The week has been a reminder of the versatility of the American Quarter Horse.
By Justine Moore
My experience spectating at the 2011 Built Ford Tough AQHYA World Championship Show has reminded me of the amazing versatility of the American Quarter Horse.
On August 8, my third day at the show, I was able to watch the showmanship, jumping and western pleasure preliminaries. Though these three events are extremely different, American Quarter Horses proved their skill and diversity by laying out incredible performances in each event.
The showmanship preliminaries contained the largest amount of exhibitors of any class in the show with 192 entries.
Because showmanship is one of the classes I normally compete in, I felt completely comfortable watching and evaluating the performances, and I was impressed by the way many competitors handled the difficult pattern. The pattern, which only had one cone to indicate where the exhibitors should start, and contained a 630-degree haunch turn, a square corner at the trot and backing in a straight line perpendicular to the ring steward.
This class was competitive because of the hard pattern and huge number of exhibitors, but some competitors were able to stand out from the crowd and qualify for the finals by being in complete harmony with their horses and showing off their brisk yet precise maneuvers.
Take a comprehensive look at the standards for the western pleasure class with AQHA’s “Showing to Win: Western Pleasure” DVD.
When I watched this class, I realized the importance of having a look of confidence and an optimistic attitude. I noticed that it was possible to tell what patterns would be the best before the exhibitors even started by watching their facial expressions and how they were standing.
The over-fences classes, which also took almost all day, were in the Performance Arena. I was able to see the jumping preliminaries, a nerve-wracking experience for someone fairly new to watching this event. Out of the 24 exhibitors that competed, I watched three fall off their horses. Thankfully, they were all uninjured and one even managed to still qualify for the finals because she fell after she had completed the pattern. Watching the rider’s family become overwhelmed with joy when it was announced that her time was still valid was one of the best moments of the day.
Though jumping seemed relatively dangerous because exhibitors were racing around the complex and tight course with high jumps and little time to readjust between jumps, I was surprised by how many riders had genuine smiles on their faces and looked thrilled to be competing at such a wonderful show. I will definitely be watching the jumping finals August 10, and I hope to see more exciting runs and happy riders.
When the showmanship preliminaries and semifinals were finished in the Jim Norick Arena, the western pleasure preliminaries began. With slightly more than 100 entries, there were five different splits and exhibitors from each split could qualify for the quarterfinals.
For “Showing to Win: Western Pleasure,” AQHA teamed with the National Snaffle Bit Association to show you how to properly exhibit the western pleasure horse to conform to the rules and find success in this fundamental class.
My friend and Oregon state teammate, Chelsea Carlson of Junction City, showed one of her talented geldings, RL Do Good Sudden, and I had a lot of fun cheering her on to the quarterfinals. She will be competing in the hunter under saddle and hunt seat equitation preliminaries later this week with her other gelding, Cruzin for Cocktails, and several of the other Oregon competitors will be representing our state in the trail, showmanship, and reining finals and the preliminaries in some of the cow horse events.
I am looking forward to watching these events as well as the finals in two of my favorite classes, western riding and horsemanship, August 9.
My experience so far: