The Three Secrets to Success in the Lineup July 07 2015 2 Comments

How to line up for a horse show

So you’ve just managed to do all three gaits in both directions without a single hoof out of line, when over the PA you hear “Now riders we ask you bring your horses on in and line up!”  WOOO! Sigh of relief! Class is over and you made it out alive, right? Wait… the class isn’t over? That’s right, it’s not. If you are in any pleasure division, the class isn’t over till the fat lady sings (or until the judges cards are in). Not only do you have to back, but you actually have to stand calmly in the lineup. Pretty daunting, but here are four tips to help you make it through the worst five minutes of any pleasure class: the end!

Loosen up on your curb

While your horse may require an absurd amount of curb rein to wear their head throughout the class, if you maintain the same level of curb for the lineup, you will be asking for trouble. Not only will this pull your horse’s head down between their knees (because forward movement is what allows us to USE our curb effectively and they are hopefully standing still in the lineup), but it will probably get them pretty irritated. So just do yourself and your four legged team mate a solid by just letting that curb rein slip through your fingers a bit while you stand there.

Don’t over park out your horse

We get the whole “down - tap” ritual that your trainer always runs through with you at the end of your lessons, but you should be careful not to let your horse get over parked. Doing so can be hard for them to maintain physically, and also bad for their back. If they square up and take a couple steps outward to park out, that’s good enough. The point of the “down-tap” is so that the horse understands they standing, not waiting for a cue to do something entirely different.

Keep them occupied

Whether it’s telling them how freaking amazing they were, scratching their neck or actually poking them as if to say “hey…. hey you!” do something to keep your horse occupied because the reality is, a lot of horses, while perfectly great at standing, may end up next to a horse that isn’t and may prefer to take their cues from that horse.  Or maybe today just isn’t their day.  Who knows! The point is, just like when you ride, you should be keeping your focus on your horse and getting them to focus on you!

When it comes down to it, there is only so much you can do when the bugs are really bad, the other horses in the lineup are misbehaving/ramming into you, or the speakers start to bug out and play the organ music in choppy, explosive intervals that are terrifying to you AND your horse.  All you can do is keep control of yourself and the things you can directly affect, like above mentioned items!

Have any tips for staying still in the lineup? Share them with us in the comments down below!