Friday, September 17, 2010

Reflection of Perception

So we have all seen how Kat and I did at the show last weekend... Or maybe not yet, but the pictures and the video are in the last post for anyone who hasn't seen them yet. He was a bit excited about being at a show, around other horses and back in the ring.

For the most part- he did good. He walked, he jogged readily when asked, he stood, he was alert & interested in everything, he looked the part and behaved pretty damn well overall. He did bump into me repeatedly when jogging and he did creep on me when standing up for the judge, but this gives us a baseline of things we need to work on for next time. There is always room for improvements and since even the riders on the Olympic level have coaches- yeah, I don't feel so bad. It is always good to have another pair of eyes and insight from others as to what needs to be fixed and what to leave alone.

"If you want to continue with showing him as a sport horse, you need to get him to elevate the front end and drive from behind more. When he has the impulsion from behind he will be able to lift his shoulders. His stride will improve and it will show."

Any guesses as to where I heard that from? One hint- it wasn't the judge. Nope, the judge offered no tips, hints, recommendations or even facial expressions as to what he liked, didn't like or wanted to see. For a schooling show- that's what I do WANT to hear. That's kind of what we are all paying for, isn't it? An objective opinion and tips for improvement... HellooOOoo! Duh!

It was also mentioned in the comments about showing one level below what you are training for. In jumpers if you are schooling 4' at home, showing 3'9" or even 3'6" is perfectly reasonable. That 3" is a big deal and can mean a lot if you have jumped. Dressage riders may be schooling 1st or 2nd level, yet showing in training level or 1st level. When you have mastered the movements and scored well enough to move up- you do. Same with cutters moving up from Green Horse classes to the $500 limit class, and so on.

Shows can also be selected based on the type of show, if they are rated or not, the type of competition there, etc. For anyone who has shown, we all know there are Horse Shows, then there are horse shows. Some being priority and others considered 'bottom of the barrel'.

What I find interesting though is the competitors at the shows. You have some that treat the 'A' rated shows as if they were nothing speyshul and people who treat the schooling shows as if they were the Olympics. Another interesting thing I have noticed, those who frequent the rated shows, may treat the schooling shows as a chance to compete, yet they don't really take them seriously. You are paying to be in the ring, practice your skills and asking for the judges opinion. If it isn't of any importance, why did you come?

There is one competition I have been told I shouldn't take a horse to as our 'first time out' because it is a Big Show... Has anyone told the horses that? If they are ready and behave well enough at home and away- the size of the show is of no matter to them. The horses don't know or care what we spent on entries. If they did, why is their hoof in the checkbook anyways?

I also find that I enjoy having competition. I am not thrilled about a blue ribbon when I am the only horse in the class. I like having other people and horses in the ring, pushing me in a way, to do my best and not accept anything less (from me or my horse), even if it is a schooling show. When there are several horses in the ring, I may be excited about placing second or third even. If it is one of the horses first few times in the ring, you bet.

No matter the level of show you attend though, there will always be classes where you felt the horse did really well and the judge doesn't pin you at all. No ribbons for any classes and your horse was a total gem. What the...? There will also be classes where your horse is a complete twit, acts like an idiot and somehow you manage to be in the judges eye for the few strides it all comes together and nothing else. You will win or place well and wonder why on earth? because you blew your lead, missed your diagonals, your circles were egg shaped, transitions were terrible or whatever else you find wrong with what you did.

That's the nature of the beast though. It's all part of being an exhibitor and competitor. Some days you do well and others, well, we won't talk about them if you don't want to. It happens. Just chalk it all up as a horse show experience and work towards improving before the next one.


  1. My first schooling show...was just like the Olympics for me. Luckily there were some wonderful competitors there who recognized how green I was, took me under their wing and showed me the ropes. I love judges that give you input into what you did wrong, and I love the judges who tell you what you did right even more!

  2. I was alsways told , a horse show , is one persons opinion on one specific day. Same horse ,different judge or different day , can bring different results . I got lots out of trying and I now have sem idea that I won't actually die in the show ring ... its a start

  3. If I'd have waited until I knew my horse and I were perfect, I never would have shown at all!

    I learned a lot from just showing up and doing my best. My horse is a totally different critter at a show, with all the other horses and excitement going on, so it took us a few tries to get it sorted out.

  4. Sorry, my net is slooooow.

    learning something everyday is part of being human.
    Or animal, for that matter;)

  5. It is funny how it so relative, and what is and isn't important to the riders. In college I was at an invitational (one of the very few I got to go to) and remember a girl who left her ribbon on the bleachers. I reminded her, and she said,"Oh, it's such a crummy ribbon, I don't want it." I've always kept it to remind me why it matters, and not to get to the point that our effort or our horse's doesn't matter if it's not the WIN.

    I have worked quite a few Keeneland sales, and there the "judges" are all important. The difference between your consigned horse catching the eye of several influential buyers in the days before the actual sales ring helps to command a good price and cause bidding wars... we've seen horses go for hundreds of thousands more than they "should" simply because of presentation... and another well bred and very athletic youngster had been no-saled through two previous select sales because he didn't walk as if very motivated. We worked with him a lot of patience, and he brought over what his seller had expected.

  6. There certainly all kinds of perceptions on showing no matter what the level. I love to see the newbies the most. It is so important to them and they try so hard. I admire their determination.

  7. When I was a kid, every lil ol' open show might as well have been Devon for my friends and I. Even the kids who showed at big AQHA and Arab shows. Everyone spiffed up just the same as they would for a bigger show, and there was much discussion as to whether a magenta silk morning coat was legal, or if bit converters were legal, etc. It seemed that no matter what, you brought your A Game. If you only had a clean, "good" nylon halter for showmanship, or on the other hand the latest style in ultrasuede chaps (chaps seem to be a year-to-year thing; gotta love industry marketing!!), CLEAN was the word. You almost always braided your English horse.

    Now I see people at open shows with fancy shirts and dirty tack on minimally groomed but greased up horses. It's very strange and sad. All the external things are kind of there, like fancy Harris saddles and polished hooves, but the horse is dirty and the saddle's dusty, etc.

    The ribbons aren't nearly so pretty, either, because most open shows around here are on some kind of circuit, and it's POINTS that matter.

    I am seeing more adult newbies, though, which makes me happy!!

  8. I brought the 'A' game to the one schooling show a few years ago. I braided my mare. Nobody braided for that show. But I did...

    I kind of stood out a bit. That was one thing for sure...

    Haven't been back since to see if I had left an impression. We know the one judge, but even still- he didn't place me until I rode like I should. I respect him for that.