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Archive for August, 2008

NRHA Rules

Every year the NRHA Board of Directors votes on rule changes in the NRHA Handbook. Sometimes they are adding or subtracting words and sometimes they are voting on some more (shall we say) controversial rules.

Pat Feuerstein has a round up of the recent changes for 2009.

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When I first started riding reining horses I knew one thing about reining and horseshoes: a reining horse needs sliders. I figured if those were slapped on the back feet of any horse, they could slide and be a reining horse.

Um, I was 13, what can I say!

Alongside my lack of knowledge regarding reining was my ignorance about my horse’s hooves. I tried to learn, but it all seemed so complicated. One person would recommend shoes all around, another said that barefoot was the way to go, still another said that barefoot was good but only if they were trimmed a special way.

Luckily the farrier I choose had been shoeing for more than three decades and he’d seen the fads come and go. He knew that to properly take care of your horse’s feet you didn’t need to go ask anyone how to shoe your horse, you needed to look at your horse and he’d tell you.

Some horses need shoes on all the time, some don’t. Some need special shoes, some need special trims, some pull their shoes off regularly, some have feet that grow so quickly you need to reset them frequently.

Once I started working as an assistant trainer, it was often my job to communicate with the farrier. If he couldn’t remember what had been done last time on a particular horse, it was my job to remember. I started writing things down to remember what had to be tweaked and what had already been tweaked – and whether it had worked or not.

What I began to learn was that to know my horse’s hooves, I had to know his legs. To know his legs, I had to know his hips and shoulders, and to know those . . . well, I had to know the whole horse. Some things can’t be ‘tweaked’ with a shoeing job, sometimes there’s a problem in the shoulder that is causing a problem in the feet.

Recently I read an article in The Quarter Horse News about farrier Derrick Cooke and it explained that communication line between horse owner and farrier and how important it is to know about your horse’s body.

Cooke is a professional and, like most in his line of business, he takes his work seriously and strives to do the best job possible. This is a two-way street, one that requires a basic knowledge of anatomy so the client can communicate problem areas and the farrier can provide a solution.

“Anatomy and conformation are two areas often overlooked by many people in the horse business,” Cooke said. “Anatomy is the first step in learning how things interact with each other. The benefit of learning anatomy is that it helps us communicate when problems arise.”

Of course, how that communication is given and received matters greatly. An owner or trainer may be trying to convey one thing, while a farrier hears something completely different. Unless a person has an in-depth knowledge of equine anatomy or is a veterinarian or specialist, he might not understand the reasons why his horse is having trouble with its feet. That’s when a farrier might find himself most vulnerable to miscommunication and, ultimately, to not completing a job that makes the client happy. After all, it is difficult to describe a situation when the person doesn’t understand the basic nature of the problem.

According to Cooke, the best policy is for an owner or trainer to know his horse inside and out, along with having a basic idea of how a horse’s anatomy affects legs and movement. This knowledge and familiarity help bridge the gap between a farrier and his client, and enable the problem or concern area to be properly identified before the shoeing starts. Clear communication goes a long way in eliminating the gray areas.

The article is quite good and explain’s how Cooke shoes a horse according to “conformation, job and environment”. That’s why there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to shoeing or trimming your reining horse.

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I love to watch good horses – who doesn’t, right? When those great horse and rider combos come along it can be magic to watch them in the show pen. This is the case with Shawn Flarida and Wimpys Little Chic. The Quarter Horse News has posted the three runs that make up SF & WLC’s “triple crown” wins. I’m happy to say that I was actually there for one of them!

First jewel in the crown was the 2007 NRHA Futurity in Oklahoma City. Second was the 2008 National Reining Breeders Classic in Katy, TX. Third was the 2008 NRHA Derby, once again in Oklahoma City.

According to the QHN article:

Wimpys Little Chic was bred by Monica Watson’s Double Run Farm, Leland, N.C. She was started there as a 2-year-old and made a brief stop at Brian Bell’s before taking up residence in Flarida’s barn. Arcese Quarter Horses purchased her in May 2007, and soon after, “Lexi” began writing her name in the record books. As Flarida remarked on this stellar mare, “She’s got so much heart. She’s so trainable. She has the strength of a stud with the kindness of a mare. She’s special. I’ve rode a lot of great horses, but I’ve never rode on one quite like this one.”

Go ahead and watch.

2007 Futurity (score 231.5)
2008 NRBC (score 233.5)
2008 Derby (score 233)

Wimpys Little Chic

Wimpys Little Chic

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Perfectionist? Check!

I don’t know about you, but I’m kind of a perfectionist. As it turns out, my son is showing the same tendancies and just watching him fret and stress about Not Doing It Right The First Time has really shown me how damaging perfectionism can be. In my brain I know that learning takes place through mistakes.

Heck, my trainer-brain knows that to effectively train a horse you need to allow him to make a mistake so you can correct him. Constantly supporting him so he doesn’t make a mistake will make him far to dependant on your legs and hands. And it will stress him out! Horses like to know what they can do well, “oh, there’s the cue for a lead change, let me change” not “is that a lead change cue? Why’s she telling me over and over again? Why is she hanging on? I did it, didn’t I?”

April Clay with Body Mind Motion is a Psychologist who specializes in helping athletes overcome their specific blocks to success. She’s a runner and an equestrian. Recently I came across her article, Abandoning Perfection and it is very appropriate for reiners, especially rookies.

April talks about the “perfection loop” that many of us are familiar with; a constant cycle of setting goals that are too high, missing the mark, failing to recognize effort, self-criticism and an inability to view your performance objectively and trying to achieve goals by focusing MORE on your goals.

And the consequences can be tough to deal with:

The outcome of this type of thinking is pretty obvious: low self worth and sometimes even anxiety and depression. Many times learning is compromised or slow. Some people end up giving up on things they love to do because they feel they aren’t good enough to participate. There are also other casualties seldom talked about.

Your team mates are also impacted by your perfectionist approach. Often perfectionists end up applying their very high standards to others. It can result in becoming too impatient and rigid in your expectations of your team. It can also mean “over functioning” as an athlete, trying to control too many elements of your sport. Not exactly a habit that encourages a team approach, rather one that tends to result in some irritated players and coaches. In short, perfectionist behaviour ends up being exhausting for all involved.

Luckily, April has some tips for you to overcome perfectionism. Go check them out.

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America’s Horse Daily is a relatively new site that’s being put out by the AQHA to update you on “important topics such as health, breeding, showing, training, racing, recreational riding and tack” and all to do with Quarter Horses of course.

It’s worth checking out!

I’ve noticed several different horse magazines are starting to use blogs and online newsreporting in a new way. Much like the more developed newsagencies (aka MSM or mainstream media) have been doing. It’s great for the changing readership. The people who don’t like it are usually the longterm paper magazine and newspaper folk who see their readership dwindling in favour of online sources.

But in a day when we can sit at our computers and watch live web casts of Olympic equestrian events, it’s no longer feasible to wait a month or two for a story to ‘break’ in a print magazine. Personally, I would like to see print magazines return to their roots with longer, more indepth articles.

But that’s a bit off topic, isn’t it!

You can read other blogs like Katie Tims’ blog with the Quarter Horse News or Horse Girl TV.

Do you have an online news source that you visit regularly?

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Reining Horse Videos

It’s amazing how far we’ve come in technology that we can learn about reining maneuvers and watch exciting runs from the comfort of our home and at the click of a mouse button. I love surfing YouTube for different reining videos to see if there is something new out there. A quick search on “reining” brings up 24,700 videos!

When I returned home from the NRHA Futurity last year there were already several videos of the freestyle and the finals uploaded before my plane landed!

One of the most popular reining videos (for good reason) is Stacy Westfall’s Freestyle at the 2006 All American Quarter Horse Congress. She set freestyle reining on its ear with her bridleless and saddleless routine:

I was tickled to interview Stacy extensively for the chapter in Rookie Reiner that focuses on Freestyle Reining. I’d spoken to many about this little niche aspect of the sport but her advice was so good that it eclipsed everyone else’s responses. I know if you read that chapter you’ll look a little differently at the next freestyle run you watch.

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I love to see kids on horses. In the news you can find twenty stories about kids doing bad things, if you can find one. It’s so refreshing to see a group of kids striving for something that is good and healthy. Growing up in a city, I had plenty of opportunites to stray into dangerous territory. But I was Hooked On Horses from a very young age and once I started riding at 13, I did everything I could to earn one more lesson. I worked at part time jobs, I washed my coach’s truck and trailer in exchange for lessons, I begged my mother for a ride out to the barn, even if I was just bringing my leased horse in to brush and pamper with treats.

The CN FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships (NAYRC) were held July 29-Aug 3 in Parker, Colorado at the Colorado Horse Park. For the first time, reiners were a part of the action. Typically this competition is for jumping, dressage and eventing – the current Olympic-approved disciplines.

Team USA took first place, and three of their members swept individual medals. You can read more about their accomplishments at the NRHA site.

The Canadian team came in second, but not without wonderful team spirit and enthusiasm that you can read about at Reining Canada’s web site. One of the best parts about the weekend, I think, was the “ride a reiner” hour that the reiners hosted, getting some of the English riders up on western horses and teaching them how to slide and spin. Word was that some of the riders felt like beginners!

I encourage you to get involved with youth reining wherever and whenever you can. There are some excellent programs run by regional associations and right up to the NRHA or National Federation level. In Canada you can learn more about the Young Rider Medal Program or Varsity Reining,
which is a part of the US-based National Reining Horse Youth Association (NRHyA).

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