Equine enthusiasts gathered at the Vermilion Agricultural Grounds to take part in a Schooling Show Clinic on July 26.
The Light Horse Committee hosted the event as a learning opportunity for both English and Western riders.
“These shows teach control and composure and how a horse and rider can work together. It teaches you confidence for in the workplace, patience, how to be grounded, and encourages a healthy lifestyle,” said participant, Gillian Ramsay.
Ramsay is from Blackfoot and has been riding for eight years. This year with her horse, Docker, she entered the Western Equitation and Western Showmanship classes where riders memorized patterns and were assessed on movements of both the horse and rider.
Eight classes throughout the day allowed junior and adult riders to receive feedback from the clinician.
Equitation is based on the rider, so participants were given notes on their posture, what they were doing with their hands, and whether they were effectively giving cues at the right time.
Aids they could have used to communicate would have included using their legs and talking to their horses.
“Your posture can influence your experience. When upright you look confident and are able to stay balanced,” said Ramsay.
Showmanship is based on how well a horse will move and respond to their rider. Participants received notes on how they corrected their horse, their communication and connection with the horse–showing that they responded quickly and not when they wanted to.
People of all skill levels participated, and both beginners and experienced riders enjoyed the opportunity to continue building their skills.
Horses and riders can react differently on different days to different situations. Experienced riders sometimes use the opportunity to train new horses.
The two riding styles allow them to get used to different saddles and reins.
“These shows allow horses to become desensitized to different things. For example, a horse on the farm may not always get to see a lot of people,” said Ramsay.
The more familiar horses become with different situations, the more calm their disposition will become, and the less likely they are to be agitated when faced with a new situation.
Committee member, Irene Smith said they were happy regulations opened up to where they were able to host something. The committee regularly hosts 4 – 5 clinics in the spring as well as their three day horse show at the Vermilion Fair.
Smith enjoys the opportunity to work with her horse and the social aspect because the people she meets have a common interest.
“Working with horses is also good for your mental health,” said Ramsay.
“A horse will never judge who you are but they are always listening to you. They are your best friend.”