Sunday, January 24, 2010

Jody Strand Clinic - The Pretty Bay Horse

Part 1

There was a young western horse by Marwan Al Shaqab out of a Dark Victory daughter that belonged to a friend of mine. The horse has been professionally trained but was home for a brief winter break so the owner decided to bring the horse to the clinic.

The horse wasn't really at the clinic because of any issues. The owner is like me and always looking for new ways to learn. She was hoping riding her horse in a clinic with a nationally respected western trainer would add some dimension to her knowledge base.

This young gelding is the quality of horse one would expect from such breeding. He is a very dark bay with a great shock of hair in both his tail and his mane. His mane besides being thick was long and flowing. His tail carriage was much better than most making that tail look like a plume poetically accentuating the beauty of this horse.

He actually reminded me some of a much darker version of Scandalous Storm. Both horses have the attitude of a peacock. Their magnificent tail carriage like the explanation point at the end of their statement, "I AM the best!" Not many horses can command such attention on their looks alone.

What surprised me was that this horse was a nice mover as well. The Dark Victory horses are bred for halter and that board flat topline so many halter breeders seek. The problem with that is along with a flat croup comes a horse with hocks out behind himself.

Most horses built that way have difficulty getting deep underneath themselves so can not always do performance, let alone western. Those with a lot of heart will try and some will even make it to the point of collection required for a western horse. Many times those horses will break down. The hock can't take the extreme pressure on the joint that comes from such difficult work.

This horse was different, however. His hocks were placed much better than one would expect of a Dark Victory cross. His croup was more rounded than usual as well. That combination made him a great prospect for western pleasure. Then with his Marwan/Dark Victory good looks he had it all. The horse was not only beautiful but talented as well.

The plans for this horse are the Western Pleasure Maturity at US Nationals in Tulsa this year. The maturity classes are amateur owner to ride classes so the horse would be shown at nationals by my friend. Her plan was to send the horse back to the professional trainer to be finished. She would continue lessons throughout this process so hopefully they'd be ready to meet her goal.

It was obvious throughout the session with Jody, the horse was pretty sure of his job. He had lapses like all young horses but mostly he did what he was asked to do. My friend is an accomplished rider but does not usually do her own training. They made a pretty picture for the kids at the clinic to see. There's nothing like an example of how it should be to fire up one's enthusiasm, I think.

As Jody worked with this pair, he decided to share an opinion he knew would cause him some grief. He actually mentioned before he shared that he knew his opinion would not be a popular one.

Of course, a statement like got us all wondering what in the heck was coming next. I laughed and shook my head as Jody Strand said he would shorten this horse's mane. He said as a judge he want to be able to see the shape of a horse's neck. He thought the mane on this horse made it difficult to do that.

I won't tell you I understood this. It seems to me that the shape is seen by the view of the top of the neck. Yet, I understand that the shapeliness of a neck is not just determined by the top of it. What the bottom looks like is equally important. A base heavy neck is not pretty to me. Nor is a thick neck or a thick throat latch. I guess I have not really thought about seeing those features from the mane side.

I was not the only one that did not get it. Many of those in the audience groaned at the thought of shortening this horse's beautiful mane. Most horse owners on the Arabian circuit would "kill" for a mane such as this. The breed standard even states the horse should have a flowing mane and tail. The thought of shortening it just didn't seem right.

I must admit I have encountered this opinion from a trainer before. Way back when Dandy was with Kelly Alcorn, she insisted that Dandy's mane be shortened. I finally acquiesced only to find she didn't just shorten his mane. She shortened his forelock as well and I was livid. Neither has ever grown back to the original state.

Then when Legs was being shown in halter training with Eric Krichten, he wanted his mane shortened as well. Granted the horse's mane was down past his shoulder and it was impossible to see his shoulder from that side.......but it was soooooooo beautiful. It had grow like that on its own without assist with braids or any other hair saving techniques. I was reluctant but again I acquiesced with a stipulation on how much could be removed. Unfortunately, his mane has never grown back to that same luscious luxurious look either. There'll be no more mane shortening for me.

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

Taking a Second Horse

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  1. I'm gonna note one thing before I write what I'm about to write, because as I was thinking in my head what I am about to tell you, may look like what I'm writing is exuding rude but it's probably just because I'm so shocked you'd do such a thing... twice! I'm just so shocked... I'm in total shock you let anyone shorten Leg's mane after you got burned the first time with Dandy. (Here's where it will look particularly rude) I would think after the first time, you'd learn your lesson... lol?? I certainly wouldn't want to repeat something like that with a herdsire. Anyhow, glad to read your done with mane shortening... lol.. :)

  2. funny, on the jody strand website there is a horse that looks like he has a fake tail. the kind of tail you see on a gypsy vanner, not an arab.

    speaking of manes though, my horse had a typical arabian bridle path the first 21 years of his life, and then in 2007 it was allowed to grow out (while i was in germany and he was in the US). he's a fleabitten grey with a dark grey mane. the odd thing is, the bridle path grew in black. as black as his mane used to be when he was a baby. so he has this odd looking two tone mane. i have never heard of such a thing.

    but back to tails - i hate it when people let the horses' tails drag a foot on the ground. it is so impractical and not pretty IMO. i trim baasha's so it doesn't touch the ground, and it looks fuller that way. i try very hard to make it look natural and not banged. it's hard!

    ~lytha in germany

  3. This Dressage Queen has a horse with a GREAT tail - I make sure it STAYS that way by keeping it trimmed so he doesn't step on it. People with a tail so long it will be pulled when backing your horse only cause the tail to thin out.

    Also just because you have a dozen hairs that are dragging 3 feet behind your horse does NOT a tail make. Its one thing if its a FULL Tail at that length, but keeping a few wisps around just because they are long are like the horse version of the comb-over.

    As to your experience - I had a trainer body clip my boy the first week I had him - he cut most of the forelock off in the clip and it has NEVER grown back. GRRRRRR.
    Braiding 4 strands of hair sucks!

  4. Yeah, that's one piece of advice I'd pass on. Judges can look at the neck from the non-mane side. I mean, how unsymmetrical can a neck be?

  5. Nuzz Muzz has my sentiments exactly! Don't do it! :)
    Do people ever use fake tail pieces on Arabs, like they do on QH's, Paints, and Appy's?

  6. Gosh, I didn't think trimming a forelock or mane would keep it from growing back! My horses don't have lush forelocks, manes, or tails, so I've never had to deal with that issue.
    I personally don't care for the horses stepping on their tails but I do love a long, thick mane and forelock.

    I can see their point though. Too much hair hides the horse.

  7. Not being able to see the horse it is hard to know what the mane covers. I wonder if rather than shortening/thinning the mane if the bridle path could just be lengthened? Depending on conformation that sometimes frees up a bit of 'viewing area'.

  8. I agree, with the paint horses I have and of course QH's they cut their manes to about two inches and then put them in these stupid little rubbr bands and I hate it because I have some horses with fabulous manes. We had to trim the blue roan this past year for the 4H but we left it aout 6 inches long and she still won grand champion halter horse at our county fair and third overall mare at the State Fair. We are going to try to get away with some creative braiding in a sort of latice look this year and not cut at all, it is looking like a mohawk at the moment and I hate it!!!!!!