First IEA Show Tips.

Hello everyone. I have my first IEA show this weekend and am extremely nervous! I’ll be showing on the flat and over crossrails. I feel the chances of qualifying over fences is slim as there are many things I still need to work on, however; qualifying on the flat is very reasonable. If anyone has any tips/advice, I would be extremely thankful!

Do. Not. EVER. Post on the wrong diagonal. Ever.

There are many things you can’t control at any show, much less an IEA show, but you have complete control over whether you start posting on the wrong diagonal. If you pick up the wrong one for even one step, you are telling the judge you don’t want to win.

Have a positive attitude even if you draw the homeliest horse in the class. Go into the class thinking, “I love this horse, and I am going to have a great ride!” Sit up straight and exude confidence. That “I’m the winner!” attitude will be quite apparent to the judge.

Remember when you get off the horse after your class to thank the handler. Say something nice about the horse, even if he stumbles, bucks, or picks up the wrong lead. That horse is someone’s baby, and if people think you’re ungrateful, they won’t lend their horses next time. Sportsmanship is key in IEA.

Do not say a single bad word about the horse you draw at the show - it is the most distasteful thing you can do. I’m not going to so far as to say that you need to say something nice about every horse, but you do absolutely need to say, “Thank you,” when you return the horse. Even if the horse is not perfect, you got to ride/show that day because someone decided to share their horse with you.

In this same vein, don’t comment negatively on the horse’s turnout and don’t comment at all on the horse’s tack or equipment; the person responsible for the choices in tack and equipment know that horse better than you.

Absolutely listen to what the handler tells you about the horse. If I tell you that spurs are used on my horse as a lateral aid only, don’t be surprised when she kicks out or bucks because you jabbed your spurs into her sides to get her moving forward. If carrying a crop is suggested for a horse, then carry a crop.

It is better to do something simple well than something difficult poorly. Nice, clean simple changes will reflect better on you than poor flying changes.

Pay attention to where others are when you are sharing the ring. You need not only to not run into other horses, but you also need to be aware of others who might run into you.

Use the ring wisely - get where the judge can see you (which will mean not always gluing yourself to the rail).

Do your best to make sure you and your horse are properly prepared (ie, balanced) to change what you doing (drop stirrups, change direction, change gait, etc). While you should still be prompt at following commands, don’t sacrifice quality transitions for the sake of being prompt.

Make sure your own appearance is neat, clean, and tidy. You don’t have to spend a fortune to have properly fitting attire. Long-sleeved shirts only. Make sure your hair is neatly contained - use multiple hairnets if necessary. Avoid a velvet helmet cover if you can (personal preference).

And pick up the correct diagonal when posting. If you can’t do this without looking, learn how. And until you can do this without looking 100% of the time, then check your diagonal.

You have a very limited time to make a first impression…over fences, ride out the ends of the ring, using the corners well. Remember to breathe :slight_smile: and be straight to the jumps. And again, remember that the jumps take up a very short amount of time on course; the rest is flat work as you navigate the course…on the flat, try to not get caught in a crowd…to get seen by the Judge, it’s important to have your own space…there is so much more to say but I would just add to have fun and make sure your horse knows you appreciate him (or her) at the end of your rides.

Bring your sense of humor. Remember that you are paying for one persons opinion for that one and only moment in time. You WILL get bad draws and bad judging and there is nothing you can do about it. Use the experience to focus on what you did great and what you can improve upon (that is within your control).

As many others have said, my main lesson from competing IHSA was learning to laugh it off.
Sometimes, you get a draw that makes you look bad (eg. me, at 5’1, on a 17+ hand pokey warmblood). Sometimes, you get a great draw but so did everyone else and you do poorly anyway. Sometimes you are just happy to survive. And sometimes, things actually work out in your favor.

Also remember that whatever plan you make before getting on might have to change once you’re actually on and you start to get a feel for the horse.

I’ve had some of my most fun rides on IHSA horses (regardless of how I did in the class) and in just about every IHSA picture you see of me, I’m smiling/laughing- in some cases because I’m happy with how the horse is going, and in some cases because there’s nothing else to do but laugh it off.

Best draw wins sums it up.

Best draw is still often relative to the rider’s skills. I’ve seen “best draws” place last because of poor riding.

[QUOTE=pattnic;7827131]Do not say a single bad word about the horse you draw at the show - it is the most distasteful thing you can do. I’m not going to so far as to say that you need to say something nice about every horse, but you do absolutely need to say, “Thank you,” when you return the horse. Even if the horse is not perfect, you got to ride/show that day because someone decided to share their horse with you.

In this same vein, don’t comment negatively on the horse’s turnout and don’t comment at all on the horse’s tack or equipment; the person responsible for the choices in tack and equipment know that horse better than you.[/QUOTE]

All of Pattnic’s post is good advice, but as a former IHSA rider, as well as an IEA big sister who also works the ingate, serves as secretary, and preps horses for IEA shows, I want to reiterate this. My horse shows up in the draw at some IEA shows, including Zones and Regionals, and as an uncomplicated, friendly, forgiving seeing eye dog of an ex-Maclay horse, he is a darn good draw. I pick and choose where he goes based on the kids I’ve seen all year, and how sportsmanlike they’ve been. If I don’t think the kids in his division deserve to pull him, he doesn’t go.

Thank the horse, the handler, the home team’s coach, and the horse’s owner, if you know who it is, even if the horse stops and throws you head first into the arena wall. People don’t loan their nice horses to IEA teams who are not grateful to sit on them.

Other than that:

  • Listen to what the handler tells you, especially if the handler says “I’m his owner.” The owner wants you to give the horse a good ride.

  • Pick up the correct diagonal- that is the one thing about the entire horse show you can control, other than bringing your clothes and showing up on time.

  • Not every horse you ride will be nice. Not every horse you ride will be pleasant. Not every horse you ride will have a lead change. Heck, some of them won’t even have a left and right lead. Do your best, laugh it off if you discover you’re actually riding a racking horse who only has balance one way of the ring, and thank the handler afterward.

  • Pay attention during schooling. You will probably learn something.

  • On the flat, use good ring workmanship. If you are doing something well, stay by yourself, go on the quarter line, get noticed. If you are trying to sit the trot on a broken pogo stick, hide.

  • Bring lots of warm clothes. Bring hot chocolate. Bring your sense of humor. :slight_smile:

Have fun! IEA wasn’t a big thing when I was a junior, but it got big in our area in time for my sister to have a wonderful time her junior and senior years of high school and she had excellent preparation for IHSA.