The Art of Ringcraft and What the Judge is Looking For

25 March 2015


 March 25, 2015

One of the highlights of the showing calendar, as Equifest approaches we ask the team for some advice on the importance of presenting your horse well to the judge and how to play to your strengths in order to impress the judges and be pulled in at the top of the line

Held at the East of England Showground, Peterborough, August 12 to 16, Equifest is the event not to be missed and promises to be an action packed five days.

Ringcraft is the art of presenting and showing off your horse in the ring to allow the best possible chance of impressing the judge.

Showing is about making an instant impact and creating the best picture possible. As well as emphasising all the horse’s good points it is important to try and improve or hide the horse’s bad points.

The outcome of the class depends entirely on the judge’s opinion which is based on a sound knowledge of the requirements for each showing class.

Different judges place differing emphasis on criteria such as breed, manners, correctness of conformation and way of going.

A horse with good, well-balanced conformation will not only please the eye but should also be able to perform well, be more comfortable to ride and, consequently, remain sound.

Quality, class and overall refinement are essentials a good show horse must have, whether it is a hunter or a cob.

It is important to know who will be judging and what they might like. Your horse’s success depends on your ability to place him under judges who will appreciate his qualities.

Riding In the Ring

It is crucial that you present your horse at his best whenever the judge is looking at you. As you enter the ring, try and place yourself between inferior horses so that your horse looks better

When you are in the ring make sure you concentrate on what you are doing and keep an eye on the judge to know when they are looking.

The steward will then ask the class to move forward into trot. The trot needs to be wells paced with an even flowing rhythm covering the ground well. It is important that as you move up a pace that you keep plenty of space around you so the judge can see you at all times.

When moving into canter you might find it easier to use a corner to help get on the correct lead, and should be smooth, flowing and balanced with the horse showing self-carriage.

The steward will then ask the class to change the rein and perform the same on the other rein. The steward will usually tell you to change the rein at the next corner and go across on a diagonal. Judges can often use this to look at how straight your horse moves along the line.

The gallop is used to show that your horse can extend and lower his strides without rushing. The rider should prepare his horse for the gallop, accelerating smoothly out of the corner.

After the initial ‘go round’ the judge will be looking how to position everyone in the first line up, so don’t get boxed in make sure you are seen.

Depending on the class after this preliminary line up you will be expected to perform an individual show or the judge will ride your horse.

What to keep in your show ring basket?

After the first ‘pull in’ all saddles are removed from the horses, before they are shown off without their tack.

The grooms enter the ring to assist the riders any last minute touch ups are made before the horse is stood up in hand.

We would recommend your show ring basket should contain the following essential items:

One body brush.

A cloth to wipe away any dirt.

Coat shine spray.

Hoof gloss, oil to give the hooves a really tidy appearance.


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