Expert advice from top showman Robert Oliver on how to improve your performance in the showring

1. Let nervous or sharp horses see as much as possible when you work them in, rather than staying in a quiet corner. Ride about the lorry park, all around the lorries and make sure your horse is happy to face whatever you come across.

2. Allow your horse regular access to water throughout the day to avoid dehydration.

3. Use plenty of fly spray. Many horses won’t settle if they are being bothered by insects.

4. Stay calm. The art is to keep your horse settled. If you are both happy, find a quiet spot in the collecting ring and relax.

5. When you are in the ring, keep a close eye on the steward and make sure you respond to what he asks you to do.

6. Don’t overtake any horses and riders in front of the judges, in any of the paces. If you want to pass, do it on the next corner or on the far side.

7. Make sure your horse is used to being ridden by different people before a show so he doesn’t become upset when the judge gets in the saddle.

8. Although some ‘grooms’ tend to take boxes or buckets full of equipment into the ring, you only really need a few essentials. These are: a rug, a damp sponge, brush and stable rubber plus a cold drink for the rider.

9. Put a summer sheet over your horse’s quarters while waiting in the line-up. The sun can turn a horse’s coat and make the hairs stand up and look unsightly. A sheet is also useful if it’s chilly or damp to help keep the horse’s loins warm.

10. Impress the judges in your final walk round by making sure that your horse is well up into his bridle and alert. Avoid walking too close to the horse in front.

For more showing advice from Robert Oliver, see the latest issue (July) of HORSE magazine, on sale now, or click here to subscribe to HORSE magazine.

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