Riding True Love in her backyard at LAEC, 17-year-old Lucy Davis gets her first career grand prix win
BURBANK – Final exams of her junior year in high school loomed in the days ahead, but they were far from Lucy Davis’s mind on Memorial Day when the 17-year old warmed up her gelding, True Love, for the jump-off at the Memorial Day Classic Grand Prix.
A more immediate concern was Susie Hutchison on Cantano, her jump-off rival.
“I really didn’t think there was a possible way to beat her, so I just kind of said to myself, ‘well, here goes nothing,’ and I guess I got lucky,” said Davis, whose coolness under pressure as a junior rider has followed her into the grand prix level. “I knew she would go behind me and that she’d be tough to beat, so I just gave it my all and went as fast as I possibly could.”
After conducted a small, well-received fall show last year, plans were set for the Spring Classic under the management of Kathy Gould. Judged by Billy Cochrane, the Spring Classic had about 100 entries daily. The good line-up of classes included a “Fence Off” where the high-score fence runs of both days from each National Reined Cow Horse Association-approved class returned to compete down the fence for a saddle sponsored by Dave Archer of Target Constructors.
“These localized NRCHA shows finally give all the NRCHA competitors a place to come and compete,” said Gould, the current NRCHA President. “The NRCHA has worked hard at developing the celebration of champions, and more shows will make it easier to qualify for the right to run at that `World Championship’ title, not to mention the regional awards.
Next in a series
Before continuing on new steps in next issue, we’ll revisit these reference points
USING YOUR HANDS
Ideal rein position
- Hold your reins as wide or wider than your shoulders for maneuverability
- Keep your reins near or in front of the saddle horn
- If your reins are too long, you are sacrificing reaction time and ability
- Remember to keep slack in the rein
- To shorten your reins, you should learn how to shuffle them down as shown
The Grand Ballroom of the Los Angeles Equestrian Center came to life May 22 for the third annual Compton Junior Posse Fund-raiser. The beautiful evening of good friends raising money to keep kids on horses and off the streets took the organization well on its way to reaching its $1.3 million campaign. The grateful group is thankful to all who found a way to give, including sponsors like O.H. Kruse, contributors like jumper star Will Simpson with daughter Sofie, NFL Hall Of Fame lineman Bruce Smith, and so many more. Honoree Autumn Burke pledged two college scholarships to CJP students, and Saundra Price is giving a full year riding sponsorship to AA horse shows for one student! Special kudos go to the fabulous fundraiser committee: Mia Boudreau (Malibu Valley Farms); Saundra Price; attorney Beth Palmer; riding instructor Victoria Faerber; photographer Susie Randall; Patti Adair; Juana Cardiel and event coordinator Jaleeza Hazzard. See ad on page 73.
Fort Worth, TEXAS — After a brief hiatus, the American Paint Horse Association (APHA) has announced the return of a horse sale during its World Championship Paint Horse Show series this fall.
The Breeders’ Trust Select Sale will consist of 50 head of top American Paint Horses that are all nominated to APHA’s popular incentive program, the Breeders’ Trust.
LEXINGTON, Ky. — Volunteers from Kentucky and surrounding states flocked to Lexington June 1 for the very first volunteer training session in preparation for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. This marks the beginning of general volunteer training which will span the month of June.
“It went fabulously,” said Erin Faherty, director of volunteer services, about the first session. “The volunteers are very excited and they are beginning to realize that they not only represent themselves, the local area, and Kentucky, but also the United States.”
HEY RAY!: We’ve got a pair of retired Quarter Horse reiners (mares) and a pony (gelding) for the grandkids. We also have a Quarter Horse stallion that we may bring home for the first time from a breeding facility. What is your advice on this arrangement as far as safety and preparation, since the kids right now have a safe and friendly place to ride and be with their horses?
–Jon McClennan, Redmond, Ore.
HEY JON: It’s nice to hear that you have another generation of horsemen coming up the ranks. We need to make sure that they stay safe, happy and interested for the next half century. I guess the first question to ask is: What type of breeding stallion do you intend to bring home. Assuming that all stallions are pretty much a game of Russian roulette, my question to you is how many rounds are in the cylinder? There is a big difference between a stallion and a stud that has bred. There’s a good chance that your stallion will be hypersensitive to horses around him. Some stallions may also be quite aggressive towards humans with behaviors such as rearing, striking, biting and crowding. There’s always the chance that your stallion will be passive, sweet, willing and predictable. But, we need to think responsibly on the off chance that things go wrong. So, we should ask ourselves, what is the worst possible scenario that can happen?
1. We need to guard against the stallion getting loose. One way is to make sure that he is in a secure stallion pen or barn stall. Securing stallions should be no different than securing birds in an aviary. A sure way to do this is to have a catch pen in case they got loose while trying to enter their stall to halter, clean or feed them. Some stallions are quite the escape artists. So having an extra fence and gate separating or catch pen is sure to keep your grandkids safe.
2. Installing a yoke/stall guard on the inside of his stall door is also a good precaution in the event that a stall mysteriously becomes open.
3. Educating all people that come on to your property including your grandchildren is a must. They all need to know about the dangers previously mentioned above when coming close or around the stallion area. Signs are not a bad idea.
4. Keeping all perimeter gates closed will help in the event the stallion gets loose and tries to leave the property. You do not want to think what can happen if a stallion gets out into a horsey neighborhood.
5. When you plan on taking your stallion out of the stall for the first time, make sure that you know what you are doing and that you are on top of your game. You need to have an extra long lead line in the event that you need to put some distance between you and the stallion as well as any other equipment to keep you safe and confident. Clearing the area from any obstacles, horses and people may be a good idea the first time out. Making a mental note on any and every situation relative to your horse will be helpful each and every time you handle him.
6. Handling and riding your stallion should not be a “hopefully safe” occurrence. If the overall feeling of handling and housing your stallion is an accident waiting to happen, find a different facility in order to preserve the safe and happy haven you have created for your family.
7. If all goes well, and you feel like handling and riding your horse is safe, you might want to attempt the following:
(A) Bring over one of your other horses to the stallion’s stall. Get a feeling whether or not you are comfortable doing this. All you are trying to accomplish is seeing how your stallion is going to react, and whether or not you can handle it. It’s important that you feel you can handle whatever situation arises from this encounter. By then, you should clearly see whether or not keeping the stallion on the premises is a good idea.
(B) If the answer is “yes, I’m comfortable!”, then try taking the stallion in hand over to one of the other horses’ stalls. If you are able to handle whatever arises from that, you may want to ride the horse around the property, including all the stabled horses while in their stalls before attempting to ride in the ring. Unless you’ve trained and handled many stallions, and you feel your judgment is that of experience, keep your stallion away from all humans and horses.
Jon, I live on a training facility that always has breeding stallions and mares and children and riders of all levels. Over the past 2 decades, I’ve enjoyed handling and riding various stallions of all breeds and ages without any incidents (knock on wood!) — because I have ALWAYS expected the worst possible scenario and prepared for it by making anything short of that a pleasant surprise. Unless you possess the experience and the judgment to handle this situation, you’re better off keeping the stallion out of the mix.
Remember to always trust your instincts and think safe,
Horsetrader columnist Ray Ariss, husband to Pippa Ariss and father of six, shares his insight into the relationship of horseand human twice each month, in print and on www.horsetrader.com. He lives and trains in “Horsetown USA”, Norco, Calif., at his bustling Starbrite Riding Academy, where he currently has 50 horses in various stages of training, including Andalusians, Friesians, Quarter Horses, Paints, Thoroughbreds, Arabs, Mustangs and more. Ray attributes his training success to the support of his wife and partner, Pippa, and a system he calls S.W.A.P., to which he credits his multiple championships in several disciplines. His passionate understanding of the “human-horse” relationship was evident when he took on the challenge of training a wild Mustang and — in just 100 days — produced the highest-priced adopted Mustang ever — $50,000. Does your “horse-human relationship” leave you with a question for Ray? Click here to submit one!
We have all felt the challenge: “How can I keep my cool on this horse?!”
We all have the potential to lose our temper. The problem with losing your temper is it magnifies the problem, making the horse even more resistant to the task. Horses respond best to clear messages. When they are wrong, show them clearly and correctly. When they are right, clearly reward. I like to spend a lot of time showing my horse a maneuver and working on his acceptance to that specific maneuver. There comes a time when I have to demand it. Maintaining acceptance is crucial. If I feel that he has honestly learned and knows what is expected, then he needs to be willing. I should not have to beg for obedience.
Everyone’s personality is different so is their patience level. The goal is to stay within that level while riding. Be firm (without anger) when appropriate and soft when needed. I will give tips and strategies to enhance your understanding of your horse and how to work through difficult times.
Tip #1 – Consider all factors that may affect your horse’s attitude
Let’s start by considering factors that make it hard for your horse to focus on you while training or riding. It may be he has to just deal with it, but these factors still play a part. It is good to be mindful and know what can affect your horse.
Factor #1 – Your horse’s energy level
This is so important! A fresh horse reminds me of a kid that ate a bunch of candy. They are uptight, ready to go and have trouble focusing. If your horse is too fresh to focus, consider lounging or turning him out to expel unwanted energy. Then start your workout. If your horse has a lot of energy and you cannot wear him down, consider what you are feeding him. High carbohydrate, high sugar feed may provide more energy than he needs. Adjust his feed to fit his work level and event you show him in. Too much high energy feed can make it hard for the horse to focus.
Factor #2 – Hormones or heat cycles
If you are riding a mare, be observant of her behavior when she is in heat. Almost all mares change when they are cycling. Some get excessive energy, others become dull and sticky or mad at your legs. Certain mares get angry at other horses. If you are riding a mare that becomes very difficult you may try putting them on Regumate. Some of our show mares are on Regumate to keep their attitude consistent during show season. The most common situation I find is that my mares have a lot more energy when they are in heat. Stallions are also greatly affected by hormones.
Factor #3 – Young or green horse
Another factor to consider is the age of your horse. Young horses have a shorter attention span than older horses. They also don’t have the self discipline and patience that older horses acquire. Young horses require repetition. They learn by consistency. It takes hundreds of times to perform a maneuver before it is ingrained in their mind for them to become broke. I teach my young horses self discipline by leaving them tied for periods of time. I might also ride them at different times of the day and constantly change their routine. I may ride them at a meal time or in the evening. I try not to get them dependant on a routine. Shows are unpredictable and I may have to compete during a meal time. A horse can become very upset by this. They must realize that they still have to behave no matter what the time of day or what the circumstance is.
Factor #4 – Poor Attention Span or a spooky horse
Some horses have a poor attention span. Often they are horses that spook or ones that want to look at things. This personality type may be genetic; some of it could also be a learned behavior. You can teach your horse to be spooky. This happens through body language and subtle signals through your body that there is something to worry about as you approach a scary or challenging object. If your horse feels your fear, this tells him that it is a big deal and he may react or spook, which causes you to react even more. You may be unconsciously causing a pattern of learned behavior. Become aware of your signals. Breathe and relax while approaching intimidating obstacles. When he reacts, act as if it is no big deal. Keep going back and forth by the object until he can relax. Stop your horse by the scary spot, stand there until you hear him breathe and relax. Do not overreact! If you are able, tie them out in different places and leave them there until they can relax can stand quietly.
Factor #5 – Negative past experiences
This is a really important factor, because if you have a horse that you did not own during all of his training he may have some negative reactions to your cues or pressure, it might be because of his past training. As an example, if he overreacts when you pick him up in the face and he becomes unreasonable, it may be that someone who rode him jerked him or scared him. You can undo negative past experiences with time and patience, but the first step is diagnosing the problem. To repair damage you must turn the bad experience in to a good one or in the least an okay experience.
Factor #6 – Soreness
If your horse is sore somewhere he will have trouble focusing. If something just doesn’t feel right, seek the help of a professional. An uncomfortable horse can not be expected to give you his best.
Tip #2 – Do not get emotional
I have a saying, “stay out emotionally.” This can be very difficult and I know that all too well. Most people show or ride because they enjoy their horses and it means a great deal to them. When you are riding a horse and you can not figure out what is going wrong or he is fighting you, it is easy to get upset. This can turn into anger, which your horse can feel. Your emotions truly come out in your cues in how you communicate with your horse. If your horses is unwilling or refusing you, try to approach it like it is his problem, not yours. Separate yourself emotionally. Your horse is making his choices and he can have the consequences. If you feel that your horse has bad past experiences, does not understand, or is confused, then take your time. Isolate the problem or refusal and deal with that one thing until you break through. I have been on horses for long periods of time until I had a break through and started to get to the other side of my problem. Sometimes breaking through in a small area paves the way and builds the relationship (or respect), until he goes ahead and gives up the fight.
Tip #3 – Isolate and work on the body part that is refusing you
This goes back to understanding and diagnosing the problem. I often see people label a horse as ‘bad’ or being a ‘jerk’. That tends to promote you to a state of anger leading to jerking or spurring the horse to solve the problem. I want to isolate what part of their body said “no” and then correct that body part rather than the whole horse. Ride intelligently and be mindful. Be smarter than the horse! For example, if he is refusing to give his face, then work on getting his face and focus on that until you conquer it. Often, I find horses that are angry at or resisting my leg or spur. I will put my leg on them and perform exercises or maneuvers to get them to say “yes” to me until I get on the winning side of the argument. Attacking and fighting the whole horse often snowballs into a bigger problem. Many horses are angry because someone mistakenly diagnosed the problem and then attacked the whole horse instead the body part that refused.
Your horse can not control his circumstance but you can. Create an environment where he can learn. Where he can receive what you’re giving him. Evaluate yourself and how you are asking and teaching, “your delivery” so to speak. As you work as a team you slowly build a relationship and you will create enough authority in the relationship that you can take him into difficult places. He will still listen to you and obey your cues. Keep your emotions in check and you will go farther with your horse.
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