I’ve been working with Joey more lately. Possibly because Paige is at K’s still, but moreso because there may be a show coming up that we are debating on attending. It’s only a month away, and immediately prior to when I leave for the beach, so the timing isn’t exactly ideal. Joey is qualified for two futurities though, so I’m very tempted because those pay out cash dollars. I kind of wanted to haul him somewhere his weanling year so that the shows next year might not blow his baby horse mind too much, but I hadn’t really planned on an APHA show until I saw that he qualified for those two futurities.
How does one show a baby you may ask? Well…in halter. The three classes I have scouted out for Joey (outside of the futurities) are: amateur stallions, weanling stallions, and tobiano (judged on color) halter. Though, now that I’ve read the rulebook, tobiano halter may not happen. One rule refers to it as an all ages class and the next rule says yearling and older…so not sure how that’ll play out.
Halter is relatively simple in that all we have to do is enter the ring at the walk, walk to the judge, (present his teeth?), begin trotting in hand until we get to a cone, where we turn left and proceed to set up and allow the judges to look us over. As you can imagine, this will be more challenging with a baby in a strange place with all kinds of strange horses.
So, with this in mind, Joey’s evenings have changed somewhat. I’m horribly bad at teaching horses to lunge (or so I thought) so I started with trotting in hand. Lunging doesn’t have to be performed at this show, but it will help him increase his fitness to look a little less like a chubby pasture puff. Trotting in hand does have to be demonstrated at the show, so I figured I’d start off with teaching him that so that we would have time to perfect it.
Well, if things continue as they have, trotting in hand won’t be an issue at all. I’ve generally had babies suck back when I attempted to trot them in hand, prompting me to carry a crop to encourage them to keep moving. I did thwack Joey in the ribs with the tail end of my lead rope twice and that seemed to be all it took because now when I cluck and speed up, Joey goes with at a nice little trot! Halter exhibitors generally go a step further with this training and expect their horses to trot in hand at a speed with which they can power walk along with the horse instead of jogging themselves. I totally expected to lose Joey’s trot the first time I did that, but he jogged along while I walked…until we got to the turn.
The thing I’m more worried about is Joey standing still in the line up to be judged. Babies and standing still don’t always go together, particularly in strange environments without their horse friends. Copper did fine with standing set up in youth geldings (I was 18 at the time, my last year of youth eligibility) because his half brother and pasture mate was literally set up in front of him, but once he was only in the class with other yearling geldings that were strangers, he got wiggly.
Joey will likely look out of place in all of his classes because he won’t be at the same fitness level of his competition, and will be leagues behind his peers growth wise in his weanling classes as his peers were likely all born in January and he was born in April. Chunk, who Joey lives with currently, is more suited to halter than Joey is in that a) his parents were both bred for this class, b) he’s much older/more mature. Meanwhile Joey is the son of two riding horses and was born in April. 😉
So far our biggest issue with setting up square is with hind leg placement. Either they are too far apart, too close together, he’s resting a hind foot, or I’m dumb and put them too far up under him.
These are all handler mistakes. The worst part is that I didn’t even notice how far up under him I’d put his hind legs until I stood back to get this picture. That’s all fine and dandy at home, but leaving him ground tied while showing him to check leg placement will get me disqualified quickly. haha.
Naturally the nicest I’ve gotten a picture of him set up, the cat interfered. What cat, you may be asking? Well, when I got to the barn on Saturday, this little orange guy very vocally approached me and, I assume, invited himself to be my barn cat. I agreed and gave him some cat food. He has already slain one bird in appreciation of my hospitality. I have since asked him to redirect his skills at the mice. It remains to be seen if he’s a mouser.
So Cheddar has made things more interesting lately in that he wants to be the absolute center of attention. He has been attempting to help me with Joey and consistently gets in the way. Joey has been a trooper through it though, and if told WHOA firmly, will stand while the cat rubs against his legs. He does tremble some, but he didn’t move his feet, so I took it. Not exactly the distractions he’ll be facing in the show ring, but good practice? Here’s to hoping! 😉
This has grown longer than I intended…I’ll attempt to discuss lunging later this week.