Thursday, December 15, 2011

Counting Strides Part 2

I thought that I would just add this quick post about counting strides, while we're on the subject. Canter strides start at the back end. Not that I think anyone reading is stupid but sometimes those little details just aren't explained and I know there are a lot of riders these days 'going it alone' sans trainer. Notice the horse in the picture is at the beginning of his stride....with his right hind leg going first, what lead is he on? Just an added extra credit question....

  • (a) The sequence of footfalls when the left foreleg is leading: (1) right hind, (2) left hind and right fore together, (3) left fore (the leading leg)  followed by a moment of suspension when all four feet are briefly off the ground.
  • (b) The sequence of footfalls when the right foreleg is leading: (1) left hind, (2) right hind and left fore together, (3) right fore (leading leg) followed by- a moment of suspension.
Therefore it's necessary to count when the moment of suspension is broken by the rear leg starting the next stride. When jumping, remember to start after your horse is completely over the fence. After the front end lands, then the back end comes underneath of them to start the first stride in that line. 

Not that I think anyone reading is stupid but sometimes those little details just aren't explained and I know there are a lot of riders these days 'going it alone' sans trainer. Good luck and safe rides! 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Training Vs Judging on Counting Strides

I'm posting this topic as I had a trainer recently question my ability to judge a hunter equitation over fences class since I do not count strides while judging.

When training any rider to ride over fences it has always been a part of my curriculum to school riders to count fences. It helps them to start learning to see the spot they want at the next fence and it helps regulate pace without harping on it along with many other advantages. When a rider is ready for a bit more strategy, I also train them to ride a 5 stride line in 4 strides and in 6 strides regardless of their horse natural stride length. That is what I do when training.

When judging hunter and hunter equitation classes over fences, I do not always count strides. I do not assume if the horse/rider chip in at a fence, that they will finish long over the second fence if set in a straight line. Each fence gets a score separately unless it is a combination, in and out, etc. If a line is set to a 12 or 13 foot stride and calls for 5 strides, that is all based on averages and except for the occasional really bad spot or oddly strided horse, it's best ridden in 5 strides. A skilled rider riding a small mount through a line calling for an average of 5 strides, may very well ride that line without a fault, in 6 strides. They may ride it in 6 strides looking just as smooth and elegant as one who rides it in 5 strides.

So my reasoning of not counting strides on a hunter or hunter equitation course is really very simple. If it looks good and everything stays subtle, graceful and elegant, counting strides is only the job of the rider and/or trainer, not the judge. For someone adding a stride but the add didn't cause them to chip in, go long, drop a rail, etc and was unnoticeable in every other way, I do not penalize. Usually if a stride is added, there is another fault more prominent to address anyway. There is no language at this time in the USEF or AQHA rules, that mandates a certain number of strides be ridden in a line on a hunter or hunter equitation course. If you are judging and counting strides, it is your preference but not a requirement. If a line is set for 5 average strides, most likely it will be ridden in 5 average strides.

So next time you go to a show, local, regional, backyard or national and the course shows distances which reflect what is expected to be a certain number of strides, go for it. Be cognizant of the size of your horse and their stride length; listen to your trainer and count out loud if you need to, but don't expect the judge to be counting along with you. Have fun and safe rides!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

RIP Argus and Ridge

RIP Argus and Ridge. For those of you not familiar with the blog, "From Hell to Heaven: Saving Argus" it's powerful good reading. Argus has now passed away and the final post for his blog is up. I recommend going to the very beginning and reading all of the posts if you have not been following this blog. Argus' journey mirrors many a rescued horse' story but the bittersweet ending to this true story, is something beyond powerful. RIP Argus and Ridge.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Open Horse Show Association

For those of you not lucky enough to have a state organization that recognizes schooling shows (VHSA Associate side in Va is a really good one), there is a new organization being formed by some very reputable judges and great horse people. It's the Open Horse Show Association and right now they are running a special for regular membership, it's only $15. I'm going to sponsor an award and several others have already thrown their support in the ring too. Their website is not complete but they've been adding to it almost daily.

Please check it out at Open Horse Show Association
And something was brought to my attention a little ways back and I completely forgot to address it. No organization, author, training practices, farms, shows, registries and the like that I 'endorse' openly on this blog, has paid me with any form of renumeration, monetary or otherwise. Not that anyone thinks I have enough clout to pay me to post a great review of their book or show, etc but I did get an email with something along those lines in it. I haven't read everything but I've found some books to be really good and helpful so I pass along the suggestion. That's all this opinion and my interpretation of rules that horse shows use as guidelines. I don't always write about judging but then that's the horse show world. I judge, I show, I own horses. I do very little instructing and training because I like to judge better and don't want a conflict of interest to arise while officiating. That could be disastrous!
If you have something, a training aid, book, suggestion, etc, that you think could be of great help, please chime in! Oh and check out the OHSA if you show at local schooling shows.