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All About Horses

Horses are very majestic and enjoyable animals. They can be ridden in many kinds of equestrian sports or they can just be pets. One type of riding is hunter/jumper. Hunter/jumper is considered an English style of riding. This type of style differs from Western and other English disciplines in one important way. In this sport, the rider and horse work as a team to successfully clear a series of jumps in various environments. This can be done throughout the cold months in an indoor arena where the lighting is minimal and the dust is maximal, on warm sunny woods. Often all three riding environments will be utilized in one outing. The warm-up is various gates. The pair may then go outside to the arena jump course, and finally head into the woods for a relaxing trail ride. This parallels other types of horse sports in the fact that care preparing the horse are very similar. Grooming the horse includes cleaning dirt and debris from hooves, brushing the coat, and braiding the mane. The "tacking" process is is also very similar. A rider has to inspect the bridle and saddle straps for any sighns of damage before and after a ride. He or she must also be able to fasten small and large buckles for a secure fit of the bridle and saddle. Show jumping comprises a timed event judged on the ability of the horse and rider to jump over a series of obstacles, in a given order and with the fewest refusals or knockdowns of portions of the obstacles. At the Grand Prix level fences may reach a height of as much as 6 feet. Western riding is another type of riding. The outfit of the competition Western rider differs from that of the dressage or 'English' rider. In dressage all riders wear the same to prevent distraction from the riding itself. But show -- in the form of outfit (and silver ornaments on saddle and tack) -- forms part of Western riding. The riders must wear cowboy boots, jeans, a shirt with long sleeves, and a cowboy hat. Riders can choose any color, and optionally accoutrements such as chaps, bolo ties, belt buckles, and (shiny) spurs. Competitions exist in the following forms: Western pleasure - the rider must show the horse in walk, jog (a slow, controlled trot), trot and lope (a slow, controlled canter). The horse must remain under control, with the rider directing minimal force through the reins and otherwise using minimal interference. Reining - considered by some the "dressage" of the western riding world, reining requires horse and rider to perform a precise pattern consisting of canter circles, rapid "spins" (a particularly athletic turn on the haunches), and the sliding stop (executed from a full gallop). Cutting: more than any other, this event highlights the "cow sense" prized in stock breeds such as the Quarter horse. The horse and rider select and separate a calf out of a small group. The calf then tries to return to its herdmates; the rider loosens the reins and leaves it entirely to the horse to keep the calf separated, a job the best horses do with relish, savvy, and style. A jury awards points to the cutter. Team penning: a popular timed event in which a team of 3 riders must select 3 to 5 marked steers out of a herd and drive them into a small pen. The catch: the riders cannot close the gate to the pen till they have corralled all the cattle (and only the intended cattle) inside. Trail class: in this event, the rider has to maneuver the horse through an obstacle course in a ring. Speed is not important, but total control of the horse is. The horses have to move sideways, make 90 degree turns while moving backwards, a fence has to be opened and/or closed while mounted, and more such maneuvers relevant to everyday ranch or trail riding tasks are demonstrated. Barrel racing and pole bending: the timed speed/agility events of rodeo. In a barrel race, horse and rider gallop around a cloverleaf pattern of barrels, making agile turns without knocking the barrels over. In pole bending, horse and rider gallop the length of a line of six upright poles, turn sharply and weave through the poles, turn again and weave back, and gallop back to the start. Halter class: here the horse is shown with only a halter and without a rider, but with a handler controlling the horse from the ground using a leadrope. The standard position of the handler is on the left side with the shoulder near the horse's eye. The horse is taken through a short pattern where the horse and handler must demonstrate control during walk, jog and turns. In regular halter class, judges will put emphasis on the performance and build of the horse when awarding points, in 'showmanship at halter' the performance of the handler and horse are both judged equally. Clothing of the handler and the halters tend to be more flashy in this discipline. Halter class is particularly popular with younger riders who do not yet have the skill or confidence to partake in other forms. Steer wrestling: Europe does not allow this activity because of animal welfare concerns, but it occurs in the USA and Canada, usually at rodeo events. While riding, the rider jumps off his horse onto a steer and 'wrestles' it to the ground. Roping: also banned in Europe. In calf roping, the rider has to catch a running calf by the neck with a lasso, stop the animal in its tracks, rapidy dismount the horse and immobilize the calf by tying three of its legs together. In team roping, one horse and rider lassos a running steer's horns, while another horse and rider lassos the steer's two hind legs. Bronc riding (riding a bucking "wild" horse for a timed duration) counts as a separate event, not considered part of Western riding as such. It consists of bareback bronc riding and of saddle bronc riding. Dressage is yet another type of riding. Dressage (a French term meaning "training") is a path and destination of competitive horse training, with competitions held at all levels from amateur to Olympic. Its fundamental purpose is to develop, through standardized progressive training methods, a horse's natural athletic ability and willingness to perform, thereby maximizing its potential as a riding horse. At the peak of a dressage horse's gymnastic development, it can smoothly respond to a skilled rider's minimal aids by performing the requested movement while remaining relaxed and appearing effortless. For this reason, dressage is occasionally referred to as "Horse Ballet." Although the discipline has its roots in classical Greek horsemanship, dressage was first recognized as an important equestrian pursuit during the Renaissance in Western Europe. The great European riding masters of that period developed a sequential training system that has changed little since then and is still considered the basis of modern dressage. There are two sizes of arenas: small and standard. The small arena is 20 m by 40 m, and is used for the lower levels of dressage and three-day eventing dressage. The standard arena is 20 m by 60 m, and is used for upper-level tests in both dressage and eventing. Since the combination of CEF and USDF tests in 2003, the small size arena is no longer utilized in rated shows in North America. Dressage arenas have a lettering system around their outside in the order (clockwise) A-K-E-H-C-M-B-F (small arena) and A-K-V-E-S-H-C-M-R-B-P-F (standard arena). It is currently unknown who began the lettering system or why the arrangement was chosen. At the start of the test, the horse enters at A. There is always a judge sitting at C (although for upper-level competition, there are up to five judges at different places around the arena). There are also invisible letters along the centerline, D-X-G (small arena) and D-L-X-I-G (standard arena), X always being in the center of the dressage arena. The dressage arena also has a centerline (from A to C, going through X in the middle), as well as two quarter-lines (halfway between the centerline and long sides of each arena).

Types of riding

Links to more info

USEF Info (United States Equestrian Federation)
Littlewood Farm
Tackeria Tack Shop
Olympic Equestrian Events