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The Big Show

Once again I’m hanging out with the popular kids at the NRHA Futurity. In case you want to see what is going on, check out the 2008 Futurity page. There you will find a live web cam and live scoring for the events.

Tonight is the World Reining Masters.wrm_sm

The World Reining Masters is an exciting event where two riders from each country compete to see which country is going to win The Masters. Unfortunately this year two riders’ horses did not make the jog – this means they exhibited some lameness that would make them not fit to compete.

The jog is where the rider jogs the horse in front of the attending veterinarian and is ruled “fit to compete” or not. Two horses (one on Team Canada and one on Team Mexico) did not pass the jog. Now, this doesn’t mean that the horses were drop-dead lame, it means they showed some lameness. To outsiders who don’t compete in performance horse events, they may not understand that once in a while, horses are sore. The PETAs of the world might want to tell you that performance horses are abused and lame and medicated to compete – so not true.

If you watch the Olympics or Football or Hockey, you’ll see athletes compete. Sometimes those athletes are not in top form. If they made football players jog, do push-ups or pass a fitness test before each game – we’d be watching two handfuls of guys throwing a ball back and forth.

Anyway, wasn’t intending to post anything controversial, just pointing you to the Futurity page, hope you get a chance to watch tonight.

Keep your eyes out for Canadian flags – Reining Canada has its export booth open and it is the party place to be for the Masters. Watch out for a visit from “Captain Canada”! 🙂

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Being a reining horse can be a tough job. Imagine being told what to do and remaining focused for sometimes hours at a time. I’d like to think that I have focus, but I know that my mind wanders quite a bit from minute to minute. If your horse’s mind wanders, he could get corrected – so he learns to focus and pay attention.

With all this focusing, a horse sometimes needs a brain break. You and I may pick up a “brain candy” book or chill out over a beer. Or, if work is tough, we might head out to the barn for a ride. Except that’s still work for our horse, right?

I know several reining horse trainers that believe strongly that their horses need brain breaks too. Several years ago I was watching a class in Lethbridge, Alberta and I noticed a woman riding a horse that seemed uber-calm. The horse had a really mellow way of standing. Not an old horse standing with a cocked hind leg and half-asleep, but a horse that just stood calmly, watching the horses around him, but not getting to worried when they came too close. Not like some of the other horses in the pen that stiffened and cast an ear fearfully in the direction of their neighbor. (This was a warm up for a 3 year old class.)

The rider was Sharon Gates and a while later I was able to intervew her about how she kept her horses so calm. Her secret? Trail riding.

If you head over to her site, Wildwood Reining Horses, you’ll see many photos of Sharon out trail riding with her horses. Most of these are either show horses or bred to be. In fact, under the photography tab you can see photos of horses crossing rivers, jumping logs and crossing bridges.

I’ve found in the past that the first few times you take your horse out on a trail ride, they are a bit nervous. Especially the younger ones that have spent their life from stall to round pen to arena. Up here in Canada when we’re starting our two year olds it’s sometimes the middle of winter. It might be May before there’s a day that’s nice enough to head out on a trail ride without slick mud underfoot.

The first few rides are “fun”, but gradually your horse will learn to be ridden in a stress-free environment. I try not to worry about collection or form, as long as the horse doesn’t do something like ignore a request or refuse to move off my leg. For the most part I just enjoy sitting and riding.

One of the largest trail riding organizations in North America is called American Trails. It’s an association for all types of trail users from hikers to bikers to horses. They have a complete listing of trails in the US and Canada.

What do you do for your horse’s brain break?

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The reining community lost a wonderful person this week. Please take a moment to watch this video and please consider donating to breast cancer research.

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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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Finally, finally I’ve sat down in front of this computer with the intention of starting the Rookie Reiner blog. It’s about darn time!

Let me tell you what I hope to offer here…

– news and views from the reining industry
– interviews with trainers
– interviews with non-pros
– video footage from all around the world
– links and useful information to help you learn the sport or improve your score

Please consider bookmarking the site!

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