Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Ridiculous Showmanship Trends

I was reading a thread on the PH forum the other day about showmanship. It honestly surprises me, after the reading the comments and hearing about how "well" some of these exhibitors do in their showmanship classes, how they even win at all. Don't get me wrong. I love most of the people on the PH forum, but the trends are killing me!

Let's talk about some really stupid trends. Let's see. First there was the pivot on the left hind foot. Now it's the right hind foot, yet a pivot on either hind foot is acceptable. This is bullshit and AQHA nor APHA should allow it. It should be a pivot on the right hind foot. The reasoning? A pivot is a FORWARD motion; NOT a backwards motion. When a horse pivots on the left hind he is moving in a backwards motion. The tendency is to cross over incorrectly with the front feet, however, there are some horses that cross over correctly in the front yet maintain a backwards motion, pivoting on the left hind foot. This is incorrect and should be penalized. It should not even be considered a "trend." This is generally common knowledge. The APHA rule book says a pivot on either hind foot is acceptable but a horse pivoting on the left hind should not place higher than a horse that pivots correctly if the patterns are equally nice. I'm thinking I need to write to APHA about this. It's crap. The horse should be taught to pivot correctly.

Then we have the "where to stand" debate. Some exhibitors state it looks better if you stand facing the horse... as in straight towards the head. Incorrect again. Showmanship is NOT supposed to be about trends. There is a STRUCTURE that should be followed. You are supposed to stand angled towards the horse... not straight. Your feet should be pointing towards the horse's opposite front foot. Honestly... get over the trends people and learn the proper way. Hell, it even states in the APHA rule book the exhibitor should stand ANGLED towards the horse's opposite front foot. So why is this a debate? If you can't figure out where to stand and you are standing incorrectly you should not be placed over an exhibitor that knows where to stand. Then someone asked "Why stand angled? It looks stupid!" No, it really doesn't. The purpose is to give the judge a completely UNOBSTRUCTED view of the horse. When you stand in front of the horse straight on the only one that looks stupid is you. Basic horsemanship 101: never stand directly in front of a horse. Didn't we learn that in 4-H? Read the rule book.

Next is the "should the pattern run all together or should there be pauses" dilemma. Seriously? Showmanship is like dancing with your horse. You have to COMPLETE your maneuvers. They should not all flow aimlessly one into the other. I've seen exhibitors go from a 360 degree turn into an immediate trot off. Number one, you have no time to make sure your horse is straight. Showmanship demands straight lines. Second, it looks like you are rushing. When I am in a class, I complete my maneuver, count to three quickly, then move on. Crisp, clean, and straight. When you rush a pattern it looks as though you have no confidence in your horse. Judging by some of the APHA world show videos of showmanship, there are exhibitors that rush the pattern, flap their elbows, and just look plain bad. I also see a lot of exhibitors using their shanks... a lot. A big no no. Train your horse to move off your shoulder and listen to your body language. When I show a showmanship class, my lead shank hand does NOT move. At all. Not even to ask for a back up, pivot, or set up. It does not move. But, my horse works off my shoulder, as she should.

And why is that fakey fake puff your chest out when you do your quarters shit still going on? This isn't Broadway. This is showmanship. The handler should be businesslike. Not like a Vegas Show Girl. Hell, at the last show I thought one of the girl's was doing the "bend and snap" maneuver from that movie Legally Blond! Give me a break.

Showmanship should be clean, precise, complete, and businesslike. The trends are ridiculous. Exhibitors need to stick to the rule book and show the class properly, or learn to decipher the pattern correctly. Either one will work. It's a very basic class; yet it demands attention to detail, straight lines, and flawless patterns. Thankfully, classic is back "in" and the fakey fake exhibitors are not doing so hot. At least in my neck of the woods. Classic needs to stay "in" and the trends need to buried along with all the other shit that gets swept under the rug.

Tomorrow we will discuss deciphering a pattern correctly.


BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

Oh Thank God, I am not the only one who gets absolutely disgusted with the fakey, fake crap you see some of these Showmanship people doing. The other trend I hate is the crouched down running style that became popular for awhile. Ewww!

Cooper's Fan Girl said...

Thanks for the lesson!

grrrrr_justsayin said...

I showed arabians until I was 6 and then went to qh. I was COMPLETELY clueless when it came to showmanship! Coming from Arabian halter to western showmanship was a culture shock. My parents bought me a cute little mare that was probably the only ring sour 3 yr old ever. Only could be shown in a bosal, anything else she ran through at a lope. Finally hooked up with an Appaloosa trainer and I got a solid app. (thank goodness, the thought of keeping a 90% white horse clean is still a nightmare) My western pleasure horse had to learn showmanship and everything else too. When I got him he was the reluctant puppy at the end of the lead. Turned out he has a flair for it. He naturally chose to spin on his left hind and crosses over correctly in the front. He can spin 8 360's without lifting his pivot foot to the right, as well as to the left. He pivots on the hoof on the side you are on. He also has an rom in reining and will make you dizzy he spins so quick, and yes he spins in the same manner under saddle. We came in 2nd in the nation in showmanship for year end and got 93.5 points in one season.
Why is there a preference to which hind is the pivot foot? I see your reason and it makes sense, but it always looks to me like the horse is stepping out of the spin as opposed to working under themselves. I recently purchased a qh and have started teaching her to set and the rest of showmanship. It takes countless hours of work for it to look natural and for your horse to be phenomenal at it. I haven't started teaching my mare to spin because she naturally plants her right and I didn't want to encourage or discourage that without knowing what is correct for aqha.
I use to hate showmanship and thought it was boring until I finally got the picture. Now it's been 20 years since I was in the show ring and at 32 I'm at a loss for what's right. Rule books don't explain the whole story...