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Julie gives showing advice to young rider Sarah Julie gives showing advice to young rider Sarah
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Young riders helped to showing success with Julie Templeton masterclass

By Katy Islip

YH Blogs

05 April 2012 13:52

YH writer Katy had her eyes opened to the fun and challenge presented by showing at a masterclass training event.

Earlier this week (April 2) I took a trip north to the impressive Bishop Burton College to watch showing expert and trainer Julie Templeton help riders get the most from their mounts so they can enjoy success in the show ring.

Set up by supplement firm Day, Son and Hewitt, the two-day event saw riders from lead-rein age to adult put their horses and ponies through their paces under Julie’s watchful eye, receive tips on improving their way of going and how to show them off to their best in the ring.

With the majority of Monday’s riders aged between six and mid-teens, I was really impressed with their receptiveness and how quickly they were able to put Julie’s advice into practice – the difference it made to some of the ponies was amazing!

As someone who hasn’t competed since their teens (longer ago than I’d like to admit!) I’d not given showing classes much thought, but having watched other riders thriving on the challenge of such events its now something I’d definitely be interested in having a go at – for me it’d be a confidence-boosting step towards other competitive events such as dressage but also a nice way of allowing Mac, the horse I ride, show everyone else just how gorgeous he is!

Julie says: “What showing does is give you a good seat, a competitive edge and it gives you a lot of style, because you have to have that to stand out against the competition.

“It’s great preparation for youngsters and will help them if they move into other disciplines, and it’s something anyone can do with their horse or pony because of the range of classes available.”

Give yourself a shot at a rosette with Julie’s advice, and check out her list of the most common errors she sees in the ring so you can avoid losing the judge’s favour!

Julie’s top tips

1) Play to your horse or pony’s strengths. “The idea is to show the judge the best bits of your pony – you’re always trying to play to his strengths and show the judge the best things about him, so if he’s got a great canter, show that off. Equally if his trot isn’t so good, don’t spend ages in this pace. Make the best use of the space you can, and keep your show in front of the judge – don’t hide his best bits behind them or the other competitors.”

2) Don’t be afraid to go it alone. “When you get into the ring you really need to think about finding yourself a good space, because it makes it much easier for the judge to have a proper look at you and your pony.”

3) Assess the ring beforehand for potentially spooky areas. “If you think your pony might spook at something, ride past it on the inside track rather than trying to make him pass close by it. Then you can use your inside leg to push him out, keeping the correct bend. If you just pull at his head he’ll be out of shape and will just spook at things more, and you don’t want to show the judge a spooky pony.”

4) Think about your hand position and rein aids. “You need to keep your wrists straight and hold your hands so your thumb on top, holding your hands at the width of your pony’s mouth. The first line of communication is through the rein, so if your hand is like a claw there’ll always be stiffness and tension. If your pony is strong and tends to speed up, give and take the rein rather than just pull because he’ll set his mouth against you and that pressure. Instead, say slow down, and when he does, give the rein. Avoid waggling your hands from side to side – the mouth is very sensitive and all you’ll do is annoy him.”

5) Preparation and training is key, not having the flashiest gear. “Good training and good riding leads to good results – it’s not about the most expensive browband! Some people spend more on things like this than riding lessons, when these are what will really pay off in the ring.”

6) Make sure your horse or pony is the right weight. “The fat issue has really got a lot better and people are more aware they’re damaging their horse’s health and know it’s not just cosmetic but a welfare one too. It’s got a lot better over the last few years but there’s still room for improvement – you want them fit and not fat.”

Julie’s pet hates

1) “Tails that are too long. I like to see them balanced with the animal’s head carriage – it’s about the overall picture for me. I’d always advise trimming a tail while the horse or pony is being worked, then you can see the natural tail carriage and balance it with the front end.”

2) “Ponies trotting too fast. This causes them to lose their natural cadence, rhythm and balance, when you want to find his natural rhythm and show off his capabilities.”

3) “Ill-prepared ponies. This shows in things like fidgeting when they are asked to stand in front of the judge, so practice makes perfect. Homework should be done at home, not in the ring!”

4) “Ponies that are too big for their riders and have obviously been bought for the child to grow into. It doesn’t help the rider and it doesn’t help the pony if they are mismatched.”

5) “Tack that doesn’t fit. I hate seeing new tack that hasn’t been broken in so it’s comfortable and fits properly, or bits that hang out of the pony’s mouth.”

Day, Son and Hewitt will be holding a long-reining masterclass later this summer – details will be posted online once available: visit www.daysonhewitt.co.uk or call the team on 0845 500 77 77 for more information.