5 Winning Action Steps

Team Gif: NSBA Winners Karla Friedli with Hannah & Margie Buchholz

Team Gif: Karla Friedli, Gifford, Hannah & Margie Buchholz    Photo Credit Rachel Reilly

Most people go through life and wish they had the money for a fancy outfit, a full time trainer or a better horse. Yet most of the winners, those who repeatedly find success in and out of the show ring, don’t have a wish list at all. Instead they embrace challenge, take responsibility for their results and ownership of their destiny and understand sacrifice.

Last week we looked at those behaviors listed above that successful people have in common. Below are 5 action steps commonly used by high achievers.

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10 Winning Habits

KP Arm CmpSuccess in the show ring – everyone wants it – that’s why we show our horses. But if you are trying to determine what sets winners apart from the runner’s up, look at what winners do differently from the others. Winners, in and out of the show ring, share characteristics that set them apart from the rest of the pack.

There are many traits that set winners in the show ring apart from the placers. Much has been written about winning traditions outside the show ring. But success, in and out of the show ring, is the results of commonalities and riders can learn from observing and reading about successful people in any field. This week we take a look at behaviors that winners employ. Next week we will look at action steps that winners take to put themselves at the top of the judge’s cards.

  1. Winners take responsibility for their success. People who achieve the most do not place blame on others. They hold themselves accountable for their actions and the ensuing results. Rarely do they complain because what’s the point? Complaining does not change the situation but does bring out negative emotions.

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Two Riders2Being ready does not ensure success although success is what you hope to achieve with proper preparation. Modern sports psychologists will tell you that part of preparing for success is envisioning your perfect ride – as well you should! Visualization is an integral part of achieving goals. But just as important to success and preparation is preparing for what can go wrong.

Last night in a group lesson we practiced passing and departing into the lope or canter while embedded in a group of horses. It is not what we want for ourselves in the show ring, but very often, it is the place that we find ourselves when the call is made.

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Anchor Your Way to the Top

KP Cls upDo you wonder what criteria judges use to make decisions in the show ring? Everyone has heard the phrase “you never get a second chance to make a first impression” but it might surprise you to learn the powerful effect that anchoring has on judges.

Anchoring is the term used to describe people’s tendency to rely too heavily on the first piece of information they receive. For instance, a rider enters the arena looking down at their horse’s head, leaning forward or continuously looking toward the judge. The judge’s immediate opinion is that this rider is worried, does not trust their horse or is about to make a correction. With only seconds to evaluate each pair, the judge perceives this pair as insufficient and quickly looks beyond the pair in search of the winners.

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10 Tips for Show Parents

Dads at MayflParents play the most important role in developing young riders. Parents do much more than haul their sons and daughters to lessons, arrange rides to and from the horse show and provide necessities. They are more than cheerleaders or providers, they nourish and shape children in their fold. Regardless of their level of involvement, parents are often the driving force behind a young rider’s ability to handle the pressures of competition.

It is wonderful to see parents take an active role in their child’s horse hobby and encourage their son or daughter’s progress. However, parents walk a fine line between encouraging their children to achieve and pushing too hard. If you are an adult with influence over a child’s riding and showing, here are some tips to improve the experience.

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7 Tips for Show Ring Nerves

Kelly Ponce - Ready to ShowEveryone experiences horse show jitters at some point in their riding career. It is only natural to feel some anticipation and excitement before stepping into the show pen. In fact, it is the rush of showing that gets you out of bed at 4 a.m.

But if you are going to be truly competitive, you will have to learn to get a handle on your nerves. Acknowledging your nerves is the first step to overcoming your nerves. Here are some tips to help you master your nerves.

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Student or Teacher?

SL Gry Cnt BlDo you ever get on a horse only to wonder if you are the teacher or the student? Sometimes the horse poses such an interesting challenge that you may feel as if you are listening harder than the horse is; trying to figure out how to make the horse understand you.  Other times, we are so sure of ourselves, so sure of our plan and approach that it takes a drastic move from the horse to make us realize we do not have all of the answers. In fact, you realize you missed the question all together.

That is the lure of riding horses – the never ending search for the perfect ride. In reality, we know there is no such thing. It is the journey, the pursuit that pays dividends. Only the best riders can bring out the best of each individual they are privileged to sit atop. But the quest is there for all to enjoy and nothing feels better than when you and your partner get on the same page.

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Five Steps to Break a Bad Habit


  1. Kel Gray CantStop trying to break a bad habit. Instead concentrate on building a new habit. Your brain has difficulty trying to break circuits – habits – yet it can easily adapt to build new circuitry. Spend your time building the habit you want to possess such as a good heel or proper hand position or a deeper seat.
  2. Expect it to feel strange. When you are accustomed to doing something in one particular way changing that routine will feel awkward at first. This is normal and to be expected. If it feels correct or normal, you are probably not changing the routine enough.

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Five Things Winners Never Do


Mich Henr walkEvery successful competitive rider spends their time in the saddle with the same goal in mind: to win. They live and breathe horses and horse shows. They study the winners in attempt to follow in the path to the winners circle. But what separates the winners from the rest of the crowd? Winners accept challenge with confidence in themselves, believe their success is inevitable and take action to make their dreams come true. And there are a few things that winners never do.

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Be Prepared

KP lpg awyIt always sounds so obvious, but lack of preparation is one of the biggest faults I see in the show ring. Riders often show up late to the cone, reins uneven, with hair tumbling out of their hats, mud on their boots rushing into the pen. Sometimes it is their horse that is unprepared, unsure of the circumstances with sweat marks from a previous work or thrown into circumstances for which they have no basis of understanding.

Being prepared starts at home with time in the saddle training, planning and making yourself ready for a great ride. It also means having the proper equipment for the task at hand. This includes wearing appropriate footwear and clothing perhaps even a safety helmet. I had an instructor that couldn’t stand it when I wore sunglasses to school over the jumps. She knew that I did not need glasses to see. The instructor perceived the sunglasses as my attempt to look cool. She literally would chastise me for wearing them because she felt they inhibited my ability to see clearly. The same goes for head phones, chewing gum and anything else that distracts you from your job – directing and protecting your horse.

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