How many times have we heard that call? As the horses move past the quarter pole, everyone starts to make their move- the horse on the lead might hang OR draw away, the horse flying up on the outside might not get up in time, the horse on the rail might get racing room-so much can happen.
We are at the quarter pole in the Retired Racehorse Project’s Most Wanted TB Challenge. I think all of the teams have done a really good job. When we were asked to join the challenge I was not thinking show hunter because of my strong eventing, pony club, and dressage background- but between Phillip and Icabad already doing the event thing, and the fact that D’Sauvage just said “show horse” to us, we went out of my personal comfort zone and went that route, and he has been a star. D’Sauvage came off the track in April and started in work. Lynne took him home in mid July to polish the basics. Since that time he has gone to 4 shows and gotten multiple championships in three- so win lose or draw, we are proud of his progress.
As an eventer, I always dismissed the show hunters to some extent, because it seemed so EASY. Well guess what? One of the hardest things about showing is making it look EASY. I would much rather ride a twisty stadium course than a smooth hunter round, because the twisty stadium course is easy compared to the finesse and skill it takes to put down a good hunter round. At the Fair Hill TB Show, Steuart noted that all thoroughbreds off the track have a lead change—true, but do they have a smooth seamless change on a nearly invisible command? That is not so EASY. Getting a horse to jump in his best form, with his knees up to his ears? Getting a horse to lengthen his stride in the hacks while staying relaxed and keeping his rhythm? It is HARD to make it look EASY. There are no shortcuts to this, no tricks- just the solid classical principles of riding- lots of leg, soft hands, forward and straight, relaxation and rhythm. In fact, it sounds a bit like my dressage schooling sessions!
This past weekend, we had noted hunter trainer and judge Nancy Ashway come to MAHR to give a TB clinic sponsored by the Thoroughbred Education and Research Foundation (TERF). Almost every rider was an event rider, and it was neat to watch Nancy work on rhythm and straightness and relaxation, rather than just getting to the other side. All of the horses showed marked improvement and ease over the fences- they made it look EASY.
I personally have learned a lot about the hunter world through the TB Alliance Show Series and this challenge. I have shown jumpers in the past, and even some Medal Maclay when I was young, but hunters not so much. With what I have learned and observed, I may even now try a few HUNTER shows with my own rescued horse.
This challenge is helping thoroughbreds everywhere to gain interest and support in the sport horse world and we are thrilled to be part of it. We came into this never expecting to win, just to have fun and raise the TB flag to the top of the pole- of course now we would LOVE to win because that money could save a lot of TBs wink wink…..
I hope everyone will come to Pimlico for the weekend! RRP once again has done a fantastic job- you will see and learn stuff that will surprise you!!!! We have a little surprise planned for Sunday with D’Sauvage. No, he is not going to lie down on command LOL–a search of Youtube about methods for teaching a horse to lie down did not inspire me. Come to Pimlico and join the fun- just make sure you stop by our booth or stalls and say hello, no matter who you vote for!