Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Turnout Critique #11

This week we have a featured horse and two riders who show excellent turnout for a cool season 'C' circuit horse show. There are a few improvements that could be made but overall we're looking at a team that puts a lot of effort into their presentation.

This horse is clipped appropriately for a horse show outside of the summer, leaving just the legs and a saddle patch unclipped. This is perfectly acceptable for a show at this level, and should also be appropriate for most shows at the 'B' level as well provided that the clip is done smoothly like this one with no visible clip lines. For an 'A' show, I would expect to see a full body clip, but at the lower levels the horses aren't presumed to be showing full-time and therefore it's understandable to leave some areas unclipped. A partial clip is certainly preferable to a shaggy, sweat-soaked horse.

The quality of this horse's coat is lovely, with the shine evident even indoors. All of the white markings are quite clean, which is impressive given that the legs aren't clipped, and the hooves have the rich colour that comes from being oiled prior to the class, helping to set off the white markings. He also appears to be in good weight.

Unfortunately, the mane is unbraided, which is a shame given the quality of the rest of their turnout. It is at least pulled to a short length so it is relatively neat, but braiding it would likely give him a better-looking neck since the hair sticking up near the top of the neck makes his crest look more upside down than it really is. It's difficult to see the tail but it seems to be brushed out nicely, though I suspect that it could use a trim based on those few longer hairs at the bottom. If the tail is quite long, trimming those thin hairs at the bottom should make the entire tail look fuller.

The tack shows the deep glow of well-cleaned leather. The bridle is adjusted properly, complementing the horse's head. I do find the yellow plastic of the bit's mouthpiece to be somewhat distracting, but if that is what the horse goes best in, it's okay. I have mentioned previously that some brands of peacock safety stirrups aren't intended for the weight of someone larger than a small child, so these riders should keep on eye on those stirrup irons if they wish to continue using them to make sure that they don't start to bend and lose their integrity. The extra length of stirrup leather should either be trimmed so that only a few inches extend beyond the edge of the saddle pad, or it can be tucked neatly under the saddle flap.

This saddle pad shows a tendency to slip back, though it does seem to be the correct size and shape for this saddle. Perhaps the girth is a bit too loose (it might need tightening once the rider is in the saddle) or the straps on the saddle pad might need to be adjusted differently or more tightly (sometimes even passing just one of the girth buckles through the girth loop instead of both can make a difference if the loop is positioned too far forward). If that doesn't work, there are non-slip pads available for purchase or they could try sewing a patch of non-slip kitchen drawer liner to the current pad.

Both riders are dressed in very well-fitted, clean clothing. Their boots are clean and polished and are a good height for each rider's leg. The breeches are an appropriate beige colour. Their jackets are both nicely fitted through the waist, and while a white show shirt would be a more classic pairing, especially for an equitation class, the light blue shirt is acceptable. Both riders are wearing stock pins, which have become out of style due to the risk of the pin coming undone during a fall or other accident and causing injury. The collar can be left plain, or you can add monogramming or piping if you feel that you must have something there.

Both riders have the number string up around the ribs rather than around the waist. While there is no rule against the number being a bit high, the normal position for it is around the waist. If the string is run through a button like this to hide the bow, it's important to thread the number in such a way (i.e. no double-looping through the holes) that it can be slid along the string to move it slightly to the inside or outside during flat classes so that the judge can read it. The gloves are clean and black, complementing the riders' boots and helmets. While their hair appears to be fairly neatly contained, I don't see a hairnet on either rider and the rider in the blue shirt has pieces of hair sticking out the back of her helmet. A hairnet would help to keep the hair neat. To have a really polished hunter look, they could try putting their hair across the tops of their ears. The white-shirted rider needs to make sure that her chinstrap stays up in its keeper instead of hanging down her neck. If it doesn't stay in place, adding a braiding elastic to the chinstrap should help.

The crop is appropriately conservative. During a flat class, however, it would be a good idea to leave the whip at the in-gate. In Canada, whips aren't allowed in hack classes, which many people also extend to under saddle and flat classes even if it isn't expressly written in the rules. I'm not sure whether any such rule exists in the U.S., but a judge won't see many good reasons for you to be carrying it in an under saddle class anyway, and you risk being placed lower if the judge thinks that you are using it.  

Overall, well done! It's very nice to see riders so well turned-out at this level and I'm sure that the judges notice this pair when they walk in the ring. Thank you very much to these riders for submitting their photos!

If you would like to be featured in a future Turnout Critique, send one or more photos to

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