Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Morgan Show.......... Dressage Day Schooling....and Footing

Part 1

Once the dressage court was removed, I had the arena drug before horses came in to school. I'd noticed that even with only 27 dressage rides the rail was sounding hard.

That was one of the things that had frustrated me the year before at this show. I had not had that kind of trouble with the footing packing on the rail at the Puyallup facility in most of the shows I managed. Some of the Arabian shows had had three times as many horses as the Morgan shows. Figuring out how to keep this footing lively was going to take some work.

By the time I did get my Arabian horse into the arena, they were working on decorating the gazebo in center ring. Legs is used to trucks and horse trailers so that kind of commotion didn't bother him one bit but some of the Morgan horses in there for schooling didn't know what to think of vehicles in the arena.

Legs still had not resolved his belief there were trolls living somewhere inside that building. Maybe they were living amongst the truck and trailer but on the rail, in the bleachers was a different story. His reactions were smaller than our previous schooling but it was obvious the horse wasn't over "it."

I was able to do lots of stretching before we even began any collected work. Legs didn't resist dropping his head for anything other than maybe getting a better glimpse at another horse. I was relieved to see we'd reached that point in an arena I believe is the scariest one in our area.

Riding amongst the Morgan horses gave me a more accurate look at the differences between how these horses are shown next to the Arabians. The Morgan western horses are higher headed and allowed to be on a rein with much more contact than the Arabs. Also, the rate of each gait is much slower for Arabian horses. Morgan horses at the lope were lapping us right and left.

While it's true that Legs is now slower than most Arabian horses as well, the Morgan horses going by us were noticeably faster than what the Arabians would have been. I realized as I watched had I been training my own Morgan horse, I would have reached my goals (at least at this level) much sooner because these horses are not required as much collection as an Arabian horse might be.

Guess for me, that's been one of the reasons I've wanted to show Arabian horses all along. I love the challenge presented by the added collection of the Arabian horse.

Over my twenty years of showing I have seen the number of trainers able to attain this goal rise from just a select few to a much greater number. Sure there are still those Arabian horses that are not truly carrying themselves, trying to act like it's the same thing, but the number who are actually "getting it" has risen dramatically.

My ride did not last long. My horse settled in quickly. I was able to work on getting the horse just a little rounder as well as working on that issue Legs has sometimes dropping his shoulder at the lope. It was the first time since the Daffodil show that I'd actually gotten the chance to push forward in our training. It was a good feeling.

Even with the drag before schooling began, I noticed the rail was better but I wasn't sure it was going to hold up to performance classes. There would be a lot more stress to that footing on the rail with more horses travelling over it than the solitary and more circular warm-ups of the dressage riders. I was going to have to get with the fairgrounds crew to see what we could do to improve this situation.

Since this was probably the only evening of the show there weren't going to be evening classes, I made arrangements for someone on the show crew to monitor the night's schooling so I could get probably my last dinner of the week and on to bed early.

Before I left the fairgrounds I talked with the maintenance crew about the footing issue and we formed a plan of how to work the arena that night. I would check it in the early morning to see how it turned out. Then if it still needed more work, there would be time to get it done before the morning session started.

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

Footing and My Horse


  1. Sounds like you had everything going well. Hope the footing worked out and you and Legs had a nice ride in your classes. Guess we'll find out...

  2. Arlene, no classes for Legs and me. This was a breed show for Morgan horses. Legs was just there for schooling and as a stress reliever for me.

  3. every now and again.. you need a show where you can just "show and go"!
    well done

  4. I have to say I've noticed the collection thing too. We had a Morgan out of our barn go to a former Arabian trainer. After some time, she had his head a lot lower and actually, his head was a little too tucked. Anyway, showing at the Morgan shows he was much slower and steadier than his counterparts. He actually did/does very well much to my trainer's chagrain - lol. Perhaps the Morgan people will start following that same pattern.

    I do feel that the very succesful Morgan western horses tend to have a bit more animation at the jog though, in general. I know of a lot of Saddleseat horses that have been converted to western pleasure as well. Often times, they resemble a "parade" type horse.

  5. manker, you're right about that.

    JJ, last year there was an amateur I know well from the Arabian circuit showing a Morgan at this show. The judge didn't like the way his horse was going and told him so. However, I think maybe the horse was in a frame but not really using itself properly.

    This year an Arabian trainer who I know and respect showed several Morgan horses and pretty much won everything he was in, both hunter and western. The horses were definitely using themselves correctly so carrying themselves in a frame that was pretty and consistent.

    They were definitely more rolled over but not over bridled by any means. Lower for sure but based more on how each horse was built not necessarily dictated by a preconceived notion of how high or low a head should be.

    I suspect should he keep showing against the local trainers and winning some of them will follow suit to keep up.

    I know that's how the Arabs have evolved to where they are. Winning ribbons defintely affects the newest trends.