Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Salem for the Region 4 Championships - Select Rider Western Pleasure 50 & over

Part 1

The first regional class I rode my Arabian horse in was the select rider western pleasure class. If I had any hope of "winning" a prize at the regional championships with my still unfinished horse, this class was it. The class would be filled with riders who had never earned a regional championship or better. That meant most riders would not be at my skill level which, if we were lucky, might offset my horse's shortcomings.

My horse came into the ring a bit buzzed. His jog was faster than he had been going in the warm-up and he was carrying his head a bit higher than I'd like. With this being the select rider class, most of the other riders would be riding off of nerves with their horses reacting to them so there were other horses a bit buzzed as well. However, as a rider I was more comfortable with dealing with a horse on the muscle.

When they called for the lope, I was really pleased with my horse's response. He waited quietly for me to ask and then absolutely nailed his transition. It was one of the best lope transitions the horse has given me in the curb bit.

From there the horse went on to lope slower and more consistently rated than any previous class. I still had to pick him up every few strides and really wasn't riding him on the loose rein I would like but the horse was definitely going forward better than he had been in the bridle.

The only problem real problem I had in that first lope was going down the last rail. He kind of stalled out for a moment and his motion was more up and down than it was going forward. It was almost like he ran into that wall of the bridle again but after a few short strides he moved on again with a nice round slow lope. Now if I could just get him off that support of the rein, we might even get to be competitive.

The other thing I remember about this ride was feeling awkward about what to do with my right arm. I'm so used to riding with romel reins and that arm having it's own job...........I can't figure out what to do with it when I ride with split reins. I even noticed in one place in the video there is way too much air between my body and that arm. Kelly Alcorn would have called that a chicken wing and asked me when I was going to fly off. Funny how those old things can creep into the mind at inopportune moments.

I think I've mentioned about the "walk" before that I allow my horse to walk on out like a "real" walk. I hate those mincey little walks that are slower than a snail. I noticed in this class that all three judges watched the horse at the walk trying to figure out if he was being naughty or that was the rate I was asking. Legs was a good boy and stayed nice, soft and consistent throughout the walk. I was really pleased with how it felt.

When the announcer called out for us to reverse, I turned my horse into the wall to remind him to round up and slow down. Pushing him back onto his hocks by using the wall also seems to help remind the horse to stay focused. He didn't rush off out of the turn but stayed nice, soft and slow.

The second lope transition was nearly as nice as the first one had been. I was happy to feel the horse underneath himself so well even if I did have to hold him pretty firmly to keep him committed to going forward. Something about that added support was giving the horse confidence about rounding his back and a little less fear of that bit.

If that's what it takes to get this horse as round as I wanted, then I'm willing to hold him despite the fact that it's not what most trainers would do. There was no way I was going to bump this horse off the bit causing him anymore fear of this bridle than he already has. I'll do whatever it takes to get this horse to trust that he can go to that bit and still be safe.

The horse's transition down to the final jog was good. He went on to jog a bit slower than he had coming into the ring. I think that his head had dropped just a notch as well, although it still wasn't down where I would like it to be.........or where it is at home. But one thing at a time.......round first and the position of his head can follow.

When I rode the horse into the line-up I was really pleased with the ride. While I didn't expect us to win a prize, I did think we might make a judge's card. In my years of showing, I have never made a judge's card in western pleasure. For me at this point, I was thinking a card would be a good milestone.

For those who don't know about Arabian regional or national championships, they have the horses all line up in the center and verify the numbers on the judges' cards are valid. Then a scorer computes the results from the combination of those three cards. Once that's been done, they dismiss all the horses. The winning horses are called back into the ring individually and presented with their awards.

There were only eight horses in this class so a Top Five was not awarded. If there are less than ten horses, the number is divided in half (always rounding up) and the resulting number is the number of awards that are given. In this class of eight horses, they awarded four "top five" awards.

\when I went back later and checked the judge's cards, I'd not only made one judge's card but two. If I remember correctly I was 4th on the call judge's card and 5th on one other card, Paul Kostial didn't use me at all. However, we were ranked 5th overall in the class.......not too bad for a horse struggling with the bridle.

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

Just a note to say I'm so far behind here I'm not getting time to visit any blogs and I really miss all of you guys! Lindsay is gradually getting stronger and beginning to help a little in the barn. Once she gets back in full swing I sure hope things will slow down a bit so I can get back into my routine and have time to visit all of you.

Visit Blog Village and vote daily for this blog Here They are now measuring the rankings by votes out, so if you find my blog on the site, please click that link too to improve my rankings. TY


  1. Thats so cool. 5th is awesome. It's great how he is just getting better and better.

  2. Great job! I loved the video, looked like Legs was really enjoying Shania rockin' out! He was totally insync with the music!

  3. Aaaah I was so hoping that you placed higher!! Sounds like Legs is well on his way to being as near perfect as you can hope for. The judges must be really tough LOL. Oh when I clicked on the video it said that it was no longer available?

    I am the same with visiting blogs, I find the time to visit a little but not nearly enough time to comment and see them all and I miss all the interaction too.

    Hope you have a good day.