Building Better Relationships Between Horse and Rider

  • 18 May 2016 12:30 AM | Miriam Altman (Administrator)

    Ok, so let’s talk about equipment. This one’s been on the plate to discuss for awhile. The truth is that we’ve all started somewhere when it comes to showing and every organization has a different set of rules when it comes to legal equipment. Whether you’re new to ASHA or just need a refresher, let’s talk about what’s allowed in the show ring and what’s not.

    • Saddles – Every horse is required to be shown in a stock saddle. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just in good working order, and all that silver and bling isn’t going to get you more points with the judge. It doesn’t matter if you’re riding a reining or a roping saddle, or whatever you preference is, just make sure it’s clean and functioning properly.
    • Cinches – You are welcome to use whatever type of cinch you prefer, whether it be mohair or neoprene or fleece padded. Just make sure that is also in clean, working order and that it’s smooth so that there’s nothing on it that could make it considered inhumane (this would make it illegal). You are not required to ride with a rear cinch however, it may come in handy if you’re dragging a log in the trail. Also, if you do have a rear cinch, make sure you have a cinch hobble between the front and rear cinches.
    • Pads – There are no requirements on what type of pad you should be using. Just make sure that it’s in good working order and clean. Again, fancy doesn’t earn you anything.
    • Bits and Bosals – Here’s where it gets trickier! Let’s break it down by type:
      • Snaffles – Horses of any age may be shown in a snaffle. Snaffles should be no less than 5/16” thin and no greater than 3/4” thick when you measure one inch in on the mouthpiece from the cheek. ALL snaffle mouthpieces should be SMOOTH. That means no twisted wire, no slow twists, no square mouthpieces, etc. Snaffles may have more than one break with some type of center connection, such as a dog bone. Nothing should protrude below the mouthpiece such as extensions or prongs.
      • Curb Bits – Again horses of any age may be shown in a curb bit. The mouthpiece of a curb should be no less than 5/16” thin and no greater than 3/4" thick when you measure one in on the mouthpiece from the cheek. The port of a curb bit should be no greater than 3 ½” high. Rollers and covers are acceptable. Broken, half breed, and spades are also acceptable. Again, ALL curb bits must have a SMOOTH mouthpiece, meaning no chains, no floating curbs, etc. Nothing should protrude below the mouthpiece such as extensions or prongs. The shank of a curb bit should be no longer than 8 ½” long when measured on the outside from the top of the bridle attachment to the bottom of the rein attachment.
      • Bosals – All horses of any age maybe shown in a bosal. Bosals should be made of rawhide and be in good working order. You must use a mecate rein when riding in a bosal.
    • Curb Straps – You are required to have a curb strap when riding in a curb bit. Your curb may be a chain or a strap that must be at least 1/2" wide and lie flat along the chin. No wire curbs are allowed, regardless of the amount of padding you try to put on it. Also, absolutely no iron is permitted under the jaws.
    • Reins – You should be using split reins, romels, or a mecate with a tie rope, based on the type of bit you’re using. A mecate would be legal with snaffles or a bosal. Split reins are also legal for use with a snaffle or use with a curb bit. Romels are only legal to use with a curb bit. Closed reins other than a mecate or romels are never permitted.
    • Rider Attire – You should be wearing clean clothes but again, fancy isn’t the goal here. Just make sure you look neat and clean. You must wear either a protective headgear or a western hat. You are also required to wear a long sleeved shirt and western boots. Western boots include typical cowboy boots or lace up ropers, everything else is illegal. We’re also going to throw in here that you should be wearing jeans. Chaps or chinks and spurs are optional equipment.
    • Illegal Equipment – Illegal equipment includes many things based on the above rules but items that are never allowed in the show pen include tie-downs, gag bits, mechanical hackamores, cavessons, running martingales, or anything that the judge prohibits or deems as inhumane.

    So maybe you’ve made the mistake of walking into the show pen using some of the illegal equipment listed above. Maybe you forgot to remove a cavesson from the warm-up. Or maybe you’ve been roping most of your life and a tie-down is something you wouldn’t have thought not to ride in. Whatever the reason, it happens, but just keep in mind that the judge reserves the right to disqualify you if they see you are using illegal equipment. The judge and show management also reserves the right to require equipment checks either before you enter the ring or after. Showing in illegal equipment can lead to disqualification or if even being asked to leave the show grounds if it is deemed too inhumane.

    Having equipment rules makes sure that our horses are treated humanely and that all riders are riding on an even playing field. If you have any questions about what equipment is legal or illegal, reach out to a friend, a CoWN officer, or a CoWN board member and they will be happy to answer your questions. Just make sure you’re familiar with the equipment rules because, after all, does that win really feel so good if you weren’t playing by the rules?

  • 2 Mar 2016 10:30 AM | Miriam Altman (Administrator)

    We have all been to a show and the warm-up pen is chaos. A very important part of the show is the warm-up so let’s talk about warm-up pen etiquette. Protocol may vary slightly by venue, discipline, or event but overall warm-up pen etiquette is simple – good manners. Keeping your head up and an eye on what is going on throughout the pen will help keep yourself safe but also your fellow riders.

    Be courteous to the other riders when entering the arena. Please don’t mount or dismount your horse where others are moving.  Travel in the same direction of other horses. If you are riding past another rider going the opposite direction pass like you are driving a car – left shoulder to left shoulder. Being polite in a warm-up pen can go a long ways.

    We know that everyone needs to warm up so having some respect for other riders will allow for everyone to accomplish their goals.  Please don’t lung your horse in the warm-up pen; head to a lunging area for this task. Also, don’t tailgate another horse. Give them at least 8 feet between you and the other horse. This gives yourself enough room to maneuver away from trouble if needed. On that note, please do not stop your horse in main traffic. The inside of the circle is for slower speeds while the outside is to go faster. If the majority of horses are walking and you need to lope then move to the outside. If riders start to line up on the short wall of the arena then its fencing time. Please stay out of the middle and proceed to the corners or long walls. If you are fencing yell “heads up” if someone is in your way as to not cause an accident. It’s important to get your horse warmed up but we want everyone to be safe while doing it.

    All in all, we want everyone to have a great show. It’s important to have a sense of humor and be courteous towards all riders. This may be the first show for some riders and some may not understand proper warm-up pen etiquette.  Please be courteous to other riders and no cell phone use in the arena. Please have respect for other riders and use common sense. If everyone follows these guidelines we will have a safe, productive warm-up pen and show.
    Arena Etiquette: What is appropriate in the warm-up pen? Carroll Brown Arnold
    Americas Horse Daily. Warm up to Etiquette: Part 1.

  • 12 Sep 2015 10:30 PM | Miriam Altman (Administrator)

    If you’ve ever shown in NRHA, NRCHA, NCHA, AQHA or other national organizations, you may have grown accustom to a different scoring system. The American Stock Horse Association follows their own scoring system, and for many it takes a bit to get used to. The ASHA has developed a scoring system that is relatively easy to follow and according to the handbook it is designed to be “positive and straight forward – always encouraging growth and improvement”. ASHA uses a positive score based system that gives horses credit for what they do accomplish, rather than disqualifications with zero scores.

    The scoring system gives a score of 1 to 10 for each maneuver that is completed in all ASHA classes. If a maneuver is not attempted or a portion of a course is omitted, the judge can give the horse a score of 0. If a maneuver or portion of a class is even attempted, even with little success, the judge must give that horse at least a score of 1. For example, if you decide your horse isn’t ready for the bridge and completely avoid it in the trail course, you receive a 0 for the bridge but receive a score for every other obstacle and an overall score for the class. Another good example is if you go into your reining pattern, completely blank (don’t worry, we’ve all done it), and only spin 3 times left when the pattern called for 4 spins left, you still attempted your spins and will receive a score for the spins you completed. The basic breakdown of the scoring for each attempted maneuver is as follows:

    1 to 4 – the maneuver included major faults
    5 to 7 – the maneuver was of average quality
    8 to 10 – the maneuver was of high quality

    A horse can only be disqualified by the judge for illegal equipment, obvious lameness, or inhumane treatment or misconduct from the rider. If you aren’t sure what is considered legal or illegal equipment, refer to the ASHA handbook… or we might just cover that in another newsletter!

    If you fall off or your horse falls in a run, your run is ended when you or the horse hits the ground. Hopefully this never happens to you but the good news if it does, is your horse still receives a score for all work completed up to the point of the fall. A horse is considered to have fallen when all four feet are facing the same direction (and not in the upright position!). In the event that your equipment fails or becomes unsafe during a run, your run is stopped but your horse still receives credit for all work completed up to that point.

    The judging rule most often confused in the scoring system is the use of two hands with a curb bit, using more than one finger in between split reins with a curb, or using any fingers in between romel reins. Any of these result in a two point deduction in run content for each occurrence during a run. Continuous use of two hands on the reins with a curb bit is considered a major fault and the judge is required to reflect this in the maneuver score.

    One last thing that’s important to note; if you ever notice that the scores on the printed class score tabulations don’t match the judge’s written scores, they must be reported to the show secretary immediately. It is very difficult to correct errors in class score tabulations after the show or once all classes are complete and the overall scores are calculated.

  • 12 Sep 2015 10:00 PM | Miriam Altman (Administrator)

    It's no lie when we say CoWN is growing! Our shows are getting bigger and because of that, there's a lot more entries to deal with. There are a few things you can do to make sure the entry process is as simple as possible and the show secretary's job isn't any harder than it already is. 

    Most of the entry forms are in PDF format which requires you to print and hand write them. 
    When you submit entry forms, be sure to print clearly to ensure legibility. You could also try a handy PDF editing software like PDFescape. It's totally free!

    Make sure that your entry forms are completely filled out. Names, organizations numbers, and contact information are pretty important. If you don't include contact information, we can't contact you if there's an issue with your entry or even if there's a show cancellation! If you need your organization numbers, check out the member resources on the CoWN website here

    Although we all have cell phones, taking a picture of your entry isn't an acceptable format to submit. If you don't have a scanner and have to use your phone, try using a photo to PDF converter like CamScanner. It's also totally free, available for iPhone, Android, iPad, and even Windows 8! It will take your poorly lighted photo and reshape and brighten it into a clearer and crisp PDF! Pretty handy.

    One last thing... if you enter a show and don't show or cancel, you are still required to pay your  cattle and office fees. If you don't pay these fees, you may be blocked from entering any future shows until your outstanding balance is resolved. If you have to cancel due to lameness, make sure you have a note from your veterinarian and work with the show secretary on entry fees. 

  • 11 Aug 2015 11:00 PM | Miriam Altman (Administrator)

    For the majority of us, tracking points is relatively straight forward... that's assuming you actually understand how to track points which, we all know is a feat in itself. If you do know, you can usually figure out where you stand at a show, in CoWN standings, in the regional standings, and in the national standings. But for those of us showing in certain divisions, tracking points can be a bit more complicated.
    Currently, our parent organization, ASHA, only recognizes the primary divisions of Open, Non-Pro, Limited Non-Pro, Novice, Green Horse, and Youth. As an affiliate of ASHA , CoWN must always offer these divisions. However, CoWN also reserves the right to break these divisions out further, even though ASHA won’t recognize the secondary division. For divisions recognized by CoWN but not by our national organization, ASHA, your standings with CoWN won't match your national standings.
    The divisions that currently fall under these circumstances are the Green Horse and Youth divisions. CoWN has split the Green Horse and Youth divisions out further into rider classifications, to make it more equitable for the horse and riders. Green Horse is split into open and non-pro divisions, so that non-professionals don't have to compete directly against professionals. Youth is split between 13 year olds and under and 14 to 18 year olds, so that younger youth do not have to compete directly against the older youth.
    Unfortunately for riders in these divisions, because ASHA does not yet recognize the split between rider classifications, all riders competing in these divisions are grouped into their primary division for point tracking purposes. That means that all riders competing in the Green Horse, both non-pro and open, are grouped together for point calculation under ASHA. All riders competing in the youth, both 13 and under and 14 to 18 are also grouped together for point calculation under ASHA. 
    Fortunately, what this does mean for riders in these divisions is that even if you aren’t sitting where you might want to be under ASHA due to being grouped with all other riders in the Green Horse or Youth division, you could be sitting pretty well with CoWN! So even if you’re not champion in the nation, you could still be champion with CoWN. And even if you’re neither… you’re still champion in our hearts!
    If you’re still not quite sure why your national or regional standing differs from your CoWN standing, let us know, refer to your ASHA and CoWN handbooks, or discuss with one of your board members.

  • 3 Jul 2015 2:00 PM | Miriam Altman (Administrator)

    A lot of you may have seen a cohort in your division showing in classes in another division and wondered, "Is that allowed?" The answer is yes, as long as that person is maintaining their status declaration as either a professional or non-professional.

    Professional riders are considered such if they receive any remuneration for equine related training activities such as riding or training horses for payment, giving clinics, showing horses, or teaching lessons. Non-professional (non-pro) riders are considered such if they do not receive any remuneration for equine related training activities such as these. Refer to the ASHA handbook if you need more details on eligibility status.

    What you really need to know is that ASHA states that the Open Division is “open to any professional or non-professional member, in good standing, with any horse regardless of past winnings”. This is the only division that professional riders are able to show in however; anyone else can also show in the Open Division as well.

    The Non-Pro and Limited Non-Pro Divisions are open to any rider that meets the non-professional eligibility requirements. Non-Pro and Limited Non-Pro riders are allowed to show in either class as well as the Open Division. ASHA states “exhibitors may also show in the Open or Non-Pro divisions without losing their eligibility in the Limited Non-Pro division”.

    The Novice Division eligibility requirements are a bit more complex but all riders are required to maintain non-professional status. Novice riders are allowed to cross enter into any other division including Open, Non-Pro, and Limited Non-Pro Divisions as long as they maintain their eligibility requirements based on the ASHA handbook. An important thing to note for Novice riders is that the ASHA handbook also states that “if a rider’s eligibility is in question, they must attend an ASHA clinic to be assessed by an ASHA Approved Clinician and the Event Manager in all four classes”.

    So the short and skinny is that if you’re a non-professional, you can cross-enter! It’s a great way to practice those right spins in your reining, dragging the log, or your downward transitions before you compete against in your division for all around points. Even if you’re not competitive in the division you cross-entered to, it may help take the nerves of you or your horse or point out areas to focus on when you show in your all-around division. Also, if you show more than three times in one class at a CoWN approved show, you earn points towards end of year awards for that class. 

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