Thursday, November 19, 2009

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 :)

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