The lesson plans intensify at Road to the Horse. Pick up a few tips you might be able to use on your own horse.
By Holly Clanahan
analogy of building blocks, our house is about half-built at Road to the Horse. On Saturday, competitors reviewed what they had taught their horses on Friday and then introduced a few new lesson plans. One particular surprise: because of a new Road to the Horse rule change, the competitors were allowed to take their colts outside the round pens for 10 minutes. All of them took advantage of that option, but it seemed especially important for Guy McLean, the 2012 co-champion whose 2013 colt, Streakin Cat, isn’t very “forward.” Instead of bolting or spooking when something overwhelms him, “Mate” has a tendency to get his feet stuck. But with the wider spaces of a half arena available to him, the 3-year-old gelding from the Four Sixes Ranch opened up and moved out much better.
Road to the Horse judges took notice of the changes the horse was making, and they awarded Guy with a score of 223, which tied for the lead in Round 2 with Sarah Winters. Obbie Schlom was right behind with a 222, and Dan James, whose sensitive horse, Playboys Ginnin Fever, is requiring him to move slower, earned a 217. Combining the scores from rounds 1 and 2, Obbie is in the lead with 465.5. Sarah holds second place with 463.5. Guy has a combined score of 419.5, and Dan, the other 2012 co-champion, has 419 points. It’s important to note, however, that enough points are available on Sunday to make-it-or-break-it for any competitor. There is another round-pen session Sunday morning, and then a finale obstacle course.
A few quick tips we picked up from the competitors:
Obbie used her lead rope to skim over Surprise Fever’s eyes and over his ears to simulate bridling. That’d be a handy exercise for any horse who pulls away or puts his head up as the headstall goes on. Across the way, in the neighboring round pen, Sarah used the tail of her lead rope to loop around Salt Creek Lad’s fetlocks and lift his feet. This is a safe way to get a horse used to having his feet picked up, without the handler having to bend over, potentially putting his or her body and head in the kick zone. See photos in the slideshow below for illustration, and remember to click on the photos to see the captions.
Also, don’t forget to follow along on AQHA’s Facebook page and Twitter @americashorse as we bring you the winner of Road to the Horse on Sunday afternoon. The announcement is expected around 3 p.m. Eastern.
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