Halter Showing Tips – 3

Part three of a series on showing at halter. Read the second segment here

This series by judge Mark Sheridan will help people who are showing their horses in halter competition. The new class of Performance Halter has hit most of the breeds over the last few years. In addition, versatility ranch classes and various competitions require showing your horse at Halter for breed and open shows and there has been a major increase in people exhibiting their horses in Halter and Conformation classes. The tips in this five-part series will help make your experience in Halter more enjoyable and more competitive. Most importantly, it will give you the tools that will make it easier for the judges to place you closer to the top of the class.

The correct way to show bite.

Moving on to more helpful tips, one of the most important ones is very simple, yet so many people struggle with it: mouthing your horse.

If you show a mare or stallion, it is mandatory that you show their teeth or “bite” to the judge. A judge must be able to see where the incisors line up to determine if they are parrot mouth or have any other mouth issues. The proper way to do this is to put one hand on their mouth and separate upper and lower lips to expose the bite. I find it amazing how many people fight their horses with this simple maneuver. If you just spend a few moments every time you are around your horse, they will allow for you to part their lips and show the teeth.

Most of the halter horse trainers will show you their horse’s teeth upon approaching the horse for inspection and, as a judge, this makes our jobs easier so that we don’t have to ask to see their teeth.

Halter Showing Tips – 2

Part two of a series on showing at halter. Read the first segment here. 

This series by judge Mark Sheridan will help people who are showing their horses in halter competition. The new class of Performance Halter has hit most of the breeds over the last few years. In addition, versatility ranch classes and various competitions require showing your horse at Halter for breed and open shows and there has been a major increase in people exhibiting their horses in Halter and Conformation classes. The tips in this five-part series will help make your experience in Halter more enjoyable and more competitive. Most importantly, it will give you the tools that will make it easier for the judges to place you closer to the top of the class.

Correct position to walk to a judge.

On the class procedures it is extremely important to walk your horse to the judge. So often, when an exhibitor walks to the judge, the judge has to step to his left to see the horse track because the exhibitor walks straight to the judge putting the horse a few feet to the judge’s left. It is important for the judge to see the horse track at the walk and trot, and if he cannot see them track correctly, he will have to either re-track the horse or move into position to see the horse track. In most of the breed and open shows there will be a cone where the exhibitors should track toward at the trot and then make a left turn, showing the judge the profile view at the trot giving him the opportunity to evaluate the horse’s movement and to detect any unsoundness. If you make a nice sharp turn and continue with your trot to the left and then line up under the direction of the ring steward, it allows the judge to properly assess your horse.

Completely improper. Make sure that your horse is broke to trot and leads well, and able to make the sharp turns and make it easy for us to judge him.

This leads to two more important tips, the first one being: make sure that your horse is broke to trot and leads well, and able to make the sharp turns and make it easy for us to judge him. Keep in mind that if a judge cannot adequately view and inspect your horse, he must place them accordingly. It doesn’t matter if it’s a first time weekend horse show or a five-time World Champion halter horse at the World Show; if we can not properly view and judge them, they have to be placed with that in mind. Years ago, halter horses could bounce around, kick out and misbehave and still win, but those days are long gone. It is important to train your Halter Horse just like you would a Performance Horse. Make sure that you set your horse up every day or as often as possible. The best way to do this is to set them up, or square them up, when you take them out of the stall, and again when you are finished working with them before you put them back into the stall or paddock. Horses are creatures of habit, and if you do your homework and practice often, they will square up fast and correctly at the show all the time. Get your horse broke to set up without handling his feet and legs. It’s fine to help them learn where their legs are supposed to be with your hands when setting up while first teaching them, but work to get them to set up without handling their legs at the show. I have a simple theory when teaching horses to square up; I teach them to start with the outside right hind first, then the hind left, then the front feet last. Remember to adjust their weight accordingly to be able to move their feet.  If they are leaning on a leg, they will not be able to move that particular leg. Horses are easy to train, if you just do your homework, be consistent, and spend the time.

Completely improper. Do not put your lead behind your back and reach back to set up a leg.

The second important tip is to make sure that you space your horse with enough room to make it easy for the judge to walk around him. This cuts down on the chance of horses kicking and, more importantly, allows the judge to have enough space to get a good view of your horse from the front and back. Use common sense; in a stallion class, for example, one must obviously give more room between the horses for safety issues. In a smaller arena the ring steward will most likely instruct you where to line up. Always keep in mind: To place your horse we must be able to see your horse. A pet peeve of mine that is relevant to these two tips is to make sure that you do not put your lead behind your back and reach back to set up a leg. This always drives me nuts! We all have our likes and dislikes, but this one is very improper and very unsafe.

Halter Showing Tips

This series by judge Mark Sheridan will help people who are showing their horses in halter competition. The new class of Performance Halter has hit most of the breeds over the last few years. In addition, versatility ranch classes and various competitions require showing your horse at Halter for breed and open shows and there has been a major increase in people exhibiting their horses in Halter and Conformation classes. The tips in this five-part series will help make your experience in Halter more enjoyable and more competitive. Most importantly, it will give you the tools that will make it easier for the judges to place you closer to the top of the class.

Correct halter fit and snap placement.

One thing to keep in mind is that the halter class is usually in the morning. It is a great way to make a positive first impression with the judge. You want what you show to the judge to say, “Look at me and my horse close up; see that we are the best in the class and you are going to be seeing a lot more of us throughout the day.”  This starts with a smile and a confident look. Seeing a person having fun and enjoying what they are doing has a positive effect on other people, and in this case, the judges. Do your best to make a positive and confident impression on the judges and try to get in the arena first if there is not a work order. If there is a work order for the class, make sure that you are ready to go when it is your time to enter the arena.

Correct halter fit and chain length.

Reading your rule book in detail, and knowing all of the rules is one of the most important things that exhibitors can do to help their chances of success. Every breed association or club will have the rules that will be enforced regarding lip chains, class procedures, and how the class will be judged. There are many rules that change from year to year, and judges are required to keep up on the rules. Class procedures are important, and make sure to always give the ring stewards, and gate people the courtesy that they deserve. Many of the show staff are volunteers or underpaid but provide an invaluable service to the shows; they deserve respect from exhibitors, judges, and everyone involved.

Know your equipment rules, and make certain that your halter and leads are properly adjusted and fitted to your horse. Make sure that your halter is pulled up and fitted so that it is not hanging loose on your horse’s head.  I see this at every show that I judge on quite a few horses and it makes me want to walk up and tighten up the halter myself so that the horse’s head looks better. It is fine to have halters on a little loose at home when you get a horse out of the stall to saddle them up, but when showing at halter it is important to snug them up and create that clean look. I also want to note that the chains need to be sturdy chains and not the smaller chains that I often see that look like chains one would use to walk their dog. It is not so important that the halter has an abundance of silver, but that it fits well. We are judging your horse, not the halter. Just make sure that your halter is clean, well made, and fits your horse properly. Do your research and find companies or saddle makers that specialize in quality hand made show halters.  The well- fitted halter on a horse is just as important as how well your hat is shaped.

~ Mark Sheridan

www.marksheridanqh.com

Look for the next four editions of Halter Showing Tips to be released for the next consecutive Monday mornings. 

Showing Your Horse At Halter

Mark Seridan Halter

Correct halter fit and chain length

Some helpful tips from Mark Sheridan:

After a few months, I’m back in front of the computer writing articles on some interesting topics that I feel will help people who are constantly seeking knowledge about training or showing their horses. Spending a lot of time showing and judging at quite a few shows, I get many ideas for articles from the questions I receive from exhibitors. At the end of long day of judging I like to take time to note the thoughts and ideas I encountered during the day that would be helpful information to competitors to make their chances of winning in the arena easier, fun and simple.

As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, when I’m judging I often find myself wanting to give a variety of clinics so I can help everyone who brings a horse to me for evaluation, regardless of the event in which they are showing. Unfortunately that is not an option, as clinics and judging are two separate areas. However, they both require education, and this is where I can hopefully give some positive feedback and give back to the industry that I love so much and has allowed me to make a living teaching horses and people.

This article will help people who are showing their horses in Halter competition. The new class of Performance Halter has hit most of the breeds over the last few years. In addition, versatility ranch classes and various competitions require showing your horse at Halter for breed and open shows and there has been a major increase in people exhibiting their horses in Halter and Conformation classes. Most of the tips in this article will help make your experience in Halter more enjoyable and more competitive. Most importantly, it will give you the tools that will make it easier for the judges to place you closer to the top of the class.

One thing to keep in mind is that the Halter class is usually in the morning. It is a great way to make a positive first impression with the judge. You want what you show to the judge to say, “Look at me and my horse close up; see that we are the best in the class and you are going to be seeing a lot more of us throughout the day.”  This starts with a smile and a confident look. Seeing a person having fun and enjoying what they are doing has a positive effect on other people, and in this case, the judges. Do your best to make a positive and confident impression on the judges and try to get in the arena first if there is not a work order. If there is a work order for the class, make sure that you are ready to go when it is your time to enter the arena.

Reading your rule book in detail, and knowing all of the rules is one of the most important things that exhibitors can do to help their chances of success. Every breed association or club will have the rules that will be enforced regarding lip chains, class procedures, and how the class will be judged. There are many rules that change from year to year, and judges are required to keep up on the rules. Class procedures are important, and make sure to always give the ring stewards, and gate people the courtesy that they deserve. Many of the show staff are volunteers or underpaid but provide an invaluable service to the shows; they deserve respect from exhibitors, judges, and everyone involved.

Correct halter fit and snap placement

Know your equipment rules, and make certain that your halter and leads are properly adjusted and fitted to your horse. Make sure that your halter is pulled up and fitted so that it is not hanging loose on your horse’s head.  I see this at every show that I judge on quite a few horses and it makes me want to walk up and tighten up the halter myself so that the horse’s head looks better. It is fine to have halters on a little loose at home when you get a horse out of the stall to saddle them up, but when showing at halter it is important to snug them up and create that clean look. I also want to note that the chains need to be sturdy chains and not the smaller chains that I often see that look like chains one would use to walk their dog. It is not so important that the halter has an abundance of silver, but that it fits well. We are judging your horse, not the halter. Just make sure that your halter is clean, well made, and fits your horse properly. Do your research and find companies or saddle makers that specialize in quality hand made show halters. The well-fitted halter on a horse is just as important as how well your hat is shaped.

Tracking the horse properly to the judge

On the class procedures it is extremely important to “WALK YOUR HORSE TO THE JUDGE”. So often, when an exhibitor walks to the judge, the judge has to step to his left to see the horse track because the exhibitor walks straight to the judge putting the horse a few feet to the judge’s left. It is important for the judge to see the horse track at the walk and trot, and if he cannot see them track correctly, he will have to either re-track the horse or move into position to see the horse track. In most of the breed and open shows there will be a cone where the exhibitors should track toward at the trot and then make a left turn, showing the judge the profile view at the trot giving him the opportunity to evaluate the horse’s movement and to detect any unsoundness. If you make a nice sharp turn and continue with your trot to the left and then line up under the direction of the ring steward, it allows the judge to properly assess your horse.

Mark Sheridan Halter

Proper sharp left trotting turn at cone

This leads to two more important tips, the first one being: make sure that your horse is broke to trot and leads well, and able to make the sharp turns and make it easy for us to judge him. Keep in mind that if a judge cannot adequately view and inspect your horse, he must place them accordingly. It doesn’t matter if it’s a first time weekend horse show or a five-time World Champion halter horse at the World Show; if we can not properly view and judge them, they have to be placed with that in mind. Years ago, halter horses could bounce around, kick out and misbehave and still win, but those days are long gone. It is important to train your Halter Horse just like you would a Performance Horse. Make sure that you set your horse up every day or as often as possible. The best way to do this is to set them up, or square them up, when you take them out of the stall, and again when you are finished working with them before you put them back into the stall or paddock. Horses are creatures of habit, and if you do your homework and practice often, they will square up fast and correctly at the show all the time. Get your horse broke to set up without handling his feet and legs. It’s fine to help them learn where their legs are supposed to be with your hands when setting up while first teaching them, but work to get them to set up without handling their legs at the show. I have a simple theory when teaching horses to square up; I teach them to start with the outside right hind first, then the hind left, then the front feet last. Remember to adjust their weight accordingly to be able to move their feet.  If they are leaning on a leg, they will not be able to move that particular leg. Horses are easy to train, if you just do your homework, be consistent, and spend the time.

Pet Peeve #1 – Completely improper

The second important tip is to make sure that you space your horse with enough room to make it easy for the judge to walk around him. This cuts down on the chance of horses kicking and, more importantly, allows the judge to have enough space to get a good view of your horse from the front and back. Use common sense; in a stallion class, for example, one must obviously give more room between the horses for safety issues. In a smaller arena the ring steward will most likely instruct you where to line up. Always keep in mind: To place your horse we must be able to see your horse. A pet peeve of mine that is relevant to these two tips is to make sure that you do not put your lead behind your back and reach back to set up a leg. This always drives me nuts! We all have our likes and dislikes, but this one is very improper and very unsafe.

Halter Class Mark Sheridan

Proper way to show bite

Moving on to more helpful tips, one of the most important ones is very simple, yet so many people struggle with it: mouthing your horse. If you show a mare or stallion, it is mandatory that you show their teeth or “bite” to the judge. A judge must be able to see where the incisors line up to determine if they are parrot mouth or have any other mouth issues. The proper way to do this is to put one hand on their mouth and separate upper and lower lips to expose the bite. I find it amazing how many people fight their horses with this simple maneuver. If you just spend a few moments every time you are around your horse, they will allow for you to part their lips and show the teeth. Most of the Halter horse trainers will show you their horse’s teeth upon approaching the horse for inspection and, as a judge, this make our jobs easier so that we don’t have to ask to see their teeth. If more people would watch the really talented Halter trainers show their horses, they could pick up a few pointers just by watching. If you have the opportunity to view the right professionals, watching and observing people who are experts can be as valuable as taking lessons.

My next tip is another very constructive and important thought. At most of the shows that I judge, there is always a horse or two that is acting up and rearing, spooking, misbehaving, and/or will not set up or trot. The comment I hear time and time again from the exhibitor is, “This is his first show”. I am very patient in these situations and I try to be helpful, however, if these horses went to a show a few times just for the ride and learned to be around different venues and conditions, they would show so much better the first time they actually competed. I never take a two-year-old pleasure horse or green western riding or trail horse to their first show and actually exhibit them on their first trip away from home. I will haul them around to shows and ride them around, and let the young ones get used to being on the road and different situations and arenas. There is not much difference with the Halter as well. Take them to a roping event, open show, or the neighbor’s arena and tie them to the fence and let them chill. This will go a long way in getting them to relax and show well at their first outing. Exposure for young horses is very important.

One of the most important issues that exhibitors must realize, is that if we cannot see their numbers, and if it very difficult for us to find their numbers, it can become a challenge. It is important for exhibitors to always make their numbers easy for the judges to see. When I show in the Halter classes, I put the number on my hip for two reasons: I can always see the judge and they can always see my number at all times. The last thing I want to do is make a judge hunt for my number or send the ring steward out to find my number. The second reason being that I don’t like putting pin holes in a $75 dress shirt! I understand that in the Showmanship class it’s mandatory to put your number on your back, but just make sure that in the Halter class that the judge can find your number with ease.  Many times in the Halter classes, the exhibitors will practice their Showmanship skills. This is fine as long as you make sure to let us judge your horse and don’t be bouncing around from side to side and obstructing our view. If your number is on your back and you have a ponytail that blocks the number, this could be an issue for the judge and ring steward when we are trying to find your number. It’s so important for a judge to be able to find the right numbers with ease in order to place the class correctly. Keep an eye on the judges, and be ready to show your horse when they arrive for the inspection. It’s very important to be aware of where the judges are, especially in a multi-judged event. As a judge I can say that we always strive to place the class in the right order and to get the numbers correct all day long; making it easy for us to do so will help you out as well!

In wrapping up, please keep in mind that these are my personal opinions and not those of any breed associations. I judge alongside many talented and knowledgeable professional horseman and horsewomen, and feel that these are the most helpful and useful tips that will aid in future success with your horses. I also suggest contacting the AQHA to find a talented Professional Horseman in your area who can help you with whatever guidance you might need for your horse, regardless of the breed, event, or type of training. Feel free to contact me anytime for thoughts or questions regarding this article or past articles and enjoy riding, teaching, and learning with your horse!

On Deck – The Show Ring Countdown

BY JENN WEBSTER

When your competitive armour is cracked, it’s tough to focus on the run ahead. Professional reining trainer, Nicole Brown, shares her top mental preparation tips for showing successfully.

Nicole Brown is a professional reining trainer who owns and operates her own business, Reiner-Nic Performance Horses. She has several credentials to her name and has accumulated National Reining Horse Association lifetime earnings of $50,000+.

1. NERVES IN CHECK

“People ask me all the time if I get nervous,” Brown says.  My answer is, “No, this is my job. It’s what I do.”  Putting the concept into perspective, Brown explains that the non-pros she coaches at shows aren’t nervous about going to their jobs every day and showing horses winds up in the same category for Brown. It’s a career.

“I believe that showing is a huge mind game.” She says that if a competitor allows their subconscious brain to be affected by outside forces like people on the ground, warm-up traffic, other competitors, etc., it actually convinces the conscious brain to worry.

“This gets your nerves firing like crazy, which in turn, allows your subconscious brain to go even more out of control. And it becomes a vicious circle!” she says. Adding that it is each person’s conscious decision whether or not to allow their subconscious mind to control the situation. Control your mind – control your nerves.

And, Brown reminds, “Horses are very good at reading a rider’s feelings, so they immediately pick up on rider anxiety. They will begin trying to find whatever it is that is making the rider so uptight. The rider then gets more worked up and another circle ensues.”

2. HARNESSING YOUR CHINCH

Brown tries to help her non-pros understand focus prior to ever setting foot – or hoof – in the arena. “I think focus is only achieved when you gain control over your subconscious mind. I try to get my students in the mind frame that they are practising the very things they practice every day.” And at the show, Brown’s students get the added advantage of practising “showing” as well.

“Until a last-run-ever is determined, it’s all practice to be better for the next time,” she states flatly.

Brown also advises her non-pros to use their walk-in time wisely – this is the entrance into a reining pattern that does call for a run-in. During these crucial few seconds, Brown gets her students to focus on each part of their body and ask themselves if that body part feels exactly as it does when they are riding around the arena at home.

“Usually this causes the student to realize how tense they have become and to relax their back, legs and arms,” she chuckles. As a result, the exercise also forces the student to breath again which allows the horse to feel a little more settled.

Brown explains that each of her non-pros is different in regards to the support they need at a show. “Some benefit greatly from my presence and my words until the moment they go in, while other’s want their space in the last few minutes.” Brown says that once her “floof ‘n poof” crew is done prepping her horse for the show ring, she personally prefers to be left alone. While the odd word or “good luck” is okay, don

’t expect her to engage in conversation. And the same goes for the time immediately following one of her runs.

“Especially if I have had a problematic ride, I need some time to process what went on in the pen before I’m ready to be social and discuss it.”

3. VISUALIZATION

Although it’s difficult to predict for certain the quality of the run you will have prior to your performance, Brown believes there is a direct correlation between a person’s mindset and the outcome.

“I think you can influence your end result. Visualization is very important. I always take a few minutes to mentally go through the entire pattern in my mind and feel how I want the run to go. This process should take as long as actually running the pattern,” she explains.

4. BLOCKING EMOTIONAL INFLUENCES

Outside emotional influences are likely the most difficult obstacles to overcome because of our human nature, Brown says

knowingly. It’s something she’s learned from experience. When your competitive armour is cracked, it’s tough to focus on the run ahead.

“You need to be able to block everything that does not pertain to the task at hand – again, overpowering your subconscious mind,” she says. Extreme emotional influences can cause a person to make mistakes they wouldn’t normally do, causing anxiety that immediately translates to the horse. Racing thoughts and emotions can be the cause of everything from forgotten parts of a pattern to cues delivered stronger (or weaker), to the horse than intended.

After the fact, Brown explains that emotion will take over regardless – either positive or negative – and she feel it’s important to enjoy your moment, or wallow in it for a short time. This gives a competitor time to release those emotions. However, Brown says it is imperative to eventually move on and look ahead to the next task.

5. IT’S GONNA BE OK

Although it’s often easier said than done, Brown always tries to explain to her non-pro students that there is no need to worry or stress out over showing. “It can be a mind game, there’s no doubt. But you only get worried because you allow yourself to get worried,” she states matter-of-factly.

Brown’s words hit home if you compare showing, to driving your car. “It’s interesting, we don’t worry about driving to town every day, because we’ve done it so often that driving becomes second nature,” she says. However, despite the fact that people ride their horses every day, upon arriving at an event, they suddenly start to doubt that they can do all  the riding skills they do in regular practice.

As we finish up the interview, Brown’s information is delivered with a grin that chimes through the phone, “Don’t think that it could go wrong. Think about how well you know how to stop, spin, change leads and ride your horse.”

SCORE BOOSTING TIPS

Avoid distraction – it’s not rude to avoid conversation with others when you are warming up.

Visualize – what you are going to do in the pen, prior to going in.

Show smart – if you can’t plus a half on a certain maneuver, don’t attempt to! Play it safe, you’ll have a better horse next time.

Move slowly – most people speed up their hands when they show. Slow it down and wait on your horse. Try not to make it obvious to the judges that there is an issue, most times they wouldn’t even notice.

Have fun – if showing horses is your hobby, it should NOT cause you gray hair or anxiety attacks!

No coffee – if you are the nervous type, skip the caffeine until after you show. It will make a big difference.

Published in the August 2008, edition of the Western Horse Review.

Western Pleasure Basics

A western pleasure line-up at an open show. Photo by Deanna Buschert

Published in the August 2008, edition of the Western Horse Review.

BY DOREEN HOOKER 

The original western pleasure horse was one that could be ridden around the farm and down the road, giving the rider a pleasant experience as he or she walked, jogged or loped along the way. Many years and horse shows later, this horse should still be a pleasure to ride, but has become specialized to the degree that most pleasure horses are bred for this one event and haven’t seen a farm or a trail since they were foaled. The modern pleasure horse should have a free-flowing stride and cover ground with little effort. Ideally, he should have a level topline while performing rhythmic and cadenced gaits. The horse should be clean and well-groomed, with hoof-polish applied and generally, a banded mane. Tail extensions are permitted.

The gaits of the western pleasure horse are: a natural, flat-footed four-beat walk, straight and ground-covering; a smooth, two-beat diagonal jog, with even strides front and hind; and a rhythmic three-beat lope with forward motion in the correct lead. “Forward motion” means ground-covering – not extreme speed. Horses must also back easily, in a straight line without resistance. Various rulebooks require that the judge ask for moderate extensions of the jog in some classes. Riders should sit the extended jog. The ApHCC rulebook gives the judge the option of asking for extensions of the walk, jog and lope.

Format: The western pleasure class is for all horses to enter the ring on the rail, starting in either direction. All three gaits will be called for in each direction, with horses reversing at the walk to the inside of the pen. At the conclusion of the rail work, the horses may be asked to back, either in position on the rail, or from a centre lineup. According to most rulebooks a judge may ask for additional work, but this is rarely called for. The rider will not be asked to dismount unless the judge wishes to check equipment.

Equipment: Includes a standard western saddle and bridle, with silver not to count over a good working outfit. A junior horse (five years and under) may be ridden with two hands, with a bosal or snaffle bit. The bosal must be flexible, braided leather or rawhide with no rigid core. A senior horse (six years and over) must be ridden with one hand and a curb (shank) bit. Check your rulebook for descriptions and measurements of legal snaffles and curb bits, as well as curb chains and straps. Optional equipment may include a rope or reata, hobbles attached to the saddle, breast collar, and spurs. Prohibited equipment includes boots, wraps and bandages, martingales, and nosebands. Attire required includes pants, a long-sleeved shirt, blouse, or jacket with a collar, western hat, western boots, with chaps optional in most associations. Hard hats or safety helmets are now optional in some associations.

Faults: These are scored according to severity. They include: Excessive speed or slowness; wrong lead; breaking gait; failure to take gait when called for; touching the horse or saddle with the free hand; head carried too high or low; overflexing (head behind the vertical); excessive nosing out; horse opening mouth excessively; stumbling; use of spurs ahead of the cinch; horse sullen, dull, tired or emaciated; choppy strides; too much drape in the reins; horse overly canted at the lope; bolting or bucking; and refusal to back.

Disqualifications: Fall of horse or rider; use of prohibited equipment; two hands on the reins (unless using a snaffle or bosal); changing hands on the reins; more than one finger between reins with split reins; and obvious lameness.

Divisions: All-ages or senior horse, junior horse, three-year-old (in Appaloosa and Paint shows with no cross-entry to junior horse) and two-year-old, as well as youth, amateur (non-pro), novice amateur and any other division offered by the breed association. Two-year-olds may not be shown under saddle before a set date specified in each rulebook: January 1 for APHA; May 20 for ApHC; June 1 for ApHCC; and July 1 for AQHA. Again, check your own rulebook.

Know the Class – Yearling Longeline

Published in the May 2008, edition of the Western Horse Review

BY DOREEN HOOKER

Yearling Longeline

Photo by SilverHart Photographic.

This class for yearling pleasure prospects was developed a few years ago by the National Snaffle Bit Association (NSBA) and has since been adopted by several of the stock horse breed associations. Many trainers and owners were longing their yearlings anyway, and saw a chance to exhibit them to future buyers with this class. A format was decided upon and rules for attire and equipment established. The yearling was to be shown for 90 seconds, approximately 45 seconds in each direction, at the walk, jog and lope in both directions. Hunter under saddle prospects could be shown with the handler in English attire, and the horse performing a walk, trot and canter. Originally, the horse was shown on the longeline first and then shown in halter-fashion for conformation. This procedure was changed as judges felt that the yearling should be inspected for soundness before being shown on the longeline. Now, the horse is set up for the judge(s) and trotted around a cone for soundness before beginning the longeline demonstration.

Yearling longeline is an approved point class for the APHA, ApHC and ApHCC, as well as several other associations, but is not approved by the AQHA. Rules have been adopted from the NSBA, with most classes at AQHA shows being held as futurities.

The yearling should be fitted for the longeline class as if it were halter class bound. It should be clean, clipped and banded – if that is the standard of the breed. Hooves should be polished to the breed standard, and tail brushed out. Most breeds permit a tail extension.

The NSBA does have an excellent video on the preparation and showing of a longeline horse. Remember to read your association rules as some may differ. The ApHCC, for example, allows a handler to show more than one horse in a longeline class, whereas other associations do not. Some organizations require that the judge’s scoresheets be posted. Read your rulebook before attempting this challenging and practical class.

Purpose: The objective of the yearling longeline class is to demonstrate that the horse has the movement, manners, expression, attitude and conformation to become competitive under saddle, and to reward these qualities. Yearlings are not expected to demonstrate the behavior or quality of a finished show horse.

Format: In this class, each horse is set up individually in front of the judge(s) to be inspected for conformation, and then at a signal from the judge, trotted off around a cone. Horses showing evidence of lameness are dismissed. The horses may all be kept in the arena, or may wait outside to be ready to start the longeline portion. A lead shank can be used for the conformation inspection, and then must be changed to a longeline.

The longing demonstration starts with an audible signal once the handler has the horse at the perimeter of it’s circle. The exhibitor is allowed a total of 90 seconds during which the horse must walk, jog and lope (or trot and canter) in both directions. A “45-second” signal is usually given as a guideline. The turnaround at the walk is considered as fulfilling the walk requirement in the second direction. The horse may work in either direction first.

Equipment: For the horse includes a halter only, plain or show-type. A longeline no longer than 30 feet is snapped to the halter, hanging free from the halter without touching any part of the horse (i.e. no chains over or under the jaw). A longe whip may be used, but a disqualification will occur if the exhibitor strikes the horse with the whip. (This does not mean that an exhibitor cannot subtly use the whip away from the horse to encourage movement.)

The exhibitor’s attire must be conventional western attire, unless the horse is being shown as a hunter under saddle prospect, in which case English attire should be worn.

Scoring: Movement 80 points; manners/expression/attitude 10 points; conformation 20 points; and use of circle 3 points. The movement score is broken up into 4 walk points each way; 16 jog/trot points each way, and 20 lope/canter points each way. You can see that as the lope holds the most points, it would be better as an exhibitor to show your horse more at the lope than spend a lot of time walking. The exhibitor is encouraged to make full use of the 25-foot longing circle, but only 3 points are allotted to this. As the conformation score is out of 20, obviously yearlings with better conformation, suitable to that of a pleasure horse, will add more points to their scores.

Disqualifications: Evidence of lameness, horse falling, improper equipment, abuse, disrespect to judge, striking horse with whip, horse stepping over or becoming entangled in the longeline, failure to show at all three gaits in each direction, horse becoming loose in arena.

Hoof Care – 5 Tips for Trail Riders

Published in the May 2008, edition of the Western Horse Review

BY SARA GALLOW

Terry Thoreson of Madden, Alberta has been a professional farrier for 10 years, working in a range of different disciplines. First taught the art of hoof care by his father, this third generation farrier recognizes the history and heritage behind what he does. Here are Terry’s top five bits of advice for maintaining strong and healthy trail hooves.

Supplements – Biotin and fish oil are great supplements to improve the health and strength of your horse’s hooves. Although genetics and hoof care in the first few years of a horse’s life really determine the overall health of a horse’s hooves, these products can make a big difference and improve hoof health.

Investigate the Terrain – Before heading out on the trail, make sure you have an idea of what terrain you can expect. If you are heading to the mountains or other rough terrain, it is imperative that your horse be shod. Some people choose, for financial or other reasons, to shoe only their horse’s front hooves. However, depending on how aggressively you intend to ride the trail, it may be prudent to have all four hooves shod.

Hoof BootAlternative to Shoes – Hoof boots are great to carry with you on any ride. If you lose a shoe far from home, you can finish your ride without compromising the health and safety of your horse. For those of the barefoot trimming genre, hoof boots can be worn in place of steel shoes for additional protection, traction and cushioning on rocks and hard ground, and are a good option for a horse which cannot be shod for medical reasons.

Regular Maintenance – Regular maintenance is essential to keeping your horse’s hooves healthy and strong. To be prepared properly for the trail, trims and/or shoeing must be maintained on a regular basis. Check them after crossing rivers and creeks, as water and sand can chafe the back of your horse’s hooves and cause discomfort.

Duct tape – Yes, its just another ingenious use for that common household item. If you happen to lose a shoe on the trail, a hoof boot isn’t handy, and you neglected to invite your farrier along for the ride, you can alternatively wrap the hoof in duct tape, essentially making a temporary moccasin, and protecting it until you can have it re-shod. At six dollars a roll, it’s an inexpensive temporary solution.

Digital Evolution, German Martingales & More

You may have heard already that the May / June Western Horse Review is out! But if you're like me and you can't wait for your printed copy to arrive in the mail, did you know you can now access the digital magazine on your iPhone, iPad touch or iPad?

That's right!

The magazine is available in its entirety, page for page on iTunes. So be sure to check it out!

This month I had the pleasure of helping to put together several pieces. One of which was the article on Mounted Shooting which can be found in our RoundPen section.

Did you know there are in excess of 50 possible patterns for mounted shooting competition? Patterns can be pre-determined or may be drawn out of a hat on the day of the event. A competition typically consists of three to six patterns a day, with each pattern comprised of 10 balloons.

Within this same article, I also had the opportunity to interview “Outlaw Annie” – a World Champion Cowgirl in the Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association (CMSA) and an Overall World Champion in the Single Action Shooting Society (SASS). With a tenacity for the sport and a passion for Quarter Horses, flashy wardrobes and Colt firearms, Bianco Ellett was a perfect addition to this editorial.

Photo courtesy of Annie Bianco-Ellett.

Next up on my list was a piece with Al Dunning. With 37 World or Reserve World titles to his credit and expertise in reining, working cow horse and cutting, Dunning is one of the industry’s leading professionals. In the May / June issue, the Arizona trainer tells us why his signature German Martingale is one of the first pieces of equipment he reaches for in the tack room.

Photo by Cappy Jackson.

There are safety considerations to keep in mind when using a German martingale. For instance, when the horse raises its head above the desired point, the aid adds leverage to the bit in the horse’s mouth. If used improperly, adjusted too short for the individual, or the reins are pulled too tight, the force exerted on the mouth can be jarring. Hence, proper timing and softness of the rider’s hands is imperative. Even so, the German martingale can be an extremely useful tool in the right hands. Here is a little bit more why Dunning likes it so much:

 1. Made from Hermann Oak harness leather, this training aid features a neck strap that holds the martingale that is secured through the horse’s front legs and clipped to the cinch.

2. This martingale only allows for as much lateral movement as set by the rider via a clip on the reins – the degree of head position can be altered by attaching the ends up further along the rings on the reins. Dunning’s martingale allows for three different positions of varying head sets.

3.  A split fork formation is created with the cord line that comes up from the horse’s chest, then runs through the rings of the bit and attaches to rings on the reins.

4. This martingale can be used with split reins or a single rein style.

5. “This training aid is my favorite because it has a lot of ‘take’ when needed and a lot of ‘give’ as soon as the horse performs correctly.” – Al Dunning

Pic by Jenn Webster.

This issue also features top tips from barn and supply professionals for building your ultimate stable! Considerations like hay storage, natural lighting versus artificial lights and permit acquirement are all covered in this feature.

In the piece, I had a chance to speak with Robbie McKay, the owner of a unique Rona store in Black Diamond, AB. As an avid cow horse enthusiast and an acreage owner himself, McKay is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to planning and choosing supplies to build your next barn.

“When people come to us about horse keeping, I like to ask them questions like 'Where will you put your paddocks?' 'Where will you put your hay?' and 'How much time do you plan on spending in your barn?'” McKay says.

“The answers to these questions determine a lot about how a person should proceed with building a barn. I try to give people as much information as I can, ask them lots of questions and get them thinking about how they would visualize a barn on their ranch or acreage,” he states.

Pic by Jenn Webster.

In the health section, Dr. Chris Berezowski of Moore Equine South weighs in on Stage Three Labour in the mare. In this in-depth piece, Dr. Berezowski discusses meconium passage, placental care and routine post-foaling care. He also shares a great picture of a hippomane with us, which is completely normal to find after foaling and is thought to be an accumulation of minerals and proteins.

Be sure to check out the newest issue of Western Horse Review! With our unveiling of the Top 25 Youth in today's horse industry, an honest conversion with trainer's wife Elyse Thomson, and a close up look at equine myofascial release, this is another not-to-be-missed edition!