Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks!

I must give my wonderful daughter Lisa credit for the title of today's blog post. :) She made that comment in reference to something (someone) else, however it's quite appropriate to my topic today, so here we go!

On August 1st, I'm embarking on a whole new adventure in the world of showing horses, the Longeline class. Never done it before, in truth I never thought I would. You see, in the Arabian world, we don't have Longeline. Therefore, at the smaller open shows I've not even thought about entering. However, I've got a client with a beautiful, talented yearling filly who wants us to try it. Okay, I'm game.

My first order of business was to look up the rules. After combing through rule books from APHA and PtHA, as well as AQHA and ApHC, I'm fairly certain I know what our judges will be looking for. I wanted to examine the intricacies of the class, judging criteria and what is expected during the class. Having never ventured into this realm, it's definitely different. Halter classes are *supposed* to be judged on movement and conformation, Halter horses should have expression and manners, the major difference is that Longeline is a class evaluating the horse being longed. Right?

Text in italics comes directly from the APHA Rules, which are essentially identical in scope to the others:

The purpose of showing a yearling on a longe line is to demonstrate that the horse has the movement, manners/expression/attitude, and conformation to become competitive under saddle.

Therefore, the purpose of this class is to reward:
1. Quality of movement
2. Manners/Expression/Attitude
3. Conformation suitable to future performance, and the horse should be judged with its suitability as a future performer under saddle in mind.

We're going to be fine on the movement part, this filly is an exceptional mover. Conformation, expression and attitude, got that down. Manners? We're still a bit shaky on that one... ;) I am not a big fan of longeing yearlings, so right there it all conflicts with my belief system in a way! I would rather free longe them, turn them out or pony them instead. But we will tackle this new challenge, and conquer. I hope!

This class should define what it means to be a “western pleasure prospect” or “hunter under saddle prospect.” Because these are yearlings, they are not expected to demonstrate the behavior or quality of a finished show horse, but only that performance necessary for a reasonable presentation to the judge.

My guess was that this means judges want to see how well a horse carries itself on the longeline, and how well a horse moves, moreso than being perfectly mannered. One thing that did bother me was the "quality" part. Why would there be a question of quality between a "finished show horse" and a yearling?? I have seen plenty of very high quality yearlings, so that one threw me. Performance, sure, I can buy that. No yearling on a longeline will look similar in any way to a performance horse under saddle.

Exhibitors are not to be penalized for using regular halters and plain longe lines, nor are they to be rewarded for using show halters and show longe lines. Only movement, manners/expression/way of going, and conformation are being judged.

This part I found interesting, because we will be using a standard stock-type show halter but a regular longeline instead of one of those fancy, special ones. No point in spending $$$ on something I may never use again, nor did I figure insisting my client purchase one would be a wise choice, because neither of us intend to make this a regular thing. Considering that silver on Western tack still really does count in the WP ring, at least (even though it's not supposed to) and you'd better darn well have a nice silver show halter to be competitive in Halter classes, I'm not so sure how we are going to rate with a plain, white cotton longeline. We'll see.

If the horse plays on the longe line, it shall not count against the horse. The judge will, however, penalize the horse for excessive bucking or running off, stumbling or displaying attitudes that are uncomplimentary to pleasure horses.

Well, I would figure that "playing on the longeline" would not be complimented in a pleasure class, but seeing as how these are yearlings we're talking about (and knowing the yearling I am entering this endeavor with!), I'm glad to see this provision mentioned. She can perform each gait beautifully. Lovely movement, she is a beautiful, well put together filly. But she does like to play!

What have I gotten myself into?

Wish us luck!!



  1. Sounds like a fun class to enter. Also challenging, as I think back to what my boy was like ("playing" doesn't even begin to cover it!) in his first few longe sessions.
    What I'm getting, is the yearling just has to be basically obedient WTC in both directions, so his attitude, balance and movement clearly display his future performance potential.
    If I were doing this (never have though), I would use a longeline that's black and on the thin side, so that any movement of the longeline is less noticeable. I'd wear muted colors, so that any movements I had to make out of my small circle were less apparent. I'd keep my baby on as big a circle as possible, to discourage unbalanced steps. Any "playing",I would correct by just sending him forward.
    Hopefully, the class will be judged solely according to the baby's raw potential for future performance, and not other extraneous stuff?
    Have fun, and let us know how it turns out!

  2. Thanks!! We are really working hard on the "little things" that hopefully will make our performance shine. :)

    I've decided to use a soft, white cotton longeline, to save my hands should she decide to take off and try to drag me out of our 25' circle, LOL.

    From my understanding, it is a horse's future performance potential that Longeline classes are judged on, just as you mention. This filly is so lovely, she should get bonus points for what her future holds! But I am prejudice. ;) Having been there with her owners all night the day she was born, and having been the one to help her mama foal her out, she has had a very special place in my heart for more than a year now. Plus, her dam is one of my favorites, just a very special mare. I feel honored to have been chosen to exhibit this wonderful filly!!

  3. Awww-go beauty filly!
    Let us know how it turns out.

  4. I sure will! Our "big day" is next Saturday, and the filly is working beautifully. :) Well, she had a baby moment the day before yesterday, just wanting to buck and play before getting down to work. Keeping fingers crossed!!


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