Sunday, January 15, 2012

Making An Entrance - Equitation Over Fences

Being quite frank, I have to say that I do like when a rider enters the ring and makes a 'grand entrance' on the flat for an equitation over fence class. One of the best things to do is to catch the judges' eye the SECOND you enter the ring. Keep the judge looking and expecting more from you every time you enter the ring for any class but this post is on the 'presentation' entrance to an equitation over fence class. 
To properly decide how to make your grand entrance you need 2 basic things....

  1. where is the 1st jump in relation to the in gate?
  2. does my horse and I do a fabulous sitting trot with impulsion? 
If the 1st fence is coming towards the in gate, then you have plenty of space to cut across the ring on the diagonal at a sitting trot and wait to pick up the canter on the turn towards the 1st fence. That is a grand entrance. 

In the course above we have the first fence going away from the in gate. The best 'grand entrance' for this particular course, in my opinion, would be to enter at the walk, immediately picking up the sitting trot between fences 8 & 9 then leg yielding left (or turning left depending on the distances) to the rail prior to passing fence 4 and just beyond fence 4, pick up the right lead canter, rate your pace and go directly to fence 1.  
Now with the below you circle prior to the 1st fence or do you go directly to it, keeping in mind this is an equitation (not a hunter) round. 
Well, just my opinion, remembering there is no hard and fast rule.....I would walk through the gate and immediately pick up the right lead canter (rating the correct pace) to the first fence without circling. This would show confidence and skill that you could rate your pace for the entire course in the short distance to the first fence. Would that put you ahead of a rider who circles for the pace? Well if you were a tie on my score card, the one who took the short distance and pulled it off would have the upper 'hand'. They presented themselves with the most confidence and skill. a grand entrance. 
So remember whenever possible, in an equitation over fence class, present yourself in the best way possible, on the flat into the course. Is that just MY opinion? Yes! Is there a rule on this? No! The only rule that applies to the presentation on course is if there is a dotted line in affect or if the first fence is a trot fence and that is a whole other blog post! 
Dress appropriately, shine your boots and present yourself on the flat when entering the ring for equitation over fences or an equitation medal. It can make or break your score! 
Have a question about a particular course? Send it along and I'll show you what I would like to see, for a grand entrance and post it for everyone, names not mentioned of course. 
Safe rides! 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Narrator

One of the most important pieces of advice I'd like to give to parents and trainers who just cannot seem to keep themselves in check along the rail of a flat class....
Refrain from yelling change diagonals; change leads; sit a step; look up; smile; blah blah blah.....
The only thing yelling from the rail does, is point out to the judge (that's me), that your student or child is doing something wrong and I, the judge (that's me), should look to see what they are doing wrong.
This is my opinion and other judges may differ on opinion but for me (and many other judges), I will not count off for a wrong diagonal if it is changed within a stride or two. I will not count off for a wrong lead if it is immediately corrected unless I need a tie breaker for placings. I may write the back number down on wrong lead pick-ups in a canter/lope if they change directions and I want to see if they can 'cue' for the correct lead/the horse picks up the correct lead, but at a schooling show for sure, I may note it, but it doesn't mean I'll completely kick you out of the placings if you post on the wrong diagonal for a stride or two picking up the trot. It would have to be a dead heat with another rider in contention for placing for me to worry about a stride or two off the correct diagonal at the trot in an equitation class whether it's a medal or short stirrup division.
So my advice to trainers and/or parents yelling from the rail during a flat class.....

  • think twice about whether the rider needs your advice
  • remember this is a show (schooling or otherwise) and not a lesson
  • will your commands be heard by the rider or the judge? 
  • maybe this could be a good learning opportunity for the rider (short stirrup and the like division).
  • how much does my voice carry? 
  • will the world end if this rider does not win the blue? 
  • does the tri-color ribbon mean more than the lesson to be learned by the rider?
  • are you more obnoxious than an entry that makes the judge wait 10 minutes for your trainer to be done in the other ring? 
  • do wheaties get soggy in whole milk or skim milk? 
Yep, that last one will really tell you if your yelling, is just hurting your rider more than helping regardless of the type of show.... schooling show and/or rated show and/or breed show and/or any show. Schooling show just means it is a show that is not sanctioned by a higher governing body. It doesn't mean every (or any) class, is a 'lesson'. Yes, it's a learning tool but as the 'rail yeller', please ask yourself

  • does the judge need you narrating your riders mistakes?  
  •  are you helping that rider or just pointing out their mistakes to the judge? 
It's really not a big thing. It's a horse show; it's a ribbon; it's a title; it's series points; it's zone points; it's points towards an ROM or whatever; it's points towards a's what it is...a show. Let those students make mistakes and SHOW what they have learned. 
Safe rides and best of show to everyone!!!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The highest and lowest of 2011

The low point of 2011 was, by far, losing my 43 year old paint, Riffraff. I miss his loud alpha personality; I miss making him soup; I miss him cantering into the barn to eat and I miss him always being there, always. As we are experiencing a very cold snap here in Florida, I am happy to say, Riffys' blanket now belongs to his longtime friend and paddock mate, Miss Flower. She will have a big warm hug from Riffy every time it is cold. She is lucky and Riff would have wanted it that way. RIP Riffraff 1968 - 2011

The high point of 2011 was again, by far, the birth of my grandson, Bentley Michael. Ironic that it is the opposite of my lowest point in of life and all that stuff. Bentley brings us all much joy and he's my first grand baby. I'm a Granny and that is good, very good. Welcome Bentley Michael!