Monday, January 25, 2010

Jody Strand Clinic - Taking a Second Horse

Part 1

That evening after the first day of the clinic, Jody Strand was the guest speaker at the annual Daffodil Arabian Horse Association dinner meeting. While Jody had said at the clinic he wasn't going to speak, he relented when the actual time came speaking briefly about the Arabian horse and nationals this year.

One of his comments had to do with the quality of those horses competing at that level. He mentioned despite entries being down, the actual quality of the horses had risen dramatically over years past. The division that jumped out at him the most was the hunter pleasure division.

For many years on the Arabian horse show scene, the hunter division has been the dumping ground for those horses that couldn't cut it anywhere else. You'd see country type horses without enough trot or western pleasure horses just doing an extended gait making up the majority of the class. Seldom did you see a class filled with true hunter type horses.

Jody felt that had most definitely changed. He thought the overall quality had risen so much that the hunter division was now probably one of, if not the, toughest division out there. Jody said the calibre of horses in those hunter classes literally blew him away.

This comment interested me because one of the reasons I wanted to bring and extra horse to the next day's clinic was about this same topic. Richard had said the horse was a western pleasure horse. While I've been saying all along that I wanted to show him as a hunter, even though I believe he would make a great western horse as well. I was hoping for an opinion from someone who really understood what it takes to be a national calibre hunter horse.

I had to press and press some more to get the man in charge of the clinic to confirm that I could even bring the horse. Despite the fact all the spots were not filled, he was really hoping to leave them that way. The decision was finally made by him asking Jody what he wanted to do. Jody's response had been for me to bring the additional horse. Now with the door open about national calibre hunter horses, I was really looking forward to what the man had to say about one of my Legs' babies. Would he think he could hold is own in such a tough division?

No matter how hard I try to get home early from those annual dinner meetings, it seems like it always takes forever to get myself out of there. Since it wasn't until a conversation at the end of the dinner meeting that I got the confirmation I could bring my second horse, I was late once again getting myself home and into bed.

I thought it was going to take a crane to pick me up out of my bed and deposit me in the truck, I was sooooooo tired when the alarm went off. I knew I had horses to load and equipment to check before I could even leave, yet the cobwebs just wouldn't leave my brain. Then there was the issue of clipping that second horse. I hadn't even looked at him since my return from nationals. I tried to remind myself of that task as self applied pressure to force me up and onto my feet.

I finally did make it out of bed but I was moving in slow motion. The clock seemed to be doing double time and Legs was to be one of the first horses worked. The list of tasks running through my head were moving much faster than me. For the first time I was thinking maybe this clinic had not been a good idea.

My goal was to arrive at the facility an hour before start time. I expected I would need that much time to get my horses and myself moved in and the horses fed. We were leaving home before they'd had time to eat and there's nothing crankier than Legs when he's been denied his breakfast.

I remember as I grabbed Legs from his stall to load him into the trailer, the look I received. Not only did the horse not want to leave his stall, he didn't want to load into the horse trailer either. He put on the brakes right at the open doorway and glared at me. This was the first time I can ever remember such a refusal.........and the first time it occurred to me my horse might be too tired for this clinic.

Then I went to retrieve the second horse. "Yikes!" was my first impression. This horse was covered in so much hair even I couldn't tell what lay beneath. How was I thinking Jody Strand could tell anything about this horse?

The vision of the "icelandic pony" that Shannon Armstrong used to call Mark in the wintertime formed in my head. Yupe, this horse pretty much looked just like that picture. Back then I hadn't even been able to recognize the horse and he was a horse that I knew well. When I asked Shannon who the horse was and she replied with the "icelandic pony" comment I knew it was a horse I should know. When she told me it was Mark, I was shocked. Now before me stood one of my horses so transformed all I could think of was that story. Things weren't looking good for much success at this clinic.

At least the horse loaded willing in the horse trailer. He didn't even think twice about jumping right in and going for a ride with me. Then, he hadn't been worked in over two months. That tired voice in my head again played a now familiar resolve, "What were you thinking?"

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


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  1. Interesting about his hunter comment. I kind of figured Arabs weren't "bred" for the hunter classes, but ended up there because they didn't work for western or weren't showy/have enough action for English. I think it's a good sign that those classes are filled with nice horses.
    That is great you got to bring both horses. I can't wait to hear what Jody says!

  2. LOl- I have one of those 'Icelandic horse' shaggy Arabians in my barn, well, two actually, Nadia and Yalla. lol.

  3. I would disagree with Jody's statement (and concur with PonyGirl's thought...)

    Arabian Hunter Pleasure is NOT what you see when you see Arabians in Hunter Open classes. The Hunter Pleasure division CONTINUES to perpetuate a weighed shoe, high knee action that you would NEVER see in the open hunter ring.

    Flat kneed horses at all the shows I've been to (EXCEPT Sport Horse divisions) are shown the gate.

    I would never call "Hunter Pleasure" actually Hunter horses. the Arabian world is rewarding horses that look more country pleasure than Hunter. In fact, I would say they are a combination of the two, with the weight thrown to the EP/CP horse type action.

    My boy is a dressage boy, hands down, but can fake a good, long, low, ground covering movement (often on the forehand) that is prefered in the HP open world. He would NEVER make it in an arab hunter class.

    His father won TONS of hunter pleasure ribbons, at Class A and Region levels. A Great HP horse from the 90s. Now, shown recently, he barely places in the ribbons in the Hunter Pleasure division.

    But put him in the Sport Horse division as a hunter, and BAM - Reserve National Champion ATR.

    So that tells me the Hunter Pleasure ring has gotten more EP like than true hunter.

    so I'm not sure where Jody is coming from - does he even follow the open Hunter/Jumper circuit and know what the USEF standard is for Hunter on the flat?

    The problem with AHA judges that are not USEF discipline judges is that we bastardize the disciplines to what ever and whom ever are the power brokers. We loose credibility as a breed to the rest of the show horse industry that way.

    That's why I will fight loudly to keep Sport Horse as a division that requires a USEF approved discipline judge, not a "sport horse trained AHA judge" - many class A shows are trying to push that as an option to save money on judge fees.

    wow. soap box. how'd that get there?