Thursday, April 22, 2010

True Professionals

Hectic and crazy? Yeah, that would be my life! A minor car accident last week, a break in at the house this week and who the hell knows what next week will bring, but I am not even going to ask! Everyone is fine, nothing was stolen and the car has already been fixed. I picked it up this morning actually.

With a show for my pony less than a month away I have been wondering about taking him, just showing him in hand for now and going for the gusto in the fall or just waiting until the fall and going all out then? I am still on the fence with that one... *sigh*

We all know I skipped taking Tess to a show simply because her butt was bald. We also know that hair loss does not in any way, affect movement, behavior or the amount of training a horse has. But it just does not reflect well on you for your horse management skills. Whether or not you are doing everything you possibly can to fix the problem, resolve the issue, cure the- hair loss, worms, fungus, weight problems, lameness or whatever ???, you just don't take the horse to a show until things are right again. You will only put yourself out there for judgement poorly and people will talk about you for some time to come. They WILL talk, and NOT in a GOOD way.

Dena and I were recently discussing horses and competition on the phone. BEC and I discussed the 'horses only have so many jumps in them' theory before. I think it was on Shame in the Horse Show Ring. Horses don't ask to compete- we ask it of them. Some of them may enjoy it, but would they if they had never done it? Would they if they were handled poorly and abusively? Are they reacting to our level of excitement when they win or place well?

Professionals manage their horses career be it at home or on the road. They may school over a few large scale jumps at home one day a week or so, but for the most part, they save it for competition and when it truly counts. Same with reiners, same with cutters, same with race horses, same with true professionals in every horse sport. If the horse is schooling for an advanced level at home, they may or may not be withdrawn from competition until they are solid and ready to move up. That is up to the trainer and owners, but all things considered- let's hope they do what is best for the horses long term career. Sometimes people view things as- we have won at that level, why continue competing there? Why not let someone else have the spotlight for a while? We are moving up anyways...

True Professionals also do not enter classes in which the horse is not actually ready to compete in. If the horse is comfortable going over fences at 3' to 3'6", they do not enter a class for Grand Prix. "Well he shouldn't have a problem. He can jump!" And the refusals and downed rails follow... They also don't take the horse to a show before the horse is steady and rock solid in their training. You can't train them in a day and a 30 day wonder is usually not ready either.

TP's are not there to win the warm up and impress a bunch of bystanders or spectators. They are there to impress the judge(s). They do what they do best and as best as they can on that day. Hopefully it all works out for them- if not, they know what they need to work on before the next competition. Even if they win- they may still have something to go home and tweak before next time. No horse is perfect all of the time and even 'finished' horses need fine tuning.

TP's may also give things a 'dry run', long before hooking up the trailer. Warm up and work over a full course a week or so before the big day, Maybe work on cattle as if you were in the class, practice a reining pattern- just so they know if there is anything needing to be fixed (on them or the horse!) and still some time to evaluate it. That's when you decide-

a) let it go for now, but you are aware of it and will keep it in mind, but fix it after the show...
b) it is a easy fix and can be resolved now or tomorrow in one easy session.

TP's may also choose to focus on the elements of their ride or pattern separately instead of over patterning their horse to death. This also applies to showmanship classes. When you repeat a pattern over and over, the horse may start to anticipate what is next and go into drone mode. They aren't listening to you, they are just doing their pattern... you know, like you practiced soooo many times at home. They also get bored with it and may start to rebel in creative ways. Boy they can be creative!

Another thing to consider doing is attending a show or competition to scope out the competition. See who is showing, (which trainers, which barns, which riders, which horses?) check the results & standings and choose where to go from there. Race horse trainers check the daily workout results of their horses & those horses they will race against and plan accordingly. Why can't you?

We all want to win- there's no doubt about that. But if you consider everything wisely, use a bit of common sense and are prepared before you get there- the rest will come easily. Then it is up to the judge or the clock as to how things work out from there. Let's just hope there is a dash of luck in there to go along with it on the days we could use it the most!


  1. Funny you should mention-scoping out the competition, Meg and I went to a show last Sunday...just to see what is what. I find it so interesting to be able to just watch and then I can take a clearer picture home and work on this or that.

    I don't really bother to scope out the barrel racing scene or the playday/gymkhanas. I usually have a pretty good idea of what I expect of my horse before I even get there. If it's a horse going for his first few shows, I just wait to see how he is handling everything before deciding what I am going to ask for. Unless they are just being ridiculous, I think it is good to go ahead and ask them to at least participate-even if I just have to walk/trot the pattern(s). It's the only way I know to get them seasoned and start building a work ethic for actual competition.

  2. Great post , good reminder to make sure you are ready to compete in whatever class you are aiming for . No one can ruin your reutation faster than you can do it yourself

  3. Great quote FV! Wonderful practical advice.
    I think the transition into showing is incredibly hard because (at least in my case!!) you don't speak the lingo. Everyone expects you to know the basics, and you wind up skipping a few letters of the alphabet in the progression from amateur to actually showing. Watching some classes and hanging around can give you some valuable tips.

  4. Yes!

    Why do newbies so often come to their first shows to SHOW instead of watch?!? I certainly did, ha ha... fortunately I had some good guidance that day, and only showed Halter & Showmanship, that I'd worked on at home.

    But still, I was sooo surprised at how many "in's and out's" there are, that the books never mention. Like, Arabs are shown THIS way, Quarter Horses THAT way...
    Other basic stuff.
    Our local tack shop is definitely Western oriented, but staffed with people who know what's "in" this year. I took a newbie & her mom there a few years ago, and they were so helpful finding us budget-conscious clothes that WORKED, were in style, and all that.
    For example, she got a nice pair of boots for $80, but got a $15 hat that the lady steamed into the latest style. HA, my first year, I didn't even KNOW that there were different creases, different hats, for different classes!

    I had to wash my horse in Aloedine the other day to combat the "winter ick" that was making unpleasant skin flakes and stuff. Then I used Shapeley's. Seems to be working...

    Now I have to wash his Manly Bits. I've never done that before - the only horses I've actually OWNED were mares! I keep mentioning this because it's got me slightly freaked, till I actually DO it.

    Somebody send me good Prosperity Energy - got someone coming to look at my saddle for sale.

  5. Catty, hiya girl! Prosperity energy coming your way...eyes clenched shut, murmuring oooohhhhmmmm...

  6. Fern- that is EPIC! Lots of truth to that.

    Kestrel- watching is one of the best ways to learn who you want to hang out with and talk to should you go to more shows. They can help you learn the lingo. Which is another thing I thought of while reading through the comments here.

    All of the things stated are also Good ways to find a trainer you want to work with if you are shopping for one. If you like the way their horses are working, like their demeanor, and can see where they are in the standings- Go talk to them. Ask them questions and establish communication.

    CP- Good thoughts on their way! BTW the Passier sold before I could get it. Shit damn!

    As far as cleaning Chip's manly bits, just view it as another body part. A fifth leg, second tail or whatever. Something just as common that needs to be cleaned like everything else... I rinse our boys with the hose every time they 'hit the showers' at the washrack. Prevents build up and keeps things managable. No biggie.

    Sometimes the best thing for the horses is to go to a show and just watch, while they are tied to the trailer. You can munch hay and watch the goings on, hear the PA system, see people and horses going all over the place, to and from the arena- warm up- wherever and learn that you are to behave everywhere and anywhere we go. Some horses- one or two shows and they are good. Others need several before they figure it out. Taking them along to let them learn, while you scope out the competition- not a bad thing in my world.

    Some people take weanlings along for the ride. If they are used to everything from an early age- not likely to phase them later in life.

  7. PS whatever happened to Shame in the Horse Show Ring?
    Nothing new since November...
    I rather liked it, whether I totally agreed with TJM or not. It was a good venue for me to rant away about Western Pleasure. ;)
    Cuz I board at a WP barn (99% of them around here just ARE), and I just about swallow my tongue anytime someone's riding their big ol' Paint horse.

  8. Not sure what happened to TJM? Anyone else?

    I guess we could all just carry on the ranting and the party until she shows up again...

  9. You know CnJ I was thinking about the "True Professional" part.
    Some of the horses are getting their shoes and others trims today. And the 14year old in me is like YEAH I am gonna work you! The other me is saying, tomorrow.
    Wisdom and patience are huge factors in this game. HUGE!!!
    Which is why I get so frustrated sometimes with those amateurs who claim to be professionals. In my world you cannot charge to teach or do what yourself do not know.
    BTW Yeller is looking good! And he is now meeting me at the rail.
    And that is huge for me. He is meeting me to work. He is choosing to meet me to work. almost 3 years of patience is finally paying off. And when it sticks? It will be there for life.
    That said, this is not a horse that I would ever take into training if he belonged to someone else. I would have never been able to stand listening to, "Is he ready yet?" Not when I am working 10-12 other horses too he isn't.

  10. Holy moley, glad everyone/thing is okay??!!

    I gotta read up faster.

    Great post, absatootly true. Done right is done right. Horses do tell the tale if it's right, or not.

  11. Dena- I am glad to hear that. It pleases me further to know, that I have provided you with what tack I could, so that you can and may get things underway, until things have been cleared up in court and all property returned to it's proper and rightful owner- you.

    GL- Thanks! And those who are competing on the appropriate levels- horse, rider or level of training- it keeps everything fair. Or at least the attempt is made by some.

  12. Google seems to have some serious hang ups with Chinese porn! Whatever?