Saturday, April 30, 2011

Pre-Ordering Hay and Shavings

If you cannot bring your own hay or shavings to a horse show that provides stabling, you can buy them there instead (beware, however, of the horse show mark-up!). In order to simplify life, you can pre-order them on your stall request form. There should be a section on the form that will allow you to specify a number of hay bales and/or bags of shavings to split amongst your stable. If they will not be used for every horse in the barn, changes to the bill split can be made in the office (do this earlier in the week, not on the last day of the show).

There are several reasons for you to pre-order them instead of ordering when you arrive at the show:
  1. It's one less thing to stress about as you move in
  2. They will be there waiting for you (either all in one of your stalls or outside of your stabling area) when you arrive so that you can bed the stalls and feed the horses immediately
  3. It allows you to do the math of how many to order at home when you still have the ability to think straight
  4. It avoids the problem of either running around trying to find the delivery person who is not aware that your newly-made order is urgent, or discovering that it is too late in the day when you arrive and the delivery person has gone home

If you pre-order, it is safe to assume that any piles of hay or shavings that you find in your stalls upon your arrival belong to you. If you do not find any hay or shavings in your stalls but you have pre-ordered, check the area outside of your stalls. If they are left outside, the delivery person will usually leave a receipt tucked in the pile in order to identify the owner, so make sure that any receipt that you find matches your name before taking possession of anything.

If you have pre-ordered but do not find any hay or shavings near your stalls, keep an eye out for the delivery tractor as you unload your horses. If it is still early in the day and you see that the tractor appears to be busy, it is safe to assume that they are busy with deliveries and simply haven't gotten to yours yet. If you see that the tractor is quiet and others seem to have received their orders, it's time to go to the office to inquire about your order. Sometimes orders do get lost, either missed on your stall form or overlooked by the delivery person. If there are lots of orders still being delivered, it probably isn't worth bothering anyone about yours just yet.

If you have room in your trailer, bringing your own hay and shavings can be worth it because those at the show tend to cost at least twice as much as they would cost elsewhere.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Online Horse Show Reminder

Just a reminder for any of you who are interested in entering the online horse show that I mentioned a few weeks back here: you have about a week and a half left to enter!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Victory Gallop Etiquette

The victory gallop, used as part of the ribbon presentation for important jumper classes, might seem pretty simple when viewed from outside of the ring. The horses all gallop around the ring in order of their placings and then go back to their stalls, right? Well, that's not quite all there is to it. There is some etiquette that you should be aware of before participating in your first victory gallop.

First, you should allow the winner of the class to enter the ring first for the ribbon presentation. Usually, all of the riders who have placed will assemble in the ring before the presentation begins (you may either halt your horse or walk around - it's up to you). Generally, all of the riders will hang back from the in-gate to allow the winner to enter first, regardless of the order in which the placings will be announced. The in-gate person will normally keep track of the placings in order for you to know whether to stick around for the presentation. Make sure that you keep all of your formal attire on for the presentation.

Once all of the ribbons have been given, the announcer will usually ask the riders to begin the victory gallop. The winner always leads the gallop, and is the one who will set the pace. None of the other riders should begin to gallop before the winner has started. The remaining riders should follow in the same order as their placings. Sometimes, a rider will choose not to take part in the victory gallop or is not comfortable having other horses behind theirs. In such a case, you might be invited to pass them, but passing is a no-no otherwise. If you are near the end of the line and the pace has slowed, you might even need to trot to keep from passing anyone in front of you. The person in front of you going slower than you would like is not a reason to pass unless they tell you to!

The horses who have placed second and lower will generally complete one lap of the ring before exiting, while the winner will sometimes continue on to do another lap or half-lap alone. Sometimes the winner will need to remain in the ring for photos, so if you have won, make sure that there is no one waiting there for you before you leave! You may leave the ring in any order. Some riders will take longer than others to pull up, so after the end of your one lap the order will often fall to pieces anyway and you are not expected to make an attempt to keep it. Always come back to a walk before exiting the ring for safety's sake. If your horse is excited and will not walk, you may circle as many times as you need to within reason in order to stop your horse.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Online Horse Show

Are you looking for some extra practice before the show season starts?

I thought I'd let everyone know about an online horse show that is completely free to enter, and that allows you to get feedback from the comfort of your own barn. There are video classes for hunters, equitation and dressage, and photo classes for conformation and good grooming. An effort will be made to provide feedback to everyone who enters.

The only requirement to enter is that you must be a member of, which is a great, friendly bulletin board that is free to join.

To view the prize list, go to the horse show topic on here.  

Entries close on May 7, 2011.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Hunter Hair Explained

The most appropriate way to style your hair for hunter or equitation classes is to contain it up in your helmet. If you do not usually ride with your hair up, this might require a slightly larger helmet in order to maintain comfort. If you are not comfortable putting your hair up in your helmet or you have too much hair to be fully contained, I have seen riders do a french braid and then tuck the braid inside the collar of the show shirt and look very discrete. If you go with this method, it's best to use a hair net as well to keep any fly-aways to a minimum. Whatever you choose to do, I do not recommend the black "show bows" that are often used for dressage to contain a bun. They draw unnecessary attention to your hair that is better kept on your horse or on your riding.

This post will focus on how to put your hair up in the hunter style. There are many variants of this style, depending on personal preferences and the need for additional security (some riders will pin their hair up), so this is something that can be experimented with. Some riders prefer to use two hair nets, but in most cases one hair net should be all that you need.

What you'll need:
- A hair elastic
- One or two hair nets matching your hair colour

Step 1
Put your hair in a low ponytail, covering the tops of your ears

Step 2
Lean forward and flip your ponytail up

Step 3
Cover all of your hair with the hair net (some riders prefer to put the hair net on before the hair elastic so that it's more secure)

Step 4
While still leaning forward, put your helmet on back to front, settling the bulky base of the pony tail in the back of the harness below the hard shell of the helmet and allowing your hair to fan out slightly

Step 5
While in front of a mirror, adjust the hair net so that it looks neat and everything is contained

Here's a great video that shows how it's done (this video uses the hairnet before elastic method, and covers the ears almost entirely, which isn't necessary unless you like it that way):

Saturday, April 2, 2011

How to Adjust a Standing Martingale

The standing martingale is a practically ubiquitous piece of equipment in the hunter ring, yet all too often it is adjusted too short or too long. This post will cover the reasons for adjusting it correctly, as well as how to determine the right length for your horse.

The standing martingale is not meant to hold your horse's head down. It should be slack when your horse's head is carried in a relaxed position, and only come into play when the head is raised too high.

Judges are intelligent people, and if you are using a martingale to hold your horse's head down, they will notice what you are doing and penalize you accordingly. Using an overly short martingale will therefore do nothing but restrict your horse's freedom while jumping and make it more difficult for him to balance himself at other times.

A martingale that is too long is a far less serious fault, though not without consequences. It is less likely to come into play when you need it, and might even distract your horse by swinging around. If it is very long, I would also be worried about potentially catching a leg in it while jumping.

To determine whether your martingale is the correct length, attach it while your horse is standing relaxed. Lift the strap (the one that runs from the cavesson to the chest) up as far as it will go. If it...

...doesn't lift up at all, it's far too tight.

...lifts up to the throatlatch, it should be just right.  When you let go of the strap, there should be some slack in it with the horse standing comfortably.

...lifts up further than the throatlatch, it's probably too long.