Monday, January 21, 2013

Judges Seminar Part 3

Part Three was the boxing and fence work. 

I have shown the boxing a few times.  At last years club shows they added a class called rein, box and drive to give some of us in-betweeners a chance to go down the fence without having to really GO down the fence.  The first three runs we watched I judged 3,2,1 of course the real judges placed them 1,2,3.  What! I mean really  - was I that off base?  I sat with a friend who has judged some small club shows and he judged them the same way I did.  So what did we see or not see?  

Some of the first comments that were made really, really threw me into a tizzy fit.  Albeit a quiet tizzy fit, but I gotta tell you I was silently steaming.  One of the "sharks" said... "I placed him first because I know this horse and he is a good one." I wanted to say... "what...did you have coffee with him this morning?"  I mean really.... Then a comment from one of the wanna be judges  was "well I placed him higher because that steer could have really moved and the horse was so tuned in that he would have been on it."  But, but, but....  the steer didn't move. So the horse didn't have to move.  Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda....  Does not make a champion.  No What ifs, No Almost, No No NO!

Rant over...  But I did learn what the judges think is supremely important and what I was missing.
First....  the boxing is just incidental to going down the fence. Again, it is all about courage and control.  Being in charge, driving the cow, not just following it.  Making your turns quickly and in the right spot on the fence.  Making good choices about where and how to "circle up".  Even though the last horse seemed to be in a better position on the cow when circling up, the big dogs in the room all said that the first rider did a better job positioning the cow and horse.  I realized as I sat there that it isn't aways about being smooth and pretty.  Sometimes it looks messy, sharp and hard, but it needs  to be executed effectively with intent.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Judges Seminar - Part Two

Part two was the dry work. Again the videos were shown of the riders from the SBF and other major cow horse events.  We judged several runs and I was feeling pretty confident.  I tend to look at the dry work in the cow horse events like I would in reining events.  That didn't work out particularly well for me.  I have known for some time that the dry work in the cow horse industry isn't done with the precision that reining is. And for the most part... isn't as critical as the actual cow work. 

Before you ready the next paragraph... 

A "check" is average.
A "check plus" is slightly above average
A "plus" is well above average
A "plus - plus" is excellent
A "check minus" is  slightly below average
A "minus" is well below average
And a "minus - minus" is well...terrible.

I could go into the actual scoring of points and half points but that gets off onto completely different discussion so lets just stick to talking about checks, pluses and minuses. 

Bill Enk walked us through each run when we were done.  On the first run, we all agreed that the circles and lead changes were done very well.  Excellent definition between large fast and small slow and the rider showed "courage" in his large fast. Lead changes executed perfectly and in the middle. No one was willing to "plus" the circles - the rider was given a "check".  The stops were done well with the horse committing to the ground and sliding - nothing overly spectacular.  Everyone wanted to check plus or plus the stops.  Same with the turn arounds.  Bill proceeded to go back and ask all of us why we were so willing to plus stops and turnarounds and not plus the circles and lead changes. He pointed out that we had all agreed that the circles and lead changes were above average but as a group we were unwilling to give extra points for that.  The stops and turn arounds we agreed were average but we all wanted to atleast "check plus" them.  In the particular pattern we were watching there were 2 large fast, 1 small slow each direction with 1 lead change each direction, 3 stops - includes run downs, 3 1/2 turn arounds each way. The majority of your pattern was circles and lead changes. He went on to say that while the crowd loves the stops and turnarounds they do not make a finished bridle horse. Circles and lead changes are as difficult, if not more difficult than stops and spins.  He really stressed to the judges how important it is to give credit for those maneuvers.  In the last run the stops were average at best - the horse committed to the ground and slid, he may not have had perfect form but it wasn't terrible. The turn arounds were fluid and technically correct but not lightening fast. In comparison to the first run they were a "check minus". The judges that were in attendance marked them a "minus".  It was interesting to me to see just how critical the judges felt stops and spins were.

What that brought to light for me (again) was how important it is to not "give away" points.  You can do absolutely perfect circles and lead changes and not get any extra points but if you don't do perfect circles or change a lead a stride to late...they will ding you hard!   Do a bad or slightly below average stop and you are done. Just done.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Judges Seminar

I went to a National Reined Cow Horse Association judging seminar a couple of  weekends ago.  I am not sure, but I think that I was more confused after it was over than I was before I got there. 

The seminar is for those who are doing their continuing education or need to test for their judges card.  Needless to say - there were some pretty heavy hitters there.  Two of my favorite riders were there - Sandy Collier and Lyn Anderson - those ladies can get the job done!  Skip Brown, Smoky Pritchard and Kenny Wold were also in attendance.  Bill Enk was the presenter.  I went with a friend and we were running a little late. We got there and sat down in the first available spot.  Turns out that we were at the same table as Skip Brown, Ken Wold and Smokey Pritchard.  I am never one to sit in the front row or draw attention to myself. This was definitely the wrong table to be at.  Bill Enk is a character and he likes to involve the room in his presentations. These stoic men sitting a seat or two down from me were going to be prime targets for his shenanigans. 

I am going to do this in 3 parts.

Part one: Herd Work
We watched videos of runs from the Snaffle Bit and other large shows and tried to decipher what was good and what wasn't. Even though I have watched the herd work a million times and I have taken lessons and even showed a couple of times it is still so new and elusive to me.  After we have judged a couple good runs we went over the penalties.  That is where they show you what NOT to do. I think that I would have done better in my judging if I saw the penalties first and then saw a good run. Either way, sitting in a conference room passing judgement on some of the best riders...some sitting a seat or two down - felt down right awkward.  Sandy Collier was one of the examples of a "not so good" run. She handled it like a professional. She took the microphone and walked us through what was going on.  Her ride was an example of switching cattle -which she didn't actually do.  But that was a whole lot easier to tell when you had slow motion and could replay it 5 or 6 times.  The judges spoke about "courage" a lot.  Courage isn't going in and blowing the herd apart and getting it done quickly, but it is about taking the intuitive to drive your cattle out and really showing control and making something happen.  I thought back to my runs in the herd work. I knew that I was more at ease when the cow worked slowly and I felt like I was in control.   And that is how I have been taught  to work a cow - slow and methodical.  I realized while watching the good runs that even though my cow didn't get away from me, I wasn't ever really "in control".   In the show pen, you have to step up your game. Next time I get a slow cow, I will try to get a little more aggressive and hopefully show some courage.  I am also going to try to show that I can control the cow and work it in the middle the pen - not let it go fence to fence.  Semper goes into the herd like a pro. He moves slowing and pays attention to my instruction.  Where we get into trouble is not pushing the cow out far enough.  When I get my cow out of the herd he really doesn't "hook-on" like a cow horse should. He will follow my direction and about 50 seconds into a run, he gets the hang of it. By then it is too late.  Another one of my big dilemmas is when and how to quit a cow.  I learned that if the cow stops facing you and does not move, you can quit. It is like the cow has "given up" or "surrendered" to you. You can also quit if the cow turns tail and moving away from you. Completely moving away. Not at an angle where they can swing their head around and look at you.  They have to be gettin' out of Dodge. 

Part two - Dry Work
is for another day....

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Getting back on track - again.

I think this same thing happened to me this time last year. I get lost, overwhelmed, busy and just plain lost track of time.  I have started a blog post about a dozen times and get side tracked, have writers block or am afraid that I am repeating myself.  Could that be the beginning of Alzhiemers?

So much to say and nothing to say all at the same time.  Let's try news in a list form...

1. Moved back to Saddle Creek.  The ONLY place to board.  I was so pleased they decided to have boarders again.  check it out...

2. Changed trainers AGAIN.   I am not even going to tell you a thing about it till I am months in. I will sound like a foolish, wishy-washy child.  Not even going there.

3. Ended the show year with lots of swag.  I did well in the cowhorse club. I did well in the local reining shows and in the versatilty.  I can not complain one little bit.  Semper is Da BOMB.

4. Semper. The. Super. Horse. I just love him to pieces.  He is doing wonderful. He loves being back at the Taj... (it really is the Taj Mahal of boarding facilities - they have comfort flooring for goodness sakes!) I swear he smiled when we unloaded.

5.  Bob. The Triple S - Sensitive, Spastic, Silly.  He is coming alone.  More on that later - I have had huge revelations. 

6.  Scooter.  You just have to love Scooter.  He needs wheels to carry around his extra large head.  But he is a good one. 

7. Lily.  She is Lily.  She has been off for almost a year. She is in fine form - bitchier than ever. Legs look great. Attitude sucks.

8. The Twisted Sisters: Mystic, Rosie, and Dazzle. They are keeping on, eating, pooping and sleeping.

9. I have lost some dear animal friends this year. RIP Roxie and Old Girl. May you be in unfenced green pastures with no fear or pain, safe and content. You educated me, loved me and made me smile. You will not be forgotten.

10.  Axle - The new man on the block.  I am going to introduce him to you later.  His name is "His Tattoed Heart".  When I get the mud scraped off him enough to take a picture. 

I am sure that I am forgetting many things... it is that nasty aging process that makes me forgetful. or not.

Weight... still keeping on track with my diet and maintaining my goal weight.  It is a process.  And sometimes I just want to drown in a  ginormous bowl of Moose Tracks ice cream. But then I look at Mr. Semper, Bob and the rest of the herd and say a little thanks for this life.

And to Mr. Wonderful. He rocks. 32 years together 12/20/12.  Pretty proud to be married to him. 

It is weird being in this time and place in my life. When you are in the thick of raising a family and working you are almost obilvious to certain things. When your children leave and your job evens out - things get quiet. There isn't the static noise that hides little imperfections in yourself and your friendships. I have started to see my own imperfections and those of people close to me. I still love them and wouldn't change who they are but I do have to work at being more tolerant. 

Jez...that last paragraph was overly self indulgent wasn't it?  hmmmmm. 

I gotta get back the the training and riding stuff. Now. Right Now.