The individual show your opportunity to take centre stage. For two or three minutes, all eyes will be on you - your moment to shine.
The key to propelling yourself up the line-up is devising a routine that will highlight your horse's strengths, disguise any weaknesses and leave the judge wanting to see more.
A good performance takes preparation at home. In order for your horse to be settled and focused, it is important to get him out in plenty of time before your class to take the edge off of any exuberance – this is especially true for younger horses.
Begin your individual show by walking out of the line-up and halting in front of the judge. Walk away in a straight line for four or five strides before moving into trot.
Ride a figure of eight in trot, then in canter – with simple changes of leg – following these with lengthened strides down one long side.
End the show by trotting towards the judge, then walking and finishing with a square halt in front of him or her.
Keeping your individual show simple means there is less room for error.
Remember, it is quality, not quantity, that counts. Sending a judge to sleep with endless trot circles will not earn you Brownie points.
That said, if your horse has an extravagant trot or an exceptional canter, ride more in this pace.
Practise your routine at home and time it – make sure it does not last longer than three minutes.
Lastly, although everyone wants to succeed, showing is all about having fun. A big smile will get you far – and will, more often than not, cancel out a spook or stutter.
This article first appeared in Horse magazine's Summer 2012 issue.
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