A Good Start to Summer

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Hello lovely H&R readers! It's the intern here, and I hope this blog finds you well as we are now deep into wonderful summertime with the 4th of July holiday just around the corner. My summer here in Colorado has had a nice start with days working in the office; a few lazy afternoons by the pool; and, of course, some horse adventures!

A couple of weeks ago I was honored with the opportunity to ring steward the Colorful Colorado Circuit, put on by the Rocky Mountain Quarter Horse Association. It was five days of seeing exhibitors show their horses, from sunrise to sunset. I'm a horse-show girl myself, and I've competed in intercollegiate horse judging, as well as officially judging many open shows, but ring stewarding was a new experience.

I'm like a sponge for anything horse-related, so of course I thought it was quite a treat to be at the side of official AQHA judges all day?and these judges were very reputable. I saw it as a wonderful opportunity to improve my judging skills and learn the true in and outs?straight from the official sources.

After this experience, I could probably score Western riding and trail in my sleep, and I possibly saw 100 Western pleasure rides. With each ride, each horse, and each class, I learned a little something. I'd love to share my findings with H&R readers?because we all love to get tips from each other! So here are a few things I picked up from the judges.

  • The judges are always watching?inside and outside the pen. They do notice people who are too hard on their horses and will take the appropriate action.
  • Clothes and tack aren't going to automatically earn you the blue ribbon. One judge told me if you dress like the big dogs, you better ride like the big dogs. I saw far too many riders who looked the part, but weren't prepared, but plenty of exhibitors in simple outfits were having shining rides.
  • In showmanship, the fad of standing right in front of your horse's head while backing up is not okay?judges do count off for that, and it is also dangerous.
  • While pivoting in showmanship, it is always best to look at your horse's shoulder, because that is the part of the horse you are moving. P.S. Our August issue will have more showmanship tips to consider.
  • Don't point your toes out at an extreme angle during horsemanship or hunt seat equitation?the judges disliked that very much.
  • Ladies need to wear appropriate under garments so there are no unsightly distractions?i.e. wearing a supportive bra and avoiding panty lines.
  • Trail patterns can be tricky, so study each maneuver before you go in?even a simple thing like exiting the wrong way can lead to disqualification.
  • Working the gate in trail in an extremely slow manner can annoy some judges.
  • If you jerk on your horse in the show pen, a judge will most likely see you and not hesitate to knock you down on?his or her card.
  • Everyone is judged under the same rules?whether you're an 8-year-old or an AQHA judge exhibitor.

Most of all, I learned that judges love it when exhibitors care about their horses and enter the ring with an "I'm here to win this" smile and attitude. So, my fellow H&R readers, take the time to, well?take the time. Enjoy showing your horse?it's a great experience that a lot of people get together to make possible for you.

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