Saturday, 23 August 2014

A Horse Show Judge’s Perspective

We’ve all heard it – it’s the attention to details that makes a winner. So over the next few columns, can I share some of the details I see overlooked as I walk across the show grounds or sit in the judge’s booth?

Gotta say, most of these are training oversights. And believe me, years ago I’d have been the first one to ask “Why does it matter?” But I’ve come to learn that every signal I give to my horse means something and requires a response. And with every cue I’m unaware of or don’t follow through on, I’m untraining my horse – yikes!

And it all adds up-every run out at a jump, buck in a flat class, or bulge to the in-gate can be dissected apart to individual cues that the horse didn’t heed.

Mounting manners. Why do we let our horses walk away or wiggle around while we’re climbing aboard? (To be honest, this is a problem I rarely see in the stock horse, western oriented competitors – I tip my hat to them – it’s my observation these competitors just expect more from their horses).

Really, if my horse walks through my hands, backs away from the mounting block or swings his hip into my outside leg, isn’t he more likely to do that inside the ring?

Next post, I’ll offer some tips from an article I wrote on mounting block manners.