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Last-Minute Tips: Pattern Classes – with Brad Jewett

Many non-pros joke that they put a lot of work into preparing for their classes, and it all goes out the window the moment they step foot in the show pen. Preparation is one thing, but actually showing is a whole different beast.

We spoke with top trainers to get their advice on “last-minute” tips they give their clients before entering the show arena. In our first article in this series, we learned some last-minute pointers before heading into the Pleasure pen with RJ King and Blair Townsend. In our next installment, we focused on Showmanship with Clint Ainsworth and Jenell Pogue. Our last article checked some final Hunter Under Saddle boxes with Keith Miller.

Today’s article discusses some last-minute tips leading trainer Brad Jewett of Jewett Performance Horses gives his clients before showing in a pattern class, like Equitation and Horsemanship.

Stay in Your Lane

According to Jewett, success in a pattern class is much more about individual improvement and working toward attaining a long-term goal than it is about winning the class.

Specifically, Jewett cites one of his favorite quotes, “Greatness is a process.” Jewett says that the best way to enter a pattern class like Equitation or Horsemanship is to focus on steady improvement over time.

Therefore, whatever you have been working on with your horse, that is the lane in which you must remain. Essentially, you need to “show what you prepared to go show. If you have been working on speed control or transitions or turns, let that be the centerpiece of your pattern in that particular performance.

If you have this mentality before entering a pattern class, you will likely find the goal for each pattern at each show is a little different. Jewett says his clients find the most significant overall success when they use each pattern like a brick in the wall of the house they’ve been working all year to build. The best performances tend to occur at the end of the year culmination shows like the World Show or the Congress.

Jewett reminds us, “I would rather take a half step forward and never take a step back than taking two steps forward and three steps back when preparing for the big shows at the end of the year.”

So, when going into the arena in any pattern class, trust your process and focus on your individual goal for that particular performance.

Have a Plan

Beyond the obvious memorizing the pattern, Jewett strongly recommends that you have a specific plan in mind for the particular pattern.

Jewett reminds his riders to “Ride the pattern as it is written and not improvise.” Before the performance, he will coach his non-pros to develop a plan for their line of travel through the pattern, as well as how to emphasize their strongest maneuvers.

Specifically, if your horse is a strong stopper, show off that stop. Don’t rush them through that part of the pattern. If the horse has a significant pivot, set up the maneuver going into the pivot to allow that movement to take center stage.

When you deviate from your plan, you are more likely to fail. So, memorize the pattern and then develop an individualized plan for executing that pattern to the best of your ability.

Don’t Get Too Hung Up on Watching Others

Jewett also feels strongly about cautioning his riders from getting too hung up on watching other riders’ goes before showing.

Jewett believes that watching others can help establish flow and lines of travel for a particular pattern. However, he tells his riders NOT to watch other patterns as a comparison or judgment.

Indeed, watching other patterns as a means of comparison will likely set you off your course and make you even more nervous about your turn.

If you find that you struggle to avoid such comparisons, Jewett says you should let your trainer or a friend watch the goes and give you advice instead of watching them yourself.

If you decide to watch other riders’ patterns before your go, make sure not to allow their goes to alter your plan or individual goals for the class. The only thing watching other goes should do is help you nail down an ideal line of travel or become more mindful of a sticky area to look out for.

Mind the Basics

Finally, Jewett reminds you to focus on the basics as you ride through a pattern. Sit tall in the saddle, have the right body alignment, have the right amount of contact with your horse’s mouth and maintain the proper speed.

If you let your horse get away from you and your body gets loose, the pattern can quickly get out of control. Therefore, the foundation of these classes needs to remain in your head. These are riding skill classes, so you can’t forget to ride.


CLICK HERE to read the first article in this series, ‘Last-Minute Tips: Western Pleasure – with RJ King & Blair Townsend’

CLICK HERE to read the second article in this series, ‘Last-Minute Tips: Showmanship – with Clint Ainsworth & Jenell Pogue’

CLICK HERE to read the third article in this series, ‘Last-Minute Tips: Hunter Under Saddle – with Keith Miller’

About the Author:  Megan Rechberg has been riding horses off and on since she was in sixth grade.
She works as a full-time mom to son Jackson and daughter Sterling, part-time litigation attorney, and social media manager for up-and-coming APHA stallions.