Every person who has ever been to a horse show has covetedthe beautiful, big, blue ribbon. Not every rider gets a blue, and some of the best may only get a few in a season. The exiting reward of winning and pride of that blue is a feeling every rider desires. Butwhat happens when a rider is not awarded the first place blueribbon? Practice and more ridding, a willingness to work hard, andabove all, a good attitude in what and how well you do will bringyou to the top.I learned the value of these things when I entered schooland the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture (NCTA). I hadridden horses all my life and worked with many of them as awrangler at Fort Robinson State Park near Crawford Neb.
safe tosay I knew horses fairly well, however, my riding appearancesuggested otherwise.I could not afford to take my own horse to college with me but I
couldn’t stand to be out of the saddle. That was my first reason for
joiningthe horse show team. Looking at it from a professional side, people paygood money for great show horses; I needed to learn how to show properly.And so I joined the team with bad riding habits and a sloppy appearance.Many of my habits included leaning way to far forward, legs stretched clear out in front of me,and only using my hands to control the horse. A good rider will have a straight line from their shoulder,hip, to their heel. Eyes will be looking forward, never down, and heels are pushed down. A good rideralso uses legs, seat, and eyes (looking where you want to go really helps) to control the horse, hands are just a failsafe. During practice we used an array of different horses and the coaches taught us how tobetter ourselves.We began riding both hunt seat (English) and stock seat (western) disciplines. Coming from aranching community, I had always had t
he good ol’ saddle horn on my saddle.
But out coach, Katy Jones,introduced us to riding in an English saddle, and I quickly learned to love it. I was even introduced tocross-rails, the first step of jumping. I had found a new appreciation for the English discipline.It was not long before shows began. As a team we went to different schools and competedagainst student from the University of Nebraska, University of Wyoming, University of Colorado, ColbyCommunity College (KS), Oklahoma Panhandle State University and several others.All the horses and tack used in the shows were provided by the host college. Riders drew their
horse’s name out of a hat and by
Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) rules, were given justenough time to adjust the stirrups on the saddle and get on. Even while on the horse a handler keptcomplete control of the animal. We could not warm it up; we could not ride it, control it, or handle it inany way. The handler led us into the ring and so the first time we ever had control of that animal was infront of a judge.