Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Winter Timewasting Activity

Since its winter and it seems if you aren't frozen to death yet, you're well on your way and riding is mostly out of the question. But that still leaves you with horses on the brain and an unfulfilled quota of horse in your life. If you're like me, you take to stalking COTH, blogs, insta and catching up on my two favorites- Dom Schramm and Denny Emerson. Literally Gods.

Because I like to stir the pot and express my opinions about things, I would like to propose a (mature) debate/conversation about rider position over fencing.

Before we begin, for your winter boredom pleasure, read THIS post about how rider positioning affects the biomechanics of jumping that Dom posted on his FB, if you feel so inclined to do so. His beautiful self is featured in the blogpost, but I also found the information riveting, curious and thought provoking (adult words, yay!). A few of Denny's photos are also featured in the post, so there's a good one-two punch if you worship both men like I do.

Have we all caught up?


First off, if you're a Hunter and can't take the heat, I would exit immediately, because half of my post revolves around the riding techniques and practices I currently see in the Hunter show ring & you might not like what I have to say.

It is no secret that I *almost* despise the Hunter ring. No offense meant towards any of my lovely Hunter blogging friends, truly, I'm sure you all have your reasons for being part of the sport and that OK by me! Hunters just aren't my thing. And yes I've tried it, up to the B levels, and absolutely none of it was fun. From my experiences and my experiences alone, people were hateful, rude and full of spite. NEVER did I get a well wish for any round and half the time parental units would try and sabotage myself in the ring. WHAT KIND OF PEOPLE DO THAT TO LITTLE KIDS. In addition, competitors would do everything they could to best you in the ring. Cut you off, crowd you, block you etc etc. It was heartbreaking as a child to have people treat you in such a manner when shows were supposed to be fun. Competitive sure, but also fun. Never once was fun. Luckily, I was pretty good at it and Spirit had the knees of a champ so we did win quite often, which softened the blow of poor sportsmanship around me.

Not one time has an eventer been mean spirited towards me or rude. Ever. Just sayin'

I also REALLY dislike the hunter look in general. Literally, everyone looks the same (Yes, I realize the same thing could be said for dressage, but at least in XC you can bedazzle yourself if you want and in the ring youre at least ALONE!) and in a ring full of horses its REALLY hard to stand out. Every. single. horse I see looks like they hate their life, poll below the vertical, or broken at the 3rd and a big fat fake tail. Just a few examples....


What I really came here to discuss is my absolute BIGGEST pet peeve in the entire horse world. And that has to be judges pinning bad/incorrect riding.

Who determines such as "incorrect or correct" though?

I *like* to think that old timers generally have the right idea about things (enter Denny Emerson) and new age riding has REALLY gone downhill. I know I'm not alone either. Just today I saw a huge thread on FB about the decline in Arabian showing integrity and how depressing it is with the steep downhill fall horsemanship has taken lately. Dressage too. All I see nowadays is people complaining about rollkur and false contact, yet ALL I see is people riding with false contact and judges rewarding them with flawless scores! Its mind boggling! Don't even get me started on western pleasure and peanut rolling, dead tailed horses. Not picking on any one sport here either; I recently posted about the ridiculousness of eventing safety and the turn MY sport is taking too.

Getting back on point.

The article outright called out hunters (and some jumpers) in the very first paragraph noting that the most common form over fences is to throw oneself up the neck so as to get out of the way of the horses mouth.

Personally I find this incorrect.

The blogpost I referenced supports my way of thinking.

When I was a hunter, I was TAUGHT to throw myself up, jam my heels down, arch my back and push my hands as far forward as I could. It was called "the snap". It used to look like this...

and has somehow morphed into this....

However, no one told/showed/understood (me) how this affected the horse over fences. Also, no one taught me the correct way to ride your horse. I was taught the "yank & crank" method. Bad bad bad.

So I grew up thinking this was how you rode. And this is how many many people still ride. So thankful I switched disciplines. Changing your way of riding is hard and takes years and a ton of work. Ask me how I know.

Not getting into "yank and crank" today, but I would like to discuss positioning over fences and the "winning" way vs the "correct" way.

Not naming names here, but today on COTH I watched 2 videos of Thewinning rides at The Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular. HERE is the link if you're curious (I recommend watching).

DISCLAIMER. I am in NO way bashing the young lady as a person, or even her skill. Just speculating on the JUDGING of these classes. Also, all photos taken from google stock images using "hunter eq". (trying to adult here and cover my bases in case anyone gets a little overly sensitive about things)

Srsly, no
First off, it was a drag for me to watch. There is a reason I don't do hunters and that is because its not exciting to ME. Cookie cutter rounds don't capture my attention at all. That being said..I was appalled that this was a winning round. Most likely because I do NOT compete in hunters and have no clue anymore what is considered good, but I thought the round was pretty bad. Just my opinion though.
Her horse looked asleep (apparently preferred?), she was getting tossed out of her saddle on every landing and her jumping ahead was very consistent. Just the facts there.

HOW is this winning?

Seriously, hunters, enlighten me? What in the hunter world do you strive for in a winning round these days? Was this a class not based on EQ and merely the horses' form? (If that was the case...theres a lot to be desired in that horse, for me at least.) I actually don't know if the Hunter Spectacular had to do with EQ or not.

On the other side of this, HOW is this considering winning riding in EQUITATION? WHY are judges rewarding this?

A winning round
Jumping ahead is not only ugly, but INEFFECTIVE. In fact, can hinder the horse rather than help. It is 100% possible to release from the SHOULDERS and elbows than to throw yourself up the neck to get a release. I'm not just pointing out this young lady and her round either. I see it EVERYWHERE in the hunter ring. I also DO see some good riding out there, I just haven't seen a WINNING ride (as of late) be one of those. Thats my entire point here.

Seriously, just read the damn Blogpost. Much better at forming coherent, smart sounding sentences than I.

That being said, I do not consider myself an expert by any means. Not even close. But that doesn't mean I can't strive for perfection and perfection to me is riding that is not only effective but also looks beautiful.

So what do you guys think? Who and what determines what is correct and what isn't? Is it science and biomechanics or is it judges and what they're looking for in a winning ride? Who sets the standards? What are your opinions/experiences?

It was pointed out that the differences across the realm of hunters can't quite be compared in this post because breed shows are wholly different from eq or even the COTH video show. That being said, even though I used stock photos, I've seen that "look" everywhere, not just breed shows. I tried to pick a variety of photos, not just your typical QHs.Sure the QHs are different from others but the general low head, on the forehand way of going seems to be a trend across all boards. Especially when I showed. From 4H to B shows, I saw this look being emulated. That being said, I havent shown hunters or been "in the scene" for years so take that with a grain of salt. 
In addition, the entire post was more about the effectiveness of rider positioning in jumping even though I discussed my dislike of the hunter look briefly. All across the board, jumping ahead seems to be the standard practice and even accepted. Especially if it's not an eq class as one commenter mentioned. That's insane to me! Wouldn't we all want to ride effectively and out of the horses' way?

Just my opinion. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Dear God

This is not your standard "complain about the weather post".

This is a "holy shit I might ACTUALLY freeze to death" post. 

I don't know how any of you are faring (I hope most of blogging friends are NOT in the northeast) with this bout of winter fuckery, but I think I'm dying. I cannot get warm, which is never a problem. As The Boy, I am constantly sweating. Its gross.

 Last winter wasn't even this brutal though. It was bad, and got really annoying, but not this cooooollllld. I don't live in Canada for a reason, but jesus Ohio, why?! TIME TO FLOCK SOUTH.

I'm hoping everyone is well, posting of all kinds seems to have slowed. For me, I know its because I'm not riding (*sobs*), but I enjoy the commenting, posting and reading even through the lulls. come back to me everyone! Where are you? Are you alive?! TELL ME ABOUT YOUR PONES.

To my best recollection I do not remember a winter this spastic or frigid. In one day this month the temp fluctuated 40*. FORTY. I also do not remember, in my brief existence, a base temperature of less than -8. Seen windchills of like -20 but not real temps. Thursday is going to be unbearable. They say it's a record low high. If that makes sense. And yay MORE snow on the weekend just in time for the monday morning commute (which in case youre wondering, is AWFUL in this type of condensation).

like....wut are dis
 If you don't hear from me by Saturday assume death. 

The horses seem fine though, despite my constant worrying that I will come out to find horsesicles. They've had all the hay they can eat and they seem quite warm in their double layered blankies. My sweet marshmallows! 

Horse care is not easy in the crazy cold, and deep down it's truly miserable, but really I don't mind it. Chopping frozen ice, lugging water, tossing hay, shoveling frozen shit, changing blankets and frozen fingers is as normal to me as brushing my teeth. But it goes without saying frozen barn doors are a PiTA.

What about you guys? How are y'all faring (to those in TX, GA & FL I DONT CARE GO AWAY

Sunday, February 15, 2015

TOABH: Blog Hop

I'm always late to the party with these blog hops, but they're so fun I can't not participate!

The Owls Approve topic of the day:

       What personality quirks does your pony have? What makes them special?

This is a fun one for me because I am confident that I have one of the quirkiest OTTBs on the planet. Yankee is a giant ham and everyone falls in love instantly. I'm not just saying that because he's mine...he really is a gem & a ladykiller.

Besides being super sexy, Yankee has 2 things that make him stand out from the crowd.

For one, his tongue is always out. Especially if there is a camera around. He can do it on command, he can waggle it, he does it for fun and he does it when he's begging for treats.

"Treats go here"
Absolute fav of all time

"Oh are you taking a photo?"

I have about 200 hundred pics of The Pants and his ADORABLE tongue. Its seriously the cutest & whenever he sees a camera he poses for you. He has ALWAYS done this, but over the years he learned that humans love it and he does it for attention now more than anything else.

Secondly, this horse naps. Hard. Everyday.

Yankee never misses a nap. Usually he naps from 11-1 or around there, but I'm not exaggerating. This horse NAPS. Most horses might lay down every once in a while, but not Yankee. He has a schedule and he sticks to it. On so many occasions I've caught him sleeping, so I also have several hundred pics of him napping.

I wish I had time to upload more, because they are all adorable. My favorite is one from when he was on stall rest with an abscess and he's all wrapped and nomming on alfalfa while laying down. So cute.

The girls in Kansas have sent me SO many snaps of him sleeping. It melts my heart to know that he still does it like clockwork. Sleepy baby.

Bacardi is interesting because his "quirks" could be seen as vices but they definitely make him stand out. I'm hoping once he grows and our bond becomes stronger his personality will show more, but right now he's pretty closed up emotionally.

His quirks are more behaviors than adorable and cute, and focus hard on food. I don't know if it has to do with the fact that I got him underweight or what but he is seriously food aggressive towards other horses. Luckily, I'm the bringer of food so he doesn't harass me, but if he thinks another horse is even looking at him he flips out.

Generally, I try to feed him first so he's distracted. All the horses are separated from each other around feeding time but he will try to break the door down to murder horses near him. I know this is actually a common thing among horses, but he level of anger is astonishing & unique. Even when I'm mixing grain he will rear and flip his head around and lunge/try to climb the door if another horse is around. To mitigate I pre-mix grain so all I have to do is dump his first, then dump Lilly's.

Secondly, WHILE he's eating he paws the air. I know several horses who do this but again, his degree of weirdness with this habit is what sets him apart. He starts by pawing in front and will progress throughout the meal to holding his leg up and jerking it backwards. B usually will do it the entire meal too. Its the strangest thing.

Lilly is so chill that she basically doesn't have a personality. I'm not sure if I find that cute or disconcerting. I think maybe she's been there done that so long that she's so over everything & everyone and their shit.

She always lets you know with her RBF. Perhaps thats her quirk....she's just so over all the peasants around her.

She also knows her job. Quite well. And if you try to tell her otherwise she's like

On the trail, shes like a well trained freight train. She always has a mission and she sticks to it. I think I've actually seen her give me an eye roll or a mental finger flip off. It grows on you.

Rather odd bunch of horsebeasts I have here.