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...
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.