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Shannon Riley

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7 Tips for Giving Your Young Horse a Positive Show Experience

Recently, Athletux sat down with Shannon Riley of Infinity Sport Horse to learn more about her tips for showing young horses. With loads of experience riding horses from their first ride off the track all the way up to the FEI levels, she is the perfect person to help give advice about taking your green horse to his or her first show!

Photo by Christine Quinn Photography.

Do your homework before heading to the show

Make sure this isn’t your horse’s first time off the property and that they’ve seen “all the things” (ie water, ditches, banks, jumps with fillers) without the pressure of the show, or find a schooling show where you can school the day before.

Scout out the schooling options

Try to get out and about at less expensive schooling show venues so you don’t feel pressure to finish for the record or because of the budget. I often take a circle in show jumping on babies, or an extra circle in the dressage test because we’re not there to beat anyone, but to produce a better horse for next time!

Find a quiet place

So often I see people fight their horses for 30 minutes in the chaos of warm-up. Many venues offer other places to warm-up if you take a bit of time to look around, such as the jump area before jumping classes, or even behind trailer parking. I try to eliminate the stress of warm-up until I have my horse’s attention and a bit of relaxation, and even then I may never make it to the actual warm-up area. Even in the jumping portions, I may jump a couple of fences, but we’re not there to teach the horses how to jump, and the chaos of bad steering around you may cause more stress than a couple of extra jumps will help.

Photo by Christine Quinn Photography.

Remember this is for their education, not a ribbon

If you need to circle an extra time in your dressage so they actually take a breather, do it! If you need to circle in show jumping to get that good balance, do it! Don’t let all your good work and training go out the window just because there’s a score.

Timing is important

You probably don’t ride your 4-year-old at home for an hour. Don’t suddenly change that at the show. The show environment will take more out of them sooner. I love to get a good long walk in, but I’ve had that backfire when we never actually managed to walk, and I was on for an extra 10 mins of anxious jigging.

Don’t be afraid to try something like Nupafeed Magnesium Paste to give them a positive, focused experience

Better living through chemistry and proven formulas! The top riders utilize things like that all the time to get an edge on the competition and score an extra couple of points for relaxation, why wouldn’t you help your youngster take a few extra deep breaths!

Don’t bring your stopwatch on cross country

I am a stickler about this sort of thing. Too often I see riders get so consumed with the time that they forget to ride their horse. I believe you can start using the watch once you’ve developed proficiency at any level, but never for the first one. Focus on finding a good quality canter and focus on finding good easy lines. The time will be there.

5 Tips to Make Your Horse Shopping Trip a Success

This blog was republished with permission from Athletux.

Selling and buying horses can be one of the most enjoyable or one of the most frustrating processes. Shannon Riley knows this all too well. She has developed her sales business, Infinity Sport Horse, in Aiken, SC, and sells upwards of over 50 horses per year. She prides herself on making the perfect match between horse and rider, and put together some tips to help you on your next horse shopping adventure. It isn’t easy sometimes, but you will find your dream ride!

Photo courtesy of Shannon Riley.

  1. Make a list of priorities when horse shopping and stick to it! Sometimes it can be hard if all of a sudden you see a great horse but maybe it has a few of the items on your no-can-do list like being a mare versus a gelding. Decide what you can and can’t live with beforehand so you aren’t doing it on the fly!
  2. Be realistic about vettings, and your long-term expectations. Be prepared to see “something” on a vetting, and be prepared to maintain a horse that’s had a solid career. Injections are very routine in this day and age, and can help your new horse be that much happier! Horses are horses, and if we x-ray every single joint, there will be questions inevitably. But rarely is it the findings on a PPE that end a career. Ride the horse, not the x-rays, and remember there’s rarely a “failed” vetting, simply findings that you can or can’t live with.
  3. If you have special accommodations you need, i.e. a trial, your trainer trying it three times, needing to see it off property, communicate that upfront with the seller! It is so much easier to address this and plan for it ahead of time for both parties if everyone is open and upfront.
  4. Be honest about your budget, and what that might need to reflect. If you want the Novice packer of the world, it may not also take you to Intermediate. If you want an upper-level horse with all the lovely movement, brain, skills, and talent, it might not be $5,000. It makes it much harder when you sit on a horse you love only to find out he is five times over budget.
  5. Be honest with a seller — if you don’t like a horse after five minutes, don’t ride it! None of us like wasting our time and if the horse isn’t for you, then you don’t need to create unnecessary stress either. Not everyone gets along with every horse and that is OK. Sometimes it takes patience to find your unicorn.

Photo courtesy of Shannon Riley.