Corro Stories

Stacia Klein Madden Shares Her Tips For Getting Recognized By The Judge In The Show Ring

By Riesa Lakin

Competing in the hunters and equitation is certainly subjective. However, there’s quite a bit that you can do beyond laying down a solid round to get the judge’s attention. We asked top trainer and recognized “R” judge in the hunter and hunter seat equitation divisions, Stacia Klein Madden for her top tips to garner the attention of the judge in the show ring.


1. First Impression Is First And Foremost

You only get one chance to make a first impression. It is a saying that I believe is very true. Often times when you are judging a mediocre class and a rider comes in the ring that is beautifully turned out and they look as if they could really execute a beautiful round, that rider already has your added attention. Exhibitors sometimes believe that judges are looking for riders to make mistakes, but realistically, the opposite is true. A judge is so thankful when a rider executes a beautiful round and is also turned out impeccably.

Photo courtesy of Phelps Media Group

2. Proper Turn Out For Horse And Rider

I believe that proper turn out belongs to both the rider and the horse. A rider needs to be dressed traditionally with proper fitting clothes, polished boots, proper length stirrups, and adjusted spurs. It would be the rider’s responsibility to make sure the clothes are clean and pressed, and that their boots are cleaned and polished. The horse’s turn out includes being properly braided, groomed, clean, and with the properly fitting tack, saddle pads, and conventional boots.

Photo courtesy of Phelps Media Group

3. Be Organized

There are certain things you have control over and many things that you do not. You don't have control over the weather, the course designer, or the judging. You have control over being on time you, being organized, your clothes fitting perfectly, and your turn out. If you take 100% control over things that you have control of, you automatically feel and appear more organized. If you feel more organized, you’re already a step ahead of the game. Part of getting the judge’s attention is feeling confident. Being organized can make you feel like you have an edge.  

Photo courtesy of Phelps Media Group

4. Make Your First Jump Match Your Last Jump

In a judged performance, the first jump is so important. Often times, when the first jump is a single jump, I think people almost look at it as a warm-up fence. I coach my kids to address the first jump so that it has the appearance of matching the last jump on the course. A rider should not feel like they’re having to warm-up into the course. The first jump has a direct connection into making that good first impression.

Photo courtesy of Phelps Media Group

5. Make A Good Entrance

Another point the judge looks for might seem silly. Many riders will rush their entrance and make a mistake such as being on the wrong diagonal, picking up the wrong lead, or going too close to a jump where the horse spooks.  the rider needs to be educated to take their time, show their experience and patience, and make a smart entrance.

Photo courtesy of Phelps Media Group

6. Be Aware Of Your Surroundings

Another thing that is distracting to a judge is riders not being aware of their surroundings. An example might be, if you're in a ring and you see a water truck at the end of the ring, a rider would need to be aware to not go as close to the edge of the ring so the horse doesn’t get spooked from the noise or sprayed with water as you pass the water truck. Being aware of your surrounding is another tip that can give you that edge.

Photo courtesy of Phelps Media Group

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