Here are a few small tips that might give you a bit of an edge in your next horsemanship class or equitation class at a horse show:
Remember equitation and horsemanship are not 100% judged on the pattern. Keep your head up, shoulders back, and try not to give your horse verbal cues if you can avoid it..
When the class starts, you’ll either all be called in and expected to stand in lineup as everyone does their pattern, or called in one at a time. Either way, when your turn is up, walk in or walk up from lineup to the first cone. Do not let other people in the class lineup crowd you away from starting straight on the first cone. Once you get to that cone, don’t immediately start your pattern. STOP and look at the judge and wait for them to cue you to begin your equitation pattern.
Perform your horsemanship pattern, and after you finish, halt, look over at the judge, and wait for them to dismiss you before walking back to lineup.
Most judges will offer the opportunity for class entrants to ask any questions about the pattern before you start. Take advantage of this to clarify any questions you may have about the pattern. Simply asking the judge to explain in his or her words how she would like the pattern performed is an acceptable question.
Many times the horse show judge will ask for a volunteer to go first. If you are confident about the equitation pattern, do it! It tells the judge you’re confident in yourself and your abilities and will help you stand out of the crowd.
If you have trouble with small circles, go big. A judge would rather see a balanced horse with an even gait do a large circle than a horse get unbalanced and break gait doing a smaller one. As long as you follow the cones as illustrated in the pattern, you’re not going off pattern.
When you are in horsemanship lineup before or after your run, you are NOT excused from the judges eye. It can be a long wait and it’s fine to let your horse relax, but you should not slouch or comment on anyone else’s performance or anything unprofessional. The judge can and will judge your performance in lineup.