Monday, February 7, 2011

Competitive Trail

I wanted to share the video below of what constitutes to me a REAL trail class! Enjoy:

In my opinion, THIS is a true test. The horse is asked to do all the things it would find in the real world - boulders, logs, steep hills, water... isn't that what Trail is all about? These are ALL the things I have always expected of my horses out in the real world. The rails-on-the-ground competitive trail the AQHA has out there just is not an accurate test IMO, as it does not relate to reality whatsoever. I mean, how many times have I had to ask my horse to go over various rails (granted, laying in various directions and at differing heights...) and little flat wooden bridges, or open a ROPE gate? Never. Yet we have had to jump massive logs at a moment's notice, gallop through brush, swerving trees, or gallop down rutty roads where the footing was terrible and iffy (and invisible, thanks to long grass), bolt or slide down steep hills, clamber up impossible-looking cliffs, and tromp our way through rivers, streams, and thick sinking bogs. We've had to walk over wooden and concrete bridges that actually had WATER beneath them, and open gates that were NOT, I can assure you, made of rope. I suppose "to each their own" and maybe the modern version of Trail is okay by some people. I just find it absurd. On the other hand, I do recognise it to be a challenge to perform in itself and so give credit where it's due in that regard - I suppose it is sort of like agility for dogs (and even that is different , much more respectable IMO, and has more variance!). At least the horse has a job to do, just since we often rely upon our horses for practical purposes, I feel like we should maybe be competing in a more practical sense too, like our competitions should reflect what we REALLY do with our horses. HOWEVER, who am I to impose MY beliefs on others ;)

Enjoy the below, if you enjoy the AQHA version of Trail:

Let me say I DO respect and admire the fine nuances and intimate/subtle communication between horse and rider. That takes a LOT of work and refinement! BUT, it is almost (ALMOST) over-ridden by my severe dislike of the lame-looking jog and lope and the nose-to-the-ground fad upheld even at the World levels (and every level below). These horses are not using themselves correctly. Of course a horse has to have its head lowered so as to see the obstacles set in front of him, but what is demonstrated in the above video is to an extreme. Yes, I know what a horse should look like doing Trail and going over obstacles in real life, because I've ridden such horses in real life. My Quarab drops his nose literally to the ground when he is watching his feet in the bush, especially at high speeds. But that head comes up sometimes too!! It varies according to how he is using himself, the footing at hand, etc. It doesn't STAY on the ground, irregardless. The horse in the video has his nose dropped as soon as he enters the course, even BEFORE he has to go over obstacles, so the excuse "well, he has to be able to see the obstacles in front of him!" doesn't fly with me. That nose dropped so low is much too extreme for my taste. BUT, then again, to each their own. The only place I draw the line is if/when such a position becomes detrimental to the horse because the horse is not using its body efficiently, etc. *sigh*


OldMorgans said...

What you said--Yes. said...

It's still only a class and not real world. I would expect my endurance horse to not be willing to go over a flimsy bridge like the one at about 1:24 if we encountered that out in the wilderness, we are more cautious about stuff like that. This was a good show though :)

achieve1dream said...

I know this is an old post, but wanted to comment.

I can't stand the "peanut rolling" that the AQHA encourages. It's unnatural, especially the horrible lope. I think it's a bit better than the rollkur in dressage because at least the horse can breathe, but I still think it needs to be penalized.

The major thing that I always notice and really creeps me out is the way the horses don't do anything or show any personality without permission. It's almost like the horse has to have permission to swat a fly or relieve himself. Yeesh. I don't like disobedient horses, but the brainwashed way these horses move freaks me out. The finesse and sensitivity is amazing though and I hope to someday have my horse capable of moving that smoothly and precisely (with a natural head carriage and more animation lol).

This is only my opinion though. And you know how opinions are. :)

The course in the first video was interesting. At first I thought it was a little lame, but the further he went the more interesting and challenging the obstacles got. I think it's a way better simulation than the AQHA trail classes and probably just about as good as it gets for an indoor course. :)