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IHSA riders, can you weigh in?

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  • IHSA riders, can you weigh in?

    My horse was used for an IHSA show recently, and I think the reason they ask him back is because he's safe.

    That being said, he's LAAAAAZZZZY. I mean, if you don't "know" him and don't have a crop, don't bother going in the ring. On the horse sheet it says YES in bold for a crop.

    He was used in novice fences and he went great for one rider (carried a crop), and terrible for another (no crop). Part of me feels bad but the other part of me says - how dumb can you be?? - it says it right on the sheet. Once you get him going in fences classes he's awesome.

    For the flat classes he is used in the novice and beginner. I honestly don't think he's good for the beginner, except walk/trot (its his canter that needs more convincing).

    He had 50/50 rides. A girl got a second on him, but others didn't place or could not get him to canter, or broke.

    I went up to almost every rider who drew him and said (literally!) "Beat him and you have to tell him who's boss as soon as you get in the gate". I strongly told them to stay on top of him.

    NONE of them (save for the second place rider!) listened to me and gave him a little tappity tap! And with a jumping bat, that's NOTHING.

    So, I guess my question is, why? Why, when you've watched a horse go ALL DAY like this, would you go in so ill-prepared? Why, when it says "YES" to a crop, would you not even GO IN with one???

    It sucks for me (and towards the end I had to go sit in my truck) because I know people are going "Oh that horse is so _____" even though - if you tell him what to do, he does it!

  • #2
    I understand your frustration, and I can think of two likely explanations for why the riders were reluctant to smack your horse (I can't explain why they didn't want to hold a bat, maybe it's just me but if the horse draw sheet says crop optional, you can bet your butt that I'm not going in there unarmed, unless I saw the horse do something that makes me not want to carry a bat).

    1. The riders were used to regular shows, where use of a stick is penalized much more heavily than in IHSA classes.

    2. The riders were inexperienced and nervous, and thus didn't think to discipline the horse for his resistance.

    Also, we're not allowed to give them a tap with the bat until we're in the ring and the class starts- and once again most people are reluctant to hit a horse while being judged.

    That being said, it's good that some people did well on your horse, so that no one could complain about him being a bad draw or asking for a reride, and you probably gave a bunch of people a great learning experience in the value of being effective vs. just trying to look great the whole time.


    • #3
      I was an IHSA coach for 3 years and an IEA coach for 4.... I can tell you that a lot lies on the coahes shoulders and their approach.

      I had a horse that was used in the IEA show for YEARS...and the only people that LOVED him...were the really advanced kids, or the scared kids. Why????? because he was LAAAZZZYYYY! The advanced kids could give him a good kick in the *ss and he would say "yes I am going....NOW!" and the scared, timid beginner kids were so thankful to be on a horse that wasn't tearing around the ring with them..... the middle of the road riders ..... which is 75% of the riders on these teams...HATED him because they could not get his "buttons" correct.

      (Please keep in mind that this horse was a 3'6 hunter/eq mount and had won championships with me, my daughter and MANY of my students up and down the east coast)

      As far as "whaling" on the with a crop"....none of the trainers are going to encourage that, but a smart trainer listens to the handler who knows the horse, watches the previous rides and comes up with a plan to get the horse in motion and make the best of the ride. There is a reason there is time before the show to view the horses and watch them school.... Seasoned IEA and IHSA coaches, sit on the rail and watch it all... half the success your riders have is in how much the coach pays attention to the available rides and tells their kid how to ride it.

      Come on....we all know how to "sneak" in a swift pop of the crop without drawing attention of the judge.... BUT in IEA and IHSA....you have the stewards to deal with as well

      Luck of the draw, a good coach and a rider who is good at adjusting.....they will give your horse the "proper" ride


      • #4
        Carrying a crop is one thing; using it is a whole different ball game. There is such concern about the potential for abuse (in the rules) that most riders are really reluctant to actually use a crop, even if they are carrying one. Not allowed to use it at all before they go in the ring, of course.

        In a case like this, it would not be a bad idea to ask the stewards to tell the judge that the horse's owner approves of, and asks the horse handlers to tell riders, to give the horse a sharp tap with the bat as soon as they get in the ring. And then tell the riders to go in the ring, ask for something (ie, a more fwd walk) and follow up with a tap with the bat, just to establish that it is there.

        Honestly, so many lower-level IHSA classes are lost when the horse walks off from the mounting block and the rider just accepts what the horse gives them, instead of establishing the pace themself. There are some regions that are so rigid about the rider doing anything before they are in the ring, that even this is outside the lines of what's allowed. But, honestly, if the riders would understand that wise horses need to know who is in charge right away, they would find themselves having better rides. Part of the art of catch-riding.
        "One person's cowboy is another person's blooming idiot" -- katarine

        Spay and neuter. Please.


        • #5
          Mine is like that! He will argue with you about how hard he has to work for as long as you let him. But if he knows you will give him a slap with the stick, he gets right to work. But once his motor is on, he carries himself around. He's an Appy! I think it is a sign of intelligence! Maybe they see him going around, and don't realize you have to jump start him.
          Rest in peace Claudius, we will miss you.


          • Original Poster

            Thanks for the insight guys! I feel like a schmuck - because I KNOW that the people who had bad rides are like "this pony is a piece of schlit!" and I KNOW he is more than that!!!!

            For reference, this is him, isn't he cute!?!? That's not me schooling him.

            I will keep in mind next time to let the stewards know that I approve of (and encourage) a sharp tap to kick-start him in the arena. Good point!

            Thanks again - reaffirms that he's a good guy and that its just the way the game is played sometimes.


            • #7
              In my region it's definitely MORE penalized to use the crop than at a regular show. A judge told a rider from my team that she was a horse abuser for using the crop in her class. She used it entirely correctly and only after she'd tried leg, seat, and voice, because of what the judge said she stopped riding IHSA hunt seat and just does western now.

              Another reason that it's penalized is that it says your leg is not strong enough to get the horse going.

              And then there's also the riders that are afraid of the horse acting out if they hit it with the crop.

              At the end of the day it's still a horse show and people will blame their inability to figure a horse out on the horse being crap whether it's the nicest horse in the world or not.
              Who needs wings when you've got a jumper?


              • #8
                He is a cutie!

                I figure I jumped somewhere around 30-40 different horses in IHSA, and rode somewhere around 80+. I think the only horse I had to get on and immediately pop with a crop was one of our school's horses who liked backing up instead of going forward when we were practicing a forward course without reins or stirrups. It's not a common thing to get on a horse you don't know and pop him, whether it needs to be a firm tap or just a whisper of crop saying "hey, listen to my leg darnit!" You never know if a horse will go on a bucking spree or just do what you ask, or what, and you never know what "firm" means. It sounds as if your horse was quite possible to get going forward nicely, but maybe not the best match for lower levels on the flat. A challenge like that is actually better for the higher level riders, though safety for the lower level kids is a concern, too. It sounds like he really did showcase better riding vs. not as good riding.
                If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by spacytracy View Post
                  Thanks for the insight guys! I feel like a schmuck - because I KNOW that the people who had bad rides are like "this pony is a piece of schlit!" and I KNOW he is more than that!!!!
                  They need someone to remind them that, without people like you, they would have no horse show at all! Some horses are easy, some are tough, and we learn from all of them.

                  So--Thank You for allowing your horse to be used at an IHSA show!
                  "One person's cowboy is another person's blooming idiot" -- katarine

                  Spay and neuter. Please.


                  • #10
                    I'm no college kid anymore and can and have ridden just about anything...but NO way I would really swing the bat and smack a strange horse I had just gotten on. no matter who assured me of what.

                    Just wouldn't, not smart. Got some scars to prove how I leaned that too.

                    Would not call it a POS either.

                    OP, don't take it personally but kind of doubt any of those riders are childish enough to call your horse that you generously provided a POS because they could not find the gas pedal.
                    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                    • Original Poster

                      You would think not, but although its very much drilled into them that you DON'T talk about a horse until you are in your van on the way home, they do. And I hear it all. Because I'm not affiliated with the team (the coach is my trainer), I'm not wearing the team jacket, I don't look like a college kid, I'm not wearing riding clothes, so while I'm on the rail watching the rounds, the kids talk to their parents, complain about their draw, etc.

                      And good point about the crop and being afraid to whack a horse you don't know. That's so true.

                      He is a great learning experience, my trainer tells me, for the students. Because they are used to push-button horses. Its good for them to ride something more challenging and learn how to ride other horse.


                      • #12
                        The only class I won was on a horse like that. He kept breaking for everyone all day long so when I walked into the ring, I gave him one good kick with my outside leg and squeezed harder than I ever did. Not only did he not break gait, he actually moved forward and felt really nice. My legs felt like jello by the end of the class, but apparently I did something right!
                        The only thing the government needs to solve all of its problems is a Council of Common Sense.


                        • #13
                          My very first jumping class for IHSA I drew a sluggish horse that I watched team mates jump twice earlier, not to mention the other teams using him. I used my bat for about half the fences once I got straight to them and felt him backing off on the gas, just like he had every other round. Canter... crawl... slomotion jerky hop over the fence. I think I did it behind my leg the first time, and the rest was a (hopefully subtle) thwack on the shoulder as insurance to reinforce my leg when he didn't perk up. I ended up winning the class (color me shocked!), but you can bet with every time I used the crop I was concerned I would be penalized... worried I was relying on the bat too much... etc. But at that point I also knew that if I didn't use the bat I was guaranteed last place like every other rider who rode him (and stayed on), so I mentally weighed the risks somewhere between fence 2 and 3, took a chance, and luckily the judge rewarded it.

                          So perhaps you want to consider more artfully determining which classes he should be used for. The intermediate and advanced riders may be more confident using a crop if it's necessary.

                          And maybe tell riders that if he isn't 100% responsive to their leg when they start their opening circle (or first gait) to use it then. At the top of the ride is a slightly more acceptable-seeming time to use it (and point out for future insurance that you have it).

                          And if they choose not to carry the crop... well, yeah. That's on them.


                          • #14
                            What your horse gave those not-so-hot-round riders was a great learning experience!! I definitely came off quite a few IHSA rides to have my legs just about buckle underneath me (lazy horses + tired horses + unfit rider). I never thought badly of the horse. If anything, it's, "Oh crud, this horse is going to make me work hard." Or maybe, "I'm sorry, horse, I know I was your 5th ride today and you're tired, thanks for giving it a good try."

                            If I drew your horse, I don't think I would pop him immediately just because someone told me to, but if I gave him serious leg and he didn't respond... well, if you don't up the ante at that point, you only have yourself to blame. Especially if someone puts "YES" on the horse sheet. I mean, come on. The horse sheet is like reading a sales ad -take everything it says and multiply by 100. "Prefers soft contact" = "horse will FLIP if you touch its face." "Needs crop" = "will not move an inch unless you beat it." etc. etc.

                            Don't blame yourself or your horse if the riders had bad rides. It was an "educational opportunity" for them, and maybe next time they'll change their ride to adjust to the horse (and read the darn horse sheet, too!). Honestly, I think especially in the lower divisions, *most* of the IHSA horses tend to be very lazy/tired/hard to get going. So it's not like your horse is the only horse in the country that needs a little giddy-up. The riders who did badly will probably draw a similar horse again at another show, and maybe next time they will be better prepared!


                            • #15
                              For IHSA I was taught for god's sake carry the crop, but it is a LAST resort and should only be used discreetly. I'd be more likely to give him a boot with my outside leg for a sticky canter than nail him with a crop. Especially look at it from the judge's view-whaling on a horse's ass with the crop looks like you a) don't have a good enough leg and b) are taking your frustration out on the horse. Both of those (especially the second!) would plummet you in placings.
                              "Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out." ~John Wooden

                              Phoenix Animal Rescue