Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Mini Prix

On some prize lists, you might see the words "mini prix" beside the name of the last class of certain jumper divisions (generally the jr/am ones). A mini prix is a smaller version of the grand prix, the biggest and most lucrative class of the show.

The mini prix will have a higher entry fee than the other classes of the division in order to allow for greater prize money. The course will also generally be longer than your usual jumper course, consisting of about twelve numbered obstacles compared to ten in other classes. In addition to the increased length, the level of difficulty will generally be a bit higher, with a triple combination in most cases and sometimes spookier jumps as well as more technical questions.

The mini prix will almost always be run with a posted order to make things fair. While the jump-off is usually delayed like in a regular grand prix, some shows will use an immediate jump-off so that the day will run quickly.

There is generally a formal ribbon presentation on horseback with a victory gallop for all of those who have placed. The number of awards given out is usually two more than are given for the regular classes of that division (i.e. if a show usually gives six ribbons in regular classes, the mini prix might be pinned to eighth, while a show that normally pins to eighth might extend the ribbons to tenth for the mini prix).  

Be prepared to wear formal attire for any mini prix. It is quite common to braid for such a class, but it is not required.

Typical alternatives for the term 'mini prix' are classic, grand prix (combined with the name of the division to distinguish it from the grand prix) or stake.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Keeping a Clean Horse From Rolling

You've scrubbed every inch of your grey horse, put him in his stall to dry and then left the barn to go check on the show ring. You come back, ready to tack up and get on, only to find that he is suddenly covered in shavings and stains! How can you prevent yourself from being stressed out and late for your class in the future?

Whatever you do, keep your horse's stall clean. You might be tempted not to clean it repeatedly throughout a show day, but a dirty stall will make for dirty legs!

Here is what I do for horses that are known to roll after their baths:
  1. Only bathe shortly before the class, allowing just enough time for the horse to dry. Bathing too early will force the horse to stand around for longer than is necessary, which isn't fair if he needs to be tied up.
  2. Tie the horse up in its stall immediately after the bath. I like to tie a loop of baling twine to the stall for safety purposes and then tie the lead rope securely to that. Horses can untie quick release knots, so I tend to let the baling twine and halter act as safety devices and use a more secure knot. Make sure that the lead rope is short enough that the horse will not be able to get caught up or lie down and roll, but long enough that he will be able to reach his water. You might also want to unclip the throatlatch of the halter for safety (clipping it back on itself will prevent it from swinging around).
  3. Give him a hay net. This will keep him happy and occupied. I like to tie everything so that the horse is between the hay net and his water buckets, allowing him to reach everything without leaving the lead rope too long. If you do provide a hay net, be aware that hay can die a wet, white face green! Be ready with alcohol and a towel before you tack up to solve that problem.
  4. Do not leave him untied at any point before his class! You might be tempted to let him loose once he has dried but you still risk him rolling. It is for this reason that I try to bathe as close to the time of the class as possible, since it is unfair to ask the horse to stand tied for half the day. 

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Handy Hunter

While most of the time, hunter classes are labelled simply as "over fences" or "under saddle", there are some different types of classes to look out for in the prize list. One of these is the Handy Hunter class.

If it is offered, it will usually be just one of the classes in a normal hunter division.

What can you expect from a handy hunter course? It will vary from your usual inside-outside-diagonal-outside-diagonal hunter course in that it will require the horse to be more "handy". A handy horse is one that is very easy to maneuver around a course. The judge will want to see a horse that can handle tighter turns more easily and take some chances while being very responsive.

Different elements that might be seen in a handy hunter course are gallop jumps, rollbacks, trot jumps, a gate to open and/or close from the horse's back, etc. You might even be asked to dismount and lead the horse over a jump. The judge might also want to see you take chances by riding a rollback turn that isn't specifically asked for on the course diagram, the same as you might see in an equitation class where there is a clear option between going inside a jump to make the turn or going all the way around for what would be a more typical hunter turn. Additional risky elements that should be rewarded if done well are heading straight to the first jump without circling, and easily coming down to a walk before the in-gate at the end of the round without circling.

Here is the official EC rule concerning handy hunter classes:

May be offered as one class per division. Course should vary from the normal hunter class routine to include elements that show rideability and handiness. e.g. turn back, trot fences, option lines. Not recommended for green horses or novice rider classes.