Category Archives: Building Success

Improving rider’s success in and out of the show ring.

7 Steps to Becoming a Mature Rider

Everyone understands what maturity means. Even a five year old navigating their way through childhood recognizes the consequences of growing up. A person’s level of maturity determines their ability to cope with situations. It is observed through thoughts, behaviors and reactions to situations. For a rider this could mean how you respond to your horse becoming distracted at the start cone. Or how you catch the correct diagonal, prevent a wrong lead or mask a misstep.

Some riders seem to automatically understand how to respond to their horse’s behavior. They are the mature riders – and the one who usually ends up in the winner’s circle.

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Seeing Things Differently

Steph Judge 3 blDo you ever wonder how you can receive two firsts and a gate in a class at the horse show? It happens quite commonly yet always creates a bit of a stir. Most of the time the odd judge is thought to have “missed” something. But more often than not, the odd judge did not miss something but rather saw something that others did not.

Riding on both sides of the fence, I have been the odd judge who saw or missed something and the exhibitor whose mistake was seen by one but not by all. And after my initial disappointment by not receiving a clean sweep, I remember the far corner where I had an ugly departure I thought no one saw and must acknowledge my performance was less than perfect.

Most of the time now I am the one in the center of the pen who misses or catches – sometimes it makes me the odd judge and sometimes my scores match my peers. Regardless of the outcome, judges mark what they see and what they see influences how they score the performance.

It is not uncommon for judges to place more emphasis on one aspect of a performance over another. For instance, in showmanship, I think the most important part of the performance is tracking and setting your horse up straight in front of the judge. If an exhibitor misses their line and is off, their score is going down on my card.

However, if one judge is sitting three chairs away from the steward who is walking the class, viewing the performance from an angle, they will not be able to see if the exhibitor is getting straight to the steward. Unless the horse is standing sideways, the judge viewing from an angle will not able to place a great deal of importance on straightness. Lining up in front of the steward is important to me so you will always see me sitting as close to the steward as I can without interfering in the exhibitors’ performance.

It is human nature to remember the good over the bad, the positive aspects over the negative aspects of our performances. Judges’ results and scores reflect their view of a performance from the judges’ unique perspective based on their vast experience. A judge that has experienced a horse trip and fall resulting in an ambulance ride may fault your horse for tripping more than the judge who has never experienced a wreck caused by a horse stumbling.

That is what makes it so dang cool to receive high marks on all the judge’s scorecards. It is truly impressive when an exhibitor can positively impact multiple opinions with one single performance. Keep at it and that exhibitor will be you!


Goals Versus Principles

DSCN0169Every day riders are faced with decisions that test their moral fortitude. The temptation to push the limits increases with competition. The more variables surrounding the game the easier it is to manipulate the situation increasing the pressure to abandon your principles – especially if you feel like “everyone else is doing it.”

Author and mom Kate Lambert talks about the negative affects of believing the myth that all the winners are cheaters on her blog If You Thought it was About Cheating You Need to Read Again. Whether a false assumption or the truth believing that others are cheating may tempt you to forsake your principles to achieve your goals.

And no doubt about it, everyone who has ever shown or trained horses has, at one time or another, stretched the boundaries. There are times when a rider simply must push – partly to determine whether resistance from the horse is due to pain, lack of knowledge or a side effect of simple arrogance and sometimes, just to make the point. Continue reading

Team Spirit

10968551_10204183404477557_8294998042190058390_nLast weekend I had the pleasure of working with the University of Wisconsin River Falls Equestrian Team. It is always fun to work with riders who are  passionate about their riding. But working with teams is different – they work as a cohesive unit, with a single common goal – to win as a team. Team spirit  is one for all and all for one and for the Falcons, with coach Janie Huot leading, the girls that comprise this team epitomize team spirit.

IHSA riders amaze me. Their dedication and work ethic is incredible but what always strikes me with IHSA riders is their passion for the team. They work for the success of the entire group – something often hard to find in tour fast paced world.

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Showing – An Investment In Your Future

Today after struggling to get an answer from a customer service department, the thought occurred to me that the person in charge would make a lousy horse trainer. In fact, they would probably not be successful in the show ring at all!

 People who show horses possess remarkable talents. The characteristics that make for success in the show ring are the same traits sought by employers, partners  and leaders. Do any research on “characteristics of good ….” and you will see for yourself.

 The traits employers look for are identical to those required by good riders to find success in the show ring – traits that are developed by people who show horses or any livestock for that matter. Continue reading

Who Do You Want to Be?

Congress Henry_fotorUntil last night, I had never heard of John Legend. An award winning singer, songwriter and musical genius he is making the rounds as an Oscar nominee for a recent collaboration with rapper Common for the song “Glory”. His list of accolades is long and his success evidenced by his popularity.

But a statement made by Legend stopped me in my dinner table setting tracks and made me listen. In a talk show appearance he told the hosts that as a kid he watched Michael Jackson and Prince on stage during the Grammy’s and thought one day he ought to be up there too. He has now won nine Grammy’s.

Success is owed in part to the ability to see yourself as the person you want to be. You have to be able to let go of the past, look beyond who you were yesterday and concentrate on the future. You must focus on where you want to be instead of where you are if you are ever to achieve your goals. Continue reading

Try Something New


Routine, structure and procedures are proven methods of success. However, it is equally important to try new things. Without breaking out of your mold, you become stagnant and stop learning. When learning stops, enthusiasm is stymied and before long, a new winner is crowned.

Trying new methods, tools, classes or techniques keeps the program fresh. It offers insight, even if by failure, and solutions to problems that puts you in a position to achieve your goals. Continue reading

Baby Steps to a New Year

It’s New Year’s! Time for celebration, forward looking and resolutions most will unfortunately never fulfill. Personally I do not make New Year’s resolutions. Don’t get me wrong – I reflect on my past successes and failures, consider changes I want to make, set new goals and contemplate my purpose. But it is an ongoing exercise – something I do more than just when the calendar turns.

Perhaps it is because I am slow or dense. Or maybe it is because I think too much. Whatever the reason, breaking each goal down into smaller steps makes achieving any goal easier. Use your goals as a reference  to decide how to live each day.

I like to think of it as Bob did in the 1991 comedy film What About Bob? Dr. Leo Marvin, played by Richard Dreyfuss, gives a copy of his groundbreaking book, Baby Steps, to his hapless phobic psychiatric patient, Bob played by Bill Murray. Continue reading

Thank Goodness!

Di W KidsFor the last two weeks I was in Oklahoma City at the AQHA World Championship Show coaching, competing and reporting for on events of the day. It was my first attempt at being a “reporter” and I have a new respect for those who crank out the daily news. Depending on my day, sometimes I had to look harder than others to find good things to report on.

Like many, I become nocturnal at the World Show, riding during the night while still trying to take care of business or showing during the day. It is often grueling and easy to lose sight of the greater good – the successes of the season that brought us all together in Oklahoma City. Upon returning home, I was immediately grateful for a full nights sleep – hearing no alarm at 2 a.m. and knowing I could sleep through the night. Continue reading


H&I WalkDo you ever think about how the little choices made every day might affect your future? Many choices have little bearing on the things that really matter in life, like the shirt you are wearing at this moment.

And yet, you chose the shirt you are wearing for a particular reason. Maybe it is cold out and the shirt looked warm. Or maybe you knew you had to meet with the boss today so you wore something that makes you feel strong and invincible. Maybe you are getting ready for the World Championship Show and you put on your favorite riding shirt because it makes you feel like a champion. Continue reading