Tuesday, January 12, 2010

But but but but.......sigh.....cave

My horse is faster than yours! My horse is taller than yours! My horse is stronger than yours! My horse is prettier than yours! My horse is smarter than yours!!

Does that bring back memories for you? Childhood memories??? Is that why we have horse shows, rodeo's and races?? Because we couldn't get the childish nannernanners out of our system?

I would like to think we have advanced past the silliness of our youth and become gracious in showing our horses. Yes, there are still "sport" events that horses can and do "beat" each other at! Racing (in many forms), Steeplechasing, Jumping, Gaming and Sulky. I think they still have some Chariot races somewhere and the Chuckwagon races. I am not counting the downhill suicide race....it is just silly and those folks can have at it!

There are the "competitive" stuff we do with horses that are very subjective to conditions and judges! Calf roping, steer daubing, working cow horse, bull dogging and cutting are all timed, yes, but they have that added condition...cows!

Regular Horse showing is just....well, judged! And that is always, always just some "other opinions" coming from a group of people who spent a lot of time and effort to learn how to fill out some score sheets based on criteria set forth by another group of people.

Think of when you go to a show...you agree to the class rules when you enter a class. Yes, you do. No one says you HAVE to enter that class. So, IF you enter, you agree! You agree to ride in that class by the rules set forth for that class. Then, you also agree to abide by the opinion of the judges hired to rate (can't say score, 'cause some of them don't use a score sheet!) those riders and horses in front of them. It is as simple as that!

I know this stuff, I am a good sport too. So why am I so caught up on one stupid rule? The silly Western theory that 6 year old horses MUST be in a proper bridle and bit??? WHY???

If I have a nice headset, good response, lovely gates, smooth transitions and a happy horse, why can't I show him in the the snaffle he knows and is comfortable with?

I am perplexed?

Do I agree that 2 year olds should be ridden in classes? No, but there are two year old snaffle futurities that happen every year. Is it accepted? Yes. I would think there can also be acceptance of snaffles for aged horses. And that just gets me too, as if 6 years old is aged! Who decided this??? Is it written in the Horse Bible somewhere I don't know about?? My horse certainly was not aware he was aged and in need of a total new contact device.

So, I cave. I am caving in to the "system" that I truly feel needs a lot of fixing. My horse is a happy guy and I want him to stay that way. So I seek out the best way to move him into the barbaric bit (my term, sorry!) I am very fortunate that my wonderful Classical Dressage trainer is also very knowledgeable with the ways of the California Caballero! Which is only a different form of Mexican training due to location!

Enter the fix!! Thanks be to the English Hackamore! With this nice and sane device, my boy and I are learning some very good communication, subtle communication. My seat is better, my seat bones are talking, my legs are talking, my eye direction is talking and guess what? He is listening, ever so closely! And that shanked bit is just hanging there, not harming him one iota! Oh, I know there are those that think a snaffle is harmful...in the wrong hands yes! For this rider, learning the proper way to use a shanked bit without causing pain to my happy horse is a boat load of progress!

Look out judges...we are coming to a show near you! Sometime this summer!

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

I think it came from the original thinking that a horse's training wasn't finished in a snaffle - they still needed to learn to neck rein and all sorts of stuff. Back then I think that they were afraid if they allowed a snaffle at any age - lazy people would not "finish" their horses. Or that people who had gone and done the work would have no advantage for having done so. It was also like that were afriad it would be like cheating to allow older horses to use snaffle bits.

I don't know - that's just the feeling I get from reading my old old AQHA & 4-H manuals.

We know differently now that there is all sorts of stuff we can do with a horse in a snaffle bit, but I suspect the rule will stay. Its too easy for people the "cheat" a little in the western classes with a snaffle bit. The judges want to see the true skill of a horse "does he maintain a headset and that movement without the riders constant help?" SURE you can have a nice broke horse who can maintain a nice level headset and that neck reins in a snaffle but once the judge's back is turned it is far easier to correct or assist your horse with two hands than one.

Some, like me, believe that there is some finishing work that can be best achieved in a grown up bit. And to me the final product in a grown up bit one handed is so much more beautiful and impressive than someone else and their horse who does the exact same thing (say a real slick trail pattern or horsemanship pattern) two handed. And yes that is just my opinion - but it is also the opinion of a majority of horsemen and professional judges - so what to do?

I guess it comes down to personal preference - if you and Casper work better in a hackamore - stay with that until you find something that works just as perfectly as a bit. There are thousands of bits out there. When you find one that works in perfect or "as close as you can get" harmony with you and Casper - come out and go to a show and kick some ass.