Looking to wow the judges at your next show, but unsure how you can perfect your performance or enhance your horse’s turnout? Here are some useful takeaway tips from the The SEIB Search for a Star championships at Your Horse Live, where expert judges Katie Jerram-Hunnable, Chris Hunnable and Matthew Lawrence shared their pearls of wisdom to competitors and the audience.

From turnout tips to performing your very best individual show, here’s some of the guidance they offered:

  1. Trim with caution: Those with plaited horses and ponies should not to be tempted to cut off the section of mane just in front of the withers. “I always leave as much hair as possible,” Katie said. Cutting off this area of mane can mean losing a plait, which can make horses appear older. If this section of mane thins, Katie suggested avoiding a neck cover to encourage hair growth.
  2. Head high: In-hand competitors should remember to encourage their horses to work with their poll high, just as you would with a ridden horse. “If the poll goes below the wither their step will go down into the ground,” Matthew said.
  3. Accentuate quarters: Tails should be pulled to highlight and enhance the horse’s quarters. If the hair is not pulled far enough down, this advantage may be lost, said Matthew. Katie added that it is equally important not to pull hair too far down the dock.
  4. Give them space: When showing a horse in-hand or when stripped off for the conformation judge, try to stand away from the frame so the judge can fully assess your horse without you in the way.
  5. Blend clips with care: With horses or ponies who require clipping, particularly those carrying feather, be sure not to stop abruptly just above the knee, as it can make the forearm look poor against the knee. Blend with care for a more natural appearance.
  6. Focus on a steady contact: Riders can become overly focused on the horse’s head being perfectly vertical. “The stillness of form is important, rather than necessarily being on the bit,” said Katie.
  7. Aid transitions: Using the short diagonal rather than the long diagonal can help riders pick up the correct canter lead. “You have a lot more chance of striking off on the correct leg using the short diagonal,” said Matthew, adding that horses should step up into canter and not hurry.
  8. Find your own space: Getting into your own space will allow the judges to see you properly and give you the chance to really show off your horse’s paces. If you’re bunched up with the other competitors the judges will find it hard to assess your horse and you won’t stand out.
  9. Personalise your show: For the individual show, set off on the rein which best shows off your horse or pony and get off to a great start.

Check out our subscription offer

Find out what’s inside the latest issue of Your Horse

Get the latest issue