Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Adventure Continues..........The Results........

The Adventure Begins

From the beginning of Rhet's class, Richard was texting me. He and Angie wanted to watch the class on the live feed but weren't trusting they actually had the right class. Once that was settled Richard tried to figure out what they were seeing in regards to horses and the resulting scores and there was lots of commentary comparing the colts to Rhet.

When Rhet entered the ring, the texting went up a notch. At the same time a couple walked up the stairs and decided to sit right down in front of me. They were talking about Rhet as they took their seats. They actually stood there for a moment blocking my view.

I was wanting to watch my colt but curious about who these people were and what they were saying about my colt. I didn't say a word to them just tried to hear why it was they liked Rhet while trying to answer Richard too. I was glad I'd ordered video of this class so I could see what I was missing between Richard's texts and the people in front of me.

Once Rhet exited the ring, most of the outside stimulation stopped. The people went on to a conversation about horse shows they'd seen in Europe and I began watching for Rhet's scores on the big screen overhead in the arena. Richard continued texting his predictions about how Rhet had done.

I'd been trying to tell Richard not to get all that exited. I was worried about this panel of judges and how they would see my colt. When the scores flashed onto the big screen, my fears were confirmed. They hadn't liked Rhet.

I texted his scores to Richard and then waited for his response. It took him a moment but when it came through it read, "You're kidding, right?? Once I confirmed it had not been a joke Richard went silent.

Those people in front of me couldn't believe Rhet's scores either. Pointing to the screen, the woman said, "What's with that?" as they both shook their heads. I glanced around the rail of the arena to see other reactions that were very much the same. There were definitely people, a lot of people, who didn't understand how my colt had scored in this class.

While I had been prepared for Rhet not to win a Top Ten from these judges, I wasn't prepared for how low he had been scored. Four of these judges had given Rhet scores near the bottom for the entire class and they were within a point or two of each other. The fifth judge had scored him right up near the top.

With the high and low scores being eliminated Rhet's score didn't even put him into the top ten of the fifteen horses that had already shown. It was over for us at this horse show, I knew Jesse was taking my colt back to his stall.

I was torn between running out to talk with Jesse and wanting to see the rest of this class. Even though Rhet wouldn't be taking home a prize I still wanted to see what his competition had been. I also wanted to know which horses would win those prizes so I forced myself to stay and watch despite the disappointment I felt.

With Rhet's scores blaring at me I had a new measure for the colts coming into the ring. It was interesting to compare scores against those given to Rhet when the colts were still fresh in my mind although it didn't change my understanding of the judging. The more I watched.........the more confused I became.

When it was all said and done there were five horses in the top ten that I would have placed there. That means, of course, that five of the horses I would have placed, walked out the gate, and five horses I wouldn't have used made a top ten. Sometimes that's how it goes at horse shows.

Richard was battling with his own disappointment. He and Angie had been convinced all along that Rhet could not only get a top ten but that he could win. That's how much they like him. For the longest time I didn't get a text message from Richard at all. When I finally asked him if he was still there, the response I got was, "Throwing things!!!!!!!!" I didn't hear much from Richard after that throughout the rest of the show or the trip home.

For those of you who had expected magic in Rhet's class, the magic was there when the horse was in the ring. It may not have been reflected in the scores but it was reflected in the eyes of many people watching him. With this big disappointment I was going to have to decide if that was enough for me.

This had been an expensive trip and I had made it because I believed that Rhet really had a chance at getting a ribbon. I wouldn't have spent that kind of money just to go play........I spent it to build some credibility for my farm. My mind was churning trying to figure things out.

I decided that I would try to find Jeff Schall. He's the big name trainer (BNT) who had evaluated Rhet as a two month old foal. It was partially my belief in his evaluation that had gone into the decision to bring my colt to nationals in the first place.

In a comment on one of my posts I was told I was misrepresenting what Jeff had said implying that Jeff had not been particularly impressed with Rhet at all. While I believed my assessment of his evaluation was correct, now was as good a time as any to see for sure. For me to continue with Rhet in halter I needed to know my thinking was not flawed.

It took me a while to track down where the stabling for Shada was located. Once I got there, the barn was closed because they were getting horses ready for the next session's halter classes. People were sitting around talking but I didn't see Jeff's wife or Jeff so I found a business card and left. Having a phone number was a good place to start.

As I walked across the grounds back towards the stalls, I decided I'd go ahead and call Jeff's number to leave a message figuring he'd be too busy to answer. Imagine my surprise when the someone answered the phone, "This is Jeff."

I told Jeff my name and that I owned the colt he had seen the previous summer at Dan and Chris's place. I identifies the breeding of the mare thinking that would help him place which colt I meant. Then I told him it was my understanding that he had liked this colt. Jeff quickly corrected me with this response, "I didn't just like him.......I REALLY liked him!"

I told Jeff that Rhet had been really trashed by the judges in the colt's class and I was feeling pretty discouraged. Jeff wanted to know what I meant by trashed so I told him Rhet's score and that I really didn't know what to do as far as his halter career with him placing so low in this class. Jeff asked me what I attributed that to........ politics, the colt didn't show well, whatever were my thoughts so we had a brief conversation about the colt's class.

I'm not one to jump to conclusions. I don't attribute everything that doesn't go my way to politics nor do I think that everyone needs to agree with me. All I really had in this situation was my opinion and who knows what that's worth in the big scheme of things. That's pretty much what I told the man.

Then Jeff told me that his colt, a unanimous winner in his region, hadn't done well with these judges either. The implication was Jeff didn't agree with how they saw these colts either. We talked some about Rhet's future in halter and Jeff coming to see the colt again..............

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

After Rhet's Class

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  1. Wow! How disppointing. I hate it when a horse I think is wonderful and doing a good job gets no recognition. I can't imagine how you must have felt.

  2. What a disappointment! The plot thickens yet again....


  3. Wow! That sure sounds disheartening! BUT, if this expert also had issues with these particular judges, then there is nothing to do but follow your heart and move on with this colt. You seem to know what you are doing and if you think this colt has it, you are most likely not wrong. Sorry it didn't go well. Best laid plans right?

  4. Gosh, I'm really disappointed too. I was expecting top ten, at least. Although he seems to have pleased the crowd. Isn't that what really matters? He really looks good there even though it's a bad photo. Maybe all the judges were on crack that day. Were they all choosing a particular bloodline rather than the horse? I've noticed at shows that if you have some certain sires in the pedigree, you almost certainly will be in the ribbons.

  5. Wow, that must have been such a disappointment.

    I have to say that through years of reading your blog Mikael, I am always impressed with your ability to step back and assess things. Your consistent pursuit of outside informed opinions, your ability to read a crowd, and your belief in your animals is an inspiration to all of us.

    I probably would have bowed to the politics, or the belief in politics. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I believe that politics were involved. I am saying that my mind would have given up. You are amazing, and I look forward as always to your next post.

    Happy Holidays!


  6. It is pretty universal for judges to pick familiar faces. Human or equine. Sigh!

  7. Oh, so heartbreaking! I was so sure I'd be commenting with a big cheer instead of a big frown.

  8. It's so hard to be judged unfairly. Some judges that I've seen over the years don't have a clue what they're looking at or how to score it. I know it's disappointing but that's the way showing goes. I'm afraid there are lots of politics involved with judging no matter what discipline or classes entered. Good luck next time, Rhett is a beautiful horse and I'm sure his day will come.

  9. despite the foreshadowing you gave in previous posts, i was also surprised and disappointed. makes me want to blame politics because of how jesse did at that show in general.

    it must feel good to know the crowd was with you, and most of all, to see your horse enjoy his new job.

    horses should enjoy their work! and people should find them the jobs they love.

    ~lytha in germany

  10. I have to agree with you initially, just based on what I saw in the placings in the class. I haven't seen a picture of your boy, but I know the politics within AHA is rampant.

    My horse's breeder has bred a national champion, a reserve national champion and multiple regional champions both in the in hand and under saddle rings (my boy included.)

    She went to judges school - made the highest scores on the tests, did well as a learner judge, And very well on her verbal exams, but they failed her as a judge. .

    Because they never let anyone through judges school in AHA the first time. The exceptions are officers in AHA and certain big name trainers.

    She was told that going in. She tried anyway.

    I found it frustrating because she has a grasp of what the breed needs and what is proper and good for the performance and halter horses.

    Its one of the reasons I have stayed in the sport horse division. If they start letting AHA judges in there, and get rid of the USEF card requirement for them, then I'm out.

    At least sport horse in hand has a lack of politics.

    The new point card system was supposed to level the playing field. And it does, slightly. But the judges have learned to work around it.

    good luck. don't loose faith.

    And stay the hell away from the Boggs' ideal of halter.

  11. Such a let down ... especialy when u know your horse is worth more. It happens in all walks of the horse industry, I am so sorry that this was the outcome, but look forward to what this BNT had to say when he came to visit after his class. (((Hugs)))

  12. It sounds as though both Legs and Rhet really showed well. I know how objective you are, and I'm just mad that neither one placed! What were the judges looking for? Were you able to speak with any of the judges re their reason for discounting your horses?

    Keep your chin up and DO NOT give up. We all have different ideas of beauty and perfection. I can't help but feel proud with you at how well Legs and Rhet presented themselves. Yall did good!

  13. when you put your heart in it... it'll take you anywhere. onward and upward

  14. Sorry he didn't get any awards. I'm hoping you will still be posting the video you mentioned, sometime in the future?

  15. Perhaps you should branch out and leave the MR.