In my saddle-seat lessons, we have been working on show ring strategy. This is not a skill about which I have had to obsess in the past:

In Eventing, the flat work (the dressage test) is a necessary evil to be survived before being allowed out on cross-country.

In Hunters, the flat class is an afterthought, usually won by the horse who won the jumping classes.

In Equation, there is a flat phase, but jumping wins the big money.

In Jumpers, there is no flat class.

In Dressage, the ride can be planned out to the footfall. You know the pattern. You know the size and shape of the arena. There are no other horses to dodge. There are no judges commands to obey.cov Lampe

As an example of the saddle-seat attention to detail, “When making a victory pass riders will ride the incorrect diagonal on purpose so that they do not look so tall on the horse.” (Riding for Success by Gayle Lampe [Saddle&Bridle 1996] p128.) In other words, victory photos are taken when the horse’s outside leg is up. Therefore, a crossposting rider will be sitting down when the photo is taken, producing a more pleasing picture. How do they remember all of this in addition to basic riding and steering?

Many other disciplines have group performance classes, e.g. Western Pleasure, Arabian Costume. Any advice for a rider who has heretofore been phoning it in?
Gratuitous Kitten Pic
When I was growing up, we had a cat who would sit like this on the sash of an open window – 7 floors up!

7 thoughts on “Ringcraft

  1. Actually, you used to be really good at ring strategy yourself. Flat classes always require an element of forethought. And then of course there was Bentley, who did all the strategizing himself.

      1. I do remember asking Bentley to pose for that photograph. All we had to do was show him the camera.

  2. Identify the horse/rider combination most likely to win the class. (Ask your trainer if you are not sure.) Plant yourself 3 horse lengths behind that combo. Imitate their pace and do whatever they do in regard to passing, strutting, whatever.

  3. It’s a lot like dressage, though, don’t you think? In terms of thinking through each transition, how you will approach the corners, diagonal changes across the center line, etc, etc. Plan a test the way you would plan a dressage ride.

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