October 1 - 5, 2014
Las Vegas

September 30 - October 5, 2014
Murfreesboro, Tennessee


October 1, 2013

Good Ride the Pattern Advice in Las Vegas

AQHA Professional Horsemen Holly Hover and Paula Pray offer up great advice in the first Ride the Pattern clinics at the SmartPak West Novice Championship.

By Christine Hamilton
The American Quarter Horse Journal

AQHA Professional Horseman Holly Hover gives a Ride the Pattern clinic at the 2013 SmartPak West Novice Championship Show in Las Vegas.

AQHA Professional Horseman Holly Hover gives a Ride the Pattern clinic at the 2013 SmartPak West Novice Championship Show in Las Vegas.

‘Take two’ for the SmartPak West Novice Championship at the South Point Arena and Equestrian Center feels like a family reunion. The AQHA booth is up and running with the new jackets ready to size and order, and the show office is in full force with Show Manager Heidi Lane of Pueblo, Colorado, and her crew – Vanessa and Melanie – ready to help.

There are a lot of familiar faces. Lynda Pruett of Keenesburg, Colorado, is back; she showed at the SmartPak West last year and “had to come back,” she’d had so much fun. She spent part of the day getting Conquistador Gold, aka “Floyd,” accustomed to the sights and sounds in the covered warmup pen outside the South Point Arena. The recent floods in Colorado didn’t affect her home, but cut her off from Floyd stabled up in Windsor, Colorado, and put a wrinkle in her prep for the show. But she made it to compete in reining and horsemanship.

Reiner Mark Mitchell and his wife, hunter Sandy Ivelich, of Reno, Nevada, are both back, too. Mark will “groom” for Sandy while she shows earlier in the week, and then their roles will switch when Mark’s classes come up. The Journal shared their AQHA and reining and hunt seat showing lifestyle at the 2012 show.

To kick the show off, there were three Ride the Pattern clinics on October 1 – AQHA Professional Horseman and judge Holly Hover analyzed the showmanship pattern and AQHA Professional Horseman and judge Paula Pray of Louisburg, Kansas, went through the hunt seat equitation and equitation over fences patterns.

Here’s a little of the sage advice they shared:

AQHA Professional Horseman Holly Hover, Cave Creek, Arizona

  • A lot of times people think speed is the deal (in showmanship). I think style is the deal.

  • At the first marker, the judges see you as a ‘yes,’ a ‘no,’ or a ‘maybe.’ You sure don’t want to be a ‘no.’ The key to that is good position and readiness.

  • A dropped shank is a disaster. But – if you drop the shank, do not quit showing. With the score sheet and everything else a judge has to keep track of, you’d be surprised what a judge might miss. And that shows up on the video later, right in front of angry parents and exhibitors.
  • Everybody needs a number ‘Nazi,’ to make sure your number is on correct. Forget about what it’s covering up on your shirt; put it up high where it belongs.

  • (Holly shared this advice she heard from a fellow exhibitor.) Here’s what you do for someone who’s nervous – tell them to think of you and your horse as a team, and to think of your horse as your friend. And you have to go into that arena and help your horse through that pattern. Make yourself your horse’s advocate and it will take the focus off you, and that attitude will help your nerves, your horse and your ride. Get in there and help your horse through the pattern.

  • Be correct. Be thoughtful. Enjoy it.

AQHA Professional Horseman Paula Pray, Louisburg, Kansas

  • Because there are no cones in this pattern, let the pattern be as big as your horse needs it to be… use the arena to show your horse off.

  • No puppy dog hands and straight, rigid arms, you want a slight bend at the elbow.

  • The day of the ‘show bow’ is gone. (The hair net-bow combo hunter riders use to quickly bind up long hair into a bun. Paula feels hunter riders should put their hair up into their helmet for a neater look.)

  • You have to have a good flow to this pattern, enough impulsion coming around the corner in the counter-canter so your horse won’t break gait.

  • With our split arena, you only hold the counter-canter for maybe a stride or two coming out of that corner.

  • When you change diagonals, it’s more correct to do a sit-sit transition rather than standing up in your stirrups.

More Ride the Rail/Ride the Pattern clinics with AQHA Professional Horsemen are coming up – October 3 is trail with Karen Graham of Cave Creek, Arizona; and October 4 is horsemanship with Jim and Deanna Searles of Cave Creek, Arizona.

What’s your story? Got a photo from the show to share? Send it along to Journal Editor Christine Hamilton in Las Vegas – chamilton@aqha.org.