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First Show of the Season…Successful? I’d say it was!

Amidst the excitement of getting to the first show of the season, getting the barn area set up, dealing with devilish winds and cold, working horses, bathing horses, getting riders ready and coming up with a viable game plan to make it all work, it’s hard to process the proceedings as they are occurring.  During the event, watching the blues and championships go up on the banner it is reasonable to say that it was a very successful adventure!

Miriam Reagan and Rare Friends were Country Pleasure Driving Champions and Reserve Grand Champions,

Rachel Wamble and It’s Alabama were Reserve Juvenile 3-Gaited Champions  and Grand Champions.

Rachel Wamble and Breve Latte were Reserve 3-Gaited Pleasure Novice Rider Champions, Juvenile 3-Gaited Pleasure Champions and Grand Champions.

Reagan Huguley and Rare Friends were top 3 in the competitive Adult Country Pleasure Championship.

Julie Wamble won her first 2 classes in Adult WTC Academy and then won her Championship also.

Katherine Moore was Reserve Grand Champion Academy WT 11-13.

Katherine Walcott in her first show as a Saddle Seat rider won the Adult WT Equitation and was reserve in her showmanship class.

Elizabeth Stevenson made her show ring debut after about a 5 year hiatus.  It was great to see her back.

Following in Elizabeth’s footsteps was her niece, Grace Stevenson, who won extremely good ribbons in a competitive 8 and under division.

Ashleigh Donovan showed her competitive spirit with third places all through her classesi in the 9-10 WT division.

Jessica Hill continues to be undefeated in the lead line walk and trot classes with her two wins.

Undoubtedly a good start to the year.  As I tweak on everyone and determine what I need to do to get everyone even better, I will enjoy this moment however brief it may be.

First Show of the Season!

Next week, Stepping Stone is off to Clemson, SC for the first show of the year.  This is my favorite show.  The show management is always glad to see you and they are always appreciative that I come.  This is very nice as we go to a lot of shows during the year that the management could care less whether you are there or not.  The office staff is super nice and very efficient.  It is put on by the American Saddlebred Horse Association of the Carolina’s.

All that being said, I am usually ready for show season to end to be able to recharge to get ready for the next year.  Now I am body clipping, unpacking trunks and repacking trunks and making lists of what I need to be organized and ready.  Truck is serviced and ready and horse trailer is getting serviced as we speak. Hotel reservations are made. However, it never fails that I forget something!  As long as it’s not catastrophic, like a horse, there are stores in Clemson that certainly can help me out!  I tend to forget that when I’m travelling!

The horses themselves have been vaccinated, had coggins pulled, their teeth floated and the farrier is working hard to get their show shoes back on.  Now it’s time to wash their blankets and get their show halters out and cleaned.  It’s almost like getting ready for Christmas!  The horses also know when show season is approaching.  One of the wonderful things about Saddlebreds is that they love to show!

I’m ready for show  season.  Are you?

The Upcoming Horsemanship Challenge

On March 2, 2013 ASHAA will be hosting it’s 2nd annual Horsemanship Challenge.  This challenge is a test of your riding skills on an unknown to you horse and your ability to pilot it around the ring in a competitive situation.  There will be a walk and trot section and a walk, trot and canter section.  Each participating barn donates a suitable horses.

When you arrive and receive your number, we will all gather and draw horse names out of a hat.  You are not allowed to ride anything you have ridden before and if you draw a horse you are familiar with you must put that name back in and draw again until you have an unfamiliar horse.  Armed with your own saddle, you will find said horse, tack him and take him to a designated area where, hopefully, the trainer or owner of the horse will give you 5 minutes of instruction. When class is called, you will enter the ring and perform as the judge requests you to.  At the end of the class, the judge will score your card on a 1-10 basis.  1 being low and 10 being high.  After 2 rounds the scores are totaled and the top 12 or so riders will be asked to do it one more time.  Champion and reserve champions will then be tied with top 10 ribbons given to the rest.

It is great fun and a good attitude is a must!  Everyone is in the same position as you. Your score is not based on mistakes you make, but how you handle any issues you may have.  Also, you still want to demonstrate your horsemanship skills. Even if you are not participating, please come watch.  There is always something learn whether you are on the horse’s back or on the ground observing!

The Wonders of Victories

Victories come in large and small packages. Evidence of this is shown to me every day.  Take for instance the last winter tournament this weekend.  I had riders who have been riding for years and some who have barely started their riding careers and many in between.  Each category of rider had at least a small personal victory regardless of ribbon color.  I have one adult rider in the WTC division on a new horse that we have had for about 6 weeks.  She had ridden him at the previous tournament after only 2 weeks of owning him and naturally had some issues. 4 weeks later and she comes home with a blue ribbon!  I had one adult WT rider who rode a different horse. Her result was a blue ribbon in a class that she has previously been unable to win despite her nervousness in riding this new animal.  I had one young rider, new to showing and riding in general. She was severely disappointed in her ribbons at the last tournament and really doubted whether she wanted to show again.  She has been diligent in coming to her lessons and last weekend she came home with 2 reserves.  This particular child has an extremely competitive nature and will be a superstar in the future.  Yet another young rider has come along slowly and has a very sensitive nature.  She can be really nervous and is particularly so when her father is watching her.  Now this is a very gentle and kind man and it took me a few lessons to figure out why one week she would be stellar and the next be a basket case.  I finally put two and two together and suggested to the mother that he stay home for her first tournament.  She was a raving success so I had mom bring the dad to the next lesson and she had a great lesson.  Dad came to the next tournament and the young lady still rode beautifully and came away with a blue ribbon!  Hopefully, we can put that issue to bed where it belongs!  Small victories!

I only ask from each of my students that they build each ride and do a little better than the previous ride.  Challenges occur daily when dealing with horses as they are a live animal and sometimes have moods that change, just as we do.  Having an understanding of the horse and why they react the way that they do is truly what makes one a horseman. Small victories, building on what you already know, and persistence are what allows us able to have BIG victories.IMG_0159

Alabama Horse Talk

This morning Jackie Hale and myself had the pleasure of being interviewed by Becca Salamone host of Alabama Horse Talk Radio.  Becca was interested in the American Saddlebred Horse, the American Saddlebred Horse Association of Alabama and the Alabama Winter Tournament Association.  She approached Jackie about possibly doing an interview and agreed.   After Jackie discerned what Becca was interested in learning about, Jackie suggested I might be a useful contributor also.  I agreed because it’s always fun to have an opportunity to promote the breed!  Becca was very well prepared and made our jobs as interviewees extremely easy.  It also helps when one is passionate about the topic.

Not only did Becca learn about us and what our contributions are to the Saddlebred world, but I was able to learn about her contributions to the horse world via http://alabamahorsetalk.com/radio/.  I am appalled with myself that I was not previously aware of this.  I am like a glacier slowly, slowly coming into the 21st century with all this available technology.  I am teachable, but I can only absorb one thing at a time!  In this world where it seems technology is king, I am sadly just a jester on this court.

After agreeing to the interview, I went to her website to learn more about what Alabama Horse Talk is and was properly impressed with what I found.  It is not a site that is breed specific and it is actually quite the opposite.  It is an informational gathering ground which I hope to utilize regularly to learn about different breeds and what they are doing,  products old and new and interesting articles that are very informative whether you are a horse enthusiast or not.

All in all, I am feeling very smart today after learning about Becca Salamone and Alabama Horse Talk.  It makes me want to go surf the web to see what else is out there that I am missing!

Show horse riders vs. Academy Riders

Academy riders are students who typically do not own their own horse and are riding horses owned or leased by the stable.  This division was created to help generate interest by offering a lower cost option to showing horses.  Academy riders compete for ribbons and titles and there are many divisions and age groups to choose from. It is a great way to start showing horses and determine whether or not this is a hobby you wish to pursue without the full commitment of horse ownership.

“Showing in a suit” is the original and traditional way of showing Saddlebreds. Typically a 3 piece suit with derby or top hat is used to be properly attired.  Academy riders use just a portion of this outfit.  What I call “suit” is really performance and is a higher level of showing.  Classes are usually larger and more competitive.  In my barn, my students/owners choose which way they want to show after I deem them ready to show.  It really is a personal choice which is determined mostly by financial considerations and time allotted to put into this hobby.  Basically, we offer something for just about everyone!

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Rare Friends and Reagan Huguley