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  1. #1
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    Default Advice for English rider trying out a few western classes at a schooling show

    Howdy ya'll. I have a 9 year old OTTB mare who has almost always been ridden English in a snaffle. There is a schooling show coming up and you can enter unlimited classes for cheap. So in addition to the standard english stuff, I am thinking of trying her in Western Eq and Western Pleasure. I will probably try her in a argentine snaffle (I think even in a schooling show if they are her age they are expected to go in something with a shank. I'll try to really ride her off seat and legs (which we have been working on in our lessons anyway). She is used to rein contact so that may be interesting (though she's usually on a loose rein on the trail). And I'm used to riding with two hands so that too will be a challenge. I think the western classes will be after she has done everything else so she may even be interested in moving a little more slowly! Any advice/wisdom greatly appreciated. At the least, it may be quite entertaining for the spectators!!!



  2. #2
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    Yes, generally even in open shows, any horse over 5 years old is expected to be ridden one handed in a leverage bit, unless you see otherwise specified in the rules somewhere. Sometimes it can depend on the divisions offered and who is holding the show.

    For example: in my state's local show circuit, horses in the green horse division (walk/trot horses in their first two years of showing) are allowed to show in a leverage bit and they are allowed to use two hands. Personally, I think that's improper use of the equipment/tack being used, but that is their rule.

    Do you know how to correctly hold the reins for one-handed riding? (not an insult here, just asking because some folks don't know!)
    "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."



  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by SuckerForHorses View Post
    Do you know how to correctly hold the reins for one-handed riding? (not an insult here, just asking because some folks don't know!)
    I believe I did... circa late 70's last time I showed western. Back then it was make a fist with thumb up and both reins go in at pinkie end and out at thumb end. Like holding an ice cream cone..... However, I think this might be out of date. Can anyone enlighten me? Any link to a good video would certainly be appreciated!



  4. #4
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    At the schooling shows in my neighborhood, you don't need to follow 'any' rules except safety- the whole idea is to school the horse. So if it were me, I'd take my OTTB in the western classes with whatever bit the horse is used to- and ride 'as much as possible' to the discipline but not throw a whole lot of new stuff at the horse at once, like different bit, completely off contact when they aren't used to it, one handed when they are used to two, whatever. Such shows are great for a positive, no pressure experience and I love to do them even for training a horse I'm not planning to show.



  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mukluk View Post
    I believe I did... circa late 70's last time I showed western. Back then it was make a fist with thumb up and both reins go in at pinkie end and out at thumb end. Like holding an ice cream cone..... However, I think this might be out of date. Can anyone enlighten me? Any link to a good video would certainly be appreciated!
    Yep, different now. http://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j...66376152167117
    "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."



  6. #6
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    Thanks about the reins. Do western riders adjust rein length while riding? If so how? I read that you are supposed to have the rein ends hang on the same side as the hand holding the reins- so it would seem very difficult to shorten or lengthen reins with just one hand. Sounds like that could be quite a challenge with my girl- she will probably need some rein pressure at times to remind her to not go too fast. I think I am going to show her in a snaffle bit since that is what she is used to. We are really going to try this on a totally experimental/amateur hour basis so I don't think it will matter. Also in looking at some videos on the web, I saw folks showing in western pleasure with two hands on the reins- is this a new trend? Is it OK to do in a western pleasure class?



  7. #7
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    No one at a schooling show is going to mouth that mare and find out she should be in a shanked bit (according to AQHA rules).

    You don't know how to effectively ride one handed and won't figure it out fast, I promise, LOL. Just ride her 'two handed' in a snaffle (preferably one that's on a western style, browband bridle and go have fun. Don't try to be someone new in two weeks. Just go.

    You CAN ride a Jr (i.e. young horse) two handed in a bosal or snaffle. You CANNOT ride any age horse in any shanked bit with two hands- unless you're doing the goofy version of Western Dressage that allows such a thing.



  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by katarine View Post
    You CANNOT ride any age horse in any shanked bit with two hands- unless you're doing the goofy version of Western Dressage that allows such a thing.
    As I pointed out above, some association DO allow riding in a shanked bit with two hands. Just depends on what they have for rules.

    If you're not worried about the "correct" equipment for the horse's age group because its a schooling show, then yes, I would show her two handed in a snaffle with a western headstall. Just keep in mind that if you continue to show and progress further than schooling shows, you'll need to ride her in a shanked bit.
    "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."



  9. #9
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    Thanks so much everyone. I am trying to round up some chaps (used of course) and a show shirt of some type. I have a western bridle and can borrow a saddle. I'm going to go with a snaffle and probably do two handed because that's what she's used to- easier for me to be more subtle too with any rein adjustments (I have watched several western pleasure/eq videos and I know she isn't going to be able to do everything on that loose of a rein! I wonder how the hell they teach those horses to go so s l o w. My horse will likely lap everyone in the arena several times. I don't want her to "trope" just a slow canter.

    mini rant. Those horses that "trope" look like they're crippled- I hope the western world is going to move away from that someday. In my day it was just a nice slow canter- which I think looks much more natural. I've never seen anyone doing ranch work on a "troper." But what do I know.


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  10. #10
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    When i showed my Morgan cross at the little saddle clubs sometimes we would stick around and do the western classes. Nobody minded or thought bad of us. They knew he wasn't a western horse and we did it for fun. They actually encouraged us to try it and to even run some barrels lol. I got on him in the western classes in his snaffle that he always rode in. He was 15 years old. Who cares, I wasn't there to win, he wasn't a western horse by no means. He was my dressage horse in training and we did saddle clubs for exposure and jump some small jumps. Anyways, we rode in his snaffle. I did ride with one hand because he did know how to neck rein, I rode him like normal because he knew seat and leg. I did let him plop along though. I didn't ask for forward, I just let him go like if we were on a trail ride. We were still passing the other western horses lol but it was ok. I also showed him in some halter and showmanship and in hand trail classes. I mean they were 7 bucks a class and that was it so why not. My friend also showed her guy in them some. We stayed and ran barrels a couple times. That was pretty funny for us, but everyone just clapped and yelled for us. My friend actually placed in the 3d with her eventer qh lol and she did it in her jumping saddle to boot lol. Have fun don't stress it.
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  11. #11
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    Well I am anticipating that the girl will kick some butt in the english classes so when we "convert" to western folks will know that it isn't her "first language." Plan is just to have fun. Both English and Western classes count for high point so it can't hurt to enter the western classes. Plus I think it will be fun!



  12. #12
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    Anyways, we rode in his snaffle. I did ride with one hand because he did know how to neck rein, I rode him like normal because he knew seat and leg.
    And that is definitely improper use of tack being used.

    ALWAYS ride two handed in a snaffle especially when showing.
    "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."



  13. #13
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    It was a small saddle club and was for fun, so it helped me not rely on my reins at all and just use my seat and leg which really was good for us.
    Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole



  14. #14
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    ALWAYS ride two handed in a snaffle especially when showing.
    Except if you're roping.
    Ranch roping, that is...not too many arena ropers in snaffles. You have to make a figure-8 out of your reins in one hand, so you can communicate direction to your horse. But it does work...just not easy!

    OP, glad you had fun, great to try new things, and in a forgiving and fun environment!



  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by SuckerForHorses View Post
    And that is definitely improper use of tack being used.

    ALWAYS ride two handed in a snaffle especially when showing.
    1. It's a schooling show, schooling shows are great opportunities to school, meaning ride however you need to to achieve your goals for the day.
    2. I routinely ride my horses one handed in a snaffle. When riding western as well as when riding English, such as when foxhunting. Nothing 'improper' or wrong about it. They can spin just as well with snaffle or bosal as with any curb bit, because if you are riding correctly (emphasis on seat and legs) whatever hardware is or isn't in a horse's mouth is or should be almost irrelevant.

    BTW as I learned when riding in France, 'proper' horsemanship in the Cadre Noir context includes being able to ride a horse in a full bridle one-handed.


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  16. #16
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    I understand if it's show rules but it wasn't. But I find it interesting that you Always ride in a snaffle with two hands. I know many many a rider that ride their horses only in snaffles and trail ride them all day with one hand. If the horse neck reins your not even really touching the bit when turning and if they are trained properly you use your seat and leg for the other stuff so why is it such a no no to rode a snaffle with one hand?

    I see it the other way really. You always ride a shank bit with one hand but wd allows it with 2 hands?
    Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole



  17. #17
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    People who make up 'the show rules' aren't automatically the world's leading experts on the subject.

    Why complain about western dressage allowing two hands on a shanked bit when, for Pete's sake, you show in Grand Prix dressage with two hands on two bits, functional equivalent of snaffle and curb? And as previously mentioned- classical dressage expectations are, you can properly handle those two bits with two hands, or one.

    My own unqualified amateur opinion is- you ought strive to be able to size up your horse and ride one hand or two accordingly, no matter what is in its mouth. Sure, if you are showing in rated/recognized shows you need to follow the rules whether they are good, bad, or indifferent.


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  18. #18
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    I'm not complaining about wd at all. I've just never heard of not riding in a snaffle with one hand?? But I have heard not to ride in a shank with 2 so I'm trying to figure out what is what.
    If we are going into dressage, well yes upper levels require the double and two hands but the curb is only used (or is suppose to be) when needed and not the whole ride. Little different then riding a whole test in one with 2 hands. But I'm not here to argue Im just confused with the statement. I understand if that is western show rules, but this was a saddle club and a small one. Maybe there was a rule about it, it does run by aqha rules but no one ever told us different or said anything bad. Just have fun and try it pretty much is what we got. I also don't think if your horse is always in a snaffle that you should throw them in a shank bit for a class in a show for the first time. Jmo.
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  19. #19
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    Clarification: If you're showing western (pleasure, not roping, etc) then you should be riding with two hands if you're using a snaffle.

    I'm not saying out on the trail you MUST use two hands. I trail ride in a snaffle and also use one hand there.
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