You want to show your horse off to the judge — but could you be ruining their chances of success without realising it? Leading producers and judges explain the common mistakes they see in the ring — and why it means the difference between winning or losing

1. Too short a walk

“Too many riders fail to include sufficient walk in their individual performances. The walk is such an important pace and it appears to be executed badly in the go-round and in individual shows.”

Robert Parker-Jones, judge at HOYS in 2017

2. Bad manners

“People doing ever decreasing circles around the judge and overtaking in front of the judge, or cutting you up on a corner. We should be polite and look after our fellow competitors.”

Producer and judge Katie Jerram-Hunnable

3. Wasting time

“I dislike over-long shows with required elements poorly performed.”

Chris Yates, BSPS, TSR and BSHA conformation panellist

4. Losing the rhythm

“I hate seeing a horse being made to trot completely out of its rhythm, going too fast and rushing.”

Producer and trainer Jo Bates

5. Riding too short

“Young riders, particularly those in children’s classes from lead-rein upwards, hoisting up their stirrups and sitting on the back of the saddle. Perhaps they are aiming to appear smaller or cute, but the look is most unattractive and must be uncomfortable for the pony.”

Robert Parker-Jones

6. Failing to plan ahead

“My top three pet hates are ponies struggling under the weight of an over-heavy rider; riders charging into line when being called in in any order; and riders waiting for a corner to ask for canter in an open class.”

Natives judge Tweetie Nimmo, who will be officiating at Olympia this year

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7. Painting an ugly picture

“Short jackets, amusingly called ‘bum freezers’, often worn by larger body types. Too much canary jodhpur is exposed and spoils the overall picture and is a distraction.”

Robert Parker-Jones

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