5 tips for showing success with your horse

Find out how you and your horse can really impress in the show ring with top tips from the judges themselves.


Don't forget your flatwork

For Working Hunter classes especially, our judges explained that, for may people, the jumping phase of a class causes quite a lot of worry.

As a result, these riders don't then spend enough time on flatwork phase of the their class.

Ride your horse in a dead straight line in a space where the judge can clearly see how your horse moves. 

Perfect presentation

It would be rude to show up scruffy but don't go too mad getting your horse shiny for the main event.

It appears that judges don't really give you extra points for glittery hooves or perfect plaits.

Of course it does help with your overall presentation of your horse and can emphasise other right places for your overall confirmation score.

Get fit for action

The result you walk away from the ring with relies on you to perform as well as your horse.

So, while your getting him muscled up and trim for showing, be sure to give yourself a little TLC, too.

Train in the gym, go for regular power walks, run or workout at home. Being fit means that you'll have plenty of energy to perform at your best on the day, just like your horse.

Manners please

As well as your horse having good manners the judge wants to see that you have good manners too.

Keep in mind that they have been watching you and if you let yourself down when you think you aren't being watched, it could affect your whole day and your result. 

Be courteous, smile and always be kind to your horse or pony. 

Hone your halt

While it can be overlooked, the halt is your moment to shine but a lot of riders rush it.

Allow him to get square before you ride off.

This way you can see all the hard work you have put in by building muscle, washing and grooming. 

Establish control in an arena with your horse

Discover simple ways to establish control in an arena with your horse with expert advice from event rider Izzy Taylor...

Basic schooling and lateral work in an arena are vital for establishing control of your horse before you head out on a hack. Being confident that you can stop, turn or push him on when you need to will help you feel safe. When doing any schooling work, always pat your horse after he’s done something well. This will give him confidence in you and help to cement your relationship.

halt in an arena

Put your brakes to the test

One of the most important things you need to be able to do is ask your horse to halt. If you know you can do this, you’ll have more confidence pushing him forwards while out riding. When asking for halt, sit up tall in your body and close your fingers gently around the reins to bring him to a standstill. Make sure you can do this in walk, trot and canter. It’s also useful for you to be able to do transitions from halt into walk, trot and canter to ensure your horse is listening to you.

leg yield

Take control using leg-yield

Lateral work has countless benefits, one of which is the fact it allows you to gain more control of where your horse’s body is, and where it needs to be. The more supple your horse is, the easier he’ll be to manoeuvre when needed. An easy way to practise this
is to use objects in your arena to leg-yield around. Ride towards an object, then push him to one side of it, asking him to go sideways by sliding the leg nearest the object back and increasing the pressure. At the same time, put a gentle amount of pressure down the opposite rein to make sure he understands where to go, but keep his head bent slightly to the other side.

Use clutter to your advantage

Jump poles and wings cluttering your arena can be a really useful training tool as you increase your horse’s suppleness by bending and circling around them. As well as gaining control of his body, you’ll be helping him balance himself correctly as you circle around wings and pop the odd pole, which will give you a more secure seat while you’re riding at speed.

How to ride travers with your horse


Travers is the opposite of shoulder-in, so you ask your horse to bring his quarters in while his shoulders and front legs stay on the track. Incorporating this lateral movement into your flatwork and dressage training is a great way to encourage suppleness through your horse’s rib cage.

When you and your horse are learning travers, it can help to ride it down the long side of your arena, so you have the edge of your school to help you. 

The aids

  1. Move your outside leg back to ask your horse to step in with his quarters.
  2. Keep your inside leg at the girth to stop his shoulders drifting in. It also creates forward movement and bend.
  3. Ask with your inside rein for a little flexion at the poll – you don’t want a lot of neck bend.
  4. Your outside hand controls the amount of bend.
  5. To help your horse stay balanced your shoulder should face down the track.