August 8, 2011
Watching new events is an unexpected opportunity to learn more about them at the Ford Youth World.
By Justine Moore
My second day at the Built Ford Tough AQHYA World Championship Show was packed full of excitement and surprises. The schedule for August 7 included several halter finals as well as the trail and reining preliminaries. Even though I wouldn’t have competed in any of these events, watching them was a great opportunity to learn new things about classes that I don’t normally participate in or even have time to watch.
The trail preliminaries started early in the Performance Arena and continued throughout the day. It seemed like the trail pattern was extremely challenging, including tight turns in small boxes and backing a “V” shape through poles.
I have only competed in trail once, and I got completely lost among the poles, which all looked the same to me, so at first I was impressed by everyone who managed to make it through the lengthy pattern. But after watching numerous patterns and listening to the exhibitors’ scores, I developed a more discerning eye and soon I was even able to somewhat accurately predict how many points an exhibitor would be penalized for a mistake like knocking over a raised pole or a rough transition.
Because of the high level of difficulty of the course, I did not see any perfect patterns, but there were several exhibitors who were able to elegantly yet cautiously navigate the complex pattern and receive high enough scores to get called back to the finals.
My experience watching trail yesterday made me have even more respect for the exhibitors who show in this class. Not only do they have to complete classic horsemanship maneuvers such as turns, transitions and lead changes, but they also have to regulate their horse’s speed and striding to make it through the pattern with the least number of penalties possible.
Watching the reining preliminaries was also a new experience for me. Though at first I was alarmed by how quickly the exhibitors were running in circles around the arena, I quickly realized that there was nothing like the exhilarating feeling of watching a horse build speed during a run down and then slide to a stop. I also noticed how much control the exhibitors had to have over their horses to be able to execute difficult maneuvers such as running two large, fast circles and then slowing down in the center for a smaller, slower circle.
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It seemed like they had to be able to completely trust their horses to let them run down the center of the arena and then expect them to do a sliding stop on command. The fast speeds at which the reiners perform many of their maneuvers only add to the degree of difficulty in this challenging class.
Though I obviously miss showing, it was refreshing to be able to have time to watch classes that I do not usually compete in. I have a newfound respect for both trail and reining, and I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to see some of the world’s best youth exhibitors compete in these classes.
My experience so far:
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