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Perfect10
Nov. 15, 2011, 03:05 PM
My IHSA coach says that because I'm short, I have trouble getting noticed in the w/t/c. I won my first show of the season, but the judge had judged me before, being from my area. The second show I thought I rode really well and ended up 6th. At my show this past weekend, I was third. My coach says I ride as well if not better than anyone in there, I just need something to get me noticed. Any ideas?

Rockfish
Nov. 15, 2011, 03:09 PM
I don't think it's how you are built, as how you work the ring. Use your quarter lines heavily, circle when needed so that the judge can see your number and line yourself up smack in the center of their field of vision. Get yourself noticed.

Frivian
Nov. 15, 2011, 03:17 PM
Honestly, sometimes you will never know what the IHSA judges are looking for. I really doubt the judge who placed you 6th did so because you are short. Just focus on your equitation and it will pay off. I did IHSA for 3.5 years- I started at W-T-C, and made it to Intermediate by my final year. Sometimes I won and sometimes I didn't place. It depends on a lot of things, and as unfair as it seems, it can really depend on what horse you draw. Just work hard and you'll be fine! Also, make sure to set yourself apart from the other riders in the ring, just like Rockfish said.

ohandthesmokes
Nov. 15, 2011, 03:19 PM
It's ALL about working the ring. I've noticed in my classes and others classes that when you keep on your own, you work to stay alone, and you keep coming into the judges vision, you really set yourself apart. A lot of people tend to clump, and if you're that one kiddo by yourself, it's a big difference. I'm in w/t/c, and the other two girls showing are about 5'2", 5'3" and they do fabulous if they're staying alone and working the ring... plus you're lucky, you fit on everything! I'm 5'9" and keeping my equitation beautiful on a tiny little "hony" (a large pony really) isn't easy.

STAY APART FROM THE GROUP is what will help you win. I swear it. My coach preaches it and it really does work.

shiningwizard255
Nov. 15, 2011, 03:23 PM
Agree with Frivian...I don't understand why your coach told you it is because you are short. IHSA is a different breed of show because you don't know the horse. It wasn't extraordinary for people on my team to come in first at one show, and fifth at another.

Perfect10
Nov. 15, 2011, 03:24 PM
My coach says I'm working the ring fine, I'm doing my best to stay apart from the crowd and I use the quarter line. I'll keep watching my spacing though!

viverideama
Nov. 15, 2011, 03:25 PM
I don't think it's how you are built, as how you work the ring. Use your quarter lines heavily, circle when needed so that the judge can see your number and line yourself up smack in the center of their field of vision. Get yourself noticed.

This is good advice.

OP, I'm very short as well (5'2"), and have similar problems in IHSA shows. Because IHSA classes are pretty straightforward (I ride in Intermediate, and we rarely do more than walk/trot/canter/sitting trot), it can be hard to really show it off.

All of the things Rockfish talked about help - my coach refers to it as "not getting lost in the ring". Also remember to establish a forward pace. Especially at the trot and canter, I extend a bit down the quarter line to draw some attention to myself. Carrying your hands, lifting your chin, and making sure your shoulders/upper body stay open are other small things that can give you an extra 'edge'. This might not be as relevant in WTC, but if you can manage it, getting your horse in a nice frame would be one other way to really stand out from the other riders in that class (at least in my region, there are very few WTC riders who think about framing their horses in the show ring). Good luck, and have fun - IHSA is a blast once you get used to it! What region/zone do you compete in?

caffeinated
Nov. 15, 2011, 03:26 PM
STAY APART FROM THE GROUP is what will help you win. I swear it. My coach preaches it and it really does work.

Yup :)

Also, it sounds totally cheesy but remember that part of this is mental too. If you go into the ring confident that you will do well, and put that confident look on your face, that will also help. Not saying to ride around smiling your face off, but if you look like you are confident and enjoying yourself, it's amazing how much that gets noticed. Sometimes just putting a game face on can even help control nerves, and it will reflect in your posture and ride, not just on your face. :) I sucked at jumping, but sure won a lot of flat classes, and that was probably the biggest thing I paid attention to, besides always having my own space. :)

And when you walk in the ring, make sure you are really working the walk. Don't amble around until they say you're being judged - ask for a nice forward walk, get a good feel for the horse and how responsive he is, before all the rest of the people are even in the ring. :) The judge may not be looking at that time, but it prepares you better for the rest of the class.

OveroHunter
Nov. 15, 2011, 03:27 PM
I don't really get the short thing either... In fact, I always considered being tall a disadvantage because it can make your mistakes, like your leg slipping back, look worse and you can look awkward on smaller horses:
http://home-and-garden.webshots.com/photo/1092445007043029495elpZsH
http://home-and-garden.webshots.com/photo/1152091272043029495uAIJjR

These were all taken during my IHSA days.

ETA: These were my IEA days, not IHSA... I get them confused! IHSA should not have HS in it, it makes me think high school!

Rel6
Nov. 15, 2011, 03:35 PM
I actually agree that your height can impede you. My trainer tells me the same thing. I'm 5'1'' and in open flat. Most of the open horses are big warmbloods and most of the other open riders are tall girls who fit on them. BUT most of the open riders in my region are over 5'6'', where is in w/t/c it would be much less of an issue.

A 5'1'' rider who rides as well as a 5'8'' rider is just not going to look as polished on a 17.1h horse. Not to mention its more difficult for a shorter rider to wrap their legs around a wide barrel and keep them in place. You have to ride better than people who are taller to do as well. The best ribbons I've gotten in open flat classes have been on a narrow or smaller mount, which is not something you can control.

Definitely working the ring can help. Quarter lines are your friends.

M. O'Connor
Nov. 15, 2011, 03:40 PM
It's much more difficult to accurately judge a flat class than many realize. Try it sometime, and you will quickly see that your eyes can only be in one place at a time.

For this reason, placing well in flat classes requires a fair demonstration of showmanship in addition to good riding. If the judge only gets a glimpse of you here and there it makes an evaluation hard to manage.

It is impossible for a judge to 'see' riders on the near side of the ring, so definitely use the quarter line on the judge's side, and on the far side, keep clear of the crowd; sometimes that means staying in, sometimes staying out. Always ride thoughtfully and with consideration for your fellow competitors; more often than not, this would mean keeping circling to a minimum.

Line up intelligently, PLEASE (I can get cranky about this). That means with your back to the judge, yes, but it also means in a line, side by side, shoulder-to-shoulder, not haphazardly in the general vicinity of the judge. I will move a rider down who lines up behind or in front of another horse--this is a matter of common sense and safety.

brooksbaby
Nov. 15, 2011, 03:42 PM
Not specifically saying that you placed 6th because you are short, but I would not put it past an IHSA judge. We have had some very kooky judges in my region and one specifically told one of our riders that her legs were too short and she should pick another sport (meanwhile this girl is a great rider, has shown in wellington, etc.). Obviously most judges would not do this, but nothing surprises me at this point!

netg
Nov. 15, 2011, 03:58 PM
I agree about the mental aspects. Every time I went into the ring thinking "It's been a while, I need to win today!" I did. EVERY time.

It's not that I'm that great, but when you go in with an attitude that you're the best, the judge figures you're tipping him/her off on your skill, so they'll notice it if you have any at all. We always used to think of the snobbiest people we knew, and think of imitating them. Of course, this is only good if your tendency is to err in the less confident looking direction, or you will apear obnoxious!

Watch how the judge places other classes, and how the judge positions him/herself. Sometimes spacing yourself out can be detrimental, if the judge tends to turn to follow the pack. If the judge looks in one place only, though, definitely space yourself out, and get the best gaits you can from your horse/have your best position at that point in time. Make your corrections prior to passing within the judge's field of view if you have to go through a mental position checklist for yourself.

Practice adjusting stirrups to the correct length instantly. More people in IHSA with decent draws lose out on good placings due to riding with their stirrups the wrong length because they're not used to having to adjust them properly on the first try.

Watch the horse you draw. If you're not the first person on it, the judge will have an idea of how that horse goes, and you should, too. If the horse tends to be a little too lazy, pep it up a little if you can, use quarterlines and give as much illusion of forward as you can. If the horse has been too fast, go deeper into corners and stick closer to the rail to give the appearance of being able to look so beautiful while controlling the horse's tempo better than other riders did.

I still remember the show where there was an 18hh draft cross dressage horse who was normally ridden in a double bridle. He was dragging riders out of the saddle and falling on his forehand big time, so when two of my teammates and I drew him in consecutive classes we discussed how we would have to sit deeper, sit up straighter, and use a TON of leg to keep him from the forehand. We all won our classes - because that judge appreciated the vast difference. Of course, we were all VERY sore the next day! :lol:

There is definitely an element of luck, but if you get the chance you can tell things like if judges prefer more forward rides, higher or lower hands, more active rides or more just sitting pretty, etc., and as you go you'll learn to adapt. Good luck and have fun!

JBCool
Nov. 15, 2011, 04:38 PM
This is good advice.

OP, I'm very short as well (5'2"), and have similar problems in IHSA shows. Because IHSA classes are pretty straightforward (I ride in Intermediate, and we rarely do more than walk/trot/canter/sitting trot), it can be hard to really show it off.

All of the things Rockfish talked about help - my coach refers to it as "not getting lost in the ring". Also remember to establish a forward pace. Especially at the trot and canter, I extend a bit down the quarter line to draw some attention to myself. Carrying your hands, lifting your chin, and making sure your shoulders/upper body stay open are other small things that can give you an extra 'edge'. This might not be as relevant in WTC, but if you can manage it, getting your horse in a nice frame would be one other way to really stand out from the other riders in that class (at least in my region, there are very few WTC riders who think about framing their horses in the show ring). Good luck, and have fun - IHSA is a blast once you get used to it! What region/zone do you compete in?

this. Show off a little and make sure your pace is good. Lots of WTC riders crawl around the ring without realizing it. Don't run away, but I used to always make sure I passed a few. (Yes, I'm 5'2" and did WTC and Nov Flat). You can always work on your showmanship and eq; height you're stuck with.

Perfect Pony
Nov. 15, 2011, 05:48 PM
Well, I don't know if it counts, but I rode Novice-Open more than 20 years ago. I typically went into my classes with the attitude that I would win, and I usually did back then. I don't know that I was a prettier rider than anyone else, but I RODE the horse that I drew. I think you need to go in there and RIDE the horse. I worked on making whatever horse I was on look as good as he/she could while still working on my equitation.

I got almost no pictures from those days, but the one picture I did get I cherish. We were showing in this scary indoor ring and there was this one crazy horse that was WILD. Of course I drew that damn horse, but I rode the hell out of him. I won the class. My friend caught a precious moment that kinda says it all

http://inlinethumb30.webshots.com/23965/2605706420104500765S600x600Q85.jpg

doublesstable
Nov. 15, 2011, 05:57 PM
Well without pictures of you this is only a guess of what to do to get noticed.

1) Every day work on your lower leg. A lot of two point allowing the weight to fall through your heels. Don't pinch with your knees. IMHO a good base is what gets my eye when riders enter the ring. That says to me; this rider has balance. I heard a saying from a judge; I watch the riders foot in the stirrup. It should never move out of place....

2) Work on your hands. Make sure they are quiet.


3) Have someone video tape your lessons, your workouts and your shows. So you can see with your own eyes what you think you need to work on.

4) Groom you! Is your hair neat and in a hair net? Your clothes fit? Are your boots polished, breeches clean?


These are a few things to get you noticed IMHO - then comes the riding part. I agree with keeping yourself away from the crowd of horses, but don't like to do too many circles - just look ahead and find the spots you need to be riding in. Make sure you are not circling where the judge misses some of your ride. Do not run over the judge if they are in the arena... steer clear of that... And dont cut arena corners...

joiedevie99
Nov. 15, 2011, 06:13 PM
Well without pictures of you this is only a guess of what to do to get noticed.

1) Every day work on your lower leg. A lot of two point allowing the weight to fall through your heels. Don't pinch with your knees. IMHO a good base is what gets my eye when riders enter the ring. That says to me; this rider has balance. I heard a saying from a judge; I watch the riders foot in the stirrup. It should never move out of place....

2) Check your saddle fit. Does it fit you and put you in the proper balance?

3) Do you and your horse fit eachother. You may be a smaller rider but that's not an issue if you and your horse are a good balanced match.

4) Work on your hands. Make sure they are quiet.

5) Have someone video tape your lessons, your workouts and your shows. So you can see with your own eyes what you think you need to work on.

6) Groom the heck out of your horse. Mane pulled, if not braided, tail clean and brushed, nose, ears and bridle path clipped, hoofs oiled. Nothing looks better walking into the show ring than a horse that looks tidy, clean and neat. If they need to be body shaved then do it.

7) Groom you! Is your hair neat and in a hair net? Your clothes fit? Are your boots polished, breeches clean?

8) Your tack clean? Do you have a fitted "white" clean pad?

These are a few things to get you noticed IMHO - then comes the riding part. I agree with keeping yourself away from the crowd of horses, but don't like to do too many circles - just look ahead and find the spots you need to be riding in. Make sure you are not circling where the judge misses some of your ride. Do not run over the judge if they are in the arena... steer clear of that... And dont cut arena corners...

Just to clarify, OP is talking about IHSA shows- so she doesn't get to pick the horse she rides, nor does she groom it, choose its tack, or warm it up. Most horses are somewhere between 13.2h and 17h, and show up in the owner's tack. You just get on and go.

However, the first point is totally solid. Particularly at the advanced w/t/c level, there is a really clear divide between riders that are polished (still hands, tight lower leg, ability to use full seat or light seat at canter, etc.) and those riders that are not yet polished. In a lot of ways, it amounts to time in the saddle developing a solid leg.

supershorty628
Nov. 15, 2011, 06:36 PM
I don't think it has anything to do with being short. Like Rel6, I am tiny (I'm 5'1'' on a tall day), but I won a LOT of IHSA flats, showing in Open. You will, on the other hand, have a harder time in that most of the saddles you sit in will be too big for you.

Many people have said it, but I'll just reiterate: go in thinking you're the winner! Look the part! If you walk into that ring feeling confident and proud of yourself, it will show in your self-carriage.

Show yourself off, especially your best points. When I did IHSA, my 2 strongest points were sitting the trot and riding without stirrups. While obviously you can't ditch your stirrups and go gallivanting around, you can make sure that you get seen when you are asked to do whatever you excel at. My region went through several shows where we were regularly tested on the flat with no stirrups, and I LOVED it. I made sure that I was by myself and got seen a lot.

Much of IHSA is getting seen. Sometimes, you're not going to score well and you won't know why, but I would say that's fairly infrequent.

Just for fun, here's a picture of one giant I drew and won on (I had a talent for drawing the biggest horse at the show). He was just about 18 hands!
https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash2/27039_1242235540170_1357770419_31212106_3389432_n. jpg

Also, not that this [should] affect your placings, but I always make sure to pat my mount in the line up, and I thank his/her handler or owner when I get out of the ring. And never, EVER say something negative about your draw, even if it might be true. It's just inappropriate.

HJPony
Nov. 15, 2011, 07:39 PM
I'm in your same perdicament. I am a freshman in college and am in novice currently. I'm only 5'1 and didn't place in my first flat class of the season. Many judges will only look at the taller riders in my region as well, it seems like at least. Honestly, work on your leg and upper body. The captain of my team is probably only 5'1 and can generally look good on any horse. I feel it's important to be able to ride with a longer stirrup one weekend but be able to fit the classic hony another. As well, it is most important to stay by yourself. A good mount will make all the difference sadly, as well. By being adjustable and by staying by yourself..you'll be golden.

busylady
Nov. 15, 2011, 08:28 PM
OP, this statement "My IHSA coach says that because I'm short, I have trouble getting noticed in the w/t/c" concerned me. I hope your coach had more productive things to tell you, like you ride with too long a rein or crooked or your lower leg moves more than the other riders. Perhaps your coach is great and you just didn't provide that additional information in your original post. If "you are shorter than everyone else" is the best your coach has, well....

I showed IHSA and won the open eq on the flat at my zone finals. I love eq on the flat and I think it probably shows when I enter the ring. I enter confidently and I use the ring to my advantage (meaning I make sure the judge sees me). Though there are always instances of poor judging, in general I think to get noticed and to get a good ribbon you have to stand out because of the quality of your legs, seat and hands. I was recently second place in eq on the flat at an A show to a woman that was considerably over weight. I went in the class expecting to win (egotistical, maybe) and was shocked that the overweight woman beat me. Shocked until I saw her ride in another class. WOW, was she good. So there you have it, size and shape doesn't always matter.

Perfect10
Nov. 15, 2011, 08:39 PM
Thanks everyone for your responses.

I'm 5'2", but I have almost no leg. I also have a talent for drawing 17+hh horses. Last weekend I drew a 17.2hh guy. My coach says I'm using the ring well- I ride on the quarter-lines and generally do my best to be seen- and I am trying to go in with the attitude that I'm going to win it! He tried to tweak a few things by moving my number up a little and telling me to ride with earrings. He thinks that I just need a little flash to get noticed.

HowDoILook
Nov. 15, 2011, 09:18 PM
One of my best friends sounds just like you. Shes just a hair over 5' tall and in w/t/c. She is one of the tightest riders I have ever seen. There are definitely times when the height makes it harder. But she does a wonderful job including a ribbon in Team w/t/c at Nationals last year. A few things that help her stand out:

1. Be Tight! No Body part should move that isnt supposed to. No bouncy leg at the trot (sitting or rising). Still leg at the canter. No "Jelly Belly"... anything like that

2. She has very short legs (ie. she is allowed to bring her own stirrups to shows so she doesnt have to roll her stirrups multiple times) and wearing a jacket that hits just a little higher on her hip gives the illusion that her leg is longer.
~Also being able to ride with a slightly longer stirrup makes your whole body look longer as well

3. Add a little *sparkle* to your look. A little pair of pearls, a silver bracelet that shows just a bit under your glove, polished boots that you can see yourself in, clothes clean. I also wear my glasses instead of my contacts when I ride (mainly from dust) but I also feel like it pulls it all together and adds a little bit of an intelligence to the whole look.

4. Ride like you own the place! Find a spot and stay away from everyone and get infront of the judge as much as possible

Rel6
Nov. 15, 2011, 09:19 PM
I went in the class expecting to win (egotistical, maybe) and was shocked that the overweight woman beat me. Shocked until I saw her ride in another class. WOW, was she good. So there you have it, size and shape doesn't always matter.

You just invalidated your own statement. If you were shocked an overweight woman beat you, that implies that you think certain body types don't excel as much as the ideal body type.

MHM
Nov. 15, 2011, 09:42 PM
...and telling me to ride with earrings. He thinks that I just need a little flash to get noticed.

This statement is too ridiculous to let pass.

If anyone tells you your success in the show ring can be improved by your jewelry, you need to wonder about that person's qualifications.

You want to look neat, clean, and polished. Beyond that, you should concentrate on your RIDING, not your attire.

I've judged many, many IHSA shows, and I've never been impressed by anybody's jewelry. I'm looking for the best rider, not the best dresser.

Tha Ridge
Nov. 15, 2011, 09:47 PM
Perfect, what are your boots like?

I'm not short by any means (5'7"-ish, super long hip to thigh though) and I noticed that I looked at least 3" taller once I got boot with Spanish tops. Having tall enough boots, or boots that give the illusion of being super tall, can really help elongate your leg.

I showed NCAA, not IHSA, but I definitely do feel like some (not all) judges have body type preferences.

Jaideux
Nov. 15, 2011, 10:09 PM
My IHSA coach pointed out to me that, despite being overweight and lacking in technical equitation perfection, I had an edge in shows because I had a certain air about me. It wasn't a conscious decision, but when he pointed it out, I realized that there is something about my mannerisms that are advantageous. My trainer described it as if he saw me saying (with my body language), "Oh, hi. I'm here to lay down some business- I suggest you watch." And it was there in lessons, too. Without staring AT the fences, I sometimes felt like I was staring them down. While flatting, I ride the crap outta my corners and quarterlines as appropriate.

It's funny because I'm NOT a winner unless I have a great day when everyone else is going off course :P

But I do have a very workmanlike attitude/thought process and I suppose that (plus my theater training to fake it til I make it) is what translates into "watch me". I am purposeful, a little intense, and trying to hide the fear :)

*JumpIt*
Nov. 15, 2011, 10:37 PM
Another suggestion is to ride w/ a slightly longer stirrup than you use normally, as long as it isn't dressage length and you can still have an effective leg it helps make you look taller. I am 5'1 wtc rider (well just pointed into novice whoo!) who is almost always the smallest person in my classes and it is all about about being long and tall, you have an advantage because there is less of you to control.


Me on a normal sized horse - https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash2/150874_468909431242_510596242_5812372_4145268_n.jp g

myalterhalf
Nov. 15, 2011, 10:37 PM
along with all of the other suggestions my coach always says that as soon as you walk in the ring (preferably being the first in) you should command the judges attention. Walking straight in with pace and confidence is going to catch the judges eye. Once you've gotten on their good side they are going to watch you like a hawk, which as long as you don't make any mistakes, is going to keep you in the top ribbons. It works for me every time.

I WORK the ring.. quarter lines, across the middle, staying away from everyone. One of the biggest flaws I see alot is people simply getting sucked to the rail and never getting seen. Oh and pace! make sure you aren't dawdling around the ring, that drives me crazy! if you can sit the working trot, sit the working trot!!

As for the height, as much as it sucks it might be affecting you. While its not necessarily correct or saying short people dont ride as well, your eye (or atleast mine) is just drawn to the tall and lean riders because it just creates an overall more pleasant picture. You just have to do YOUR part in making sure that your legs are long and tight and your upper body is as tall as it can be. There's a shortish girl on our team and on her good days she looks 5 inches taller and wins every class, on a bad day she just gets sort of scrunched up and blends in and doesnt do as well.

I guess the moral of the story is that to do well you have to make it what you want it to be. Everything you do should say "im your winner", just short of stopping by the judges stand and literally saying so... Even if you get the worst draw, you can still ride that draw better than anyone else has and get major brownie points. You have to play the game!! :D

Montanas_Girl
Nov. 15, 2011, 10:48 PM
I'm 5'1" on a good day and rode Novice and Intermediate in my college days. I also had the problem of getting lost in some classes, especially if they were large. Some things that helped me:

1) Learning to ride with a slightly longer stirrup than I started with.

2) Little things with your attire DO affect your look - make sure your jacket fits and, as another poster said, it helps if you can get a jacket that is just a tiny bit shorter than average. Spanish top boots also help. For me, having an "off color" coat made me more visible - I never once got a ribbon wearing a navy or black coat, but I did well in my chocolate brown and my lighter gray coat.

3) Use your ring. As other have said, it really does make a difference.

Examples:
Sophomore year - jacket too big/too long, average length stirrup (but thankfully on a pony!) (http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=504917235178&l=18cab25c4a)
Same semester - better fitting jacket, slightly longer stirrup = much better "equitation rider" look! (http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=504917240168&l=18084e75cf)

I had a HUGE problem getting lost in my Western classes. I think I earned 15 or so points in 3.5 years in Intermediate II (would be Advanced W/T/C at hunter shows) wearing solid black. My last semester, we needed an Advanced rider to fill the team (equivalent to Intermediate at hunter shows), so my coach bumped me up. I borrowed a friend's light colored shirt and white hat - and WON my first class and was second the next day, against people who had competed at Congress, etc.! Sometimes the clothes really do make a difference in helping you catch the judge's eye, as long as you keep things neat, conservative, and appropriate.

sprinterz
Nov. 15, 2011, 11:03 PM
There have been some great suggestions here so far. You need to enter the ring with the mindset that you are going to win, and continue to ride like that until the class is placed. Find a spot by yourself where the judge can see you, and be aware of the other horses in the ring.

I used to stand up in two point and walk around right before entering the ring, so that my leg would be as long as possible.

LulaBell
Nov. 15, 2011, 11:10 PM
As much as I agree with everyone about standing out and showing yourself off, be sure that you're showing off your STRENGTHS. Part of the ability to work the ring is blending in a bit with the crowd during your weaker moments. Don't have a hot sitting trot? Don't strut down the quarter line all by your lonesome self, bouncing to and fro. DO roll down the quarter line in front of the judge in a beautiful forward canter if that's where you shine.

I'm sure it goes without saying, but don't be super obvious about these things. Don't make small circles to get away from other horses, cut across the ring and grab the open spot. You will definitely find more clustered riders at W/T/C as opposed to Open, Int, or even Novice.

In terms of framing up a horse, or attempting to, be careful. I can't tell you how many times I saw people get in the ring and see-saw to kingdom come, going around with a super-inverted unhappy horse. Your best bet on these school horses that may or may not be well-schooled is to simply keep a steady and soft hand, using leg to ride the horse up. If you've got one that goes nicely on the bit, great, but if you don't, it won't piss the horse off. Although a good horse will make a rider look better, you aren't going to be able to fix your draw, and trying to will be really distracting from your ride.

I rode 4 years of IHSA, from Adv W/T/C to Intermediate Flat and Novice Fences. I won my fair share of flat classes, even though I'm not the ideal body for a rider (plenty tall enough, but on the heavier side - and long torso with short legs). Attitude works wonders as well! Have fun with IHSA, it really is what you make of it.

Perfect10
Nov. 15, 2011, 11:13 PM
My coach is fantastic, don't get me wrong. He's taught me a lot in the years I've ridden with him. We've worked on all sorts of little details and I've learned to ride with a longer stirrup to make my leg look a little longer. This is just him wondering why I haven't been doing as well as he thinks I should have been doing. I have noticed that the good riding, taller girls in my division usually end up placing pretty high, and I can only assume that that is simply because being taller creates a prettier picture on a horse. I have 2 teammates who are just like that and usually clean up. I have spanish cut boots and my show coat is as short as they make them! My coach and I actually discussed the length of my coat and decided that it really was a good length. I just wondered if anyone had any little tips, obviously the way to win is to be the best one out there!

Dewey
Nov. 16, 2011, 06:15 AM
It is silly to pretend that height and weight don't matter because they do. People who are short or overweight have to work harder to overcome these disadvantages, and if the riding is equal, the tall, elegant rider will probably win. However, if you don't have the ideal "look," you can maximize your advantages as it sounds as if you are doing with your boots, coat, etc. But the best thing you can do is make yourself into the most tight, effective rider you can be.

My daughter is 4'11", and when she is really on her game, she can win an eq class. Once she gave up her stirrups for about a month, and her riding (position, effectiveness, everything) improved noticeably, as did her eq placings.

ponymom64
Nov. 16, 2011, 09:16 AM
My DD is 5'1" and has consistantly placed in the top 3 in her IHSA flat classes and has always drawn one of the tallest horses available at every show.

I think you're better off looking for ways to improve your riding than blaming your poor placements on your lack of height.

Concentrate on sitting tall and stretching your leg down - make sure your leg is properly underneath you. I know that the saddles are a problem for the smaller riders but if you focus on holding a correct position regardless of the saddle, that will help as well.

Also, your ability to ride a great, forward sitting trot will help you immensely. One of our girls won the class this past weekend because she rode a nice, bright sitting trot. The rest of the riders were crawling along, so this particular rider really stood out. She was a teeny girl on a 17 hand horse, BTW.

It takes a few shows to get into the whole groove of IHSA, so work on your riding and I'm sure the prizes will come.

GingerJumper
Nov. 16, 2011, 09:30 AM
Best way to stand out at ANY show? Be the best one out there. ;)

In all seriousness, though, I'd do an eq bootcamp. I'd ask to be picked apart not only by your primary trainer, but by any trainers they recommended and that I had access to. Even if you ride well, there are ALWAYS things you can do to improve. For instance, I'm taking my stirrups off for a year (with a few exceptions) and working with a few different eq trainers. I don't ride badly to begin with, I just want to look the BEST I possible can on any size, shape, or sort of horse I happen to be sitting on. Switch riding obviously isn't the same in the big eq (which is what I'm prepping for) as it is in IHSA shows, where you ride a different horse pretty much every time, but I still switch frequently just to become stronger.

ETA: I know where you're coming from, I'm rather short myself--5'2 on a tall day. However, I have legs that go on for miles so I think I got lucky there.

Trixie
Nov. 16, 2011, 10:20 AM
OP, this statement "My IHSA coach says that because I'm short, I have trouble getting noticed in the w/t/c" concerned me. I hope your coach had more productive things to tell you, like you ride with too long a rein or crooked or your lower leg moves more than the other riders. Perhaps your coach is great and you just didn't provide that additional information in your original post. If "you are shorter than everyone else" is the best your coach has, well....

This. And earrings? Unless things have seriously changed since I did equitation, earrings have nothing to do with anything.


In all seriousness, though, I'd do an eq bootcamp. I'd ask to be picked apart not only by your primary trainer, but by any trainers they recommended and that I had access to.

I agree with this. Go do some clinics or something.

Go Fish
Nov. 16, 2011, 12:58 PM
Equitation is not just about what you look like on the back of a horse. You are also being judged on how well you handle the horse underneath you. This is particularly difficult to manage if you are riding an unfamiliar horse. This is part of the test. Your actual skills are being evaluated, not just whether you have your heels down, your eyes up and all the other exacting details that go into an equitation round.

doublesstable
Nov. 16, 2011, 01:04 PM
It is silly to pretend that height and weight don't matter because they do. People who are short or overweight have to work harder to overcome these disadvantages, and if the riding is equal, the tall, elegant rider will probably win. However, if you don't have the ideal "look," you can maximize your advantages as it sounds as if you are doing with your boots, coat, etc. But the best thing you can do is make yourself into the most tight, effective rider you can be.

My daughter is 4'11", and when she is really on her game, she can win an eq class. Once she gave up her stirrups for about a month, and her riding (position, effectiveness, everything) improved noticeably, as did her eq placings.


I have to agree with how you said this... and not only being a more solid rider - think about the horse. Have the horse in frame; moving from behind into your hand. You will definitely get bonus points if you can pull your mount together. Shows you know how to ride any horse which is what this programs sounds like it's all about - not just sitting pretty on some horse you drew out of a hat....

doublesstable
Nov. 16, 2011, 01:08 PM
I agree with this. Go do some clinics or something.

Sometimes in our riding, we ask ourselves questions. How do we answer?

So the OP is asking how to get noticed - maybe the answer is clinics etc to work on your feel and advance your skills not just say you are too short. :)

Ben and Me
Nov. 16, 2011, 01:08 PM
In 99% of our IHSA flat classes, we basically did a hunter U/S class, with MAYBE a sitting trot thrown in. Literally walk-posting trot-walk-canter-walk-reverse. This was even in the open flat classes.

When you've got 12 young women in a class, all wearing white shirts and navy jackets, especially at the open level, and you aren't asking any tough questions, it IS the little things that are going to set you apart.

I think one of the hardest things to accomplish is looking relaxed up there. The stiff, but perfect, rider tended not to place as well as the rider with slightly rounded shoulders who looked like she was born on a horse.

And yes, we definitely saw judges that preferred the "Tall skinnies" over the shorter riders, even when they weren't as correct. No, it's not fair, but a long, thin leg does look prettier -- and when you're not being judged on anything tougher than the ability to pick up the correct lead and diagonal, that long thin leg can improve your overall aesthetic and make you stand out. OP, all you can really do is to make yourself stand out in another way (as others have suggested).

Addison
Nov. 16, 2011, 05:01 PM
The best way to get noticed is to ride well. In fact, ride better than anyone else in the class.

ACP
Nov. 16, 2011, 05:53 PM
The 'never say anything negative about your draw' is important. Over the years that I boarded at a barn where there was an IHSA team, I had a number of horses that were either Arabian or Arabian cross. They were all experienced working hunters who had auto lead changes, except for one older guy who no longer jumped, but always was an ace in any flat class, even one with a pattern. I also would volunteer at every show, and often heard more than one rider whine. "Oh, hell, I got one of the Arabians," and then have the riders who knew my horses offer to swap, or tell the person how good the horses were.

I kept on loaning my horses, but I was always a big smug when the riders started to wish they drew one of my 'stupid' Arabians.

Now to your "How do I stand out?" question. I've judged a lot, and I would not be prejudiced against a short rider because she was short. A taller rider does make a bit more of a pretty picture. That's why you have to look nice, as advised. Not just clean and neat, but well turned out, and for goodness sake, adjust your tack if you need to. You'd be amazed at how many saddles had one stirrup leather two inches longer than the other. This makes you look careless if you don't fix it.

Make sure you wait and come up on the correct diagonal, nail your leads, sit the trot like its a featherbed. If the horse has a trot like a piledriver, slow it down some, and keep a pleasant look on your face. A grimace of concern or a white fingered death grip on the reins of not part of a correct, pretty picture. I'm not saying you smile all the time like a beauty pageant contestant, but try to look as if you are having fun.

Gloves make you look more finished. You show up more if you have a hunt shirt that isn't just like the other dozen in the ring, but also isn't too loud. You look taller if you sit up and keep your chest open and ride as if you own the ring.

It also helps if you are precise in what you do.