Watch & Learn this Indoors Season!
And so begins indoors and live stream season! In addition to being a special time of year for these horses and riders who have worked so hard to attend these championship shows, the live streams are a wonderful education opportunity for anyone willing to take the time to watch and learn. Over the next several weeks, you can catch live stream from each of these championship shows and events:
9/29-10/9 Capital Challenge (including USHJA Jumping Seat Medal Finals, THIS Childrens Medal Finals, NA Junior Equitation Championships, and WCHR Finals) 9/30-10/2 MHC Days of Champions 10/7-10/9 USET Talent Search Finals East 10/13-10/22 Pennsylvania National (including USEF Medal Finals and NCEA Medal Finals) 10/19-10/23 New England Equitation Championships 10/24-10/30 Washington International Horse Show (including WIHS Equitation Finals) 10/26-11/6 National Horse Show (including Maclay Finals and Hamel Finals) Just Google each show and go to the show’s website to find out the schedule and where you can live stream it!
Nearly everyday for the next seven weeks, you can watch some of the country’s best horses and riders compete on a huge stage. There is so so so much to learn from watching! Even if attending these shows or competing in these classes is never on your list of personal goals.
I implore all riders to make time to watch a few classes from each show. Use it as a learning exercise!
* Most of these classes use open scoring. Watch the rounds and try to come up with your own score, then compare it to the actual score of the round. Developing an eye for what the judges are looking for, paying attention to the details, and thinking like a judge is a great learning experience for riders of all levels.
* Pay attention to which riders have “ring presence”. What are they doing that makes you really sit up straight in your chair and root for them? What about the riders that look timid or nervous, what are they doing that gives you that impression? How does the rider’s perceived confidence affect the round and the score?
* Notice the track the riders take on the way to their first jumps. It’s not always just a circle! Think about why the rider takes the approach they do and how it might benefit their horse. Also notice how riders navigate the flat classes to best show off their horses. Most of these rings are very small, and the riders do a wonderful job getting seen without getting in the way.
* Practice counting strides! In bending lines, there will sometimes be an option. Watch how riders change their track to change the number of strides they do. This will also help you develop an eye for the distance, and you can make note that although not all the distances will be perfect, a balanced horse and rider can cover up distances that may not be ideal.
* Notice the turnout. I promise you won’t see dirty boots and messy clothes at these shows! Pay attention to how beautiful turnout of horse and rider completes the whole picture and get some inspiration to up your turnout game.
* Make note of what tack horses are wearing for certain classes. Some equitation classes are hunter seat classes, where you’ll see standing martingales. Others are jumper seat classes, where running martingales will be more appropriate.
* Think about the rider’s position and their strengths or weaknesses. What weaknesses are distracting, and how do they affect the horse’s ability to do his job? How can you emulate the riders who look most poised, confident, secure, and balanced?
I really hope more riders and horse people take some time away from Netflix or scrolling Instagram this finals season to really improve themselves as competitors and horsemen! This is my favorite time of year to watch, learn, and get inspired going into winter and a new year.