Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Ten New Years Resolutions for Equestrians

As we say goodbye to 2014 and welcome in 2015 tomorrow night, many of us will be thinking about our goals for the year ahead, so for today's blog I've listed 10 fully attainable new years resolutions for equestrians.

In 2015, make a resolution to...

1. ...Ride without stirrups on a regular basis. We all know the most tried and true method for building the strength equestrians need is to ride without stirrups. If you're new to no-stirrup work, start small and build as you get stronger. I have a rectangular ring, so I have my students do posting trot down the long sides of the arena and sitting trot along the short sides as a rest break. Alternating between sitting and posting allows you do the exercise for longer periods of time, building strength and endurance. As you get stronger, add to the number of laps. After a few successful rides, begin taking away some of your short side sitting trot breaks until you can post the trot around the arena for multiple laps.

2. ...Ride outside the arena. Its easy to do all your riding inside the confines of the ring, but you and your equine partner will benefit from working outside without an arena rail. Speak with your trainer about taking a lesson out in a paddock.You may be surprised at how much harder you have to work to keep a consistent rhythm and pace on uneven ground and to maintain a straight path or quality circle without an arena rail to guide you.

3. ...Take trail rides on a regular basis. Everyone, human and equine, needs a break from time to time, so get together with some of your riding buddies and plan regular excursions outside the arena. If you don't have access to trails, just sauntering through the pastures or paddocks will do. Allow yourself and your horse to decompress and just enjoy the scenery.

4. ...Keep a riding journal.  Take time after every ride to jot down some notes. What things did you do well and why? What things did you struggle with and why? What are some goals you can set for yourself to overcome your struggle areas? Don't forget to make some notes about your horse, too! Which exercise did he seem to enjoy or do particularly well and which did he not seem to enjoy or excel at and why? Journaling will help you stay on track toward achieving your goals. Also, it's always fun to read back through your journal entries to see what you used to struggle with that now seems easy.

5. ...Follow a riding/training blog. Most of us don't get to spend as much time in the saddle as we'd like, but you can continue to learn when out of the saddle by reading and watching videos online. Here are a few good blogs (other than this one, of course, lol):
  • horsecollaborative.com
  • horselistening.com
  • Denny Emerson at Tamarack Hill Farm on Facebook
When you come across a new idea or training tip, make a note in your riding journal and share it with your trainer.

6. ...Read a training book or series of books.  Some good examples are:
  • Hunter Seat Equitation by George Morris
  • Centered Riding by Sally Swift
  • How Good Riders Get Good by Denny Emerson
  • The United States Pony Club Manuals by Susan E. Harris
You can get more information on these books from my December 9, 2014 blog, "Five Books IEA Riders Should be Reading"

Just like with the blog posts, keep notes in your journal of the things you learn and share them with your trainer.

7.  ...Attend a clinic with an upper level professional. If you're able to ride in the clinic, that's great, but if you can't ride, go anyway and audit or volunteer to work. Watching can sometimes be better than riding because you can focus on the instructor and all of the riders rather than worrying solely about yourself and your horse. Also, if you volunteer to go as someone's groom, you may be able to audit for free. And while you're there, offer to be jump crew, that way you can get inside the arena near the instructor.

8. ...Watch an upper level professional class at a rated show, such as a hunter derby or grand prix jumper class. Watch the class as if you were the judge and critique the riders. See what they are doing that helps them get the results they want. You may be surprised at how much you can learn by watching top level riders competing on top level horses.

9. ...Watch some top professionals ride in green horse classes at a rated show, such as baby green or pre-green hunters or training level jumpers. As I said previously, you can learn a lot by watching top level riders on top level horses, but you can learn a TON by watching top level riders on green horses. Try to see what they do to help their green horses get around the course successfully. How are they explaining the course to the horse as they go around? How are they building their mount's confidence? Watch the riders create a positive experience for their young green horses to build a solid foundation for more advanced work later on.

10. ...Stay positive. No matter what your riding goals, it is most important to stay positive and believe in yourself. Don't underestimate the power of positive thinking and don't let minor set-backs get you down. If you believe you can do something and work hard, you can achieve it.

Whatever your riding goals for 2015, best of luck and happy riding!

Amanda Garner is an Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA), Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA), and Georgia Hunter Jumper Association (GHJA) steward, schooling show judge, head coach of the University of North Georgia IHSA Equestrian Team, and owner of Epiphany Farm, LLC in Dahlonega, Georgia. She is also a member of the IEA Board of Directors and the author of "A Parent's Guide to the Interscholastic Equestrian Association."

If you enjoyed this blog post, please feel free to like and share on Facebook.
Thanks!  --Amanda

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Guest Blogger Jadie Jones: The IEA Helps Coaches' Dreams Come True Too

From Amanda:  For those of you who may not know, I had surgery last Tuesday and have been spending the last week recuperating.  My very dear friend and fellow author/blogger Jadie Jones graciously agreed to take the helm of my blog this week.  So,without further adieu:

From Guest Blogger Jadie Jones:  The IEA Helps Coaches' Dreams Come True Too

I became involved in the IEA by accident. I was driving a new way home and saw a sign for a boarding facility. I called them to see if they had anything to lease. They asked about my background and riding experience. Instead of offering me a lease on a horse, they offered me a job. I started teaching there as an IEA coach three days later.

At home, I was mom to a one year old girl by day and an aspiring writer by night. I kept the writing aspect of my life mostly to myself. When people find out someone writes, the first question they often ask is what you’ve published, and I hadn’t published anything yet. Two months after I started coaching, the email landed in my inbox: a publishing house wanted my book. I taught in the afternoons and then toiled at my laptop into pre-dawn hours, racing through a series of editing deadlines while trying to juggle the rest of my life. The day we hosted our IEA show, I received the next big email, which revealed the cover for my book, the title: Moonlit, and a release date: April 14th, 2013.

My managing editor told me to find horse-industry professionals willing to read and review pre-release copies of Moonlit. Since I chose to use a pen name, I would need to contact them in person to eliminate confusion. I was intimidated to say the least. I reached out to Amanda Garner, who had stewarded several of the shows I’d been to that year. She seemed friendly, and I figured if she turned me down, she’d probably smile while she did it. I walked up to her at a horse show, my shaking hands stuffed inside my pockets, and introduced myself. Then I asked her if she liked to read. She lit up at the question, and we had a ten-minute conversation about our favorite books. At a pause in the conversation, I took a breath and a chance, and told her about Moonlit. She immediately agreed to review it, and she had a surprise for me: she liked to write, too. Amanda then pointed me in the direction of another IEA coach, Simon Towns, an avid reader and encourager of the arts, and the snowball of support began its roll. Roxanne Lawrence, founder and director of the IEA, invited me to come to the IEA hunt-seat championship in New York, which I agreed to as fast as I could. 

I saw the trip to New York as a finish line – some kind of culmination, when in actuality, it was a launch pad. Within three days, forty copies of Moonlit were given away as prizes, and I was interviewed for IEA’s Take the Reins magazine, which served to spread my first book all over the country. Robin Alden, youth manager of the AQHA, bought a copy of Moonlit and invited me to appear in the college showcase at the AQHYA “Built Ford Tough” world championships in Oklahoma City that August. Before I left for home, I purchased my plane ticket to Oklahoma. I also sold out of Moonlit. 

The best aspect about being involved in the IEA is this: you are surrounded by doers, movers, shakers, entrepreneurs, hard-working, I-dare-you-to-tell-me-no type people who change the minds of twelve-hundred pound animals on a daily basis. Equestrians are tough, stubborn, fierce, patient, compassionate, decisive, persistent, and supportive. We learn how to decide when it’s time to use muscle versus when it’s best to finesse. We cultivate a sense of humor for landing in the dirt instead of on the other side of the jump. And we dust ourselves off and keep going. These skills and this network help create habits and traits that serve its members well no matter what you decide to do with your life, no matter what dream tugs you into each new day.

About Jadie Jones
Georgia native Jadie Jones first began working for a horse farm at twelve years old, her love of horses matched only by her love of books. She went on to acquire a B.A. in equine business management, and worked for competitive horse farms along the east coast. The need to write followed wherever she went.

She lives with her family in the foothills of north Georgia. When she's not working on the next installment of the Moonlit series, she is either in the saddle or exploring the great outdoors with her daughters.

Jones is the author of the Moolit trilogy.  Books one and two, Moonlit and Windswept are currently available.  Book three, Wildwood, is set for release in 2015.


Enjoy Jadie Jones' post?  You can find more of her work on her website www.JadieJones.comlike her facebook page www.facebook.com/jadiejones1or follow her blog www.jadiejones.blogspot.com

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Five Books IEA Riders Should be Reading

No matter how much time you're able to spend in the saddle, there is always more to learn. All equestrians can benefit from supplementing their lesson instruction with books written by successful riders and trainers.

So, just in time for the holidays, here is my list of five books IEA riders should be reading.

1.  Hunter Seat Equitation by George H. Morris

Could any equestrian book collection not include this definitive volume by the master horseman himself? In this timeless classic, Mr. Morris describes rider position and aides on the flat and over fences, lateral and longitudinal flexion in the horse, proper horse and rider turnout, and the fundamentals of horse showing, all with the frankness and attention to detail that you would expect. A must-read for every aspiring equestrian.

Once you've read the book, I encourage you to sign up for one of his clinics. I guarantee you will come away from the experience a stronger, and more humble, equestrian.

2.  Centered Riding by Sally Swift

Ms. Swift's book teaches riders how to work in harmony with their horses using yoga-like techniques such as breathing, balance, and body awareness. It is also full of illustrations and metaphors that can help visual learners grasp abstract concepts. Have you ever thought of yourself as an ice cream cone slowly melting down around your horse, or of your horse as a train travelling down a track? I personally use many of her methods in my own teaching and feel that her system of working through "feel" rather than simply through "mechanics" helps create happy horses and riders.

3.  How Good Riders Get Good by Denny Emerson

The purpose of Mr. Emerson's book isn't to teach you how to ride.  You won't find anything in there about "inside leg to outside rein" or "finding the perfect rhythm to a fence." Instead, it's a sports psychology book designed to help young riders develop their own path towards success based on their own personal circumstances.

Have you ever heard someone say, "I can't be an upper level rider because I can't afford a good-enough horse?" Emerson dismisses that kind of negative thinking with chapter titles such as, Wannabes versus Gonnabes, Dealing with the Cards you Hold, and Nine Character Traits for a Successful Rider. Throughout the book he also profiles dozens of famous riders, many of whom made it to the top though years of hard work, dedication, and sacrifice despite being born into families of modest means. This is a great book for aspiring professionals who want to learn the non-horse related skills necessary to make it in this business.

I also encourage IEA riders to visit Mr. Emerson's facebook page, Tamarack Hill Farm, where he regularly shares knowledge he has gained through his 60+ years of experience. I learn something from every post he makes.

4.  The United States Pony Club Manuals of Horsemanship by Susan E. Harris

I cheated a little bit here, because this is actually a set of three books:

Have you ever followed the IEA facebook trivia contests and wondered where many of those questions come from? In addition to being required reading for students involved in United States Pony Club (USPC), these manuals are also the basis for many written horsemanship tests, such as the horsemanship test offered each year at IEA National Finals.

The first volume covers the basics of riding, nutrition, grooming, hoof care, tack, and horse conformation.

The second volume builds on the information presented in the first. Topics include riding on the flat and over fences, horse care and management, conditioning, health care, wrapping and bandaging, and ground work.

The third and final volume is intended for those pony clubbers who wish to ride at an advanced level, manage a farm, and train young horses and/or teach riding as an equine professional.

5.  A Parent's Guide to the Interscholastic Equestrian Association by Amanda Garner

Shameless plug...In no way am I suggesting that I can hold a candle to the great horsemen/women listed above, but I do believe every IEA rider can benefit from learning more about the rules, regulations, and general structure of the IEA, as described in my book.

In Conclusion
So this is my list, I'd love to hear from my blog readers, what's on your horsey reading list?  Click back over to my facebook page and leave a comment.

Amanda Garner is an Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA), Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA), and Georgia Hunter Jumper Association (GHJA) steward, schooling show judge, head coach of the University of North Georgia IHSA Equestrian Team, and owner of Epiphany Farm, LLC in Dahlonega, Georgia. She is also a member of the IEA Board of Directors and the author of "A Parent's Guide to the Interscholastic Equestrian Association."

If you enjoyed this blog post, please feel free to like and share on Facebook.
Thanks!  --Amanda

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

My Horse was Drug Tested at an IHSA Show

One of my team horses was drug tested at an IHSA show last month.

It was the first day of a two-day show hosted by Berry College in Rome, Georgia. My team, the University of North Georgia, brought three horses.

One of our horses, Casino, a big paint/draft cross, won the Intermediate Equitation on the Flat class. As he exited the arena one of my college students took control of him and was leading him back to the holding area when she was intercepted by Berry College's barn manager and official school veterinarian.

The manager and vet asked my student to lead Casino back to the barn area. When they arrived, the vet pulled a blood sample while the manager took down some information on the horse: name, age, breed, owner, and contact information.

Once the testing was complete, the vet and manager allowed my student to bring Casino back up to the holding area and he resumed showing.

I haven't got any official test results back from IHSA yet, but I have no reason to think he didn't pass.

I knew that the IHSA had a drug rule, but I personally had never seen or heard of any horse being tested. For today's blog I discuss the IHSA's drug rules, consequences, and testing procedure.

Before I begin, I'd like to thank IHSA National Steward Sally Batton for providing much information for this blog.

Also, please note that the indented sections of text in BOLD below are passages straight from the IHSA rule book.

1. Which types of drugs are illegal in IHSA competition?
Care and control of horses including any drugs or medications administered shall be the sole prerogative of the horse provider or their designated representative. Administration of drugs and medications shall be limited to therapeutic use only, and used for the well-being of the horse.  The administration of central nervous system drugs is prohibited in IHSA competition.  
As you can see from the rule book passage above, not all drugs are illegal in IHSA competition. The IHSA does not restrict the use of NSAIDs such as phenylbutazone (bute) or any other drugs used purely for therapeutic purposes.

Drugs that are illegal in IHSA competition are those that work on the central nervous system (CNS) to "calm the horse down."  A well-known example of a CNS drug is Acepromazine (Ace).

2. How does the IHSA determine when/where horses will be tested?
At the June meeting, the National Steward will randomly select one IHSA competition in each Zone to be tested for CNS drugs. This would require no more than one horse/random selection to be tested. The IHSA would hire the veterinarian, chosen by the show manager, and would receive the results and hand down the appropriate penalties for violations.
Below is an excerpt from an email sent to the IHSA regional presidents from IHSA National Steward Sally Batton:
For 2014, the following regions will perform a CNS drug test at the 5th show of their 2014-2015 show season (list of regions omitted for privacy purposes). The 5th show can be either Hunter Seat or Western, whichever show falls on the 5th show date of the semester. 
The veterinarian will select one horse to drug test from among the horses entered in the show. Once the veterinarian arrives on the show grounds, they will drug test the first place horse in the class that is in session when they arrive.
Our region was one of those selected.  Our region's fifth show was the first day of the Berry College show. The first place horse in the class that was in session when the veterinarian arrived was our horse, Casino, which is why he was chosen for testing.

3.  What happens if you get caught?
All offenses are charged to the individual dispensing said medication by the National Standards and Ethics Committee (NSEC). Should the said individual be found guilty through positive confirmation of CNS drugs, all fees/charges for the testing will be assigned to the guilty party. 
First offense:  Written warning
Second offense:  One month suspension from all IHSA activities
Third offense:  Six month suspension from the IHSA
Fourth offense:  One year suspension from the IHSA   

4. Has anyone ever been caught out of compliance with the rule?

This rule was approved by the IHSA Board of Directors in 2010 and has been in the IHSA rule book ever since. All tests have been returned negative since the IHSA started testing in Fall 2010.

5.  In conclusion:

Personally, I was happy to see that the rule is being enforced on a regular basis and that everyone who has been tested since the rule went into effect in 2010 has passed.

I agree with IHSA that the use of CNS drugs should be illegal for the safety of the human and equine athletes.

I also agree that therapeutic drugs (like bute and banamine) are often necessary for the comfort and well-being of our IHSA horses, many of whom are older (and wiser) schoolmaster types, who still have a lot of wisdom to share with our riders, but just need a little help to keep them comfortable.

I'm curious to hear what my readers have to say on the subject. Please take a moment to click back over to facebook and leave a comment.

***Please also note that this discussion relates the the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA), not the Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA).***

For those who may be interested in the IEA's drug policy, below is an excerpt from the IEA rulebook:
4512 Cruelty - Soundness / Ride-ability / NSAIDS
Equestrian sport is made possible by the animals that serve the rider. This is a sport of grace and elegance where the rider and animal work as a team. There is neither grace nor elegance in an abusive spectacle. IEA is concerned about animal welfare and encourages good horsemanship. IEA does not condone the use of medications that affect the central nervous system. Cruel or abusive behavior of any type toward the horses will not be tolerated. It is the responsibility, therefore, of all parties concerned to be aware of the conduct of participants and the condition of the horses; and, if a violation is observed, a report must be made immediately to the stewards.

UNG Horse, Casino, who was drug tested

Amanda Garner is an Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA), Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA), and Georgia Hunter Jumper Association (GHJA) steward, schooling show judge, head coach of the University of North Georgia IHSA Equestrian Team, and owner of Epiphany Farm, LLC in Dahlonega, Georgia. She is also a member of the IEA Board of Directors and the author of "A Parent's Guide to the Interscholastic Equestrian Association."

If you enjoyed this blog post, please feel free to like and share on Facebook.
Thanks!  --Amanda

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Guest Blogger IEA Rider Sarah Bowman

Today we have a very special guest blogger.  Sarah Bowman is an IEA rider on the North Cobb Christian School IEA team.  

Please click on the link below to read Sarah's blog:


Thank you Sarah for sharing your blog with us today!

IEA coaches, if you have a student who in interested in being a guest blogger, please message me on facebook.

Amanda Garner is an Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA), Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA), and Georgia Hunter Jumper Association (GHJA) steward, schooling show judge, head coach of the University of North Georgia IHSA Equestrian Team, and owner of Epiphany Farm, LLC in Dahlonega, Georgia. She is also a member of the IEA Board of Directors and the author of "A Parent's Guide to the Interscholastic Equestrian Association."

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Great Idea for Keeping Track of Horses and Ensuring Each Horse Has a Holder at IEA Shows

I had the pleasure of stewarding the Windward Farm IEA shows down in Tampa, Florida this weekend.  I love stewarding outside of my home state of Georgia because I get to see how other teams run their shows and often learn new ways to help IEA shows run more smoothly. This weekend was no exception.

At the Windward Farms shows, all horse holders were wearing name tags on a lanyard around their neck.

The front side of the name tag had the horse's name:
The front of this name tag says the horse's name, Breezy.
Also, my apologies for this blurriness of the photo
(I promise it wasn't like that on my phone!)

The back side of the name tag listed all of the classes that the horse was in or was an alternate for:
This back of the name tag lists the classes the horse is entered in
as well as the classes he is the alternate for.
Name tag rules:
As long as a rider is wearing a particular horse's name tag, she is responsible for holding that horse in the holding area, leading him to the show ring, and picking him up from the show ring after his class. If the rider needs to give up control of the horse to get dressed for her class, take a restroom break, etc. she must find another person to take the name tag first.

This system ensures that:

  • There won't be any horses who come out of the show ring with no handler to take them,
  • The horse provider knows when a horse has a long break between classes and could potentially go back to his stall for a water and bathroom break, and 
  • A horse won't be taken back to the barn area and un-tacked/put away before he's done for the day. 

What a great idea!

I think if I were to expand on this, I would consider putting the name of the team that provided the horse on the front side and the horse's crop and spur information on the back side.

Thank you again Windward Farm for having me as your steward!

Amanda Garner is an Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA), Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA), and Georgia Hunter Jumper Association (GHJA) steward, schooling show judge, head coach of the University of North Georgia IHSA Equestrian Team, and owner of Epiphany Farm, LLC in Dahlonega, Georgia. She is also a member of the IEA Board of Directors and the author of "A Parent's Guide to the Interscholastic Equestrian Association."

If you enjoyed this blog post, please feel free to like and share on Facebook.
Thanks!  --Amanda

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Splitting & Combining Classes--IEA Guidelines

As I'm sure you all have noticed, most IEA shows offer multiple sections of the same class (class 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B, etc.). This is because the IEA has guidelines for class size and when classes should be split.

IEA classes can also be combined if there aren't enough entries to permit a stand alone class. This happens every now and then at some of the smaller shows.

Today's blog discusses the IEA's class split guidelines for larger shows and class combining guidelines for smaller shows.

As usual, our discussion will follow the rule book.  Quotes from the IEA rule book are in bold text.

A minimum of three (3) IEA Teams must compete in an official Regular IEA point show for team points to count towards qualifying for Regional, Zone and National Finals.

A high school show needs three high school teams.
A middle school show needs three middle school teams.
A combined high and middle school show needs three high school and three middle school teams.

In order for a show to count, a host must offer either (a) all classes in the Futures divisions and/or (b) all classes in the Varsity/Junior Varsity divisions as provided in these Rules.

A high school show must offer all high school classes (Varsity/Jr Varsity).
A middle school show must offer all middle school classes (Futures).
A high school and middle school combined show must offer all classes, high school and middle school (Varsity/Jr Varsity/Futures).

For example, a high school show could not only offer the 2'6" and 2' divisions and not offer cross rails and beginner.

In order for a class to count towards accumulated points, there must be a minimum of three (3) riders in each class. If there are less than three (3) riders in a class, the riders should be placed in another class of the same level. The class could also be run at discretion of the EHC* but points will not be counted. (*EHC = Event Host Coordinator, which is just another word for the host team)

This is where it gets a little tricky.  If there are less than three entries in a class, in order for those riders to receive points, the middle school class must be combined with its corresponding high school class, or vice versa.

Here is how the classes are combined if there are less than three riders in a class:

Hunt Seat:
Varsity Intermediate Fences 2' and Future Intermediate Fences 2'
Varsity Intermediate Flat and Future Intermediate Flat
Jr Varsity Novice Fences Crossrails and Future Novice Fences Crossrails
Jr Varsity Novice Flat and Future Novice Flat
Jr Varsity Beginner Flat and Future Beginner Flat

Varsity Intermediate Reining and Future Intermediate Reining
Varsity Intermediate Horsemanship and Future Intermediate Horsemanship
Jr Varsity Novice Horsemanship and Future Novice Horsemanship
Jr Varsity Beginner Horsemanship and Future Beginner Horsemanship

It is most often the middle school classes that don't have the minimum number of entries, and thus have to be combined with high school.

For example, a show may have seven entries in Varsity Intermediate Fences, but only two entries in Future Intermediate Fences, in which case the two classes would be combined into one class of nine riders; seven high school riders and two middle school riders competing together.

Each rider in the class receives individual points based on her placing, regardless of how the class is combined.  For example, a middle school rider competing in a combined high school/middle school class would receive points in her middle school division.

The same is true for point riders.  The middle school teams would receive points in the corresponding middle school class and the high school teams would receive points in the corresponding high school class.

Also, it is important to note, a show host can choose to run a class with only one or two riders, but that class would not count for individual or team points.  I've never had this happen at a show I've stewarded.

Hunt Seat flat classes and Western horsemanship classes classes MUST be split at twelve (12) riders.  Over Fences and Reining classes MAY be split at twelve (12) riders.

Classes that run as a group (flat and horsemanship) must be split at 12 riders.  Classes where riders compete individually (fences and reining) may be split at 12, but they don't have to be split at all no matter how many entries there are.  This decision is made by the EHC.

The EHC will run, award ribbons, and issue points separately for each of the split classes, as though the class was not split.

For example, if Varsity Intermediate Flat is split into two sections (section A and section B), each section will be awarded ribbons first through sixth place and riders who place first through sixth will get individual points for that placing.

However, each team only gets one point rider per class, regardless of how many splits the class has. For example, if Varsity Intermediate Flat class is split into two sections (section A and section B) each coach only gets one point rider for the entire Varsity Intermediate Flat class.  The point rider can be in the A or B section.

This means that you can have two teams who earn 7 team points in a class that has two sections.  For example, Hillmar Farm's point rider may win section A of Novice Flat and Oak Creek Farm's point rider may win section B of Novice Flat.  Both teams would be awarded 7 team points for Novice Flat. You could also have two teams withe 5 points, two with 4 points, etc.

The assignment of riders to each split class shall be equitable; however, no one section can have fewer than six (6) riders in it for points and awards to be given.

If a class is split, each section must contain at least six riders.  So a class of 12 could be split into two sections of six riders each: 6-6.

A class of 18 could be split into three sections: 6-6-6, or it could be split into two sections 9-9.

A class of 17 would be split 9-8.  It could not be split three ways into 6-6-5 because you must have at least 6 riders per split.

This comes into play on the morning of a show when you have a class of 12 riders split 6-6 and a coach informs you that one of her riders has the flu and is unable to compete, which brings the total number down to 11 riders, which can't be split because you would have one class with only 5 riders.

If this happens, any team competing in the show may place a new rider in the sick rider's spot to keep the class split.  If a replacement rider cannot be found, the class must run as one section with 11 riders.

A Question of Fairness
Some parents have asked why the IEA has these split/combine guidelines, particularly on days when a rider is ill and a class that is split 6-6 must be combined to an 11 rider class, or when a middle school class must be combined with a high school class.

In my opinion, the IEA has these guidelines to maintain a nationwide standard.  It would be unfair for a rider in Georgia to compete in a class that is split 6-5 while at a show in Maryland the class is held in one section of 11 riders.

Amanda Garner is an Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA), Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA), and Georgia Hunter Jumper Association (GHJA) steward, schooling show judge, head coach of the University of North Georgia IHSA Equestrian Team, and owner of Epiphany Farm, LLC in Dahlonega, Georgia. She is also the author of "A Parent's Guide to the Interscholastic Equestrian Association."

If you enjoyed this post, please take a moment to like and share on Facebook.  
Thanks! -- Amanda
photo credit Autumn Vetter

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Horse Showing in the Cold

For those of you who don't know, I'm a southern girl, born and raised in northern Georgia, and I don't like to be cold.  But, for us IEA or IHSA people, showing in cold weather is simply a fact of life.

I just got back from a super fun, but absolutely freezing weekend at a horse show with my IHSA team, so I decided that this week's blog would discuss tips for handling cold weather horse shows.

Unfortunately there is no miracle cure for dealing with the cold, sometimes you just have to tough it out, but here are a few tips that may make those cold horse shows a little more bearable.

  • Dress in layers.  A pair of jeans and some cute shoes may suffice for walking back and forth to class on a school day, but if you're going to spend several hours outside at a horse show, you need to layer up. Most people have plenty of layers for their upper body, but they neglect to layer on their lower body.  My IHSA team has matching "snap-away" pants that they wear over their breeches that are easy to get on and off without removing their boots.  I have also seen IEA teams with matching fleece pants to wear over riding breeches.  I personally prefer coveralls that I can pull on or take off easily depending on how warm or cold I'm feeling.

  • Wear a hat. Studies show that up to 30 percent of heat loss occurs through a person's head. A hat helps stop that heat loss.  You should also wear something over your ears, like a fleece head band, beanie, or ear muffs.

  • Invest in a good pair of winter boots. You will, of course, wear your riding boots when you show, but the rest of the time you should wear shoes or boots along with thick, quality socks (like wool) that protect your feet from the cold.  I find that if I can keep my feet and my head warm, the rest of my body will be okay. If you're ever at a show where I'm stewarding, ask me to show you my shoes. They're actually snow boots.  Students tell me all the time that their feet are cold and they can't feel their toes, but my feet have never been cold in my boots. Here's the link if anyone is interested: Columbia Women's Bugaboot Plus II Omni Heat.

  • Wear gloves.  Just like your head and your feet, you lose body heat through your hands. Mittens actually keep your hands warmer than gloves, but it can be hard to maneuver around horses with mittens.  I have a pair of "glittens," fingerless gloves with a mitten flip top that I use when I'm stewarding so I can use my fingers to write.

  • Don't underestimate the warmth of the sun.  If the show is in a covered arena, step out into the sun every now and then to warm up.  At these shows you may want to volunteer to hold a horse just so you can stand in the sun, lol

  • Stay hydrated.  Your body needs water in the winter, just like it does in the summer. The problem is, when you're cold, you might not notice that you need to drink. Make a point to drink water or sports beverages (like gatorade or powerade) throughout the show day.

  • Eat something!  I know many riders feel that they can't eat before they show due to nerves, but your body needs nourishment to keep you warm.  Try to eat plenty of protein and stay away from sugary snacks like candy and donuts. Warm beverages like hot chocolate can help warm you up from the inside out.

  • Have a designated warm space for your team.  Many teams bring tents with side walls to block the wind, lots of blankets, and even portable electric or propane heaters.  Spend time in your team's warm space every so often to warm yourself up (without neglecting your team mates or your responsibilities of course).

  • Warm up before you ride.  Take a few moments before you mount up to get warm in your team's designated warm space.  If you don't have a team warm space, you can go to another heated area like a bathroom, or even sit in the car for a few minutes. If none of these options is available, you can move around a bit or even jump up and down to loosen up your arms and legs and get the circulation flowing. 

  • Keep your coat on as long as possible. There is no rule against keeping your winter coat on while you are mounted in the horse holding area waiting to go into your flat class or even when jumping your two schooling fences before entering the show ring.  Keep your layers on as long as you can.

UNG rider Mary Rogers wearing her
coat in the holding area while waiting to
go in for her flat class
photo credit:  Amanda Garner

  • Make use of your horse's clothing.  While the horse you're holding goes into the show ring, feel free to wrap up in his blanket or cooler, he won't mind :-)

UNG riders Autumn Vetter, Anika Cook, and
Chrissy Crockett all bundled up in Casino's blanket
photo credit:  Amanda Garner

  • Keep an eye on yourself and your teammates.  If you don't feel well or notice that a teammate is acting like she may be suffering from cold-related illness, don't hesitate to tell a show official or other adult.  All IEA and IHSA shows have medical personnel on-site that can assist with temperature-related issues or illnesses.

Other than moving to Wellington for the winter (we can all dream, right?), there is no miracle cure to being cold.  Your best defense is to be properly prepared, have the clothing you need, and keep yourself fed and hydrated.  Happy horse showing!

Amanda Garner is an Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA), Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA), and Georgia Hunter Jumper Association (GHJA) steward, schooling show judge, head coach of the University of North Georgia IHSA Equestrian Team, and owner of Epiphany Farm, LLC in Dahlonega, Georgia. She is also the author of "A Parent's Guide to the Interscholastic Equestrian Association."

If you enjoyed this post, please take a moment to like and share on Facebook.  
Thanks! -- Amanda

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

What Does a Show Steward Do?

I steward IEA and IHSA shows on a regular basis, and at least once per weekend someone asks me what exactly I do. I think its easy for people to understand what the judge does, but the steward's job seems to be a little more of a mystery, especially for non - riding parents and some younger competitors. So for this week's blog I decided to go straight to the IEA rule book and list the qualifications and duties of a show steward.

Job Title--Show Steward

I have been called a ring steward (which is the person at western or open shows who stands inside the arena with the judge recording class placings and radioing the announcer), that woman at the in-gate (i.e. Can I use a crop on Sparky?  I don't know, go ask that woman at the in-gate), and my personal favorite, "stewardess" (which always brings to mind those iconic airline employees of the 1960s, precursors to modern day flight attendants. I can't walk in high heels here on earth, much less 10,000 feet up while serving food and drinks, lol).

A show steward is not a ring steward, not the in-gate person, and not a flight attendant. So what am I?  
(text in italics is from the current IEA rule book)

Who can be a steward?

An IEA Steward must be twenty-one (21) years of age, an IEA member in good standing (coach or contributing member), and must have read and fully understand the Rules and Regulations of IEA, and the supporting organizations in accordance with Rule 1700 USEF and IHSA and holds any one of the following qualifications:
  1. Licensed USEF steward for Hunter/Jumper disciplines; or
  2. Current IEA Board Member or employee; or
  3. IEA Member coach, in good standing, whose team is not, and members of the coach’s team are not, otherwise participating in the competition; or
  4. IHSA member coach, in good standing, who is not otherwise participating in the competition.
I am a contributing member of the IEA who also meets the second and fourth qualifications. I am a current IEA board member and IHSA coach.

A Show Steward not meeting qualification criteria outlined in items 1 - 4 in Rule 6501 may be used only with prior written consent from coaches of teams participating in that region. Unless they are on the Region or Zone pre-approved list, a steward not meeting qualification criteria must be approved every time she/he is to be hired.

If I didn't meet one of the four qualifications above, I could petition to steward shows by getting written consent from team coaches.

How many stewards do you need?

A Regular IEA Point Show must have at least one (1) qualified Show Steward as defined in Rule 6501.  The Show Steward should not be affiliated with the Event Host or host facility. If a ruling relates to a horse provided by a Show Steward, other Show Stewards or the Judge will cast the deciding vote. 

Regional Finals, Zone Finals and National Finals shall have at least two (2) qualified Show Stewards. Both The National Steward or Associate National Steward should be present at National Finals.

I steward regular point shows multiple times a year.  At these shows I am own my own as steward.  I also regularly steward regional and zone finals alongside one other qualified steward.  

I don't usually provide horses for the shows I steward (mine work hard enough in my IHSA program), but if I did, the judge would cast the deciding vote on a stewarding decision involving one of my horses.

What exactly does the steward do?

Show Stewards serve to interpret the IEA Rules and Regulations. Steward’s duties include, but are not restricted to the following:
  1. Protect the interests of exhibitors, judges and show management.
  2. Investigate and act upon any alleged rule violations without waiting for a protest.
  3. Report to the show committee any misrepresentation or substitution of entry without waiting for a protest
  4. Ascertain that all judges are recognized in the divisions to which assigned.
  5. Post warm-up pattern for over fences classes.
  6. Report to the show committee any violation of the Rules and proffer charges against the violator if not otherwise properly handled.
  7.  Permit re-rides, under specific conditions, as agreed upon by the show and stable management, or as allowed by these Rules.
  8.  Determine, under extenuating circumstances or extreme unfairness to one or more exhibitors, if a class should be rerun.
  9. Supervise the schooling of horses. Supervise or appoint a designee for the drawing of horses.
  10. Determine the suitability of rider to horse, rider to class, and horse to class level. 
  11. Stop a class in the event a horse or rider should be considered unsafe. 
  12. Fill out and return to the IEA Membership Secretary and Zone Administrator within forty-eight (48) hours of the show an official IEA Show Steward Report
If you asked me to summarize what I do in one sentence, I would say the steward's job is to ensure that the horse show runs in accordance with IEA rules and that every rider is given a fair shot.

A more detailed explanation of my job:
I supervise the morning schooling, making sure all the horses are safe, sound, and placed into the appropriate showing division.

I oversee the draw, ensuring that it is done randomly, that the classes are split evenly, and that riders draw horses that are appropriate for their height and weight.

I speak at the coaches meeting, going over the warm up course and re-ride request procedure, confirming the spur/crop assignment for each horse, and answering any specific questions before the show begins.

I watch every single rider as they complete their fence course and observe every flat class to make informed and educated decisions on re-ride requests.

I am part of a committee that determines the recipient of the sportsmanship award at regular season shows.

Sportsmanship Award - The EHC of each regular IEA sanctioned show (a.k.a. the host team) will award a“Sportsmanship Award” to be chosen by a majority vote of the judge, steward and a designated, but undisclosed, member of the show committee selected by the show steward. The award should be given to the rider who, during the course of the show and competition, best demonstrated the true meaning of sportsmanship.

Behind the scenes, I make sure the judge is licensed, investigate any potential administrative rule violations, and end my day by filling out a detailed steward report documenting the events of the show from my point of view.

What the steward doesn't do:

One task that is not the steward's responsibility is actually running the rings. It is the host team's responsibility to provide mounting area and schooling area supervisors and in-gate crew to get riders mounted, schooled, and into the show ring.  

You will occasionally hear the steward calling for riders to mount or ushering riders into the ring, but we stewards do this because we want to help keep the show running (and we tend to have a degree of authority that coaches and riders pay attention to), not because it's in our job description.

In conclusion...
I think stewarding horse shows is a pretty sweet gig. I do, of course, have to make some tough decisions, but overall I really enjoy interacting with the coaches and riders, getting to know the judges, and observing the horses. I learn so much from watching and listening that I can apply to my horses and IHSA team back home.  

I also think it's fun to watch riders as they go through their IEA career. I've been a show steward for nine years now and have seen multiple riders begin their IEA journey in middle school, progress through high school, then go on to ride on a college team.  Some of them even end up on my IHSA team. :-)

Show steward considering a re-ride request.
Photo credit Doug Dershimer

Amanda Garner is an Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA), Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA), and Georgia Hunter Jumper Association (GHJA) steward, schooling show judge, head coach of the University of North Georgia IHSA Equestrian Team, and owner of Epiphany Farm, LLC in Dahlonega, Georgia. She is also the author of "A Parent's Guide to the Interscholastic Equestrian Association."

If you enjoyed this post, please take a moment to like and share on Facebook.  
Thanks! -- Amanda

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Reins and Sticks and Spurs...Oh My!

I had a nice conversation with a judge-friend recently. She remarked how many competitors rode well, but had small deductions in their score due to a lack of attention to detail, such as riding with their reins twisted and/or holding the crop incorrectly, that kept them out of the high ribbons.

So for today's blog I will illustrate proper rein and crop carriage.  I am also including a discussion on proper spur and stirrup leather positioning just for good measure.

Before we begin, I'd like to say a big thank you to my judge-friend for the suggestion (you know who you are, lol) and to IHSA rider Anika Cook and lesson horse Simon for acting as models.

Correct Rein and Crop Position
The picture below demonstrates correct rein and crop position.  A few things to note:
  • The reins should lay flat against the horse's neck from the bit up to the rider's hands, with no twists.
  • The "bight" of the reins (the loopy part at the end including the buckle) should come upward out of the rider's hands and fold neatly under the reins.
  • The crop should rest on the rider's thigh.

Here are a few pictures of common rein and crop mistakes.

Common Rein Mistakes
  • Reins and bight twisted (also end of nose band not in keeper!)
  • Bight flopped over reins, not tucked neatly underneath

Common Crop Mistakes
  • Crop hanging straight down from rider's hand.  Note how this creates a break in her wrist, interrupting the elbow-hand-bit line.
  • Crop sticking out perpendicular to the horse.  Note how the rider's hand is turned sideways in a "piano-hands" position.

Where should you put the bight?  The left or the right?
There is no rule about which side of the neck the bight should rest upon; however, many trainers follow the easy-to-remember phrase "bight on the right" because, as the rider enters the ring tracking left, the bight is out of the judge's view on the opposite side of the neck, creating a clean and tidy first impression.

Correct Stirrup Leather Alignment
The stirrup leather should lay flat against the rider's leg (not twisted).

  • Correct stirrup leather

Incorrect Twisted Stirrup Leather
If the stirrup leather is twisted, it won't lay flat against the rider's leg.  This is unsightly and uncomfortable for the rider.

  • Twisted stirrup leather

Correct Spur Placement 
Spurs can be placed on the spur rests on the rider's boot heel or below the spur rests lower at the bottom of the heel.
  • Spur sitting on spur rest on rider's heel
  • Spur sitting below spur rest at the bottom of the rider's heel.  If necessary, the spur can be placed even lower than this, all the way down even with the sole of the boot where the boot heel meets the sole.

Either of these spur positions is correct.  The higher the spur is placed on the heel, the more effective it is.  A coach may choose to put the spur low on the heel if the horse doesn't need much spur or if she is concerned that the rider may accidentally overuse the spur.  She may choose the higher option if the horse is dull to the leg or reluctant to canter.

Rolling spur straps to make them smaller
In IEA and IHSA shows, the riders are instructed to use the spurs that are provided with the horse. Sometimes the spur straps are too large for the rider's foot.  This problem can be easily remedied by wrapping the spur strap, the same way we wrap stirrup leathers, as shown in the picture below.

  • Spur strap rolled correctly

Make sure the spur is on the correct foot
The spur straps should come across the top of the foot from inside to outside.  The end of the strap should rest against the outside of the foot facing out and back, as shown in the picture below.

  • Spur on correct foot

If the spur is on the wrong foot, the end of the strap will be on the inside facing the horse's side, which looks unsightly, but more importantly, it can poke or tickle the horse causing miscommunication during the ride.

  • Spur on incorrect foot

A little attention to detail goes a long way
Taking care of small details like those described above can give you a little extra bump in your score, and in a tough class that can mean the difference between first place and a lower ribbon.

If you enjoyed this post, please like and share on Facebook.  Thanks!  --Amanda

Amanda Garner is an IEA and IHSA steward, IHSA coach, IEA board member, and the author of "A Parent's Guide to the Interscholastic Equestrian Association." 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

USEF Hunt Seat Equitation Tests in IEA and IHSA Shows

Did you know that in IEA and IHSA competitions, the judges have a list of potential equitation tests they may ask riders to perform?  This list comes from the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) Equitation Tests found in the USEF rule book.

There are 19 total USEF equitation tests; however, only 13 of them may be used in IEA or IHSA shows. You can find this list in the IEA and IHSA rule books. I've also included it below.

13 USEF tests permitted in IEA and IHSA competition:

1. Be asked an appropriate horsemanship question that is tailored to the rider’s ability level
2. Halt
3. Sitting trot
4. Two point position at the walk and/or trot
5. Figure eight at trot, demonstrating change of diagonals
6. Figure eight at canter on correct lead, demonstrating simple change of lead
7. Change Horses
8. Ride without stirrups
9. Change leads down center of ring, demonstrating simple change of lead
10. Canter on the counter lead. No more than eight horses may counter canter at one time
11. Half-turn on forehand and/or half-turn on haunches
12. Jump a shortened course
13. Trot a jump not to exceed 2’6”

Which tests the judge may ask riders to perform is determined by the class level.

From the IEA rule book, here is a list of each IEA hunt seat flat division and which tests the riders in each division should be capable of performing:

Classes 9 & 12:  Beginner Hunt Seat Equitation on the Flat, Tests 1-7

Classes 8 & 11:  Novice Hunt Seat Equitation on the Flat, Tests 1-8

Classes 7 & 10:  Intermediate Hunt Seat Equitation on the Flat, Tests 1-9

Class 6:  Open Hunt Seat Equitation on the Flat, Tests 1-13*

*I think it's fair to assume tests 12 & 13 would only be asked in open fences, not open flat.

For the IHSA riders, here is a list from the IHSA rule book of the IHSA hunt seat flat divisions and which tests may be asked for each.

Class 1:  Walk/Trot Equitation, Tests 1-4

Class 2a:  Beginner Walk/Trot/Canter Equitation, Tests 1-5 and 9

Class 2b:  Advanced Walk/Trot/Canter Equitation, Tests 1-6 and 9

Class 3:  Novice Equitation on the Flat, Tests 1-9

Class 5:  Intermediate Equitation on the Flat, Tests 1-9

Class 7:  Open Equitation on the Flat, Tests 1-11

And for those of you who are curious, here are the additional USEF tests from the USEF rule book that may be asked in USEF-sanctioned competitions, but not in IEA or IHSA:
  • Hand gallop.
  • Jump obstacles on figure eight course.
  • Jump low obstacles at a walk as well as at a canter. The maximum height and spread for a
  • walk jump is 2’.
  • Dismount and mount. Individually.
  • Figure eight at canter on correct lead demonstrating flying change of lead.
  • Execute serpentine at a trot and/or canter on correct lead demonstrating simple or flying changes of lead. 
  • Change leads on a line demonstrating a flying change of lead.
  • Demonstration ride of approximately one minute. Rider must advise judge beforehand what ride he plans to demonstrate.

While testing is not very common in regular season IEA and IHSA shows, you should expect to be tested if you make it to regional, zone, and/or national finals. If you're not already practicing these tests in your lessons, you may want to get started on them before the post-season shows get here.

"Get Connected" DVD
For additional instruction, I encourage you to check out a DVD that demonstrates how to execute all 19 USEF Equitation Tests correctly, titled "Get Connected."

Here's some info about the DVD from the USEF website and the link to purchase it.

Get Connected
An educational DVD produced by the Pacific Coast Horse Shows Association, in association with USHJA, “Get Connected” features USEF Hunter Seat Equitation Tests 1-19, and special presenters Debbie McDonald (World Cup Champion and U.S. Olympian in Dressage), Cynthia Hankins (USEF “R” Judge, USEF Medal Final winner) and Michael Moran (USEF Judge, highly acclaimed horse show announcer).



USEF gave all IHSA coaches nationwide (including me!) this DVD a few years ago and it has been a great resource. I highly recommend it for IEA and IHSA coaches and teams. You could get together for a team movie night to watch and discuss.

If you enjoyed this blog post, please take a moment to like and share on Facebook. Thanks! Amanda

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Horse Holding Rules and Etiquette

I received an email last week from someone who read my book, "A Parent's Guide to the Interscholastic Equestrian Association."  She indicated in her email that I needed to discuss holding area rules and horse holding etiquette.  I thought that sounded like a fantastic idea, so here ya go:

Holding Area Rules
The first rule is that only horse holders, coaches, and riders who are currently mounting and dismounting are allowed in the holding area.  This is purely for safety reasons.  The holding area is often not very large and if the area gets too crowded someone may get kicked or stepped on.  

Riders aren't allowed to mount until they are instructed to do so by the schooling supervisor. For flat classes this is usually when the previous flat class reverses. For fence classes it is usually about three to five trips out.

Sometimes a horse is used in two flat classes back-to-back or twice in one fence class. The show officials are aware when this happens, and always allow the second rider adequate time to mount and prepare for her ride.

Riders are not allowed to school the horse or practice in any way while they are standing in the holding area or waiting outside the show ring. This includes use of the crop.  Riders may only use their crop during their two warm up fences and while in the show ring.

If a horse requires a spur, the spurs should be provided with the horse, often attached to the stirrups on the saddle.  If you ride a horse with spurs, make sure the take the spurs off and put them back on the saddle when you're done.

Regarding tightening girths and moving saddles up, "no rider, coach or anyone else without the approval of either the schooling supervisor or the show steward may adjust any tack or equipment, except stirrup lengths" (IEA rulebook).  In the coaches meetings that I lead as show steward, I establish who has permission to adjust girths and move saddles up from horse providers and note any horses whose girths or saddles should not be adjusted by anyone except the horse provider.  For all other tack (bridles, bits, martingales, etc.) only the horse provider should make those adjustments.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the horse holder must maintain control of the horse from the time the rider mounts until she enters the schooling ring or show ring. The rider should never walk freely around the holding area without a horse holder leading the horse.

Horse Holder Etiquette
Speaking of horse holders, this section provides a few tips for horse holder etiquette.  The skill and attentiveness of your team's horse holders can determine how efficiently and safely the show runs.

If your team brought horses to the show, your coach will let you know which classes your horses are in.  Pay attention to the show and bring your team's horses up to the holding area at least one class before they are needed so the rider has time to mount.  This applies to horses that are alternates, too.

The horses should be held at a safe distance from each other in the holding area and the holders should take care not to stand directly behind another horse.  At least one horse-length away from other horses on all sides is often considered a safe distance.

Holders should be alert and attentive at all times so they can react if a dangerous situation arises, such as another horse getting too close, or a tent blowing over causing some of the horses to spook.

The horse holder must maintain control of the horse while the rider is mounting, stay with the horse while waiting for the class to begin, and lead the horse to the in-gate.  It's tempting sometimes to wander off once a rider gets mounted, but the rider is not allowed to school the horse before she enters the arena, so the holder must maintain control of the horse.

The horse holder's job isn't done once the horse enters the arena.  She must wait by the gate for the rider to exit the ring and take control of the horse so the rider can dismount. If the holder can't pick the horse up after the class because she has to get ready for her class, she should coordinate with a team mate to get that horse.  Don't leave the show rider stranded holding the horse!

If you are the show rider that is stranded with a horse, politely tell the schooling supervisor and hold the horse until a holder can be found.

Holders should always stand while holding. It is tempting to sit down during a long day, especially if the horse you're holding is a saint, but it just isn't safe.  Also, the stirrups should be run up and the reins should be held so that they aren't touching the ground.  If the horse is wearing a martingale, the holder should check frequently to make sure it hasn't slipped up the horse's neck.

If it is chilly outside, you can put a cooler on the horse between classes, as instructed by your coach. If it is downright cold, you may need to put a blanket on between classes to keep his muscles warm.

Horse holders should dress comfortably.  Many like to cover up their show clothes with team apparel. The only clothing requirement for horse holders is closed toe shoes for safety purposes.

Horse holders should feel free to talk to the rider about the horse and share their personal advice on how the horse goes; however, the rider and coach should keep in mind that the advice came from well-meaning student and factor that into whether they take it or not.

Holders should offer their horses water periodically.  Many IEA shows take place when its very cold outside, but the horses still need to drink.  They also should go back to their stalls a couple times per day so they can pee.  Make sure you confirm with the schooling supervisor that the horse isn't needed for an upcoming class before taking him back to the stall for a water or pee break.

And lastly, always confirm with the schooling supervisor that the horse is completely done for the day, including any classes in which he may be an alternate, before taking him back to the stall to untack.  I always feel bad for a horse who has already been taken back to his stall and untacked who then has to be tacked back up again for one last class because the holder took him back too early.

As an example, the two young ladies in the picture below are doing a great job holding their team's horses.  They are alert and attentive to their surroundings, the horses are a safe distance from each other, the holders are standing (not sitting), they are wearing closed toe shoes and comfortable clothing (with team logo--added bonus!), the stirrups are run up on the saddles, and the reins are not touching the ground.  

Anna Kirsten Todd and Sarah Rose Perlich of the Birmingham Interscholastic
IEA team holding team horses Rosie and Jessie at last weekend's show.
Photo Credit--Amanda Garner
If you enjoyed this blog post, please take a moment to like and share on Facebook.  If you have an idea for a topic, please leave me a comment or send me an email through my website www.epiphany-farm.com.  Thanks! Amanda

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Proper Horse Turnout for IEA Shows

I stewarded my first IEA show of the season on Sunday, hosted by Milton High School at Wills Park in Alpharetta, Georgia. I was pleased with the overall turnout of the horses in the show and decided to write about it in this week's blog.

Below is Milton High School horse, Petey. I'm going to use him as my model as I discuss proper horse turnout in IEA shows.

Milton High School IEA Horse, Petey.  A Good Example of Proper Turnout for IEA Shows.
Photo Credit--Ashley Wilson

Appropriate and safe is always more important than fancy.  
Petey is not a 17 hand warmblood with 3'6" potential, and he doesn't have to be. He is a 15 hand quarter horse with a heart of gold who will carry his riders safely around a fence course while allowing them to demonstrate their equitation skills.  

Horses should be clean and well groomed.
Petey is not body clipped, nor is he braided or wearing a fake tail. He is, however, freshly bathed and groomed. His mane is pulled and his tail is brushed and free of tangles and shavings. His fetlocks, muzzle, ears, and bridle path are trimmed. His weight is good and his feet have been recently trimmed.

Tack should be clean, well-fitting, and workmanlike.
His tack has been cleaned and oiled on a regular basis, not just the day before the show. The bridle and martingale fit correctly and all the leather parts are in their keepers. The martingale stopper fits snugly enough to keep the martingale in place. The saddle is of workmanlike quality and the style (close contact) is appropriate for hunter seat equitation. The saddle billets and stirrup leathers are safe and in good repair. The stirrups are plain fillis and have stirrup treads.

Saddle pads and fuzzy girths should be freshly laundered.
The girth and half pad are obviously not new, but they have been washed and are clean and fluffy. The saddle pad is also clean and has a nice team monogram on the side. Petey's name tag is pinned securely on the right hand side.

Boots and wraps should fit well and be conservative in color
Finally, Petey's splint boots fit well, are on the correct legs, and are a conservative color. Bell boots and polo wraps are also permissible in IEA shows. They should also be a conservative color (black, brown, or white, as appropriate for the horse's color).

IEA riders, how can you properly turn out your horses at IEA shows?

Start at home with a daily regimen of grooming and tack care
If you want your team horses' coats to gleam with a healthy shine at the horse shows, you need to groom them thoroughly at home on a regular basis, not just the day before the horse show. Take time before and after each lesson to curry and brush their coats, get the mud off their legs, and untangle their manes and tails. If it's warm enough, hose your horse off after you ride.

Clean the tack every time you ride. Take time after your lesson to clean and condition the leather on the saddle, bridle, and any other tack the horse wears, such as a martingale. Keep an eye on the stitching on the bridle and stirrup leathers and let you coach know if anything needs repair.

If the horse you lessoned on wore boots, wipe them down after the ride or, if it was really muddy that day, hose them off in the wash rack. Don't leave dirt or mud on the boots. Over time, not only will it cause the boots to look dull and dirty, it can actually damage them and make them wear out faster.

Wash saddle pads, half pads, fuzzy girths, and polo wraps on a regular basis, not just the day before the show. If you wash them regularly, they are more likely to stay the color they were when you bought them, and they will be softer and more comfortable for the horses.

Put an extra shine on everything the day before the show
If it's warm enough, give the horses a bath, making sure you shampoo them all over and condition their tails. If it's too cold for a full bath, you can give them a sponge bath.

Pull their manes (only under the guidance of your coach). If you don't know how to pull a mane properly, watch your coach or an experienced team mate so you can learn for next time.

Take a good look at all the tack. Give it one last cleaning, and while you're at it, make sure everything is in good working order. Tell your coach if you notice something that doesn't look right. Make sure that you have a freshly laundered saddle pad for each horse, as well as any other cloth tack each horse wears (half pad, fuzzy girth, polo wraps, etc.)

Keep in mind, if your whole team has been keeping up with the daily grooming and tack cleaning, the day before the show will be a whole lot easier and less stressful.

Get it right on show morning
The morning of the show, give the horses one more thorough grooming and clean up any manure stains they may have gotten in the stall the night before. Clean their hooves inside and out, making sure there is no dirt or mud on the outside of the hoof. Brush the mane and tail, getting all of the shavings out.

Tack them up properly, making sure that the saddle pad is even on both sides, the half pad is positioned correctly, and the girth is the right size (you should have a couple extra holes on the billets above the girth on both sides in case it needs to be tightened later).

Put the boots on the correct feet, with straps facing backwards, or make sure the polos are wrapped correctly. If you don't know how to put on polos, ask your coach or an experienced teammate to do it while you watch and learn.

After you put on the bridle and martingale, check that all the fittings are in their keepers and you have no leather straps hanging out of place.

Take pride in your horses' turnout
Proper turnout of your team's horses at IEA shows demonstrates not only that you have respect for the judge and equestrian sport in general, but also, because you are preparing your horses to look their best for other competitors to ride, it also demonstrates good sportsmanship.

If you the horse you drew is turned out especially well, take a moment to tell the horse holder and let her know you appreciate all the hard work her team put into getting the horses properly prepared for the show. It always feels good to know that someone noticed all your hard work and appreciates it.

Thank You!
I'd like to say thank you to the Milton High School IEA team and coach Lauren Kambler for turning their horses out well and allowing me to use their sweet Petey as a model. I think he was enjoying all the attention!

If you enjoyed this post, please take a moment to like and share on facebook. Thanks! --Amanda