Are you the next showing star? Our brand ambassador Claire Taylor shares her top tips for a successful warm-up and show.

Warming up

Everybody says this, but give yourself plenty of time. However, do not give yourself too much! Get to know how much work your horse needs. If he is quiet or lacks stamina it is pointless trotting round in endless circles just because you have the time. Judges want to see a horse going forward and enjoying himself, not having to be booted round because he’s already done an hour of work! On the other hand, if he needs lots of work, then make sure you leave enough time before your class.

Don’t flap. It will upset your horse and you will make mistakes. If you are running late it’s not the end of the world and just remember, it is supposed to be fun!

Have a pair of lightweight over trousers or full chaps to put on over your jodhpurs to warm up in. This means that getting changed is one less thing to worry about before your class.

If possible find a quiet space to work in. The beauty of county shows is there is often no shortage of room to do this. At indoor shows this is much harder, but it gives you and your horse a chance to relax and focus. Plus you can try your gallop if there is room!

In the Ring

If you feel like your horse isn’t going to go well for the ride judge today, take him out or politely request that the judge doesn’t ride him. It’s not fair on the judge or your horse. Also, if your horse is seriously misbehaving, it’s only good manners to again take him out. There is a difference between high jinks and dangerous behaviour. Giving your horse the benefit of the doubt is fine, but if he isn’t settling it’s time to call it a day. The judge will have noticed!

If the judge isn’t riding your horse, you will be required to do an individual show. Sometimes there will be a set show ­– make sure you follow this or you will lose marks unnecessarily. However, most of the time you will make up your own. Make sure you know what you are doing beforehand, and most importantly, keep it short. Not only will the judge get bored watching numerous long drawn out shows, but the longer your show, the more room there is for error! You need to show a short walk, trot and canter on each rein and a gallop/extension depending on your horse.

If you need to do any adjustments in the ring, do them while the judge isn’t looking. Most judges will watch one long side all of the time, giving you three sides in which to prepare your horse for the judge to see. Don’t be afraid to use the ring… if your horse strikes off wrong in canter, circle and try again before going in front of the judge. Don’t cut up other riders or pass them in front of the judge.

It is perfectly acceptable to ask the judge how you can improve, but do so politely and don’t be confrontational. You may not always like the answer or the result, but smile and be courteous! Some judges just have a preference and you must remember to accept this, showing is subjective and there is always another day.

Good luck! 


To find out what Claire Taylor and her horses have been up to don’t miss their latest brand ambassador blogs.