Showing Recommendations for In-hand and Ridden Classes
The pony should be shampooed, or thoroughly groomed to look and feel absolutely clean. The mane and tail should be brushed out well. There should be no pulling, plaiting or trimming of mane, forelock or tail, nor the feather on the legs. Excessive hair under the chin, etc may be discreetly laid. Hoofs should only be oiled. Eye or other cosmetic make-up must not be applied under any circumstances. No false hair in the mane, forelock or tail is allowed. Please note that white markings of any sort should not be disguised. In order to compete in affiliated showing classes, a Highland Pony stallion of 4 years old and over must be fully licensed.
For the ridden pony’s welfare, it may be clipped for winter competitions or hunting. However whiskers, ears and feather on the legs should be left untouched and no other trimming is permitted.
Recommended Turnout for Handler and Pony
In hand Classes
The handler should be dressed in smart clothing.
Stallions should wear a strong stallion bridle with a straight bar or snaffle bit. A chain or leather coupling and white rope or leather lead rein is attached. It is normal for a stallion to wear a roller with one side rein, correctly fitted, on the off-side. Mares, geldings and youngstock should wear a show bridle or good quality brass-mounted headcollar with a snaffle bit attached by bit straps and a white cotton or leather lead rope. A cotton rope halter may also be used. Foals should wear a leather foal slip with a white webbing lead rope or a cotton rope halter with an extra long lead rope.
The rider should wear breeches and boots or jodhpurs and jodhpur boots, with a tweed jacket, shirt and tie. A hat to current standard should be worn when mounted. The rider should always wear gloves and have a showing cane or whip. (N.B. Certain ridden classes have rules on canes and whips.)
The pony should wear tack which is safe and immaculately clean. The bridle may be a double bridle, pelham or suitable snaffle. However on a novice pony a suitable snaffle bit must be used. The saddle must be well-fitting and in good condition.
The two photos above
The lefthand photo:
How not to stand your pony up! The judge sees the wrong combination of legs in front of her which makes the pony seem long in the back. It doesn’t show the hind leg correctly nor the straightness of the front leg. The pony looks bored and her head position is low. It may or may not be a good pony but standing it up like this gives it no chance of attracting the judges’ eye!
The righthand photo:
The same pony stood up correctly looks completely different
If you are new to Highland ponies and new to showing then the following may help you. Hopefully there may be some tips and ideas included to start your Highland showing career off!
Ideally, before making your debut, it is worth attending some shows without a pony in order to watch how others prepare and show their ponies. This will give you an indication of procedures and the running order of a class so that you are familiar with this aspect of the day before attending a show with your pony. An in hand showing class usually starts with “the go round”, whereby all competitors lead their ponies round the ring at walk. A steward then asks the competitors to halt and then the ponies trot one at a time to the rear of the line. After that, the ponies proceed at walk again until the steward beckons each individual into a position in the line-up.
At this stage it usually shows the order of the judge’s initial preference but all is to be gained or lost by the exhibitor when it comes to the individual show! Each pony is called forward in turn to stand in front of the judge. It is important to stand the pony correctly as it can make a great difference to how it looks. The judge should be able to see all four legs with the front and back legs closest to the judge further apart than the other two. This gives the pony a balanced appearance. When the judge goes round to look at the other side of the pony, the leg positions should be changed to go the other way. At this stage, the handler should stand in front of the pony so that the judge can see the whole pony. When the judge moves to look at the pony from the front then the handler should stand to the side. There is nothing more annoying for the judge than to try to look at front legs when the handler is masking them! The exhibitor will then be asked to walk away from the judge and to trot back and past him. It is important to trot directly at the judge in order for him to see correct, straight movement. Judges are usually very adept at stepping out of the way in time! Once all ponies have been assessed by the judge, the exhibitors will be asked to walk their ponies around again. The steward will call in the ponies to their final placings and rosettes will be handed out.
How best can you prepare for your first show? Firstly practise a show scenario with your pony especially standing it up correctly and teaching the pony to step forward into different leg positions. Spend time teaching the pony to move freely beside you and to trot willingly when asked. Develop a good walk and don’t allow the pony to slop along with a low head position because that will only attract the judge’s attention for the wrong reason! From the moment you enter the ring, the judge is looking for a free moving pony which is alert and enjoying the experience. The top placed animals are those which show presence with obedience.
Secondly, decide which bridlework your pony suits best and goes happily in. Youngsters and mares can be shown in white rope halters and these look well if correctly adjusted. Practice putting these on beforehand as it is easy when stressed to put them on upside down. The rope should tighten under the chin, not over the nose. Some people choose to use bridles, either a specific “in hand” bridle or an ordinary snaffle bridle with a coupling linking the bit rings, with a white lead rope. The bridle should be fitted carefully to show off the pony’s head with noseband neither too high nor too low. Stallions are generally shown with a stallion roller and single rein on the off-side attached to a well fitting bridle.
Finally, when the time comes to attend your first show, make sure the pony is well washed and tack cleaned. Leave plenty of time for loading and travelling and, on arrival at the showground, spend time locating the ring and checking in the schedule for class numbers. Listen carefully to the tannoy system, which should announce the classes, and be ready to enter the ring when asked.
At the end of the day, the most important aspect is that you have had an enjoyable time with your pony, have met like minded people to chat to and, with luck, have a lovely rosette to go home with!
From an article by Gillian McMurray