FROM CENTER RING | Lining Up for Inspection
When you think of presenting your horse to the judge there are many key things to remember. Many exhibitors are so nervous that common sense issues go right out the window.
First and foremost, safety should be at the top of your list. Whenever you participate in equine events you must always be aware of not only your own horse, but those of your fellows exhibitors. While waiting to enter the arena, especially prior to the stallion classes, make sure you leave plenty of room between your self and your horse and those of other exhibitors. Although your horse may be well behaved it doesn't mean everyone else's have the same behaviors. Also during the stress of the show all senses are heightened, especially those of a flight animal, such as a horse. Ensuring you have your horse ready and making sure you allow yourself enough time to be prepared and at the arena well in advance of your class will help keep yourself and your horse calm and collected.
When you are asked to enter the arena, make sure you keep the flow of horses moving. It does not make any difference to the judge whether you are first or the last to enter the arena with your horse. Their job is to judge the horse based on his conformation and movement, not on what order he entered the arena. Once you have entered the arena maintain control of your horse. Walk as directed toward the judge(s), in a straight line. Remember they want to see your horse's conformation, not yours. When you approach the judges you will be asked to trot, again in a straight line, away from them and then to the left, keeping your horse at the trot. You will then line up, as directed, for inspection.
While in line up make sure you leave enough room between yourself and the horse, either in front of you or behind you. The judge must be able to walk the line and move between horses, safely. If you crowd the horse in front of you or the exhibitor behind your horse is too close the judge will not be able to move around as needed to examine the horses. Your ring steward is there to help ensure the safety of everyone. If you feel too crowed ask your ring steward to help space the horses out. This is very important during the youth classes. Once everyone is in place for inspection, try not to spend too much time setting up your horse. Teach him what he needs to know at home. The judges have seconds, not minutes, to judge you and your horse. Make every second count. While the judge works his way through the line allow your horse to rest. If you keep him "on" all the time you will probably burn him out and he won't be with you when you need that final "look". Watch your judges, when they are taking their final look at the horses before yours, give your horse his cue to start paying attention to you. When the judge walks up to your horse he will be looking at you with expression and that"look at me" attitude. When the judge leaves to inspect another horse let your rest again, but so not let down your guard, be prepared to show him again when the judge looks your way. Don't over stretch your horse. Set him up as close to square as possible, unless you are showing pony. Stretching your horse throws off his balance and symmetry. Also do not over stretch his neck. Neck isn't everything if it is not shown well. You want a well set on neck that comes from the shoulder well. The horse should be allowed to use his neck naturally. It should come up and arch gracefully. If you have someone at home that can videotape your training sessions, this is a great tool to help you evaluate your horse and your presentation.
Ultimately, have fun with your horse. You want him to enjoy his job as much as you enjoy presenting him. Keep your sessions short. Let me relax often during the sessions. Practice at home, not at the show. Be prepared and ready at the arena at least one class prior to yours.
Above all else HAVE FUN ......