My job description As a volunteer ring steward I get to follow the judge around the ring, notify the judge when all riders for a class are present, keep the classes moving and on schedule, make sure all riders stay safe, communicate to the riders when to halt, walk, trot or canter according to the judges requests, and to deliver the class results to the announcer.

This past weekend I had the pleasure of working with Joe Lombard again. Joe is a licensed horse show judge, instructor, clinician and equine appraiser. I appreciate the fact that he explains things to the riders and he’ll answer questions.

Entering the arena Walk with purpose, this isn’t a stroll. Think of the military with their crisp, smart walk. Smile and look at the judge while you’re walking around the arena. You’ll make a good, confident impression, remember that you’re being judged from the moment you enter the arena.

Halter & ShowmanshipLine up You’ll be asked to line up next to each other so watch your spacing. Square up your horse’s feet and make sure that you’re straight. Check your position by looking at the wall or fence behind you. You should make a T shape with the wall. Smile, look for the judge and find your quadrant. Even if the judge isn’t at your horse you should still be presenting like the rider’s in the photo. Your horse should stand quietly and pay attention to you. If you horse moves out of line you can circle around and reposition. Don’t be afraid of correcting your horse for bad behavior.

Leadline The assistant should be appropriately dressed and match the rider. Therefore dressed in English or Western attire. It’s all about presentation and a slumpy assistant makes a bad impression. The assistant should assist but not take over. The child should be trying to do it.


Speaking to the judge The judge will greet you and possibly ask you some questions. Smile and speak to the judge. If you don’t know the answer be truthful and admit it.

Know your Quadrants
Judge comes to Quadrant I, the handler should be in Quadrant IV.
Judge moves to Quadrant II, the handler moves to Quadrant I.
Judge moves to Quadrant III, the handler moves to Quadrant IV.
Judge returns to Quadrant IV, the handler returns to Quadrant I.

Patterns The judge will ask you to do a pattern. Pay attention to when you should walk, trot or halt. Make the pattern as exact as possible. A straight line should be straight and a circle should be round. If you’re asked to do a straight line stop the horse and square up before turning back. It isn’t necessary but it adds a little extra polish to the presentation. Stop and square up again and wait for the judge to say “thank you”. Then return to the line up.

Turning the horse Don’t block the judge’s view of the horse with your body. Always turn the horse to the right so that your body is on the outside.

With a little practice you’ll be bringing home the ribbons!