I just finished watching two different shows at two different geographical locations and I am completely amazed at the “dumbing-up” of the American stock horses (QH, Appys and Paints). When did they forget how to place their feet by themselves? Somewhere in “World Championship World” a trainer decided it was cool to walk around to the four corners of his horse and pick up each foot and place it where it belongs, then reach behind and pull apart the not-so-perfect hocks. At which time, every underling in the world copied him. And now, as far down as the local shows we have people doing the same thing. They really need to see themselves on video. The horse is doofing around, licking his lips and thinking…”Duh, what’s he doin’?” While the handler, mostly oblivious to the judge, continues to fiddle and fool around with the feet and legs as if the horse was SO STUPID he couldn’t figure it out himself!
As a judge, I am completely struck why a handler would make their horse look stupid in the ring. Isn’t the idea to “show your horse to the best advantage at all times?” So showing how stupid your stock horse is is an advantage? Hmmm…I can tell you (and I’m not alone in the judging world) that it’s about time to put a stop to dumbing-up the stock horse. The best-looking stock horses come in the ring at a strong, meaningful walk, snap to attention with all four feet planted where they belong (all by themselves) and raise their heads slightly and wear their ears to show interest in the class and their handler. When asked to jog, they should put their hindquarters into gear and jog in an alert, ground-covering manner while maintaining the true, two-beat western jog, ears above the withers.
When you bring the horse to the judge for inspection, the last thing she wants is to see a doofus stock horse stand with his head hanging down while the handler shuffles back and forth between legs. The judge is tapping her foot for a reason! Get the job done in the least amount of time and please stop making your horse look so foolish in front of the judging panel! As a judge, the show committee requests that you keep the show moving along. Do you know how long it takes to wait for 6 doofus horses to “show” themselves in a halter class?? TOO LONG! This may be where the line, “How many Quarter Horses does it take to change a light bulb?” came from. Answer…”Duh, the light is out??”
The reason AQHA sent out the video on what a proper jog and lope is was to enlighten the then “current fad” of peanut-pushing, hoof-dragging, tree sloths that were showing up in the stock horse shows pleasure division. It essentially stated that if the ears drop below the withers you’re OUT! Perhaps it’s time to remind handlers that making the breed look stupid is not conducive to the grassroots activities of getting people interested in owning and showing a stock horse. Can you hear the sales pitch at the ringside? “Wellllll, Zippo’s Sammy Two String White Shoes is a great hoss. He rides nice but just can’t seem to get the ribbon he deserves in halter.” Meanwhile Zippo’s handler has him bent like a pretzel so he can watch while the doofus handler tries to place those feet just so. Funny thing is a lot of handlers can’t get a good perspective that close up and end up making the horse look sickle-hocked because he’s standing too close underneath!
Let’s make a pact to show home videos on You Tube of people doing the “doofus” thing to the stock horse halter horses and maybe, just maybe, we can swing this around to where the stock horses look like the sharp, well-dressed ambassadors they are! Stock horses have always been a favorite of mine, especially big, honest geldings. But to look at them now, I’d be afraid to ride one fearing they might tip over, or stop breathing, or some equally disastrous thing. Even the wildest, carziest Arab I showed in hand could put all four feet into place by himself!