German dressage rider Eva Möller has been ride judging the Shearwater Young Horse Finals at the National Championships for the past four years and through her time has ridden a wide selection of future superstars. A hugely talented rider and trainer herself she also judges a variety of other young horse classes and recently won the bronze medal at the 2018 World Young Horse Championships in the five-year-old section.
We caught up with her ahead of our finals to find out what she would be looking for and whether she had any tips for our competitors
I am lucky that I get to judge on the first day and on this day I am in the box looking at each horse individually. First of all, I look for the correct type of gait. They need to be supple and not to tense. It is also important they are ridden in a nice way, with the contact correct. I also like to look for a horse that is a bit dynamic but not too overridden.
The main difference between the four-year-old and six-year-old horses should be the collection they are able to achieve. The six-year-olds should be much higher. When looking at the four-year-olds I am aware they have more time to come together and give them more credit. The six-year-olds should come together better and should have the ability to collect when asked and through transitions.
It is very similar to the system we have in Germany and I think it helps people to train their horses correctly. They have guidelines to work towards – for instance if the horse is six-years-old the rider knows they must be able to complete a certain move. I think it helps to bring them up in a nice way and if the training is correct they are already ready to move onto the seven-year-old classes.
I would say it is important for your horse to be confident to be ridden by someone else. Obviously some horses are more sensitive than others but it shouldn’t be a problem to change the rider and of course correct training for the horse will help its confidence.
For me first of all it is the quality of the gait. Then I look for a horse who is going – I don’t like a horse who is lazy, I would prefer a horse who is too forward than to behind my leg.
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