Etiquette for Collecting Rings at Horse Shows – How to behave and how not to!
This weekend out eventing at Skipton Horse Trials it was brought to my attention that not all riders and helpers know how to conduct themselves in a polite and friendly manner! I then took a deeper look and asked other professional riders, grooms and stewards what their experiences were and low and behold most have come across at least one rider, helper, groom which has not been the most pleasant person to deal with.
We first need to remember why we are there!! This is supposed to be fun and enjoyable so lets keep it that way for everybody! When you, your helper or grooms are rude it reflects on you as a rider and remember your are easily identifiable by your number!. The stewards that often help at these shows are volunteers and without them the shows wouldn’t run so however bad your day is going taking it out on a steward will not help you in fact the chances are you will be reported to the officials which could put you on a watch list!
Some basic Arena rules for riders and helpers to follow:
- Ride left hand to left hand Riders should try to ride in the same direction. If this isn’t possible, then the left shoulder to left shoulder rule should apply. (Some European countries ride right shoulder to right shoulder.)
- Jump the warm up fences the correct way Red flag on the right as you pass over the fence
- Slow on the inside, fast on the outside Slower riders should ride on the inside track, including those doing schooling such as lateral work etc… Riders working at a faster pace such as canter should stay on the outside track.
- Announce your intentions Tell the other riders what you plan to do: “passing on your left”, “jumping the oxer”, “leaving arena”, “entering arena”.
- No lunging No lunging while riding unless authorised at that particular event.
- Mount out of the way Mount and dismount in the center–not on the track.
- Work together Users should be doing similar things: i.e. jumping, flat work, if at all possible. And even though the rule is left shoulder to left shoulder understand it isn’t always possible. Be generous with right-of-way. Also work together over fences you do not own the working in fence allow other riders to jump a lower fence before you put it up not all of them have helpers
- Cue quietly Voice commands, kissing, smooching to cue your horse should be done quietly and away from other horses. Accidentally cueing another person’s horse as you ride along side them could cause problems this includes the use of the whip!
- Spectators and owners stand out of the way quite often they are seen to be stood in the middle of the arenas or walking directly across remember sometimes space is limited so allow your rider and other riders more room
- Declaration to a steward has no bearing on whether a rider can use a warm up fence: We all pay the same entry fees and so each rider is entitled to use the fence as much as you, allow them to jump it whilst it is lower before you put it up they may have inexperienced helpers or no helpers at all
- Give space to those having a problem Remember next time it could be you having an issue and the last thing you need is other competitors glaring at you or cutting you up
- Stand horses that are waiting out of the way If you are waiting to go in to the main arena or are just watching then the horses need to be out of the way so other riders can warm up
- Pick up poles Not all riders have helpers and may have multiple rides so grooms are sorting other horses out and lets face it , it doesnt take long to pick a pole up!
- Look where you are going! How many times do your trainers tell you to look up – there is a reason for this, first of all you can see where you are going, secondly you look better as a rider and thirdly you can start to assess where other riders are going as well so limiting the chance of a collision
- Be quick to apologise If you make an error then just apologise it helps keep tension low in the collecting ring much better to be smiling and laughing than shouting and crying!
It is really important that you do not cut other riders up and that you are courteous, you never know who is watching! The helpers and grooms need to work with one another. The lady in question at the horse trials I was at was rude to a young 14yo girl who had kindly offered to come and help me with an owners horse and she was made to feel intimidated which is clearly unacceptable. You should treat others as you would like to be treated and perhaps if you gave a day back to your relevant sport as a volunteer it may give you a different perspective.
If you are a professional rider, being rude and difficult in a working in arena, will lessen your sponsorship chances. Why, you ask? Well why would a company want to be associated with someone who can’t be polite to other riders while they are trying to get their products out to. Also you should be setting an example and encouraging the everyday equestrian to have a go at your chosen discipline.
So remember be polite and courteous at all times, give a day back to your sport, have fun and keep it enjoyable for others to.
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