Thursday, November 19, 2009

Showmanship revisited

When I decided I was going to make more of an effort with the blog I figured I would do some posts on live show classes. Anything that uses dolls is a good excuse and we can pretend to be on track. My first idea was of coarse therapeutic riding. That is a real horse area that I am very knowledgeable about because my son is in therapeutic riding and I volunteer with the program as well. The other real horse class I am fairly well versed in is Western showmanship. Liesl Dalpe, who is known for her precise set-ups (especially showmanship) and also had a lot of real horse experience with showmanship and she taught me what to do. I still think that a model that is standing square is the easiest horse to use in a showmanship set-up but if you think about it it may be the hardest. Your horse has to be perfect to the pattern and your handler doll and judge need to be in the proper place as well. I did post back in January about Western showmanship and it is an interesting entry. If anyone is interested here is a link to the post that was written before I had any judging experience and I was pretty nervous. Now I have judged at several shows (not always performance) and am much more comfortable judging. I am even thinking of taking several shows off from showing next year and just judging. I do have a great time judging and it is easier to work without wondering if you are missing a class in another division.

Western showmanship is not a hard class to set up for live showing but it can be easily messed up. I have messed up several times on things myself. But with good attention to detail you can do a great job. The equipment you need is very simple. You just need a horse with a halter and a handler doll. Some people may say that the doll is optional but you can probably only get away with that in photo showing and it still doesn't work all that well then. Today we will be discussing the judges inspection portion of the class. This is the pattern I have been using recently for my set-up.

I usually have step 5 highlighted (It says walk until horse's shoulder is even with judge. Stop and set up for inspection). I also have a note on my documentation that says the horse is finished being set up and the judge is just starting his inspection.

The halter the horse wears is very important as it is the only piece of equipment used in showmanship. Ideally the halter for Western showmanship should be a fancy show halter. Any halter can be used as long as it fits well but the nicer your set-up the better it may do. The lead and how it is attached is very important. The snap should be attached to the left side of the halter up near the throat latch. Like this

Then it goes from the outside, through the left cheek piece, under the chin and out the right side cheek piece. The chain on a real showmanship halter should only be about 4-6 inches long. The extra chain on this halter is too long to be correct. On a model halter it should be only about a half inch long. The handler should hold the chain right at the end of the chain but on the leather of the lead. If your chain is too short or too long the handler will not be holding the horse in the correct way.The next thing to learn about showmanship is the quadrants of the horse. From a top view the quadrants are the four different sections of the horse. As long as you know them you will always know where the handler should be in relation to the judge. The handler should always be looking at the judge and not blocking the judges view. Also the handler and judge should not be in the same quadrant at the same time. As you can imagine there is a lot of quick movement from the handler as they try to stay in the proper quadrant. The quadrants look like thisI use a Breyer Lady Phase for my showmanship because she is standing squarely and that makes for the best looking (standing) showmanship set-up. Make sure when you set up your entry to check and make sure the halter is straight, the doll is holding the lead correctly (*note: for 4-H shows the extra part of the lead should be scrunched in the hand. For breed shows a large loop is the usual way of holding the extra) The doll should be standing straight, with her legs together and her body angled towards the opposite rear hoof of the horse. The doll and the judge should never be in the same quadrant but they should be in the quadrants next to each other (ex: the judge is in Q2 the doll should be in Q1. The judge is in Q3 the doll should be in Q4. The judge is in Q4 the doll should be in Q1). It is a nice touch to have the doll looking at the judge and the judge holding a clipboard and pencil. Make sure you have a pattern for this set-up as well.

This last photo was my showmanship set-up at region X regionals this year. I got OF Champion for the second year in a row and I'm very happy about that. Maybe next year I will change things up a bit. Or perhaps I will also try CM showmanship and see how I do in that.

Therapeutic riding as a live show entry

I thought I would shake things up and write two days in a row and also write about interesting live show entries from real horse events. Today is therapeutic riding day. I know quite a bit about therapeutic riding since I volunteer as a side-walker and leader and my son takes therapeutic riding. Mostly today I am going to focus on how you would set up a therapeutic riding scene as a live show entry. You can make it as simple or as elaborate as you want though I think details add to any set-up. I have some photos from 2 of my son's horse shows as well as a couple of my live show photos.
This first picture is a wide view of the trail coarse. There were 4 riders in the ring with several obstacles. They needed to weave in and out of cones, walk over trot poles, take things out of the mailbox and bring them to another location, etc. This was a fun show on Halloween so the kids didn't need to dress for a formal show and some of the volunteers wore costumes or face paint.

This photo is of my son Travis walking around the edge of the arena to warm up his horse. All of the people that work with special needs riders have a different purpose. The leader is not really to guide the horse (except in the case of the youngest riders) but as a just-in-case person. If the rider says whoa the leader stops so the horse stops and so one. The side walkers are there as a safety measure and as paraprofessionals. They help the riders carry out the instructions of the instructors.
This is another warm up photo

Here Travis is coming around the markers to start the coarse.

and another shot of the same

The riders went over the trot poles in jump position.

Here another student finished the trot poles

I was told by a live show judge that therapeutic riding is always done at a walk. I imagine like anything else, different schools do things in different ways. At my son's school they do trot. They almost always trot only on the long side of the arena and not over any obstacles. It is a favorite part of the class for most of the riders and they also get a chance to practice posting. The side walkers hold the riders ankles to help keep them on the horse and their feet in the proper position in the stirrups. The volunteers get some great exercise as well (who needs the gym). :)

Another part of a safe therapeutic riding set-up is the reins. The riders do not hold the bridle reins though the horses do wear bridles. The reins are looped around the horse's necks to be out of the way but give a bit of extra control to the leaders if the horses get a bit frisky. The therapeutic riding horses wear halters over their bridles with reins attached to the sides. These reins are pretty easy to see since they are blue.

This is a really good shot of the reins on the horses neck.

Here Travis is getting his stirrups adjusted. At this show only 2 horses came and the kids had to take turns in the ring.

Here is Travis with his ribbon. He doesn't look like he knows quite what to think of it. The last show (the Halloween one) he got a gold medal. They awarded fun prizes because it was a "fun show" so Travis got his medal for having the best posture of anyone in the ring. He came home and hung his medal on the wall with his rosettes.

Here is one of the ways I have set up my therapeutic riding scene for a live show. I have the bridle reins looped around the horse's neck, a halter with side pull reins, a leader and a side-walker. I also use a photo of Travis riding as reference for the tack set-up.

This is another way I set up the same scene. This time I used a youth doll I had just finished for my friend Marisa Evans. This was her show so I asked if I could debut her doll in my riding scene. I believe we got first that day as well. (the tweazers didn't stay in the scene for the judging)
This is a closer shot of the dolls. The leader has a pinny that has the pioneer valley therapeutic riding association logo on it. That is where my son rides. I set this scene up at the region x regionals and used 2 side-walkers. I can't find a photo of it so I must have forgotten to take one. Too bad really as it came out pretty well.
In all of my rambling today I wanted to share a bit more about therapeutic riding and why certain things are set up the way they are. When I first did this as a live show entry it was more basic than it is now with a rider holding the bridle reins (which CAN be correct for more advanced riders in some schools) with just one side-walker. There are lots of ways to set this scene up and lots of ways that the real classes can be done at shows. I happen to use my Strapless models for this class because she is my favorite English horse. Every student I have worked with and watched loves the trot part of the class the best so it is fun to set up as a live show scene. I will probably change my show entry up a bit more at some point. I always like to add to it to make it more accurate to the real shows I have been to with my son. And it just happens to be a wonderful class for the live show ring that uses several dolls :)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


I am aware that I am a huge slacker when it comes to blogging. Usually I can't think of things to write about and I don't want to post about the craziness of my life, I don't think anyone really wants to hear it. Region X Regionals was last weekend and it didn't occur to me to write about it until yesterday. And then I could not get my computer to cooperate and load pictures. And blogs are not as much fun without photos in my opinion. So lets get to the fun!
Anyone that knows me knows I am a performance junkie. When I remember (or have time to) take pictures I take almost only performance pictures. I do love certain halter horses and may take pictures but I love the action of performance photos. And mostly I take photos of horses with dolls. I get a kick out of seeing my dolls out at shows but I admire any nicely done dolls and take lots of pictures if there is something I really admire. So onto some performance photos and doll fun!
First we have the start of the day. Last year the dolls "played" a lot and everyone had a good time playing with them. So this year I got this lovely swing set for the dolls to play on. At the start of the day they were mostly well behaved.

This next doll belongs to my friend Joan Fauteux. Joan has more of my dolls than anyone else and always comes up with more that she wants. This cross country lady is the newest in her collection. I can't remember the horse's name but I believe the tack was made by Jana Skybova. Joan made the awesome cross country jump herself.
This doll was made for me by my good friend and doll maker buddy, Joan Yount. This was one of the first hunt seat dolls that Joan made. The only thing I did to this doll was remake her boots when we were working out how to make the leather hunt boots. This was my OF dressage entry. I got reserve champion in the patterned performance stakes this year. I was pretty excited about that one. The horse is Lady Intrigue and the tack was made by Cari (Godwin) Chaney.
Joan Yount made this lovely Western pleasure doll as well. Joan sent me a photo and said she was for sale and it was love at first site, I had to buy her. The horse is Skippa Latte (I "borrowed" the name from Joan as well) which is a Breyer Party Girl. The tack was made by Kirsteen Haley and the lovely saddle pad was made by Elise Patisan. She makes beautiful saddle pads and they are super affordable. It made coordinating the set incredibly easy and her turn-around time is super quick.
I did actually make this cowboy. He is another one belonging to Joan Fauteux. I think she named him Jack but that is the only thing I know about the set-up. I don't know the tack maker, the horses name or anything. I do know I took the photo through the trees on someone elses entry because I thought it looked cool.
These 2 western ladies also belong to Joan Fauteux. I think she has at least 3 western dolls I made. The doll in black and pink was one of the first western dolls I made. The pink doll was one of the sales dolls at regionals last year. The funny part of Joan's doll collection is she has more of my dolls than I do. I should work on that :)
This was my natural western trail entry. This doll (I think her name is Mary) was cleaning up the trash on the trail. Her horse, Lady Liberty, is waiting patiently. The saddle was made by Pam Perkins and I can't remember where the bridle is from. We had some trouble with the doll falling over but several of us worked on it and she stayed up long enough to get first. I also made the diorama.
This nest western doll was a custom order from Lauren Upton. I don't know anything else about the photo really. Lauren has been doing an awesome job with her performance set-up.
This doll is Muffy. She is owned by Marisa Evans. The horse is Electric Mayhem who is a stone pony customized by Liesl Dalpe. The tack was make by Cari Chaney. Muffy is a very versatile doll and has a removable hunt coat.
The dolls seemed to have fun with the swing set but they did not do as much as they did last year. Maybe the lack of toys inspires more silliness. They did get a bit silly throughout the day...
...and so did this cow. He thought he was a jumper (he needs tack and a doll!)
This lovely lady belongs to Linda White however the entry was by Corrie McDermott. All I know about the rest of the set-up is that the horse is a CM ISH that Corrie won in the raffle at last year's regionals. I love the tack though, perhaps I should ask about it one of these days.
This is That 70's Godiva owned by Morgen Kilbourn. Morgen just started performance showing and has done extremely well. She asks questions of everyone and had gotten her stuff down. She won several large rosettes at regionals this year. The doll is one of mine and was a custom order. She has removable chaps as well as a removable collar and cuffs. This doll and the cowboy that went with him was the reason I decided to no longer to anything removable, lol. They made me crazy. They turned out nicely though.
This next doll was done by Darla Curtis. I took several photos of her from many different angles. She is a wonderful doll full of amazing detail. One day I may make dolls of this caliber but today is not that day, lol.This last entry is another one of mine. It is my OF showmanship entry. I made the handler and the judge as well as the horse's halter and the little judges kit (that you can't see). This set-up got champion for the second year in a row. I was really excited about this one and hope to keep the title next year as well.
I took a ton of photos this year but couldn't load them all here. The show was a lot of fun and the weekend was nice. Regionals is always a very interesting show and unlike any other. In my opinion it is a great way to end the show season and gives everyone something to look forward to next year.