Thursday, 30 April 2009

What a Mess!

I am so sick of this damn rain. It rains for a day, then dries out just a little bit; then rains again, then dries up for a day; then rains again, then dries up. Grrrrr! The round pen and outdoor arena are too muddy to work horses. It's too muddy for Gertie to go outside, but she has to be worked. So we are confined to the indoor arena, which is about as wide as the roundpen except the first 3 feet of the edges are muddy, which cuts off 6 feet and makes for some smaller circles. However, at least there is a little bit of dry space where I can work, and it keeps us dry, and there is a nice breeze and good footing. So I guess I can't bitch about the rain too much! But I want to get out and ride. I also want the outdoor arena to dry out enough to where I can set up my elaborate patterns and get to work.

We are going to the Memorial Day Spectacular in Waco the 23rd and 24th of May, and I really need to tune her showmanship up before I go to this show. Don't get me wrong, she's not rusty on her maneuvers (we've won all our showmanship classes this year so far, including the Fort Worth Stock Show), but for a six judge show, we need to be perfect.

The main thing we need to work on is a trotting circle to the right. She's great to the left, but to the right I need to get her head just a little lower so my short ass can see over the top of her neck and see where I'm going. It sucks being short sometimes. Our session yesterday was pretty damn good. We worked our circle to the right for about 4 minutes in the war bridle then went to a regular halter and voila! Perfect circles to the right.

So let's hope the weather clears up here soon so I can do some real practice work. Anyone else having crappy weather?

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Little Miss Can't Be Wrong

"My research skills are great! This is an opinion blog! This bastard and that bastard should be beheaded!!!"

And all I have to say to that is "shut the fuck up already." Why is it so difficult for people to research things and learn BOTH sides of the story BEFORE spreading rumors, calling names, and getting a bunch of blood sucking, pitch fork-carrying people riled up? You know what's even better? When people jump on a bandwagon and start talking about how this person or that person should not be allowed to live, should spend the rest of his life in jail.... and many times the whole situation is not as big a deal as they make it out to be.

You want an example you say? How about the polo pony incident... If I had a dollar for every time someone said "IT"S STEROIDS" I'd be a rich bitch! Seriously, until you get your facts straight, please refrain from making opinions and nasty statements about something you clearly are not qualified to judge.

And one other thing on a totally unrelated topic... do many of you really think halter horses are beefed up entirely on steroids? I admit, some are; but many are not. If you think they are all roided up... it's just another classic example of the need to conduct more research in order to develop a more educated opinion.

Thursday, 09 April 2009

Deciphering the Showmanship Pattern

So let's talk about patterns. There are thousands of combinations of patterns for a showmanship class. However, even the simplest looking pattern can be the hardest one to win. So how exactly do we decipher those patterns? Practice my dear Watson! Practice! I like to do multiple dry runs (without the horse) so I can make sure I have the pattern perfect (chin up, elbows in, squared shoulders, hands still, etc.). This not only will help to familiarize you with the pattern, but gives you several chances to correct things you may be doing wrong without the added frustration of concentrating on the horse as well. Get yourself some of those small orange practice cones that are light weight. I bought twelve of them on Ebay last year for $12 total... way cheaper than buying them out of a tack catalogue. But I digress and I'm getting ahead of myself.

You have to read the pattern extensively before you can begin to decipher it correctly. In every pattern there is a particular "part" the judge will be watching for. This particular "part" will be where the pattern can be won and lost. Especially at the World Show levels. The "part" will be different for every pattern, which is why it is so important to really analyze the maneuvers of the pattern and do a few dry runs. Showmanship is all about details, straight lines, and transitions. If you run a good pattern and pay attention to details, you can beat the overly fake exhibitors that we all see in the arena. You know the ones. They are the ones you look at and go "man, it looks like they really have their shit together." Just stick to the basics and you are as good as golden.

Another important aspect to think about is that patterns can be interpreted in different ways by different people. I find them to be very cut and dry. I look at a pattern in a very "literal" sense. When a pattern says to "stop" after a maneuver, it means stop. Not for one second or a half a second; but a good solid "stop." Now we'll get down to deciphering a real pattern.

You'll have to bear with me because this pattern did not scan very well. This is what I would call a relatively simple pattern; however there are a few places the judges will be watching to make sure you and your horse have your shit together. I always look at the diagram first; before reading the maneuvers. This way I can see what "jumps out" at me. In this pattern we have a circle to left. This is going to be the first major "part" the judges really hammer the exhibitors on. However, the part that is perhaps THE MOST important is where you come out of the circle to trot to the judge. Here is where that straight line is going to make you or break you. Other important aspects of this pattern are going to be your transitions at each cone and, of course, your attention to detail.

The pattern reads: 1). Trot from A to B. 2). Walk from B to C. 3). At C, trot a circle to the left. 4). Trot between B and C to the judge and stop. 5). Set up for inspection. 6). After inspection, back five steps. 7). Execute a 270 degree turn to the right and trot to exit.

Here is how I would run this pattern. I always start my pattern about two or three feet away from the cone and I will maintain the same distance from the cones during the entire pattern. In the case of this pattern, you need to start on the left hand side of the cones. I like to start my patterns with my horse's shoulder at the cone. However, as I progress through the pattern I make sure that my transitions occur when my horse's NOSE reaches the next cone. I have found that unless the pattern calls for it; if you wait until your horse's shoulder is at the cone you often do not leave enough time to pick up the required gate and your pattern will appear sloppy.

So, starting with my horse's shoulder at cone A, I will be standing on the left side of my horse since the judge is positioned to the right. Do not forget about your quarters... the judges will be looking for this. When acknowledged, I pick up the trot... immediately. There is no room for error. She must pick up the trot from the standstill. As soon as her nose reaches cone B we walk. I typically prepare her about a half a second before giving her my shoulder cue to walk. We walk from B to C. As soon as her nose gets to cone C we immediately pick up the trot and trot the circle to the left. Here is where the pattern gets tricky for some. Most World Show patterns, and any showmanship pattern for that matter is tight; meaning the cones are not spaced very far apart. While this circle to the left looks big on paper, it's not when you get out there. A lot of horses will pull slightly away from you while trotting the circle to the left; essentially widening the circle, causing your hand to move, and throwing off the straight line you are getting ready to set up. When I trot this circle, her throatlatch HAS TO BE AT MY SHOULDER. I tend to let her get just a hair closer to me when trotting a circle to the left because the circle is so narrow. If I were to maintain my space and "push" her away slightly, she would widen the circle and resist.

Now scroll back up and look at this pattern. I know its hard to see but this pattern gives you a clue. If you look to the far left of the circle, you will see an arrow. It looks like a bold blob on here though. Where this arrow is positioned is when and where you should be looking to your left to make sure you; a). are going to pass exactly between the cones and b). are setting yourself up to be in a perfectly straight line with the judge. If you start looking to the judge at this position your body will naturally close the circle perfectly and you will set yourself up for that perfectly straight line. Continue trotting to the judge and stop your horse about an arms length from the judge. If you stop too close you will cause the judge to take a step back. If you stop too far away the judge will have to step forward. Either way, points can be deducted. However, if you notice; the pattern says to specifically STOP. Here is where exhibitors start rushing. You can't just stop your horse and turn to him to set him up. You must complete the stop maneuver. This means stop. Stand there; facing the judge and count to 3 fairly quickly... as in 1..2..3. THEN turn to set up your horse.

If you have done your homework and your horse is trained, he will begin squaring up as soon as you turn towards him. If your horse stopped square, don't try to change it. Leave it alone. A horse stopping square is not penalized. However, what you don't want is a horse that is trying to square himself up when you are "stopped" and facing the judge. If he is moving his feet while you are stopped, your horse failed to "stop;" for this you can be penalized. It should take three seconds or LESS for your horse to square up. Right now Gertie is at about one second but we are working on improving this even further. Keep in mind, your set up does not have to be "halter type perfect." It is ok if the front or back feet are a little off. What the judges are looking for here is speed and as close to accurate as you can get without wasting time. As soon as the horse is square, look up at the judge and nod your head that you are ready for inspection. You better know your quadrants too. Something I have noticed a lot of judges doing this year is walking toward you when they begin inspecting your horse. Pay attention. If you lag behind and don't cross over quickly enough, you will be penalized.

When the judge has finished inspecting he will nod to you that you are excused. Nod back, turn and face your horse, and back five steps. No big booty back ups here. You have to back straight. When you have backed your five steps, count quickly to three; this will give you enough of a pause and a nice completion to your maneuver. Next, Position yourself with your toes pointing to your horse's opposite front foot and complete your 270 degree turn to the right. When completed, face straight ahead, count quickly to three, and trot to exit. Now when exiting, some exhibitors give the judge a nod and some don't. I always give a nod to let the judge know I have completed my pattern; whether they are watching or not. Remember, there are ring stewards and they watch too. Just because you think a judge isn't looking for a nod back doesn't mean he isn't expecting one. The steward may be giving him a signal or letting him know which exhibitors acknowledged him on the way out. Sometimes the judges aren't looking for a nod back, but I see it as better safe than sorry.

Let's look at this pattern. What I want you guys to do is look at it, read the instructions, and tell me where you think the crucial points of this pattern would be.
1). Trot from A to B
2). Walk from B to C.
3). At C, trot to the judge, stop.
4). Set up for inspection
5). After inspection, execute a 270 degree turn to the right.
6). Back five steps.
7). Execute a 90 degree turn to the right.
8). Trot to exit.

Wednesday, 08 April 2009

Tuesday, 07 April 2009

When Did it Become Acceptable?

Did I miss a general netiquette rule change that states in online conversation it is acceptable to be a stark raving bitch if the poster asks a questions about something that may or may not be a controversial topic? If I did miss this rule change I apologize; however, I'm pretty sure that general netiquette rules still apply in online conversation.

Don't get me wrong, I like to snark and complain about things as much as the next person. I can be downright nasty too. However, if someone asks a question because they want an answer I'm not going to be an asshole about it. The exception to that rule is if the person asked the question to intentionally stir up shit and cause drama.

Some of the problem comes from people who ask for advice yet do not take the advice. This happens all too often on the message boards. The way I look at it is either a). don't give advice or b). give the advice and realize that it may or may not be taken. If the advice is not taken and you put in your 2 cents worth; is it really skin off YOUR back if the original poster didn't listen to you? No. This is the Internet for crying out loud!

The other thing that cracks me up is people giving advice when they actually don't have a freaking clue what they are talking about. Some of them have a small inkling of a clue and nothing more; however the Internet makes them feel as if they are the "authority" on all things horses. Get a grip people. There are hundreds of different ways, methods, and techniques to achieve a desired result. You just have to find the one that works for YOU. My methods may not work for some people and may work great for others.

My favorite is the mob mentality. Seriously. When did it become ok to personally attack other people? I'm not saying I have never done it; I have. But you live and learn right? The more I learn and interact with people from all over the world, and apply their online behavior and mannerisms to my psychology studies; the more I realize how truly fucked up some people's reasoning processes are. When did people stop researching and drawing conclusions for themselves? Why follow blindly with leaders that conduct half-assed research with the intention of stirring the pot? All that does is get many people (not all) following along blindly, not knowing all the facts, and forming biased and inaccurate conclusions. Has the general population lost the ability to conduct informed, reliable, valid, and accurate research? How can you judge a person online when you only know their online personality and have never met them in person?

I have really lost interest in several message boards. It's a shame too. They used to be a place to relax and have fun and maybe pick up a tip or two. Now they are a place for bitching at, to, or about other people and attacking their personal character. I'm losing faith in people. Maybe this is one reason I got into the field of study I did. To figure out how and why people can be so cruel.

Wednesday, 01 April 2009

Halter and Tail for Sale

Rather than putting up ads on ebay... which I hate, I thought I would post some things I have for sale here.

I have a 2lb APHA/AQHA legal regular sorrel with flaxen tail. My pictures suck because I took them inside (out of natural light). The tail is best described as sorrel with some flaxen and black hairs mixed in. It is a natural hide with 8 grommetts. I bought it brand new for Gertie two years ago from Sergeants. I paid $375 for this tail and when I held it up next to Gertie it was just "too dark." She has a flaxen/sorrel tail which gets progressively lighter in color every freaking year. Needess to say, the tail didn't match, and Sergeant's had a no return policy on tails. So I was out $375 for a tail that didn't match. It has never been on a horse and has been kept in a tail bag in my closet for the past two years. It's clean and has a tapered (not blunt) cut. I am asking $100. (Which is cheap for this kind of tail). It is roughly 46 inches long. This same tail retails at for $175.00 for a 1lb natural hide. This is a 2lb, you do the math. Shipping will be USPS Flat Rate box for $4.95. I do accept paypal. Email me at if you would like to purchase this tail.

Next I have a Dale Chavez Congress cut mare halter which I also purchased from Sergeant's 2 years ago. I have used the halter twice. Each time at the World Show. It still fits Gertie, but is a little snug around the bridge of the nose. I paid $550 for it new. It has been kept in a bridle bag. It has nice silver (not the cheap shit that flakes off when you polish it), gold scroll type work on the outer edges of the silver, and small inset rubies. I'm asking $275. Dale Chavez halters come in sizes full, mare, yearling, and weanling. This is a mare halter and will be a bit smaller than a "full" halter. I can take measurements before you buy.