Second in Judge Mark Sheridan’s Series on Horsemanship Class Execution
Republished from Februrary Show Horse Today
Welcome to the next installment of Mark Sheridan’s series on horsemanship! AQHA Professional Horseman, trainer and judge Mark Sheridan is joining Show Horse Today to lend his knowledge about horsemanship. The first article was featured in January Show Horse Today, where Mark talked about proper hats and attire. In this issue and the next 7 issues, Mark will continue answering “How do I give my horsemanship patterns the polished look that can win, and what are the first things that catch your eye as a judge?” Today, he talks about the very beginning of your pattern, and what is the best way to start your class off:
“I want to talk about the first steps up to the cone and the start of your pattern. The first major things that I look for other than what we discussed in earlier articles, is for proper adjustment of tack, equipment, and communication between horse and rider. I want to see stirrups that are not too short, not too long. Too short of stirrups will put too much bend in the knee. Too long of a stirrup will have the toes down, lack of contact in the stirrup and to straight of a line with little bend in the knee. I see both of these situations in all the shows that I judge. Most of the time it is the latter with the longer stirrup and reaching for the stirrup and always trying to keep the leg way too far behind the hip of the rider.
I realize that the line must start at the shoulder, drop through the hip, and finish up through the ankle. However, many times I see the riders constantly pushing their legs back too far, which puts the ankle too far behind the line. This will only put the rider out of balance as they are riding on their crotch. Too short of a stirrup will tend to keep the legs ahead of the line. Proper stirrup adjustment will make it possible for the rider to apply pressure to the ball of the foot, with the heels down and slightly out so that the calf of the rider is close the barrel of the horse. This will make it able for the rider to maintain constant contact and communication with horse at all times…”
Check out the rest of Mark’s suggestions here! Be sure to keep an eye out for the next issue of Show Horse Today for the next installment in the series.