Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Trouble at the Ingate

Some horses do not enter the show ring well. In such a case, you might be tempted just to take a run at it, but you need to be very careful around the in-gate or you risk being eliminated or, worse, hurting someone!

It is forbidden to trot or canter through the in-gate unless you have been given permission to do so (and even then, you must leave the ring at a walk). If you feel that you absolutely must trot or canter into the ring, inform the in-gate person of it while you're still a couple of horses out. Not only will the in-gate person be able to allow you to enter the ring at speed, but he or she will also make sure that the in-gate area is kept clear for safety purposes.

As soon as you are on deck, start informing those around you that you have a difficult loader and ask them to clear the in-gate area. In the interests of safety, do not attempt to enter the ring until the area is completely clear.

If you have a difficult loader but would like to take it more slowly, you can have someone on the ground lead you into the ring. One of the safest methods of doing this is to have the ground person loop a lead shank through one side of the bit and lead from that so that no unclipping will be required once the horse is in the ring; the shank is simply allowed to slip back through the bit. This also allows the ground person to keep some distance from the horse should anything go wrong.

Even if you do not plan on trotting or cantering your difficult horse into the ring, it's a good idea to inform the in-gate that there might be a little scene when you attempt to go through the in-gate. Again, tell everyone around you when you're on deck that it's time to clear the in-gate to prevent anyone from getting hurt.

Some horses do better if they don't wait right at the in-gate. If you plan on keeping your horse away until the last moment, make sure that you have someone on the ground at the in-gate both to keep anyone else from taking your spot and to keep the in-gate clear.

The EC rule for entering and exiting the ring is the following:

In all classes, trotting or cantering through the in-gate without prior permission is forbidden. The penalty for contravening this rule is either a fine or elimination from the class, at the discretion of the judge. Under special circumstances, a steward or judge may give permission for a horse to trot into the ring, but not out of the ring.

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