Category Archives: Showing
My anxiety around competition was never really just about competition. It was a fear of the unknown, of lack of control, of new things. It started when I was a small child and if I was anxious about something I would feel sick and nervous. Things like exams, trying new things, bus trips. Over time it got worse and I was anxious before things I was actually looking forward to. The anxiety in turn caused illness as I have a sensitive stomach anyway so it got to the point that I was anxious of being anxious. I missed a lot of things because of it – sleep overs, the first day of pony camp, scouting trips. I was afraid to look forward to anything. My poor mother was tormented by it and had the patience of a saint at times especially when it came to high stress events such as the leaving cert (which I did on three Valium and about seven packs of polo mints a day). I managed miraculously to compete on horses as a teenager and adult. It was hard going – I used to meditate on the way over to try and calm myself down (yeah I was the odd ball), couldn’t eat and would be white as a sheet before a competition and exhausted afterwards.
Format of a ridden flat class
All riders enter on right rein in walk. Steward will instruct to trot on and canter on in a group. Steward will ask to come back to trot and change the rein. Steward will ask for canter on other rein and steward will invite to extend canter / gallop down long side.
Return to walk and steward will call horses in to stand in line.
Aim to look professional, tidy and workmanlike.
Footwear – Adults long leather boots. (leather short boots and gaiters may be permitted, check rules of class). Adults cannot show in short boots only. Children under 12, short boots with jod clips. Children over 12, as per adults. Have your groom wipe your boots before you go in!
This series is based on a guide I drew up a few years ago ahead of a clinic I delivered to novice adults and children. There are a wealth of showing experts out there and I will not pretend to know as much nor more than any of them. This guide is not intended for experts, it is intended to give showing novices (and parents!) some sound and basic advice on how to understand what ridden showing is, what the different ridden classes are and what their horses and ponies might be eligible for. I have been showing as an amateur for years and really enjoy it but will admit when I first started, especially when showing Connemaras, I didn’t really know what was right or expected so I needed and sought expert advice. Given how often I hear people asking what is allowed, what type their horse is and how to get started at showing, I believe this document might provide some help to anyone looking to go showing for the first time. I have also tried to include tips and tricks I learned along the way. This chapter looks at the different types of classes and horses. The next chapters to follow will cover class formats, turnout and a guide for grooms.
In 2013 and 2014, Dolly the big chestnut mare and I focused on and achieved many goals in the show ring. We had not achieved what I hoped we could in dressage and given my passion for dressage this always frustrated me. I had performed well on ponies before but Dolly and I always fell somewhere short of the mark in competition. In a class of seven we were usually fifth or sixth in our advanced intermediate grade and with this consistent mediocrity I was afraid I was becoming one of those people who bang on about ‘potential’ for years without ever delivering any actual!
Felicity and I were meant to be together. I first met her on the side of a road when I collected her and another saddle off her owner to bring her to be used on a horse at a side saddle camp a friend had organised. I knew sweet FA about side saddles at the time but loved the look of her as she was a dark leather in contrast to the other doe skin saddles.
When the ladies side saddle class returned to the show ring in the 2014 RDS Dublin Horseshow it was not filled with professional riders on professional show horses. Instead the ring was filled with a variety of horses and riders that served as a beautiful demonstration of versatility. The majority of these riders were not professionals and each one had earned their right to be there by competing successfully at one of the four qualifiers held earlier in the year. The class included show horses, hunters, ex race horses and all-rounders. Likewise the riders themselves hailed from different backgrounds and disciplines from hunting to point to pointing.
When some of the side saddle ladies including Ciara my side saddle friend and mentor recently declared that lipstick for side saddle showing should not be red, I was relieved. I have nothing against red lipstick but it simply doesn’t suit me. I either end up looking like a child in their parents make up or a lady that should be on a street corner somewhere. I won’t profess to know a whole lot about side saddle but thanks to being a complete makeup junkie I know a bit more about make up. After a chat with Ciara on what make up we should be wearing while riding aside I was able to pick out what exactly I need from my makeup stash.
Neutral shades, matte textures, weatherproof and smudge proof make up.
Frost/shimmery eye shadows, bright red lipstick, orange foundation or bronzer, clown blusher
Bright shades of eye shadow, glitter (let’s be clear, no one 100 years ago had glitter on their face while on a horse), tide lines, panda eyes.
1. Plaiting Apron
My friend Aoife bought me this apron a few years ago and I absolutely love it. It ties around my waist and has loads of little pockets to store thread, bands, mane combs, scissors and other plaiting odds and ends. This means that I can plait away hands free without having to reach for things or leave them down. Trying to plait while holding things between my knees, on the horses back or in my mouth has become a thing of the past! My fleece apron is by Snuggy Hoods and is available online at many websites including: