Sunday, January 15, 2012

Making An Entrance - Equitation Over Fences

Being quite frank, I have to say that I do like when a rider enters the ring and makes a 'grand entrance' on the flat for an equitation over fence class. One of the best things to do is to catch the judges' eye the SECOND you enter the ring. Keep the judge looking and expecting more from you every time you enter the ring for any class but this post is on the 'presentation' entrance to an equitation over fence class. 
To properly decide how to make your grand entrance you need 2 basic things....

  1. where is the 1st jump in relation to the in gate?
  2. does my horse and I do a fabulous sitting trot with impulsion? 
If the 1st fence is coming towards the in gate, then you have plenty of space to cut across the ring on the diagonal at a sitting trot and wait to pick up the canter on the turn towards the 1st fence. That is a grand entrance. 

In the course above we have the first fence going away from the in gate. The best 'grand entrance' for this particular course, in my opinion, would be to enter at the walk, immediately picking up the sitting trot between fences 8 & 9 then leg yielding left (or turning left depending on the distances) to the rail prior to passing fence 4 and just beyond fence 4, pick up the right lead canter, rate your pace and go directly to fence 1.  
Now with the below course....do you circle prior to the 1st fence or do you go directly to it, keeping in mind this is an equitation (not a hunter) round. 
Well, just my opinion, remembering there is no hard and fast rule.....I would walk through the gate and immediately pick up the right lead canter (rating the correct pace) to the first fence without circling. This would show confidence and skill that you could rate your pace for the entire course in the short distance to the first fence. Would that put you ahead of a rider who circles for the pace? Well if you were a tie on my score card, the one who took the short distance and pulled it off would have the upper 'hand'. They presented themselves with the most confidence and skill. THAT...is a grand entrance. 
So remember whenever possible, in an equitation over fence class, present yourself in the best way possible, on the flat into the course. Is that just MY opinion? Yes! Is there a rule on this? No! The only rule that applies to the presentation on course is if there is a dotted line in affect or if the first fence is a trot fence and that is a whole other blog post! 
Dress appropriately, shine your boots and present yourself on the flat when entering the ring for equitation over fences or an equitation medal. It can make or break your score! 
Have a question about a particular course? Send it along and I'll show you what I would like to see, for a grand entrance and post it for everyone, names not mentioned of course. 
Safe rides! 

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I am just one judge with one judge's opinion. Almost all of the classes I judge are based on the rules of USEF & AQHA. Judging a horse show is very subjective to the interpretation of the rules. Please keep this in mind when commenting.