Recently, Nancy Renfro shared her advice on how to best succeed in some of the events at the AQHA Select Worldshow.
Any tips or guidance on the Select World Show arena such as angle strategy,
visual illusions, concept of spacing?
Basically, entering any arena has similar challenges. Entering the Select World arena in particular can be distracting for the horses, so we have them stand in the alley way as much as possible. The weather conditions can be unpredictable, too. There’s an overhang close to the entrance of the arena and the horses can get wet. Unpredictable things can happen, so I tell exhibitors once they ride past that alley way and enter the arena, regroup, put your game face on and hopefully people have looked at their patterns enough so they have a conceptual idea of the arena and spacing. It helps tremendously when exhibitors can say to themselves, “First I’m going to ride to that sign, and then to that cone.” Visual aids, in my experience, keep exhibitors more at ease.
What is the best advice you could give a Select competitor
while performing their patterns?
In Western Riding, a key element to success in the class is to maintain your horse’s pace. Exhibitors will commonly become nervous and they get sticky with their hands and feet which greatly affect the horse’s ability to stay paced and relaxed. I tell my clients to put their hand down, keep it down, and stay comfortable. At the end of the day, tell yourself as you enter the arena that it’s just another horse show and do what you know. You’ve worked hard to get qualified, got qualified and have proven your skill thus far, so try to completely relax and believe in your abilities. Western Riding is about balancing the buttons of your horse, knowing when to suck them back, staying technical with your lead changes, and staying centered with your lead changes for lack of penalties, and it takes a confident rider to exhibit these maneuvers.
Referring to Showmanship particularly, the most critical element of the class is selling your product. I tell my clients to keep a happy look on their faces that exudes confidence. With Showmanship, you look at it a little differently since the class is the most objective. There’s less for judges to look at and judge in Showmanship. It’s judged more subjectively and reflects what is pleasing to each judge’s eye, so it’s up to the exhibitor to do everything in their power to show the judge they are the best competitor in their class. Exhibitors sell their product on their faces. You want to say to the judges through your confidence, “Look at me, I’m good!” When breaking down a pattern, I pay close attention to the location of the start cones and where my clients should set up. My clients and I will go to where the cones will be, where judge(s) will be, work through each maneuver in the pattern one by one, and get their horse sharp and tuned. When we like where the horse is at and how it’s landing the pattern, we move on to a different element. Each horse will have strong points and weak points. For example, maybe your horse doesn’t back well, but is an excellent extended trotter, so exhibitors should do their best to emphasize their strong points. At the end of each pattern, I always tell my clients as they leave the show pen to show all the way out of the pen. This leaves a lasting impression on their performance and it maintains their professionalism.
HUNT SEAT EQUITATION
Basically, I would treat Hunt Seat Equitation like Horsemanship. Hunt Seat Equitation is greatly similar to the maneuvers and the size of pattern comparing to Horsemanship. Pace comes into play more in Hunt Seat Equitation. I remind my clients to move and extend their horses out more. Sometimes, I observe Select riders who think they’re extending out and they’re actually not. Be sure to open up your horse’s stride and get them comfortable with a pace. Maintaining the correct two points and diagonals while staying natural in the saddle is crucial for a successful pattern.
With the pattern classes in general, a lot of it is the particular spots that you need to be in. I can’t emphasis this enough to exhibitors. Commonly, exhibitors think they will execute their pattern(s) exactly the way it’s drawn on the paper, but the pattern really doesn’t work that way at all. I tell my clients not to be afraid of making their circles larger in a pattern, even 20 feet larger, for example. I encourage clients to use the arena to the advantage of their horse. Judges don’t normally have a preference if your circles are smaller or larger, they only want to see accuracy in the pattern and where a team shines, so don’t be afraid to change your spacing and use it to your advantage based on your horse’s physical ability.
HUNT SEAT EQUITATION