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
When judging the Shearwater Young Horse classes what are you particularly looking for?
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.
Do you look for something different in the age sections of the finals?
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.
What do you like about the Shearwater Young Horse competition?
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.
Do you have any top tips for the riders competing in the final?
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.
What do you look for when looking for your next young dressage horse?
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.
You can read more about our Young Horse Classes here
You can also catch up with this years finalists on our blog