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Listen to the crowd: cheering styles during reining horse events

Last night while watching the finals of the reining futurity at the All American Quarter Horse Congress I had fun listening to the crowd. I decided to video the reining…but with the emphasis on how the crowd sounded.

Can you identify the maneuver based on the cheering? Watch the video and see if you can guess what the crowd is cheering for…then watch to see if you were correct.

What is your favorite cheer? Whoops, woos or whistles? What other cheers can you identify?

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2014 in Video

 

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How are reining horses scored when they show?

“Stacy, I’ve been watching the live feed from Congress, can you tell us a bit about the scoring… I’ve also been watching a bit and I’d think one rider wasn’t as good as someone who had received 203.5 and they got 209. They didn’t look as smooth and leaning forward more??? How do they score?” Jennifer W.

The scoring system in reining is one of the things I like best about it…but it won’t be easy to cover completely here. I’m not sure what two runs you saw but one of the easiest explanations could be that the horse that looked smoother may have had penalty points. That could explain one ride looking generally smoother and yet, if they missed going past a marker or the horse slipped out of lead for just one stride the penalty points would have drastically changed the score.

A very basic way to look at the way the reining is judged is that each maneuver, lets say 4 spins to the right, gets a score and also could have penalties. In the example of the spin a horse could do a good spin and get a +1/2 but if they don’t stop where they are supposed to they could get a penalty -1/2.Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 2.07.09 AM

The National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) has a great DVD that shows examples of horses and their scores. I also found this page that has some of the NRHA’s ‘Inside Reining’ videos on it which will help further explain the judging.

The paragraph that explains the general idea of reining, inside the NRHA rulebook is called A. General and I have listed it below:

A. GENERAL

To rein a horse is not only to guide him, but also to control his every movement. The best reined horse should be willingly guided or controlled with little or no apparent re- sistance and dictated to completely. Any movement on his own must be considered a lack of control. All deviations from the exact written pattern must be considered a lack of/or temporary loss of control and therefore a fault that must be marked down according to severity of deviation. After deducting all faults, set here within, against execution of the pattern and the horse’s overall performance, credit should be given for smoothness, finesse, attitude, quickness and authority of performing various maneuvers, while using controlled speed which raises the difficulty level and makes him more exciting and pleasing to watch to an audience.

Like I said before, this post can’t really do the subject justice. I do love the paragraph above and quote it frequently. I will keep a look out for a link that explains it well. The NRHA may have a shorter version out online that I haven’t seen.

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2014 in Members Question, Performance horse

 

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Freestyle choreography: Reining, dressage, do it yourself or hire a pro

“I have recently thinking about trying freestyle reining. One of my stumbling blocks is the actual choreography of the routine. I know some of my dressage friends hire professional freestyle dressage choreographers. How do you choreograph your routines? Do you do it yourself? Do you hire someone to help?”-Janna L.

I have watched dressage freestyle and can see the benefit of having a professional choreographer. The routines are amazing and for most of the performance the maneuvers they execute are VERY timed with the music. In general the reining freestyles are not as precisely timed to the music. The reiners also tend to pick popular songs and dress to fit the music, often ‘acting’ out their interpretation of the song. Dressage riders are more likely to mix and create the music…but skip the costume.

I choreograph my own freestyles. All of the reiners I have talked to, as well as several of my friends, have choreographed their own with input and suggestions  from friends. I don’t know any professional freestyle reining choreographers, maybe if reining makes it into the Olympics this will become a profession.

Whether the routine is choreographed by a pro or by you, here are some common themes you will see among great freestyle.

  • the tempo of the song must match the horse- in dressage they match the music precisely to the step. In reining keep in mind that a horse with short strides will probably look out of time if the music is long and flowing.
  • strong maneuvers win-you are still being judged by the maneuvers you perform-keep them clean and precise. Something may sound fun to do but if it compromises the quality of the maneuver the judge will notice. Plan how to keep the maneuvers clean and add something special as well.
  • don’t over ride your horse-when the music is loud and the crowd is excited you will be able to feel the energy in the air-it will be tempting to ask your horse to go faster and try harder which can lead to over riding. An example of over-riding in reining would be asking a horse that can do a solid set of spins to go even faster, this often results in the spins getting worse instead of better, which is the definition of over-riding.

Keep in mind that this is your first freestyle, winning doesn’t have to be your main goal. Sure, winning is nice but remember to make it a learning experience for both you and your horse.  Enjoy the excitement and have fun!

Watch how the music and the horses movement are so well timed.

This is an example of a reining pattern ‘acting’ out the song. The first time I went to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and watched freestyle Randy Paul won with this routine. I love his addition of the handlebars…lol. That is one well trained pony!

 

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2014 in Members Question, Video

 

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What should you look for in your first horse?

“How do you know what a horse is really suited for in the way of a discipline? I am new to riding and looking at a beautiful 8 year old palomino mare… walker…. She has not been worked in awhile but we connected immediately! These are naive questions, but can you train for barrels, reining, or what breeds are more suited for particular disciplines? She is really smart and special!!
Thanks so much” …. Rozanne

What should you look for in your first horse?

Buying a horse is a big deal, especially if you are new to riding. This generally means that you will have less experience and, like any other area of life, less experience means your direction is probably not as clear. It is good that you are asking questions like this one but at the same time it is possible that a year from now you will have a better idea of the direction you are headed.

I am going to answer your question from several different angles. First, many breeds can compete at lower levels in a variety of disciplines. When you look at the high levels in specific disciplines you will tend to see certain breeds that excel. Sometimes breeds are lumped into categories because they have similarities. For example, if someone says that the ‘stock breeds’ tend to excel in reining they are lumping Quarter Horses, Paints and Appaloosas together under one title. If you are looking at a walking horse it would be good to look at what areas they excel in and see if those appeal to you.

When considering what appeals to you think about what the majority of your time will be spent doing with your horse. If you will mostly trail ride but occasionally show then your needs will be different then if you mostly show and occasionally trail ride. If you have been taking lessons from someone then ask them to sit down and evaluate things with you. Get their professional opinion of your strengths and weaknesses as a rider.

Many people also go about this with a completely different approach, especially with their first horse. They often buy a horse while they have little experience and accept the idea that they have no real idea of where they are headed except out for a ride. In this case these people tend to look at the horse for direction; they own a walking horse so they pick events that the horse would excel at.

Even inside specific breeds looking to the horse is important. I own a horse, Popcorn, that I bought at the Road to the Horse. He is a Quarter Horse and they typically do well in reining but he isn’t bred strongly for it.  Although I trained him and showed him successfully in reining, it was not his strength so I changed gears. He is my favorite trail horse, I use him when training my young horses and he has won me several belt buckles in mounted shooting. Popcorn wasn’t bought to excel in one sport, he was bought to be my horse and we do what we like.

When I am competing in reining I select horses that are strongly bred for that discipline but I rode horses for close to fifteen years before I began to focus on reining.

My first horse.

My first horse.

I do remember the excitement of buying my first horse. I also remember thinking about all of the different options out there and I worried that I would choose wrong. Much like you I looked at horses and picked the one that I connected with…strange how that happens. We also had a professional evaluate the horse and we did a vet check. I played with many, many things over the years from trail riding to contesting, parades, swimming and jumping. I never regretted my choice.

Not everyone has that same first horse experience, but many do. One of the advantages that experience gives is that quite often things become more clear, because much learning takes place in our mistakes. I tried many things with my first horse but we didn’t excel at all of them…but we still had fun.

If I had one piece of advice, beyond getting hands on advice from a pro, it would be to remember to buy a horse you will enjoy being with. That includes both the appropriate training level and who the horse is at the core. Are you drawn to horses with a sweet temperament? Goofy? Serious? Many aspects of your horse can be trained and improved but their personality should be one you enjoy.

 
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Posted by on September 13, 2014 in Members Question

 

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Stacy’s Video Diary: Jac…New Beginnings

Life has many twists and turns and I am constantly intrigued by the directions it takes. When I started my journey with Jac it was a personal milestone for me. It was accepting what had happened with Roxy and seeing that I had something to offer Jac.Jac’s progress was shared with the world.

I tried to imagine what it would be like to video Jac’s progress and share it with the world. I knew it would be an interesting journey…because every horse I have trained has been an interesting journey. There are always questions that come up during the process, some have clear answers; correct Jac when he bites, others are not as easy; do I show him now or wait another month?

What I love about training horses is that there are always breakthroughs. Many of these moments happen in the barn and are never seen by anyone but the horse and rider. Following Jac allowed many of these moments to be caught on film. Most of these breakthroughs are small, incremental steps. These steps lead the horses forward, sometime that is a path to greatness in the show pen and other times it is to a life of bringing joy to someone in their backyard. The point isn’t to make horses that are great in the show pen…it is to make horses that are great individuals no matter where they are.

And as predicted, horses have setbacks, that was illustrated by Jac along the way. Simple things like when I went out of town and Jac didn’t get trained to bigger things like dental trips, vets and chiropractic adjustments. Many of you identified with the sometimes difficult decisions that surround owning horses.

I am very satisfied with everything that I accomplished with Jac. I believe that the foundation he has will be with him for a lifetime. I am also glad that I chose to be a part of Jac’s journey. You may remember that I struggled at first with the idea that he would look like Roxy and the relief that I found in the simple fact that he was a different color. The more I got to know Jac the more I was able to see him as a unique individual, which was a good thing. It was a good thing for me because it helped to move me away from directly comparing him to Roxy. It was a good thing for Jac because he has his own uniqueness and shouldn’t have to spend his life trying to be someone else.

As of Monday, Jac was sold.

As of Monday, Jac was sold.

When the video project started we committed to bringing you the ups, the downs “and everything in between” during Jac’s journey and this week Jac has moved into another phase of his life.

It was fitting that I received this question after last weeks episode of Jac;

“Laughing, really, at my self for thinking this but: What does Greg do? Haha. I mean what does he do to earn enough money to invest in horses, their care and training with you? You are all truly blessed.” -Natalie

Greg really is a regular guy who decided to try reining. He works in a small family business in the office where he manages the accounting. He cleans stalls, saves his money and goes to horse shows when he can. Like many other people across the country he keeps horses in training with professionals because horses are the hobby he has chosen instead of golf or fishing or any other sport. Greg just happened to call the Westfall’s who just happened to know of a horse for sale…who just happened to turn out to be Roxy. Life takes interesting turns. Coincidence or Godincidence? I know what I believe.

Greg bred Roxy because she was an amazing horse and he looked for professional guidance to ensure that his decision would also help to improve the breed. I believe that he accomplished that goal with the four foals that she had before she died.

Like most horse owners Greg also knew that he probably wouldn’t keep them all. He struggled with the decision to sell Roxy’s first foal, Roxter, but eventually chose to keep the filly and sell the stallion. The money from Roxter’s sale helped to fund the breeding and eventual training of Jac. Watching Roxter succeed was a blessing because, although a small part of Greg knew he once owned that horse, another part of Greg knew that Roxter may never have reached that same potential while he owned him.

Roxter also played a part in the decision to collect Jac’s semen. Jac has played a different role than Roxter because Roxter was the first of Roxy’s foals, but Jac was the last. Rationally this shouldn’t change things much, but emotionally it changed things a lot. As Jac’s owner Greg has wrestled with the idea of selling Jac. He sold Roxter because he knew he didn’t have the facility to keep a stallion long term but he was still tempted to keep Jac. Greg is a friend as well as a client and throughout this journey we have been trying to help him with the decision. If you listen during episode (12) you can hear me say that Greg is there watching. He also drove down numerous times to watch Jac while we lived in Ohio and flew down to Texas when we were there. It was easy to see that Jac was a nice horse, it was easy to see that he could be successful…but one thing kept nagging Greg. He had made the decision to sell Roxter because he was a stud, why was Jac different? Long term what was best for Jac?Hindsight may be clear but foresight isn’t quite as easy.

Don’t we all wish we knew what was best long term? Hindsight may be clear but foresight isn’t quite as easy. Jesse and I had decided to sell our house in 2012 and when it sold in 2013 things got more complicated. We want to live nomadically, roaming around the country with our kids and horses for a year or two…but that decision effects other things. Did Jac’s plan fit with ours?

Jac is clearly bred well and he is talented. The reality of being a successful stallion is earning the right to breed, proving that the horse carries the potential to improve the equine world. Am I the right person to give Jac that opportunity? I have confidence in my ability to train a horse but I am also realistic about having the facility and the time.. I have chosen over the last few years to spend less time showing and more time traveling and teaching.

As you all know, I dropped Jac off at Select Breeders to be collected at the end of June. At that time they told us that they would likely need him for a 4-6 weeks. Our son needed to show his horse the second weekend in August in Ohio to finish his green reiner belt buckle points and I told Greg we would plan on picking Jac up after that show. It ended up that Jac completed his ‘job’ at Select Breeders before our son showed and Greg needed to decide what to do with Jac. Greg was still considering selling and we suggested that if he was serious we could suggest a trainer nearby Select Breeders that could evaluate Jac. We knew we liked Jac but there was always the chance that we were biased.

Greg chose to have Jac evaluated and we suggested a trainer that we thought might fit Jac’s style. It turns out that we were not biased, other people agreed Jac was a very nice horse and someone made an offer to buy Jac. Greg accepted the offer and as of Monday, Jac was sold.

It is interesting how life works. The money that Greg received from selling Roxter was used to create and train Jac. Jac was a blessing to Greg, myself and the many viewers of the Jac series and he still has more potential. Will he be a great show horse? A great sire? Only time will tell.

Greg enrolled Jac in the AQHA Full Circle Program

Greg enrolled Jac in the AQHA Full Circle Program

I do know that Greg will use the money to continue the bloodlines. He has kept two fillies out of Roxy and I am looking forward to riding not only Roxy’s sons and daughters, but her granddaughters and more. Greg also signed Jac up for the AQHA Full Circle Program which helps ensure that Greg will always be notified should Jac ever become unwanted or ready for retirement.

Even though I will no longer be training Jac, I still hope to do some follow up blogs and videos. I will aim to attend some of the shows that Jac goes to and I will continue to be his fan. Jesse and I will also be keeping our eyes open for the perfect mare to use some of Jac’s frozen semen with. Riding one of Jac’s foals would be the fourth generation of the bloodline that I have ridden…I would enjoy that.

It is tempting to look at Jac’s sale as an ending but I am choosing to look at it as a new beginning. I expect that Jac will receive exceptional care and planning very similar to what Roxter has. I am also looking forward to the next chapter in my life. I am a trainer at heart and I am seriously considering the suggestion of training a rescue horse as my next project.

I still love the following paragraphs that have been at the end of each Stacy’s Video Diary: Jac, Youtube video. I was tempted to change the first line to “This was the story…” but I am unable to because I believe the story will go on. This is just another twist in the road, and I am excited to see what is around the next bend.

*        *         *

This is the story of Jacs Electric Whiz (Jac), the last baby out of Whizards Baby Doll, better known as “Roxy”. Roxy touched the hearts of horse lovers around the world when she and Stacy Westfall made history with their bareback and bridleless freestyle reining ride. The loss of Roxy in 2012 has left a void in the equine community. Although nobody can replace her, Roxy’s spirit lives on, not only in our hearts, but in Jac as well.

Join us as we follow Jac through weekly videos documenting his training journey from his first session to his first show and more. It is a journey filled with questions, breakthroughs, setbacks and accomplishments… and everything in between.

Below is the video that most of you thought was the end of the season:

Below is the video of our interview with Greg:

 

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Stacy’s Video Diary: Jac- Episode 41-Why didn’t Stacy own Roxy? Or Jac?

Ever wondered why Stacy didn’t own Roxy? Or Jac?

Meet Greg, the man who took a risk and bought Roxy for the Westfall’s to train. Greg went from trail riding and camping to owning one of the most famous horses in the world. What was that like and how did it happen?

Listen for

  • The reason why Stacy & Jesse didn’t buy Roxy.
  • Why Stacy doesn’t have regrets
  • Why Greg kept buying Roxy a secret…(I love Jesse’s response to that one, “Well, it turned out OK.”)
  • The fact that Greg owns Roxy’s mother and full sister, two of Roxy’s daughters and Roxy’s granddaughter
  • How many foals did Roxy have?
  • Funny stories about owning Roxy….
  • What was it like owning a famous horse?
 
9 Comments

Posted by on August 20, 2014 in Stacy's Video Diary: Jac, Video

 

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What are the show clothes trends for this season in reining horse classes ?

“What are the show clothes trend for this season for adults and kids in both open show reining classes and reining shows?”-Ingrid S.

Your asking the wrong person! Let me illustrate….

Once for Christmas my husband bought me tickets to a fancy music thing in downtown Columbus. He also told me to go shopping for clothes. This might excite some women…but it struck fear in me. As the day approached I finally headed to the mall. Standing in the sea of clothes I was overwhelmed…so I phoned a friend.

Hobby horse color wheel, what to wear with your horse

Hobby Horse color wheel

I said, “Ann, I’m buying a black turtleneck and heading home.”

She replied, “No! I’m on my way, I’ll be there in 15 minutes!”

Ann successfully dressed me in a skirt and shirt that I never would have picked out…but really liked once they were on.

If in doubt…I call a friend. One of my ‘friends’ in the horse world is Suzi from Hobby Horse Clothing. Even before meeting Suzi, I loved her ‘color chart’ that helps riders match colors with their horses.

I see people wearing a wide variety of things. Some of it depends on the show with weekend shows generally more causal than the big shows. At weekend shows I will often wear a lightweight, feminine button down.

At the bigger shows, or if you just want to have fun, it is possible to see much fancier outfits. I have a couple of special shirts that I will only wear at big events because I would feel too overdressed at a weekend event.

Check out the photo below from the show a week ago. Jesse is talking to me one last time before I go into show….and do you notice I am wearing chinks?

Was it a fashion statement moment? Nope.

Actually, I went to hook my standard black chaps and the Chicago screw fell out, the chinks were in the same bag…I normally wear them for mounted shooting…but why not?

One piece of advice I got from K.C. at Charlie 1 Horse (my fancy hats) was something like….”Most people say you should pick one item to focus on; a fancy hat, a special belt, or a stand out shirt. People will say you should focus on one…but if you want to wear it all and you feel good doing it…then go for it.”

What event do you show in and what do you wear?

Stacy Westfall  wearing chinks at a show

Stacy wearing chinks…because her chaps broke.

 
5 Comments

Posted by on August 16, 2014 in Members Question

 

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