Friday, November 30, 2018

In The Chair: Judging The NRHA Level 4 Non-Pro Futurity Finals

I had the opportunity of watching the NRHA Non-Pro Futurity finals and run-off on live stream with NRHA judges: Steve Ross and Jody Brainard providing commentary. I had the privilege of scribing (judge's assistant) for Jody this past summer. I've always found listening to judge's commentary most beneficial for learning about reining. That's why I started NRHA scribing in the first place. 

I have provided some of their and my comments below.    Before I start, I want to give a big shout out to Marilou Paradis and Bob Gleeton for being the Eastern Canadian Affiliate Ambassadors (which includes Ontario).

Eastern Canadian Affiliate Ambassadors: Bob Gleeton and Marilou Paradis
Some Points Noted by the 2 NRHA Judges:
  • Reining horses are so well bred to do their job compared to 20 years ago. They are such naturals at it. Steve and Jody were joking around about some of the reining horses 20 years ago were ugly. Now you don't find an ugly one ever. I remember 20+ plus years ago running into the same problem. I'm glad we have such a better choice now. 

  • Speaking of 20 years ago. Steve and Jody gave big compliments to veteran riders like Dr. James Morgan.  I had the privilege of scribing for Dr. Jim also this past summer.  And I thank him sincerely for giving me a recommendation to the NRHA Futurity committee which resulted in me being on the international list of scribes (or judge's assistant). I was hoping to get 'called in' for this year's futurity but I did not. Here's hoping for next year.
  • The horses have gotten so good that the small details make the biggest difference. He was referring to pattern placement. There was a meeting at the ORHA reining show this summer where Dr. Jim and Jody made a point of talking about pattern placement.

  • Easiest  way to loose points is for the horse not to be pleasing to watch or willingly guided.  This can include a horse 'scotching' in the rundown.  They gave different examples of a horse's head being too high in a rollback, dancing in the middle and hesitation in places where it shouldn't be.
  • Doing lead changes and lead departures with very loose reins showing great degree of difficulty. Craig Schmersal demonstrated this in last year's Open Futurity Finals.

  • A little too slow in the lead change or over animated will be costly. There is now an 'end camera' to see the exhibitor's ride from the end of the arena when judge's want to review a ride.

  • A horse dancing around in the middle anticipating will cause the judge to make a maneuver reduction of 1/2 to 1 point.  I remember when this wasn't much of an issue. It certainly was something that took away from a maneuver score but it's more so now.
  • "Most transparency in judging" according to Steve Ross.  I have noticed that myself in the 26 years that I've been scribing.
  • Kathy Showing in Non Pro Fianls
  • The mentally strong horses make the futurity especially the non-pro division.  For 3 year olds, this can be tough. Steve and Jody talked about perhaps having an international show to replace the WEG now that FEI has cancelled the agreement with AQHA and NRHA. A lot of the young 3 year old reining horses are not shown until their 4 year old year.

One of the 2 Canadians in the Non-Pro Finals Run-off

  • Judges watch the front feet to count the 4 steps of an "unscheduled" backup. Everything is getting more precise. Horses in reining are judged on an industry standard and not against each other as in other events.
  • A horse more the 90 degrees off then they get penalty score 0. Sometimes it's a good horse just anticipating what to do.
  •  "First you got to teach him to do it and then teach them not to do it." John Hoyt in reference to not letting a horse learn to anticipate.

I want to wish everyone a Happy Holidays and all the best in 2019!

Putting my spin on Reining
@KISS Reiners

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