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How do I stand out at IHSA shows?

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  • How do I stand out at IHSA shows?

    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?

  • #2
    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.
    There's coffee in that nebula.

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    • #3
      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.

      Comment


      • #4
        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.

        Comment


        • #5
          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.
          *Wendy* 4.17.73 - 12.20.05

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          • Original Poster

            #6
            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!

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Rockfish View Post
              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?

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by ohandthesmokes View Post
                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.
                "smile a lot can let us ride happy,it is good thing"

                My CANTER blog.

                Comment


                • #9
                  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/...43029495elpZsH
                  http://home-and-garden.webshots.com/...43029495uAIJjR

                  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!
                  Southern Cross Guest Ranch
                  An All Inclusive Guest Ranch Vacation - Georgia

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    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.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      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.

                      Inner Bay Equestrian
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                      KERx

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                      • #12
                        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!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          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!

                          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!
                          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.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by viverideama View Post
                            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.
                            "Radar, the man's ex-cavalry: if he sees four flies having a meeting, he knows they're talking about a horse!" Cptn. BJ Hunnicutt, M*A*S*H Season 4, Episode "Dear Mildred"

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              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/23...600x600Q85.jpg
                              On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog

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                              • #16
                                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...
                                Last edited by doublesstable; Nov. 15, 2011, 07:42 PM. Reason: To fit the IHSA
                                Live in the sunshine.
                                Swim in the sea.
                                Drink the wild air.

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                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by doublesstable View Post
                                  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.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    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..._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.
                                    http://www.youtube.com/user/supershorty628
                                    Proudly blogging for The Chronicle of the Horse!

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      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.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        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.

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