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How to do well in an IHSA flat class?

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  • How to do well in an IHSA flat class?

    Last edited by *JumpIt*; Mar. 28, 2014, 03:45 PM.
    “It's about the horse and that's it.” - GM

    !! is the new .

  • #2
    It's fair to say that most judges at IHSA shows just want to see a perfectly positioned rider. Especially at the WTC level, they don't really care too much what the horse looks like. So as long as you're sitting pretty and he isn't going around like an absolute maniac, you're going to do pretty well.

    They definitely prefer pretty over effective.But at the open level, they start to look for it all.


    • #3
      Whatever you do, try not to draw the 28yo morgan mare that comes with the instruction "don't get anywhere near any other horse or she'll attack."

      Brush up on your sitting trot on any horse you can as some of the IHSA horses are really hard to sit.


      • #4
        Make sure your boots are shiny, your clothes are clean and pressed, gloves on, hair tucked in, and have fun

        It's really hit and miss with IHSA. Get your diagonals, try to get your leads (although I once won an intermediate flat class with a horse that apparently couldn't canter on the left lead) and relax. And hope you don't draw the one I drew at my final IHSA show--he was a three year old barely broke Shetland/QH cross. By the time I rode him he had been in 5-6 classes and no one could get him to move. I mean he walked in, halted, and wouldn't move other than to buck straight up in the air. I got him to trot and pick up the canter once I think. Poor guy!

        Oh the memories.


        • #5
          Good Luck and have fun!!!! My started out in that same division. I agree with the others have said. Keep in mind that the judges will know that you are riding an unfamiliar horse. Try not too look nervous and stiff. Make sure you are looking forward and not down at your horse.
          Happy Hour-TB
          Cowboy Casanova - Brandenburg


          • #6
            Practice quickly feeling if stirrups are the correct length for you and if they are even.

            I've seen all the preparation and practice in the world go out the window for riders who get on, let someone else adjust their stirrups, and partway through their ride realize they either have to point their toes to post or are about to launch themselves over the horse's head because their stirrups are too short.

            Read the notes on the sheet, watch other people ride your horse first (checking out the warmup rides can be especially helpful, as those are the people who know the horse), listen to any advice handlers try to give you, etc. But just think about getting on and riding. If your position has been worked on enough, you'll get in there and think about the horse and watching where you're going and should do great. Good luck!
            Originally posted by Silverbridge
            If you get anything on your Facebook feed about who is going to the Olympics in 2012 or guessing the outcome of Bush v Gore please start threads about those, too.


            • #7
              Not to hijack the thread but anytips for the O/F class?

              *Jumpit* What show will you be at?
              Originally posted by JSwan
              Prove it....Otherwise, you're just coming off as a whackjob.
              Founding member of the "Not too Klassy for Boxed Wine" Clique


              • #8
                IHSA flat classes were my favorite thing!!

                one of the most important things to do is WATCH YOUR HORSE GO. watch it school. watch other riders show it. stalk the people who rode it and talk to them about how the horse goes. hopefully you will have ridden many different types of horses in your lessons, and can formulate a plan about how to best ride your draw.

                then get on and equitate like your life depends on it. take the time to set up your transitions so they are smooth and quiet, don't rush into a transition like it's a race, try and make sure your horse is as balanced as possible and get all your leads/diagonals. don't let yourself get bunched in a crowd.

                overall, the judges want to see correct position. sit tall, eyes up, straight back, long leg, heel down, quiet hands, quiet seat. good control and balanced transitions. if you can do that AND make your horse go better than anyone that's been on it that day, bonus points. even if your horse is naughty, if you handle it well and stay secure in your position, you can still pin well.

                one last thing, if the judge is standing on the rail, PLEASE COME OFF THE TRACK WHEN YOU PASS THEM! judges #1 don't like to get run over, and #2 cannot see you if you are right on top of them. ride the quarter line on that side and take the opportunity to show off your lovely equitation!

                HAVE FUN!! IHSA is so much fun, i have really fond memories of showing in college.
                Proud member of the "I'm In My 20's and Hope to Be a Good Rider Someday" clique



                • #9
                  Originally posted by enjoytheride View Post
                  Whatever you do, try not to draw the 28yo morgan mare that comes with the instruction "don't get anywhere near any other horse or she'll attack."

                  Brush up on your sitting trot on any horse you can as some of the IHSA horses are really hard to sit.
                  Or the bitchy tired mare who's been ridden all day and decides that first canter request means "spin on your haunches and run for the gate." (I didn't come off, but it didn't do much for our score.)
                  Author Page
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                  Steampunk Sweethearts


                  • #10
                    One of the things that won me a lot of IHSA flat classes (hahah! That's my claim to fame! heheheee) was really just going in and acting like I was having a good time. Not smiling like a crazy person, but looking confident, relaxed, and like I was enjoying myself.

                    Position helps, of course. But seriously, go in the ring like you know it's all going to be great, keep your eyes up, don't worry so much about the horse is going, and have a good time.

                    I would also recommend getting a good walk. Don't piddle around when you're waiting for the class to get rolling, find out as much as you can about your horse in a short amount of time - is he sensitive to leg, is he somewhat rough, is he forward going - you can figure that out at the walk, and when you go in the ring, a forward, marching, "together" walk will reflect well on you

                    Also, it pays to get good at finding your place in the ring and staying by yourself as much as possible. Be proactive in avoiding traffic jams
                    "smile a lot can let us ride happy,it is good thing"

                    My CANTER blog.


                    • #11
                      Lots of great advise already posted especially about finding the horse ahead of time and watching it go in a class before you or in warm up. You will have to ask your coach where the "horse list" is posted which lists each class and what horses are in which classes. And about your stirrup length. I always said, if other students are helping you adjust the stirrups, the rider is still ultimately responsible for the length so make sure you check them. Stirrup length is very individual and the person helping you may not know you ride better one hole longer or shorter, but YOU do. And I highly recommend being ready for your class an entire divsion before your class. That way, you have a better chance seeing your horse go in a class beforehand (but, check horse list), than missing him because you were getting dressed. And, you won't feel rushed.

                      During your class, try to focus ahead- pick a point on the far wall to focus on, that will help you pay attention to traffic or naughty horse and keep you from looking down. Also, the Adv WTC can be quite competitive and a "hands wide and low" position can put you out of the ribbons. Think about pushing your hands "forward" rather than "down". If you are a rider who is trying to get a frame and has used hands wide and low to do that- try to keep yourself from doing that but, if you feel like the horse will frame with some half halts, or a little wider hand, try to do it discreetly.

                      You are a freshman in her first class- "proving my skills and value to the team" seems like you are putting alot of pressure on your self.

                      Just try to stay by yourself and make sure you have a positive attitude- if you are the 10th person to ride that horse, he may need a good pat before and after the class.

                      Have fun!
                      RIP Triple Take (aka Indiana )


                      • #12
                        All good advice so far! Play close attention to the horse cheat sheet and ask the handler for any tips they may have. Sometimes the draw will happen early enough that you'll know which horse you're riding when watching warm up, but if not you'll want to talk to people in the know. Ask for any particular likes/dislikes - as in hates to pick up left lead, or likes really light aids or she may buck through the transition, etc. If the judge sees a horse blowing the left lead transition all day, but you're able to really set them up and nail the lead...voila! Higher placing.

                        Aim to put together the smoothest ride you can, and equitate the hell out of it! A tip for keeping your eyes up and back flat - it's important in any flat class to look where you're going, but extra important when people are riding unfamiliar horses because you never know what sort of madness could happen just in front of you with an IHSA class.

                        Does your team keep any notes on judges? Since we often had the same pool of judges year after year, we kept a record of what each judge seemed to prefer: stickler for lower leg position, wants to really see you ride forward into contact (or show that you are attempting to), etc.

                        Good luck and have fun! I LOVED IHSA flat classes. Jumping classes made me a nervous wreck though.


                        • #13
                          best advice I have... don't think so much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                          Riding is a "feel" sport, ride the horse you draw to the best of IT'S ability, don't try and make it something it's not (you will just get frustrated), don't worry so much about your position (you will just get tense), and if diagonals are a worry, look at your coach as soon as you start to post trot (a simple thumbs up or down is a great tell tale if you are too novice or nervous to feel them)

                          It's good to be a "thinking" rider, use those skills over fences, walk your lines, your angles, etc and execute your plan with adjustable and productive thought processes. In an under saddle though just ride the horse given to you, the rest will all work out.

                          I always use this philosophy and encouraged the girls on my team to as well. As a former team captain and open rider. I won 5 of my 7 U/S classes last year including winning one on a broken ankle (a 4 day old injury) where it was impossible to put my heel down and was riding in one field boot and one obviously oversized half chap. The judge didn't give a rip that I didn't over flex at the heal or my turnout wasn't up to snuff on the right. I simply rode the horse.


                          • #14
                            Always be on the alert in a crowded IHSA flat class, because seriously some of those people don't know *what* they're doing. I did the open division in college (at the college I went to for a semester that actually had a team) and though that was supposed to be the most advanced level there would be riders who couldn't control their horses in the flat classes. I'm sure this could be even more true at the w/t/c level. It could get scary sometimes, with 30 going in a ring. I remember winning an enormous class where, at the canter, someone's horse started freaking out/bolting and I was just like, okay, I'm coming back to the walk before this gets really ugly. Just keep your wits about you and be aware of what's going on in the ring (in addition to all the other good advice given!)


                            • #15
                              Everyone else has already offered some great advice. My other piece of advice in the flat class (and O/F) is to not worry too much about the horse you draw. If you draw the draft cross that makes you look like a midget, walk in the ring like you hadn't even noticed. If you draw the western pleasure horse that wants to go with her head to her knees, you just sit up there and ride like she's the fanciest eq horse you ever rode. I was always either 1st or 2nd on the flat and just went out and rode confidently on every mount. I went right back to basics, like someone else said: smooth, even transitions, soft and consistent each way.

                              O/F, don't try to be a super star. You're riding an unfamiliar horse: go out and find 8 decent distances. Not perfect, decent. If the perfect one rolls up, great. If not, work on being able to add up or jump from the gap (not flying on the winger!!!!!) comfortably and effectively on many different horses. I once won an O/F class on a horse that was a retired jumper and went at the speed of freaking light, but I stayed soft and balanced and even though we were quick, we were consistent. I jumped her in off a slight gap to each line and then I could have her back up to jump out. I also discovered that if I rode one that didn't have a change, the judges much preferred to see me do a well-thought out and executed simple change with a trot step.


                              • #16
                                Just in general in IHSA, watch the horse go with different riders. Is he quick? Does he get annoyed if people sit on him? Does he require a lot of leg? One lead easier than the other? Difficult or easy to stop? etc,etc. Each rider brings out a different side of the horse so try to figure out what works for the horse and try to do that.

                                For the flat, pose pretty. Heel deep, eyes up, back straight, hands quiet. I would always try to get the horse in a frame but that's because I hate trying to sit a trot with the horse's nose in the air. At the wtc level though, I wouldn't worry about the frame part.

                                For over fences, try not to get in the horse's way. Figure out how to "mask" what's going on and just go with the flow. Don't pick at the horse. Just try to find a rhythm and stick with it. That will help you find your distances too.

                                And...it always feels worse than it looks so video is good if you can get it.

                                Stay on and have fun!


                                • #17
                                  It's been a long time since my ISHA days, but my best advice is look at any information the host school gives about horses. There should be a board that says if each horse needs a crop or if yuo should never carry one on a certain horse. If it says carry a crop, carry one, and if it's not necessary leave it on your van so it won't get lost. The host school should also be warning about horses that kick, and these should have red ribbons as well!

                                  Watch the horses being schooled so you get some idea of how its gaits are. Remember that the rides may be green and so may some of the horses, though schools do try to put horses in appropriate classes.

                                  During your class, be aware of all that is going on around you! One school we showed at often used their horses for polocrosse which had given them some bad habits, like kicking when crowded. Depending on the venue, some rings are ALWAYS crowded!


                                  • #18
                                    Practice dropping and picking up your irons. Be able to get your diagonals without looking. Keep your eyes up and sit up really tall. Put some Sporty Haaft spray (sticky stuff) on the inside of your boots. Kick your heel out of the bottom of your boots so it looks like you are really pushing them way down. If you can put your horse in a frame, that is money. If the horse clearly hasn't done that before and is fighting, then don't worry about it. Keep a decent contact and don't loop your reins.

                                    You have a few minutes when you first get on where you are allowed to walk in circles before the class starts. Make sure your irons are even and use these precious moments to figure out what your horse knows - does he bend, take contact, frame up, halt, back, etc. Try to watch your horse go earlier in the day. Check your girth (seems stupid, but you never know if the last person on that horse loosened it).

                                    Nationals were a blast - they were in Los Angeles the year that I qualified. It was soooooooo much fun. At nationals, most of the trot work was sitting.

                                    During regionals I actually had to counter canter as part of a ride off tie breaker.


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Meadow36 View Post
                                      Put some Sporty Haaft spray (sticky stuff) on the inside of your boots.
                                      I've been out of it for a couple years, but they wouldn't let us use tacky stuff for boots. Did they change the rules?


                                      • #20
                                        Sticky spray (or roll on) not allowed in IHSA.