Saturday, January 5, 2008

A Baby Boomer Dreams of Arabian Horses - Rhythm's Story Part 2

Part One of the Baby Boomer Series

Rhythm's Story starts here

From the beginning, I knew that this young Arabian horse had the look and talent it took to be a competitive open western horse at the national level. At that level, stallions are usual the only horses that win. So from the beginning it was always part of the plan to keep this horse intact and market him as a breeding horse as well as a western pleasure prospect.

That meant lots of work keeping his attitude in check. I didn't want him to loose his fire, I only wanted him to learn how to control it. That attitude of his was the source of his charisma. Even going into the show ring the horse was going to exude the message "I am the king!"

My first opportunity to get Rhythm into the show ring would be as a yearling. At the regional championships there are special classes offered for Sweepstakes Nominated Breeding Entry Yearlings. Since Rhythm was entered in this money program and a halter quality horse, this was the logical first step for his show career.

Not having the money to send him off to training nor trusting anyone to break his spirit, I conditioned the colt at home. I also taught him the basics of standing up. Teaching him how to set his feet and lift himself up. The final touches would be put in place by a handler hired just for the show.

Unfortunately, I had assumed that Eric Krichten would already have a Sweepstakes colt so I didn't even speak to him. I learned later that he hadn't gotten a colt until the last minute. He would have gladly led my colt for me. I knew from the start, this had been a big mistake.

While I couldn't afford one of the big halter boys who charge anywhere from $750 to $2000 just to show in one class, I made arrangements for a handler who had experience and good political pull, just not a big halter reputation. While this trainer wouldn't do for my horse what Eric would have done, I was content that he would be much better than the lesser known trainers in my area.

In addition to taking Rhythm to this show, I was also taking Scandalous Hope. The filly, though small, was a beautiful example of an Arabian filly. I was as excited about showing her as I was the red colt.

Right up until the day of the show, I was excited about the coming Sweepstakes classes. Then my handler cancelled on me, deciding that instead of showing my horses as promised, he was going to go home early. He excused his behavior by making arrangements for another handler, one of the lessor know trainers in my area. Had I known going in that this would happen, I would never even have entered my horses in this show. Before even entering the ring, I already knew what to expect.

I really wanted just to scratch both horses. The local trainer couldn't even show Hope, instead his wife was going to be the one to handle her. Watching the schooling session, I knew I had thrown my money away. But Dave wouldn't hear me and insisted that we show. He was convinced that the quality of the horses would win out.

Neither class was pretty from the perspective of how my horses showed. Hope didn't really stand up at all. She was frightened and insecure and had no faith in her handler. Her handler didn't have enough experience to get the filly under control and the stance she did get out of Hope made the filly's neck look upside down, short and thick. It really was NOT a pretty picture. I was not surprised that she didn't even make a top ten even though she was one of the better fillies in that class.

Rhythm showed better but nothing like he did at home. He didn't use his neck to it's best advantage. There was no way the judges got the opportunity to see its beautiful length, great shape and beautiful refined throat latch. It's really not just political pull with those lessor know trainers, this guy did the best he could, but he did not stand this horse up to his best advantage. The horse did get a top ten but didn't get into the money.

It was interesting to note that as the three judges were going into the gazebo as they turned in their judges cards, they could be heard discussing the disfigurement to Rhythm's head. Eric said later, it was sad to see because Rhythm was by far the best horse in the class. To get a compliment like that from Eric was really a big deal. I was going to have to settle for that and a lavender sweepstakes ribbon for our first attempt in the show ring.

To be continued.................

Rhythm's Story - Part 3

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  1. That's just so disheartening.

  2. Very frustrating. I hate it when people let you down especially when it is costing you money.

    Hope you are feeling better today. (((Hugs)))


  3. Yes, it is so disappointing when these handlers back out on you at the last minute. We always hired a better known trainer for the bigger shows when we were showing apps because it just seemed like you couldn't buy a ribbon without them even if you did have the best horse. Sad isn't it?

    Yes, we were very, very fortunate that Bucky didn't do himself in getting stuck on his back like that. Especially an older horse like he is with some health issues. I've never heard of that happening before in all the years I have lived here in snow country! I hope I never hear of it again!

    Great post as always!! Thanks for sharing!

  4. I can't believe someone gets $750 to $2000 to take a horse in a class---WOW! Where do I sign up:-)?

  5. Ah, the heartbreak of halter. Especially in a Sweepstakes class. We always showed our own halter horses, so we never had an issue of paying anyone to do it. So expensive, and then to have him cancel on you in just plain unethical. If it had been me I would have thrown a fit, especially if you'd paid him already as that could have constituted a contract. Not good business.