Leadline classes at shows are very popular and quite enjoyable for kids, judges, spectators, family and friends. Competing in leadline classes is a great way for young riders, usually 7 years and under, to get experience in the show ring and to have fun. There are plenty of opportunities to do so from small local shows up to large competitions such as Devon and Upperville.
1. Choose Your MountPonies are the perfect size mounts for young riders but you want one that is quiet, safe and used to showing. Welsh, Shetland and crossbred ponies are very popular for these classes. Practicing at home with the pony you’ve selected will make the actual event go much smoother for everyone involved.
2. Plan your Tack and AttireTack and riding attire can be purchased new (Just for Ponies can help! Leadline Products ) or they can be found at consignment shops or second hand. Safety helmets with a chin strap are usually required as well as some type of boots. The tack and attire of the rider and leader should be appropriate for the discipline and the level of the show. At local shows dress is more casual while at shows like Devon, they go all out.
3. Select a LeadFor leads you can use a plain leather lead with buckle or snap end, a leather lead with a newmarket chain to attach to both sides of the bit or a leather chain shank. At Welsh breed shows, chains are not allowed and the lead must be attached to the noseband.
4. Prep on Show DayOn the day of the show don’t get ready too soon, especially with the youngest riders. They should be well rested and have eaten before they show. If it’s hot, wait until the last minute to put their coat, gloves and helmet on. All the usual last minute checks for showing apply – number on? Fly spray and hoof dressing? Reins not twisted? Heels down? Remember to smile!
5. Show Ring TipsIn the class, you walk both ways of the ring and then line up in the center. The judging is subjective but a good position and a smiling, confident manner often catches the judge’s eye. For the youngest competitors a helper or two is allowed to steady the rider. Although the rider is being judged, the whole picture of a well turned out pony, leader and rider can make a good impression. At the lineup, the judge will often talk to each rider and ask a simple question such as what the rider’s name is or the pony’s name or color. Additional classes are sometimes offered with trotting or going over poles on the ground.
Classes are often placed like a regular horse show but usually all the exhibitors get a ribbon. Many times fun prizes are given to everyone and that’s often the kids’ favorite part of showing. Most importantly, everyone should have FUN, so prepare well, relax, and enjoy the moment. Before you know it, your young rider will have outgrown showing in leadline!