Saturday, January 26, 2013

Turnout Critique #10

This week's featured rider clearly makes a very good effort towards her turnout, resulting in a nice, workmanlike pair. A few minor changes could improve their turnout further to make them really shine.

All of this horse's tack appears to be well-fitted, with every piece showing the deep shine of clean, well-conditioned leather. I'm not a big fan of breastplates on hunters; I find them to be mildly distracting. They are legal if they are made entirely of leather, but I wonder if a well-fitted saddle would really move very much anyway in an under saddle class without one.

I don't like to see a hanging bridle tag on a hunter; I much prefer a discreet name plate, which can even be placed on a cheek piece so that it can be covered by a strap. If the hanging tag is not easily removable, I have had success tucking them out of the way between the cheek piece straps between the buckle and the top keeper after bridling the horse.

The saddle pad is nicely chosen to fit this saddle. I find the excess stirrup leather to be on the verge of being too long, so I would tuck it under the saddle flap.

The hooves are nicely oiled and the small amount of white on the legs has clearly been cleaned and shows just a small amount of show ring dirt.

What worries me is how dull this horse's coat is, given the shine on the rider's boots and tack and how much effort this rider puts towards their turnout. I expect a healthy horse who receives a lot of elbow grease to have a deep shine as a result. If this horse is healthy as far as can be told, and shows no signs of ulcers, adding some oil to the feed in the form of flax, black oil sunflower seeds or vegetable oil could make a big difference to the shine of the coat.

The mane is nicely braided and tidy. The tail is thin and doesn't fall like a tail that has been thoroughly brushed from bottom to top shortly before heading to the show ring. This horse could also benefit from a fake tail to balance out his proportions.

I can't tell whether the horse's open mouth is simply an atypical moment in time or if he goes like this frequently. If the mouth gapes frequently, a dental check-up and/or change of bit might be of benefit.

The rider is very well-dressed with a classic navy jacket that fits well through the body, clean beige breeches and very shiny field boots, with spotless soles. This is the reason for having someone at the ring with a towel following your warm-up; when the entire boot is clean with no dirt or horse slobber, it brings everything together. The outfit is completed with conservative black gloves and a black helmet, and a lovely demonstration of neat hunter hair.

Overall, I really appreciate the effort that this rider has made and I'm sure that the judges notice it, too. They will be especially eye-catching when her horse matches her level of shine.

Thank you very much to this week's featured rider for submitting this photo! Anyone interested in participating in a future Turnout Critique can send any photos to

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