Top Ten Equitation Tips To Get A Head Start

Equitation is the term used to refer to the practice or art of horsemanship or horseback riding. It especially refers to the position of the rider, along with the rider’s skill at using aids effectively and riding correctly overall.

In equitation classes, it is the rider who is evaluated and not so much the horse. Even so, the polish and condition of the horse are judged. If the horse performs poorly, it is considered a negative reflection upon the rider.

Equitation classes may be listed under several different headings depending upon the type of horsemanship being evaluated, the region and a number of other factors. There are equitation classes in Western disciplines as well as in dressage, saddle seat and hunt seat.

In all equitation classes, judges will evaluate the performance of the rider and his or her ability to control the horse well. A skilled equitation rider must always be in balance with his or her horse. The rider must maintain the correct position at every gait and with every action. He or she must demonstrate the ability to communicate with the horse using almost invisible aids.

Other considerations including personal attributes such as proper attire, cleanliness and condition of the tack and poise of the rider are taken into account. A rider who has good equitation skills will present a calm, relaxed and yet commanding presence.

Follow These 10 Smart Tips To Do Your Best In Equitation

Smart Tips To Do Your Best In Equitation

1. Get a head start

Begin building your equitation skills early on in your riding practice. Remember that good horsemanship is a lifelong pursuit, and good equitation is the result of serious and consistent practice. You cannot simply start practicing a few months before the class and expect to present a good showing. The judgment of your equitation skills is a judgment of your overall horsemanship.

2. Ride without stirrups

Take time to practice riding stirrupless every time you ride. This is one of the important tests in the US Equestrian Federation Hunt Seat Equitation Competition. It is also a very important skill for any good horse man or woman to master. When you ride without stirrups you strengthen your legs and seat to develop a secure base for better overall equitation performance.

3. Familiarize yourself with all of the equitation tests

Following the initial round, judges may ask for any of the tasks on the list. Be sure to practice each and every one on its own and mix up the combinations so that you and your horse will be ready to perform the tasks individually upon demand.

4. Make your practice area as much like the show venue as you possibly can

Many equitation classes and especially equitation finals at the national level are held in indoor arenas. For this reason, you should practice for your equitation classes in an indoor arena. As with all horse show participation, you should do your best to familiarize yourself with the venue where the class will take place. This will enable you to prepare both yourself and your horse for any unusual circumstances.

5. Prepare yourself and your horse for the show atmosphere

Don’t expect to just show up “cold” and do well in an equitation class. Enter your horse in a number of other shows at the same level. This will give both you and your horse the opportunity to get used to a big show atmosphere.

6. Practice keeping your focus on yourself and your horse

Remember that good equitation skills are a reflection of your overall horsemanship. A skilled rider focuses on his or her own knowledge skills and abilities and especially on communication with the horse. Don’t be sucked into the competitive elements of showing. Don’t compare your horsemanship or your mount with anyone else. Simply do the best you can and be pleased with your successes.

7. Consistency is king

As with all aspects of good horsemanship, consistent habits pay off. Set yourself a good schedule of practice and stick with it. Horses are creatures of habit, and so are people, if truth be told. Establishing a regular schedule helps ensure that you and your horse will be ready to face any and all challenges on the big day.

8. Keep fit

Your horse is not the only one who needs to be in good shape to do well in equitation classes. You, too, should work out regularly, eat well and get plenty of rest in preparation for the big event.

9. Stay calm

It’s easy to overblow the importance of equitation competition. In the final analysis, it’s just another class in another show. If you tend to be nervous or experience performance anxiety, get in the habit of practicing good stress management techniques, and learn to calm yourself if you begin to be anxious.

10. Have fun

Spending time with your horse and honing your skills should be a deeply satisfying and enjoyable experience. Showing off all that you and your horse have learned should be fun and a proud moment. Whether you win or lose, going to the show, participating and doing your best should be ample reward.

10 Horse Show Equitation Tips

Get noticed in a good way at your next horse show.

Nicky Ellis
Nicky has been an editor at Horses & Foals since 2017. Horses have been in her life from her earliest memories, and she learned to ride a horse when she was 5. She is a mom of three who spends all her free time with her family and friends, her mare Joy, or just sipping her favorite cup of tea.


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