August 11, 2011
The American Quarter Horse proves itself in English events at the Ford Youth World.
By Justine Moore
Though many people wrongly believe that American Quarter Horses are only suited for western events, yesterday’s finals showed that Quarter Horses are perfectly capable of stunning performances in English events such as the over-fences classes and hunter under saddle.
The first final of the day August 10 at the Built Ford Tough AQHYA World Championship Show was the only western final – trail. Even though I do not usually show in trail, I could tell by looking at the pattern that it would be tough. Some of the most challenging elements of this pattern were backing around cones in a tight box and side passing over three poles that were laid out in a “T” shape. Because the pattern was so lengthy and difficult, I did not see any perfect rides, but there were multiple competitors who had formidable rides and ended up with minimal penalties.
Equitation over fences was the first English final of the day. The preliminary round had been competitive, with more than 70 entries, and so all the riders who made it to the finals were well-prepared to showcase their talents.
While watching this class, I was amazed by how many competitors managed to maintain excellent equitation while navigating the course and guiding their horses over the jumps. These riders must have spent countless hours practicing to keep their legs still and hold themselves up in strong two-points.
Several of the riders who competed in equitation over fences also competed in the working hunter finals, which took place directly after equitation over fences ended and just before the jumping finals.
When I reported on the jumping preliminaries August 8, I was shocked by the number of competitors who fell off during the class. I knew that the jumping finals would contain more horses moving at high speeds and performing tight turns, but I did not anticipate that the jumping finals would be even more thrilling than the preliminaries.
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Though only one person fell off, there were many close calls, especially in the jump-off, which was open to all of the competitors who had a clean first round. The exhibitors had a mere 48 seconds to complete the course but most of them had a much lower time by cutting corners and pushing their horses to run their fastest and jump their hardest.
I was sitting on the edge of my seat throughout the whole finals, and so was the rest of the crowd. It was definitely the most exciting event of the day.
After the conclusion of the jumping finals, the hunter under saddle preliminaries began. My friend Chelsea Carlson of Junction City, Oregon, showed her gelding Cruzin For Cocktails to the quarterfinals in this event, which was her final class at her last Ford Youth World.
She had an amazing ride but unfortunately her horse broke gait right in front of the judges, and because all of the splits of this class were extremely competitive, she was not called out to move on in the semifinals. The finals for this class will take place August 11, and I look forward to seeing more of the huge hunter under saddle horses showing off their long strides and willing attitudes.
Also taking place August 11 in the Jim Norick Arena are the finals for hunt seat equitation, western pleasure, hunter hack, and several speed events. I am particularly excited to watch the hunt seat equitation finals, and I am curious to see what maneuvers the judges will include in the pattern to challenge the competitors.
My experience so far:
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