Monday, April 18, 2011

Keeping Things In Hand

All of last week, I taught lessons on showing your horse in hand. "In hand" means that the rider leads the horse through it's paces from the ground, rather than riding on top. There are two types of in-hand classes, halter and showmanship. Halter classes are judged on the horse's conformation and movement, while showmanship is judged on how the rider presents and handles the horse, and the horse's condition and care. Due to the judging criteria, a horse and rider pair could be entered in each of the two classes and then place first in one and dead last in the other.

The individual breeds of horses can be shown differently and then the discipline, or style, of riding can be presented differently. Western horses are shown in hand in a Western show halter, which is leather absolutely plastered with engraved silver plates so that you'd never know it was made of leather. There is as much twinkle on those horse's heads as you'd find in the crown jewels. Ever wonder why the Western horses carry their heads so low? My guess is, it's the 40 pounds of silver they carry around strapped to their noggins that weighs them down. I get tired just wearing an elaborate pair of earrings. Long-ago, Western horses were shown in a plain leather halter. Then came halters with fancy stitching and contrasting colors, then the gleam reared it's glamorous head. Soon silver encrusted halters became the norm. If the trend continues, horses will soon be wearing halters manufactured of solid silver and pirates will begin lurking outside of stalls and show rings.

English horses are shown in their bridles. Within the "English horse" category can be found, Huntseat, Dressage, Saddleseat and generic, or un-delclared, horses. Like the English language which includes, the Southerner, British English, the Downeaster, the Canadian, and many other dialects, English riding comes with many accents.

Some breeds are shown in native head-gear and not specified as English or Western. Draft horses, Friesians, Arabians, Miniature Horses and others have their own specific types of halters. In-hand classes specific to the breed would show in their breed specific gear. In-hand classes identified by the discipline would show in either Western or English garb.

The "rider" in English classes wears what she would wear if riding. The Western "rider" wears what she would wear if riding except without the chaps. "Riders" showing for a specified breed, wear neat, clean, conservative clothing that is comfortable to jog in (no pencils skirts, strappy sandles or baggy jeans) and gloves.

When I began showing, I hated in hand classes. They were boring and I would always trip when I had to jog with my horse. At the time, I didn't understand the intricacies of the classes and how to properly show a horse. Now, I know how much time and prepartion goes in to properly showing a horse in hand. Having all that knowledge now gives me a new appreciation for the art. All the knowledge in the world does not help me stay on my feet during the jog so I still have an aversion to blasted things.


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