14 ways to look good in the showring

  • Preparing to show your horse this season, but not sure how best to impress the judges in the ring? Top producers Robert Oliver (pictured), Libby Cooke and Simon Reynolds reveal the secrets behind their success.

    1 Your horse must always be well ridden in and not too fresh. Never put your judge at risk of being bucked off or run away with.

    2 Judges like a well-fitted and comfortable saddle, and remember large stirrups for gentlemen.

    3 Hunters should be shod with a light steel shoe, which is not too heavy.

    4 All horses must be light in the hand with a comfortable stride — even if it is a heavyweight hunter measuring more than 17hh.

    5 Rhythm and balance are important in worker classes. Establish a good rhythm and stay in it from start to finish.

    6 Aim to let your horse jump out of their rhythm, rather than fiddling too much with your hands or kicking on too much in front of a fence. Your round should look as smooth and easy as possible.

    7 Keep things simple by encouraging your horse to go in a natural way and never put too much pressure on them.

    8 Build the gallop gradually off the corner, lowering and lengthening the stride. There’s nothing worse than seeing a rider up the neck, madly racing for the finish, or grabbing and looking terrified.

    9 The horse should pull up from the gallop quietly, and walk calmly back into the line.

    10 Know your horse and work him accordingly. If you overwork you risk the horse becoming dull and lacking sparkle, when they should be alert and enthusiastic about their job.

    11 Never overtake in front of the judge during the go round — it’s rude.

    12 Tails should be well pulled and cut at the point of hock. “A long tail alerts the judge to hidden poor hocks,” warns Simon.

    13 Don’t use excessive make-up on your horse.

    14 Avoid wearing loud or ill-fitting jackets in the ring. Plain tweed is always classy.

    Tomorrow: judging tips for natives, hacks and cobs.

    Don’t miss H&H’s showing special (19 March), guest edited by Jayne Ross, on sale now.

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