Monday, October 25, 2010

The Usual Discussion and a Little Varian Philosophy

Watching all these classes at the US Arabian National Horse Show brings to mind the usual things I think about whenever I watch horses work at horse shows. The comments on this post seem to be right in there along those lines.

It seems to be the usual nationals discussions that can be found on threads on most forums. There are the country horses that are really english pleasure horses to some, the hunter horses that are now made up of country english horses that wouldn't make it in that division, and we mustn't forget the western horses that are looking more and more like quarter horses in the way they move. Of course, there is the discussion about qualifications as well.

As long as I have been in this business there has been commentary about what is and isn't right about the show and the horses. It seems to me it comes down to that "human nature" thing. We're all different and we all have different ideas about what is right. The show committee has their idea of how it should be and right now they're the ones in charge so their ideas pretty much rule.

Whenever you put a group of people and horses this large together the entire continuum on the spectrum of horse training, breeding and such tend to be represented there. Some will be good. Some will be bad and a whole lot more will be in the middle. I don't think that part is ever going to change.

From what I can tell, all I can really do is watch to see what the judges like to see what their preferences are. For me, I'm trying to see whether the judges like the same things I'm looking for in my horses or not. If not, then I just won't show to those judges in the future. If it looks like they do, then maybe it's worth spending my money to see if I was right about their opinion.

The hard part about trying to figure this out watching on the live feed is the judges can see most of the ring while the feed only shows a narrow view of the ring. There's a lot of stuff going on in that ring out of sight of those of us on the other end of these computers so it really is hard to see why the judges are doing what they're doing. What it looks like they're doing and what they might really be doing can and are sometimes two totally different things.

Personally, I know several of the judges this year. To be honest, I probably really messed up not taking a hunter horse to show this year. I think that panel is suited to my style of riding and horse even though you probably couldn't tell that by what's making the cuts so far. I think I could have held my own out there given the chance but we'll never know because I'm sitting home here watching on my computer instead of riding at nationals.

Thinking about the discussion about what is and isn't right about the show and how horses are being shown reminds me of something I heard from Sheila Varian several years ago. Her comment was in regards to breeding standards but it certainly fits here. "Breed what you like," she said. "Don't be swayed by the opinions or pressure from others. If you do stay true to what you like, you'll get where you want to be in the long run."

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  1. I met Shela Varian at a clinic years ago. Nice lady with some beautiful horses. She opened my eyes to some things about Arabian horses I might never have even looked at.

  2. A lot of what you said in your previous post really got me thinking about my other comments. And after giving it more thought, I think that particularly in events that are still relatively new, if they got too restrictive in the qualification process, it might discourage people from trying an event that they could eventually fall in love with. Over time, by making the event feel more accessible, we bring more competition, and through that raise the bar. If we scare people away or discourage them from participating, then perhaps even though we'd all be wowed by the competition we got to see, it might eventually fade and get cut due to "lack of interest". Now that would be a shame!

  3. Excellent advice!

    My family, particularly my mother has always believed that as well.

    I did go the route of the 'popular show horse' for a little while, but it didn't take too long and I was over it.

  4. so true! We cannot do things simply to please others or to acquire a buckle or a piece of ribbon. At the end of the day, we must be satisfied within ourselves.

  5. I'm not a competitive person, so I don't aspire to the ring at all. I will say, however, that I was surprised (and disappointed) to see so much gait similarity to the Western Pleasure horses in the QH industry :oP
    Being a non-conformist *grin* I don't really understand why so many people willingly allow themselves to get sucked into winning at the expense of their horse. It's nice to come across someone who is willing to work around this (and yay for you ;o)