Virtual Horse – A MUST See!

Even though many may not understand the language in this video, the computer generated images speak for themselves.  Of special note is the relationship of riding the horse’s head and how that affects the rest of the horse’s body and movement.  There’s a really good example of a correct trot and an incorrect trot.  Be sure to watch, not just the changed posture of the horse, but also the changed movement, ie. the swing of the limbs, the placement of the feet.  Also note the difference of pulling the horse’s chin into its chest, versus pulling the horse’s head up and then the chin in, and then finally encouraging the horse to stretch forward and down with its neck and head, and opening its throat.

Bob & Spring…err Dink & Saint

Recently I’ve been inundated with videos of bad riding – thanks so ever much, Amy. Mostly it’s apparent that it’s unintended, based in ignorance, lack of good instruction, practise and/or natural talent. We’ve all been there and I can only hope that as time passes, people learn, and things improve. The following video, though, bothers me far more than many of the rest. There’s a willful intent to use the horse as a toy to show off. It’s as if a bunch of men dropped their drawers and slapped their manhoods on a table to see whose measured biggest…and this guy lost.

Yes, that is suppose to be ‘reining’ with rollbacks and sliding stops. Praise the horse (this one and the entire species) for putting up with such ego-based chest thumping disguised as *cough* riding. ‘Look, Ma! Look at what I can do!’

There are another half dozen videos from the same poster showing more head shaking, jigging, bucking, bad preparation for jumping and a fair bit of just ‘run ’em’ – much of it sans helmet (which might prove to be Karma’s last laugh when all is said and done).   I remain confused by the artistic presentation, entirely unaware of the thought process that went into the editing, but mostly I’m confused by the moments of real affection shown for the horse mixed with treatment no better than that of a five year old riding their tricycle over their plastic pail and shovel.  Somebody enlighten me.

Another One Bites The Dust

Today California Chrome had a chance to take home The Triple Crown, if he could just cross the wire first.  Instead he finished in a deadheat for fourth.  From where I was sitting, he just didn’t have the distance in him, but quickly after the race we had a desk jockey (sports commentator) blaming the jockey for a bad ride (I disagree – thought the jockey did a great job) and a really upset owner claiming it was ‘the coward’s way out’ referencing how fresh horses showed up for the race (having not raced in either the Kentucky Derby or Preakness or both) and then having the other jockeys gang-up on his horse in the race.  No matter what side you’re on, horse racing gets people emotional.

I have a real issue with how Thoroughbreds are generally trained and prepared for racing (in North America).   It confounds me how almost every year we sit and ask the same question:  Will so and so be able to make the distance of The Belmont Stakes?  Heck, sometimes we’re asking that question at The Kentucky Derby.  While there are clearly horses of sprinting bloodlines, none of those are ever being aimed at The Triple Crown, why are the horses aimed at mile+ races not being trained and conditioned for the longest distance possible?  That just makes sense to me.  Even if the horse only ever races once in its life at that distance, it only makes sense to prepare for it.  It doesn’t hurt the horse to have more stamina then is used in most races.  I never trained my Standardbreds just a mile; that would have been stupid.  And it never was good if a horse staggered across the mile marker in a training session, even if that training session was at race speed.  Nope, I’ll never understand the thinking of these TB trainers.

Steve Coburn thinks that only the twenty horses that start The Kentucky Derby should be eligible to race in the The Preakness, and only those that race in both the first two legs should be eligible to race in The Belmont Stakes.  On one hand, he’s got a point.  On the other hand, how about you tell your trainer to condition your horse better and train for the distance, then you won’t feel cheated when your horse loses – Mr. ‘I got the NY Racing Commission to change their rules and allow my horse to wear a breathing strip’.

I’m disappointed another year has gone by without a Triple Crown winner.  Rest assured the day it happens, that horse and his team of humans will have deserved it…at least until someone claims it was a bad crop of three-year olds.

Breaking Down The Sale Ad – #2

Amazing Athletic Percheron Paint $23,500
Gentle Giant Ready for Career

Sendero Alza is one of those horses that comes around only once in a lifetime. He’s a kind, gentle giant with an amazing disposition and a true desire to learn. Standing an honest 16.3hh this magnificent Percheron Paint Gelding has an outstanding confirmation, well balanced and true.

Sendero has a strong fundamental and intermediate level foundation on the ground and under saddle. He is forward moving and solid in the walk, trot and canter in a dressage saddle or western saddle. Collect him or ride him out on a loose rein, your wish is his command…


Hmm…that’s a lot of money to be asking of this cross – amazingly athletic or not – so I wanted to take a closer look. His conformation doesn’t hold any surprises. He’s a bit post-legged, downhill built, and too straight, upright, rigid and light through the front leg. On the plus side he’s got a big hip, well-placed LS joint, strong loin, and medium back. His neck is set on medium and structured well. That makes him a potentially ‘okay’ riding mount; neither horrid, nor exceptional. Certainly he’s strong in the right areas to help nullify the full effect of the faults.

He’s listed as ‘trained all-around’ because that’s what this kind of horse can do – a little bit of everything, particularly if he’s got a good temperament, which this fellow appears to have.

I have no criticisms about the majority of this ad. It’s unfortunate that the seller decided to stretch reality. This horse is not a Dressage, Eventing or Jumper prospect in any pure sense of those disciplines as listed.

Certainly he could be taken to a Dressage show and plod around at the lower levels, but he possess no natural suspension to speak of, and his post-leggedness and downhill build are going to make engagement more difficult – though that big hip, LS joint placement and loin will help a lot. He won’t ever get great gait scores, and he’ll always look like a construction worker trying to do ballet. One would want to do Dressage for the benefit of the horse, not as an aspiration to ‘take him up the levels’ in Competitive Dressage.

Certainly he can be taken into a jumping ring; he seems a willing sort. His form is average at best, definitely not going to get those knees to his ears. He’ll have plenty of power to push off with, but will lack some scope. And again, he’ll be handicapped the way a body builder would be if trying to high jump.

Certainly he could be entered in Eventing, but he’s not getting past the lower levels. He’d be unable to make the times on Cross Country beyond those levels, not to mention there’s a lack of cat-like agility, which is often the difference between negotiating a challenging obstacle and disaster. He might suit a youngster for Pony Club.

It would have been much more honest for the seller to stick to the all-around route, since you never expect such an individual to excel in one discipline but rather to provide a safe, enjoyable ride, while piddling around at whatever. That kind of a mount suits a lot of people, and is worth its weight in gold.

If you have the time, check out the videos the seller provides. Those are the most telling. Full praise to the trainer of this horse, because that is exactly how you start a horse and turn it into a valuable asset for a wide range of people, even if the horse isn’t a spectacularly individual. If more people took the time to put this kind of a base on a horse, the equine world would be a significantly better place for horses.

Even with all the basic training this horse has received, providing a real solid base with which to move this horse forward, I still find it hard to swallow a $23.5k price tag.