Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Missed Clinics and Yooo Tooob and thoughts on Western Disciplines.

I missed both the Reining Clinic and the Western Clinic put on by our club.  I didn't mind missing the reining quite so much as I was able to do my lesson with MK instead.  I did, however really want to go to the western clinic because I wanted to get a better idea of what the Ranch Pleasure class is all about.

I went home from work on Friday, very sick, and was down most of the weekend. I am feeling much better now though.

Since I didn't go to the clinic I thought I'd watch some you tube video's of the 2012 AQHA Ranch Riding class.

Here is a video of last years world champion  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uexLqB80TFc

I watched it and thought, "My horse will never be that good."

But then I remembered, that first of all this is the world champ, and I will not be competing against him or any other professionals.  Secondly, this horse is also a top reining horse. My horse is not a reiner.  He is just a plain old ranch bred paint.  What he can do, is side pass over poles, he can trot over poles, he can canter, and he can trot...really fast!  He can sort of do spins, and he can sort of do roll backs, and we still have a month and a half to refine these tasks.   He cannot do a sliding stop, but we can work on that as well and get him to at least stop. Why a "ranch" horse needs to slide to a stop, I'll never know.  If someone does know, please tell me.

With all this in mind, we will enter the class. We probably won't bring home a ribbon, but we will give it our best shot, and be happy, because learning is learning, and we have much to learn! :-)

Then I watched the competition trail classes.


I am so impressed by the control this lady has over her horses body parts.   I know it also takes a lot of skill to ride and have your cues so imperceptible  it appears as though you a communicating telepathically with your horse.  So hat's off to her and to anyone that can train their horses to move like that.

BUT...here is my thing, and it is just my opinion and doesn't count for much.  It almost seems unnatural for a horse to move like that, with his head at his knees the entire time. It kind of bothers me to watch it.  I understand that that is standard procedure in Western Pleasure horses, but I wonder what it takes to train a horse to be like that.  Perhaps it takes a certain type of horse mentally to achieve that, I truly don't know.  I am new to this aspect of the horse world. Perhaps a slow moving horse like Killian is what you need.  Perhaps someone who knows, can tell me what it takes. I am curious to know.  One thing I do know, Trax will never be a horse like that. Not now, not ever. I do not think I would ever even want him to be.

MK says Trax is a "hot head".  I say he is super athletic, and full of energy, with quick feet, and a quick mind to match. I like that about him. It is part of what makes him a good cow horse.  The cow work is my favorite part of the Ranch Horse Competition, and eventually I would like to explore ranch sorting, or team penning, maybe even a little actual cutting.

I wonder, do any western pleasure horses ever do cow work as well?  Does anyone know?

I realize that when we compete in the trail class in May, he will have to give me some collection and control, which he can do, most of the time anyways. But even collected his head is never low like that horse.  So now I have to wonder, if judges will frown upon that. Will we lose points for being a forward horse in a trail class?  This whole line of thought leads me to re-examine what it is I am trying to accomplish by training for this class.

I guess my main reason for entering the class is really more about getting him ready for the trail section of the Ranch Horse show.  It is important for him (and me) to gain some control over his fast moving feeties. It is important for him to let down enough to be able to think about what he is doing instead of just reacting and running away. It is about him trusting me to guide him through obstacles.  It really isn't so much to win as it is to train.  I have no doubt that I can train him to do what needs to be done (thanks to MK) but the only chance I will have to work him on a trail in a public venue, before the RHC, is at this show. We all know that what a horse can do at home, can often change to the impossible when there are all kinds of distractions going on.  So with that in mind, it will be good for both of us.

So I do have my goals, and this is what I want Trax to be able to do someday...


And this...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRMgT0trjW8 (not the best example of a trail portion, but all I could find in a hurry)

Of course there we are again with those sliding stops. Can someone tell me in what situation a real honest to goodness ranch horse needs to be able to do a sliding stop, or even a spin, for that matter?  Perhaps it is to get them light on their feet to be able to work a cow.  That actually kind of makes sense.  I may have to research that. Perhaps it is so that when they are chasing a cow at full speed and the stupid cow jumps off a cliff, the horse can stop before going over board with him (ok like in the movies lol)

All in all I have learned a lot from watching these videos, and will continue to watch to see what applies to my horse and what doesn't.   If anyone wants to comment on what the true meaning is behind certain western disciplines, please do so.  I really do want to know what others thoughts are.

I just found this on another blog, which I thought was interesting.


  1. If the links are not showing up, roll your mouse over them and they will. I'm not sure why it does that.

  2. I think you can change the color of your links on your template page. That might help?

    I also don't understand the way Western Pleasure horses are made to carry their heads. It makes them look like they are lame. The spin I can sort of understand in a ranch horse, but sliding stop? It just looks cool :) Wish I had the answers to your questions, but I really have no idea. I hope someone can answer because I would like to know as well!

    Glad you are feeling better!

  3. The main thing that stood out to me in the first video was that hideous trot. Can you explain that to me? He like crouched forward and stood up on the saddle. I understand having the ability to vary your horses trot and controlling the speed with your body, but that just looked out of control. Is that one of the ranch horse qualifications? Obviously he was doing it correct since he's the champion, but it seemed ridiculous to me.

    I hate the way they have their horses carry their heads. It seems so false, which in a ranch horse, don't you want a horse that can perform what you need, not one that carries their head in an unnatural angle?!

    I do love the side passing and spins though.

    Honestly, I love videos like these because they give me ideas of things it would be cool to work on, I've never had the thought of my horse never being that good, because while she obviously won't, I'm never going to be competing at that level either!!

    1. I noticed that too. I don't know what that is except for perhaps his version of posting. I know that it is the horse that is being judged more than the rider I think, I'm not sure though. I'm so new to all of this.

      I will say that it is fun teaching my horses to do this stuff, even if they can't do it at that level. Just being able to move the different body parts separately is cool and really comes in handy at times.

  4. In my opinion I hate western pleasure, I hate how they are forced to go so slow and how their heads are below level and they do look lame all the time. Also reining I think the sliding stop is just to show softness in a horse, lots of those versatility classes don't care if its super long slide, as long as your horse is soft in the face and front legs. I would try to find videos that are not AQHA if you can, they are a lot more real and the breed shows are kinda always false to me. But that's just me, I like a horse than can move and be athletic too.

    1. Ah yes, soft in the face...that is what we are working on right now. Trax still does most of his traveling on the forehand, which I am told is normal for a roping horse. With him, I am happy if he stops at all. LOL

      I will search for some non AQHA video's and see what comes up. Good idea.

  5. I just watched the trail video. I agree about the head position. I have heard that if the horses ears are below the withers, they are not capable of using their body correctly. While I think it's impressive to train a horse to be that cued into body language and also for the horse to be able to move like that, the horse looks miserable. Who wants to lope that slowly? It looks terribly rough on the horse to have to carry himself like that in that slow of a movement.

    1. I agree, I think the horse does not look like it is having any fun.
      When I think of what it would take to get Trax to move like that I get down right ill. I'd have to break him down mentally and then he wouldn't be Trax anymore. He would just be a shell of the horse he once was. It isn't worth it to me.

  6. I almost hate to weigh in on this because it is always a touchy subject but...First, I don't think you are giving yourself enough credit. That Trax seems like a pretty nice horse. he is forward, athletic and he is a thinker. Above all he is functional, so many horses out there aren't. You have found a good instructor to work with and you are making great progress. As for the competitions, that pleasure horse just plain made my teeth hurt to watch him. Some of the things about these high level competitions you might want to keep in mind are, what it takes to get those horses to do what they do. One of the favorite "training" tricks to get a pleasure horse to keep his head down is to tie him in his stall with his head pulled way up in the air and leave him that way for 10-12 hours. When he is finally untied and taken out to work, the muscles in his neck and shoulders are so sore that he CAN'T pick his head up. Combine that with hours spent working in a set of draw reins and you get that automated barbie doll look.

    I am glad to see the ranch horse classes as it is sort of a return to the way horses are meant to travel. However, nearly all upper level reining horses compete with high levels of drug cocktails to mask the pain in their hocks and hips from all of those sliding stops and spins. As for the stops and spins themselves, they are all derived from moves that a working cow horse does need to know, but they are exaggerated to an extreme level for the show ring.

    The halter horse people have done a wonderful job of creating an entire subset of truly useless horses. They are never ridden, yet few of them are ever sound past the age of 5. There is a farm here in my town who raises top level halter horses and they stand 12 studs on their farm. Every one of them is HYPP positive. I asked the owner about it once she said that they, "breed for that because those are the horses who win and it doesn't matter anyway because they don't usually show symptoms until they are adults so the babies can still be sold and win in the ring. They can just be breeding stock later." At least half of their breeding stock have also had permanent nerve blocks in their feet because of navicular.

    Sorry, I won't go on any more and I don't meant to be discouraging. There are just so many people who see their horses as a means to an end. Winning is all that matters and the higher up you go the worse it gets. There are good people in the show rings, but it can be hard to tell the difference between good and bad. I guess my point is that you should not judge your successes by comparing yourself to what you see in these videos or in the ring. I think you know what a good ride feels like and what you want from your horse. Trust yourself.

    1. Thank you for weighing in, and actually your words were not discouraging but quite the opposite. You actually told me what I wanted to hear, and I feel that you were being honest as well. So thank you for that. Also thanks for clarifying on the slides and spins. That is sort of what I was thinking, but wasn't sure.

      My whole point behind this post was that, if that is what my horse has to be to compete, then it isn't worth it to me. I love that he is full of energy and life and seems to enjoy what we are doing is a drag for him then it would be a drag for me as well. He is not disposable to me. None of my horses are.

      That is how I feel and I guess I was wondering if others felt the same way or if it was just me.
      Now I know that a lot of people feel the same way I do.

      I guess truthfully it didn't matter if others felt the way I do. I feel pretty strongly about not "breaking" my horse for the sake of a ribbon, or a little purse money, and I doubt that anyone could change my mind on that.

      Thank you again for your input. Touchy subject or not, opinions are always allowed here. :-)