfect, but all what really matters (to the judge at least) is your performance in the ring. Many judges look for different elements, as it is based on their opinion at the end of the day. However, there are a few commonalities that on which near every judge focuses. Keep reading for tips on how to impress the judges.
Although the judges technically do not judge until the gate closes, your entrance is the first impression of your ride. Make your entrance grand - make sure that your horse is in perfect frame, pushed up to the bridle, and make sure that you look confident and in control as the rider. Judges make mental notes of which horses they want to be at the top of the class during your entrance
Instead of getting nervous about obtaining the correct lead or becoming anxious for the next gait, be sure to nail your transitions. Horses can feel your anxiety, and they like a confident rider. When transitioning into a new gait, confidently cue your horse to do so. A lot of mistakes that will get you scratched off of a judge’s card happen during transitions.
Be A Showman
Make sure that your horse looks like a pleasure to ride at all times - even if they aren’t. “Fake it ‘til you make it” is how most riding duos succeed. Winning horses usually look like they are effortless to ride. Even if your horse is strong, don’t let the judges know. Be a showman and make sure you have good spots in the ring so the judge’s can see you (but make sure you are also not so far in the middle that you’re burning circles around the judges). Showing is a performance, so make sure to give it your all.