Monday, June 30, 2008

Salem for the Region 4 Championships - Pre-Show Western Riding

Part 1

The first class we had Tuesday morning at the Arabian horse show was Rachel and Dandy in western riding. This is a class that I really haven't known that much about until recently. Rachel and I checked it out at the AHACO Arabian horse show to see if it was something that she might be interested in trying. Then decided that Rachel and the Arabian horse would enter it for the pre-show.

Western riding has two aspects to the class. First, all the competitors come in together and do work on the rail just like any pleasure class. Then when the line-up is called, all riders line up across the short end of the arena. There they are given instructions on a pattern. The horses then compete singly completely that pattern. The class is scored half on the rail work and half on the pattern work.

Like any class that requires a pattern, the rules state the pattern must be available one hour before the start of the session in which the class takes place. So Rachel headed up to the show office to get a copy of the pattern right at 7 am. Then while we were getting the horse ready and she was getting herself dressed she had the chance to learn this pattern and decide if she had any questions.

The pattern consisted of walking from the first cone to the second. Then jogging from the second to the third. At the third cone picking up the left lead and circling around to the fourth cone. The horse is to halt at that fourth cone then turn on the haunches to the right 180°. Lope on the right lead to the third cone. Halt at the third cone and drop stirrups. Jog to the first cone. Halt pick up stirrups and back five steps.

By the time we made our way up to the warm-up arena, Rachel had the pattern down. It was pretty basic and she really needed to work on was picking up her stirrups. It's amazing how much differently things like that can be affected when wearing show clothes. Chaps are the number one culprit interfering with things like mounting and loosing or picking up stirrups. But Rachel managed to find her stirrups easily, thanks partly to her well broken in saddle.

If she'd had to do that with my saddle it could have ended up differently. My show saddle has not been ridden in on a regular basis and the stirrups are not "trained." They still like to hang straight instead of conforming to my legs. My saddle could sure use some time with a broom handle pushed in the stirrups to mold them into the right position. I'm always fighting with my toe to find my way into that slot.

The other thing that Rachel worked on in the warm-up once the horse was warmed up was the turn on the haunches. Dandy has that move down pat but Rachel tends to want to cue him using two hands. Riding in a class, she needs to cue with just one hand. I was actually surprised at how quickly she made it work when she had to.

Other than that I had her practice the size of the arch for the lopes. Thinking about riding a half circle with a target in mind doesn't always come easily to people. I never know when Rachel is going to have a dyslexic moment and not be able to fix that target in her mind. It was clear this particular morning that wasn't a problem.

By the time the junior exhibitors were called up to the ring, Rachel and the Arabian horse were ready. Just as Dandy had done the previous day, he jogged super slow in the warm-up but stepped it up a notch when he came through the in gate. I could tell as Rachel rode down the rail that she was trying to slow him with her hand instead of using her legs to round the horse up. It would be interesting to see how long the horse put up with this. He tends to start rooting through the bit when he's ridden off his face.

It was really interesting to me to watch how this class was ridden. I'd expected the other riders to ride their horses just like they would in a pleasure class. What I saw instead was a lot of horses on very short tight reins. The horses were going super slow but there definitely wasn't a draped rein in the class, even though I'd seen a number of these horses going that way in their pleasure classes.

Rachel rode Dandy on a looser rein that these other Arabian horses. However, he did not stay as round as the horses on the short tight reins nor did he travel as slowly. With that part of the class counting for half I wasn't sure how this would play out in the end.

Watching the pattern work, there were no horses that jumped out at me as being super bad or super good for that matter. It seemed to be a toss-up as far as I could see. When all was said and done, Rachel placed seventh out of seven horses. I'm not sure I would have bumped her down quite that far but I did figure she and Dandy would be at the bottom end.

The first video is the rail work of this class. The second video shows on Rachel's pattern work. I wish there had been a least a couple of other horses shown because looking back at in now I find myself second guessing.

I asked Rachel what she thought about her ride. The answer I got was that she didn't like the way it went. Other than that I didn't get anything more specific but then by this time I was beginning to suspect that there was a problem with Rachel. I just didn't have a clue what it was.

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

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  1. It seems rather nerve-racking with this judge walking right next to the rider!
    I can't comment on riding etc as have absolutely no idea about Arabian Showing but I hope all goes well for Dandy and Rachel.

  2. I don't know much about western, but I have to say that I think Rachel did a great job! She did the pattern correctly (as far as I can tell), and looked confident while she was riding. I was impressed with how easily she got both leads, and thought from this angle that her arch from cones #3 to #4 looked nice. The kids at this show must be really good - when I was a kid showing, at least 1/3 of the kids would have gotten a wrong lead in a pattern class.

    It's hard doing something new. I don't know what they were looking for, but Rachel's riding looked nice to me! I hope she is not too discouraged with her placing.

  3. Mikael, thanks for sharing with us how your shows are going. I continue to enjoy these series and learn each time I read a new post.

  4. For her first Western Riding class Rachel did quite well. So many "rail babies" really lose their minds on pattern work.
    I have a couple questions...were 1/2 Arabians shown in this class? Did I see a red dun? Is that color recognized in purebred Arabians?
    My bay Arabian clearly carried the dun gene (loud and clear), but I have never seen a red dun Arabian.

  5. wiola, some judges do that in the western pattern classes and others prefer to sit in a chair. I think it depends on the perspective of the exhibitor whether they like it or not.

    Some think the judge can see better up and following them, so can score more fairly while others might be bothered by them following like that. I don't think it bothered Rachel at all.

    haffiegirl, I did think the kids at this show did the pattern quite well. I had expected to see some missed patterns and wrong leads.

    I believe that several of these kids compete at the national level. I'm not sure if Rachel will ride this class again of not but I hope that she does.

    kathy c, thanks for letting me know you life these posts. I tend to think I'm boring people with them so if this is what you want to see encouragement is good. It'll keep me on track.

    jeanette, yes there are half-Arabians in this class. The pattern classes like eq and western riding can be ridden with half Arabians or purebreds.

    As for color, the purebred Arabians still have only the basic colors allowed in their registration. That would be black, bay, gray and chestnut. I think I saw roan there at one time but that may have been changed.

    I have no idea about the color designations for half-Arabians. I have never registered one. I do know that pictures must be submitted with half-Arabian registrations however.

    But I do think you are right about the color of this quarter horse Arab cross. It's color really stood out in that class and at this show. Quite unlikely for an Arabian show.

    I suspect as the Quarter horse Arab cross continues to grow in favor that more of these colors will be seen.

    The horse was ridden by Skylar Powell, I believe, and is definitely a contender at Youth Nationals.

  6. Another great video! She did such a good job, I can't imagine what the others did to place above her. I hope she continues with this class, as they look sooooooo good!

  7. I would have liked to have seen the other girls go. Her rail was nice. I think that a lot of those other horses were moving a bit slow for a horsemanship class. I am suprised that she got seventh. Maybe it's due to the fact that the horse didn't stop square and actually stop. It seems like at the second stop his feet kept moving a bit. Maybe that was the only deciding factor in placing her where she was placed. Because her departures and all were great. I think she did a wonderful job and she has a really nice horse. That was a great pattern. If she keeps up the practice then she will be awesome. It seems like she and the horse really get a long well.

  8. I thought she looked pretty good. Not knowing what the judges are really looking for though I can't really comment on why she would have gotten the seventh. I think Dandy is a wonderfully well behaved horse and just watching him standing in line waiting to go, he was so quiet and paying attention, I was impressed with his whole demeanor, he looks like a real veteran show horse.

  9. grace under pressure methinks... helps me with my next show :) Cant wait to see the next installment. How's rachey doing?

    gp in montana

  10. There is no way I would remember the pattern, no way! I hope that we will hear that Rachel and Dandy did better than Rachel felt about it!

  11. They looked like they did well to me. I think the problem is that Rachel and Dandy are the best of the best among the best of the best. I'd just be happy to have that kind of control over a horse.

  12. Wow-they did awesome for the first time. Actually, I thought they did really good period. It must have been a really, really tough class.
    Tell Rachel not to get discouraged-it stinks to be at the bottom of the class but you have nowhere to go from there but UP-;).

  13. Wow MiKael and I thought both those rides looked superb (good thing I am not a judge Hehehe) but I thought that was a winning ride. I dont know much about the finer nuances etc. so that didnt help me see it as a ride that warranted 7th out of 7. I know you will probably be able to point out all the mistakes to me LOL and I could see when she was jigging up and down sometimes with the rein, but I would be ecstatic If I could ride as well as that (good thing I am not a competitor either!)

    I think Rachel and Dandy looked great out there and kudos to both of them.