Saturday, October 23, 2010

Pleasure Classes, Reining and a Little Bob Hart, Jr

Since the weather today didn't cooperate for riding horses, I spent the day in front of my computer. When I wasn't switching between the Ford Truck Arena watching pleasure classes and the Mustang Arena watching reining classes, I was studying my Bob Hart, Jr videos and how to make a great western horse.

I did a clinic with Bob Hart many years ago. Back in those days Bob Hart dominated the winner's circle in western pleasure. I can remember all the whining I heard about it being politics but it sure didn't look like politics to me. It looked more like those doing the whining were making excuses for not getting the job done. There was a big difference between the way Bob Hart's horses went in those days than most others out there.

Today, that's not necessarily the case. I was amazed at the number of western trainers I saw at nationals last year that seemed to be getting it right. Sure there were lots of four beaters and tropers out in the ring but there were also soft beautiful western horses.

To me the way Bobby Hart's horses go has always looked like a goal I should ascribe to if I ever wanted to be successful at the national level. I bought his videos when I could and I study them from time to time. I swear I see something new each time and I always feel more confident after studying them.

I got so involved watching the Bob Hart videos that I missed the beginnings of the final for the purebred Arabian western select rider which just happens to be MY CLASS! I did get to see part of the class but not enough to tell how well Legs is going next to those horses but I guess armed with my latest inspiration from Bobby Hart, I've got plenty to work on between now and next year's class.

If I can't be at nationals competing, it seemed like a great way to spend my day. Now if the weather will just cooperate so I can try a couple of things, I'll be happy. If not I guess I'll just stay glued to my computer watching what's happening in Tulsa.


  1. omgosh, some of the gaits i saw on the western pleasure on saturday were so awful! it was like someone made mechanical horses but programmed the gaits wrong. it was a stilted, jabbing, horrible lope. i just tried to pick the horse with natural gaits and hope he'd win. "two stockings" was my pick - a horse with a stocking in back and a stocking in front, and he seemed to actually have three gaits. i also did not like the bosal riders constantly bumping the horses in the face, as if they were training, not showing.

    i saw some country english pleasure and was surprised at some misbehaviors (wrong lead then bucking when the rider tried to get him to switch). i also saw so many gait-breaks, cantering when asked to trot off, etc. but i like that "walk off on a loose rein" thing. what a great test that is.

    the reining i saw was very bad. i didn't watch much of that. the two i saw were on very short reins, and were confused about what to do next and would offer the wrong thing.

    i'll watch some more and hope to be pleasantly surprised this time.

  2. The reining I saw was embarassing. Almost half of the horses in the 40 and over AAOTR class had individual judge scores under 60. Many did look "lost" like they'd never done it before. I hate to be so harsh but it's true. I think Arabian reining still has a long way to go. The half arabians I saw were better and the scores reflected that. But I almost wonder if qualification needs to be tightened up for this? Not just points but a score of at least 65 as well? Yeah, they'd end up without many entries (already the 18-39 class only had 3 entries), but it might give a better impression to people of what our breed is capable of. Maybe add a two handed green reiner class so people can get their experience in a more appropriate way.

  3. lytha and story, I have to remind myself when I go to nationals that at the beginning I'll see all stages of training and talent of riders too. It's just part of the game. It's always been like that and probably always will. It's at the finals that you hopefully will see the very best. Don't get discouraged.

  4. I saw that one of the proposals being brought up at Convention this year is to bring in standard NRHA type divisions to the Arabian shows. This means Limited Non-Pro divisions, etc. I think this would help. The people new to the sport won't have the intimidation factor that might come from going up against people who although might be Amateurs, are also veterans in what is still a relatively new division. The range of abilities in the 40 and over class was so huge that it seemed uncomfortable. I'd like to see a way to smooth that out.

  5. Story, I haven't read those proposals but I know they've been talking about this for years. It will be interesting to see how it goes this time around.

    As for 2013, the show just might be in Scottsdale by then. My half-Arabian will just be getting started about then but I'm thinking about playing around with one of the geldings here so we'll see. We could just have a date. LOL

  6. i've never heard of bob hart, but i'll have to check him out. you can always learn something from a good horseman no matter what discipline!

  7. jme, I think the Hart family has been exclusively into Arabian horses. Bob Hart Jr is probably second generation and I'll bet his daughter continues on in the family business. Mostly he does western pleasure and cow horses and he actually cross trains all of his horses. Says he doesn't know much about dressage but knows enough to know his work is all dressage based and he'd very right about that. Great horseman and soft responsive horses. If I could afford it, he'd have some of mine to train and I don't say that about many trainers.

  8. My mare originally started out as a WP horse before moving to reining. I'd really like to learn more about WP so that I can play a bit with that side of her training. I know of Bob Hart, Jr, but back when I used to show Arabians I was more into HP so didn't pay much attention to him. Are these instructional videos that you're watching? Does he have a book?