Sunday, November 8, 2009

Follow up on today's post......A Baby Running the Show

Well, I just thought and thought about today's earlier post. I know I tend to ramble on but I do have a bit more to say on this topic which was spurred by the first comment on the first post of today.

As much as I see wrong in today's open shows, I see just as much right. Those are the ones I reward. I know the rules, the standards for the baseline and through tons of practice, I believe I can apply them to the class at hand and rate them accordingly.

The biggest 'festival of ugliness and impurity' in my opinion has been big money thrown out there for people to win with the youngest of horses. You'll see plenty of 'wrongs' in the show ring but the worst of all, again, in my opinion, is the youngest of horses being harvested for the almighty dollar. These are not show cars to be fixed when their gaskets blow. A good horse, no matter how it is built, is a good horse for the long haul.
Case in point....I have a friend that has shown her mare in lower level dressage for over 15 years. That mare cannot move up past 3rd level tests due to conformation flaws but my friend and this mare still show. Still get excited about having a new judge assess them. She has done right by the mare by not asking her to pinch, pin, strap and sizzle up into 4th level or higher. She knows her mare is at her peak at 3rd level. Why continue to show her? They have fun together. The mare is physically and psychologically healthier staying in this niche. I believe she still scores in the 60's on occassion at the ripe old age of 24. This mare didn't get to that age and still be able to do 3rd level because she was started as a yearling and pushed into a high dollar futurity at the age of 2.

My personal opinion is that all classes for 2 and 3 year olds whether western pleasure or hunter on the flat (or under saddle as some ridiculous organizations thought it ought be named) should be banned. If high dollar amounts be paid out to anyone, it should be a reward for taking the time to allow the horse to mentally and physically grow into a specific discipline and performance. That's not to say that I do not think a 2 or 3 year old should never be ridden. It's how much and how high of an impact any horse should have to endure for the purpose of showing. 
Many will try to equate the argument to the thoroughbred racehorse who is started as a yearling, raced as a two year old and sometimes retired by the age of 3 and usually by the age of 5 or 6. That argument doesn't hold much water for me since the entire industry of racing is based on money and the horse is a commodity. That is completely different from the show horse although a show horse can contribute to many bank accounts throughout its' lifetime. You must also know what happens to thousands of thoroughbred racehorses every year when their careers end. They don't all get to stand stud or produce foals for regenerating the racing industry. So again, the argument of the thoroughbred racing world in comparison to the show horse is again squelched. Another point to ponder is the early growing cycles of stock horses versus the thoroughbred.
I cannot ever see the justification of pushing a stock bred horse into the show ring to be rated on the standards of a mature horse. There are plenty of dollars to be had from a horse that performs well into his teens or twenties but what is to become of the horse asked to endure so much at such a young age? It is ridiculous to consider that this baby horse will move accordingly to the standards set forth for mature horses in certain disciplines. Equate that to asking a twelve year to conduct business at the executive levels of a fortune 500 company and you'll have your answer.
Ask Mrs Mom who sparked this very post. I'm sure she could share a few stories seeing as she is one of those who attempt to rehabilitate those mature horses who were asked to an adult's job when they were only babies.
I guess you could say that out of my pet peeves, those high dollar 'festivals of almighty ugliness' shows for the youngest of horses, are number one on the list of my pet peeves.


  1. In all fairness, showing went from being a FUN time, to a painful time for me. Watching those horses, for several years- from weanlings in halter classes to their two and three year old years, MAYBE up to five year olds- going downhill was heartbreaking. The constant pressure from others in the ring with me to "do more" with my horses at younger and younger ages bothered me tremendously. And the night I went to the local horse sale, looking for a project horse (most likely an OTTB, we were quite near Saratoga and the Finger Lakes tracks,) one of those horses I had competed against went through. She was a pretty little QH mare, who would have had a lot of potential. She was nicely bred, nicely built, and completely DONE by the age of five. She had nothing left to give.

    I couldn't save her. The buyer that got her was not one who would be happy to make $50 extra over his purchase price, and stead fastly refused to re-sell.

    Showing became less and less fun, the more I learned (and still learn) about horses. Just watching what the horses were in effect saying in their movements haunted me at night.

    I took in who I could, and helped where I could, but I had to stop actively showing for a while. Who knows- maybe the time will be here soon, for me to return with a new horse, and let his story be told...

    (Sorry.. this got wordy! And probably

  2. Hello!

    I see that you have chosen several of my copyrighted photos from my Flickr account to use in your slide show, without prior permission. I emailed you about this yesterday, and since I have not heard back from you, I'm guessing it's safe to assume you would like to continue using them.

    I'll email you a detailed invoice. Also, if any of your readers would like to purchase prints, they may email me at

    Thanks so much, and have a great day!

  3. Just a quick update! I have removed the photos for now, but once I hear back from you and you agree to my pricing for web use, I'll reinstate the photos for reposting. Thanks again!

  4. Susan, Posting a comment is not the same as emailing and I never recieved an email. Your photos were picked up by a random slideshow program provided by I didn't choose your photos and your photos were not the only ones that were randomly displayed. If you photos were password protected, the program could not display them. If in fact, your account were private through flickr, the program again, could not display them. Since the program that runs random photos is available to virtually everyone everywhere, it would suggest I'm probably not the only one displaying what you percieve as a private collection. You may reinstate your photos or not but I have no control over what this widget displays. I will send a note to the blog company and the widget provider. I suggest you do the same.

  5. I'm aware of the difference between posting a comment and emailing. :-)

    I did in fact email you using the email address you provide in the "contact me directly" section. Perhaps you should look into seeing whether or not it is working correctly since you did not receive my emails.

    All's well that ends well - I understand about the widget and have changed my API settings (no need to make my photos private - I don't mind when people view my photos from my Flickr page, I was just a bit surprised to see them being used elsewhere without my knowledge or permission). Obviously I don't perceive it as a "private collection" as you assumed or I would not have them set to "public". I do have my settings as "All rights reserved" and downloadable only by me, but was unaware that I also need to change my API settings. My apologies if I offended; that was not the intention.

    I do understand that you did not intentionally use my photos or others maliciously and I appreciate your honesty. But, please do understand that there are a lot of people who see no problem in using copyrighted photos and have no understanding of the laws, so it does raise a red flag to professional photographers when they find their work displayed elswhere.

    Again, I do apologize for the misunderstanding and have changed my settings in order to avoid this in the future.

    Have a good day. By the way, I've enjoyed reading your blog. It brings me back to the days I used to show...I think I still have my ribbons somewhere!


I am just one judge with one judge's opinion. Almost all of the classes I judge are based on the rules of USEF & AQHA. Judging a horse show is very subjective to the interpretation of the rules. Please keep this in mind when commenting.