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CNER United States Pony Club Dressage Rally - May 11, 2019

Our very first ever PC rally was this past Saturday at Apple Knoll Farm in Millis, MA. It kind of cracks me up that I joined PC for the express purpose of access to more jumping instruction opportunities, and my first mounted experience is a dressage rally hahaha.  

But honestly, it was so much fun.  Maybe it is because I am so used to showing alone or maybe because I love the show prep and set up just as much (if not more) than the actual riding, but competing in a PC rally is now one of my most favorite experiences.  And I cannot wait to do more!  I think the only thing different for this show was having to label EVERYTHING with my name.  Otherwise, my show prep was just the same as normal.

Sadly, our original team of four riders ended up dwindling to just two, as one young rider ended up sick with a 103 fever and a barn was quarantined because of a horse with EHV-4 so none of the PC members from that large boarding barn could attend. Therefore, my remaining teammate and I were split …

Classes/Divisions for Just Standardbreds = Bad Idea?

Nothing exciting is going on around here lately...just lots of training rides and a few trail rides when I can. School is almost over and I am super excited for summer vacation!!! :D

Dreamy is very happy in her work this year, no fighting and no bucking. She seems to finally be at a happy place in her work and seems eager to try new things, instead of getting all upset. We are playing around a lot with shoulder-in, leg yields, baby half pass, and some trot lengthening (that I can fit into my riding space). She seems to enjoy the challenge. I wish I had a bigger area to ride...I want to play around with shallow loops at the canter (counter-canter) and such.

Reva is such a happy and easy horse. She loves being worked with...it is rare to me to have such a gregarious horse. LOL! Sparky has always been the kind of horse who "tolerates" people and while Dreamy aims to please, she has never been a real pocket pony lovey kind of horse. Reva is a people pleaser times 100! We are getting ready for a clinic and I am excited to see how she acts away from home.

So anyway, my post for today. I am sitting here at school, substituting for one of our math teachers. There are only three students in the class right now, since my seniors have graduated! So they are studying for their final tomorrow and I have lots of time to kill. :) Ah, the joys of being a senior English teacher after graduation.....LOL!

Someone on my Facebook wrote something in her status about not liking how certain breeds have their own classes/divisions at shows. She was speaking specifically about Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds (she herself owns a STB). She felt that by having its own division, it was sending the message that the breed could not compete against other horses.

Hmmmm....this made me think. I have always shown my Standardbred in open shows, with the exception of the Maine Horse Association (MHA) Standardbred division, the National Standardbred show in NJ, and a few SPHO shows back a few years ago. I am an advocate of Standardbred classes and divisions, having been the driving force behind getting the MHA to hold the division for the first time back in 2009. I solicited all the sponsors, and we grew from four classes in 2009 to seven classes this year! :)

But just because I advocate and support Standardbred divisions does not mean I am against showing open. In fact, I am often more proud of my horses accomplishments against other breeds than within her breed. I show in rated USDF dressage shows where we are the only Standardbred at of the entire show. Often no one believes she is a Standardbred or cannot believe she is one! LOL!

So it is an interesting idea. Do breed specific divisions further the misconception that Standardbreds cannot compete against other breeds in open competition? Perhaps. But if one believes that, then what about the Morgan shows? I grew up riding and showing Morgans...not only did we have breed specific classes at open shows but also entire shows just for Morgans! There is a huge Morgan community here in New England. Had I not been interested in eventing/dressage, I would have ONLY showed at Morgan shows. And I have done many of the Morgan only shows here in New England, as well as the Morgan only classes. Does that mean that Morgans cannot show well against other breeds? NO! And I doubt anyone would make that claim about Morgans. So why about Standardbreds?

Well, Standardbreds have always been thought of as an "inferior" breed. Let's face it, Standardbreds are not bred for riding. They are bred to race! They are often not naturally suited for riding. As much as I love the breed, I recognize that. However, most Standardbreds are quite good under saddle with training. There will always be a few individuals who are just only suited for trail/pleasure riding and that is OK. Because there is no specific breed "type", you can have a Standardbred who is naturally built uphill and will make a great dressage horse, while you can have a small compact Standardbred that does really well turning barrels or chasing cows, or a taller leaner Standardbred that is very athletic over fences. And of course, they all make good driving horses! LOL! They can range from 14.1 to 17.1 hands high and have body types all over the place. So, I think because of this, Standardbreds can be good at many different disciplines, and often one horse can perform well in many.

But truly I do not think it is a "bad" thing for Standardbreds to have their own division at a horse show. What I prefer is a rider who not only shows in the breed specific classes but also does open classes/shows too. Showing the equine world that Standardbreds not only can compete against their "peers" but also every other breed is important.

But....even if a rider ONLY does the breed specific classes, that is STILL an opportunity to show what a Standardbred can do. Every time we have had a Standardbred division at a MHA show (three times so far since 2009, twice more this year) there are MHA members who tell me (and/or my friend ST) they are highly impressed by what they saw. Having a well turned out and well trained group of Standardbreds in the ring at a large busy show is one of the BEST ways to promote the breed! Sometimes all it takes is for someone to see an entire class of well trained Standardbreds to make the choice to own one!

And I LOVE LOVE LOVE having the National show each year just for Standardbreds. Almost every other breed has a national show, so Standardbreds should too! It is great "breed camaraderie" and a whole lot of fun. Plus, I enjoy having the opportunity to compete against other well trained Standardbreds. I like seeing how my horse ranks in large classes against her "peers".

(oh, classes just changed...now I have a class of ONE! LOL! Tough day.)

Anyway, it has been something I have thought about ever since I saw that person's FB status. It kind of made me mad, and I never wrote anything back. I think having Standardbred only classes/divisions can only help the breed.

Thoughts from my loyal readers??? :D

Comments

Laura said…
I think breed only classes/divisions are a great idea... Why not? If you are only comfortable showing within the breed - great! If you think you can train your horse to show open classes - great! I think it is a win/win situation, really. I don't have a better reason/explanation than that though... :-)

I personally think that is sometimes why we are drawn to certain breeds - the chance to show against others of the same breed... Course, I don't show, but I would totally do breed classes if I did...
AareneX said…
I don't "show" my horses, but I do compete in endurance, where we are surrounded by a motley crowd of Arabs, gaited horses, quarter horses, and a very light scattering of standies. At events, we standie people like to get together and chat before and after the ride, because our horses are SOOOOO disparate we will never see each other on the trail: 17hh Hector and 14.2hh Cricket nearly alway finish in the top ten, but never together. Hot Shoes the stallion is still young, so his rider keeps him at the tail end. And my Fiddle and I finish in the top 50% somewhere. The comraderie is wonderful, and I'd love to do some "breed specific" stuff, but there aren't enough standies locally for that--I drive up to Canada to get my "pacin' fix." Sigh.

The best part of competing in an open group is the inevitable incredulous comment, "that's a standardbred ??!!!???

Yep.
Lexa said…
I think that divisions are nice. I have Paso Finos and we have an entirely different show circuit and I don't think I've ever competed against a different breed of horse, but the reason for that is because we have a different gait so we're being judged for something else entirely.
With other breeds, I don't think it should be a problem if they show against each other. I think it'd even be fun to show my Paso against a different breed as long as the judge can be unbiased about my horse corto-ing and the other horse trotting.