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October 3, 2012

Novice Horsemanship Help

SmartPak West AQHA Novice Championship exhibitors get good perspective on horsemanship and hunt seat equitation from AQHA Professional Horseman Holly Hover

By Christine Hamilton
The American Quarter Horse Journal

AQHA Professional Horseman Kelly McDowall helps with the Nutrena Ride the Pattern clinic on horsemanship at the 2012 Smart Pak West AQHA Novice West Championship.

AQHA Professional Horseman Kelly McDowall helps with the Nutrena Ride the Pattern clinic on horsemanship at the 2012 Smart Pak West AQHA Novice West Championship.

A crowd of about 200 showed up at the South Point Equestrian Center and Arena for AQHA Professional Horseman Holly Hover’s Nutrena Ride the Pattern clinic on horsemanship and hunt seat equitation.

Autumn Waite of Snohomish, Washington, was one. This trip to show at the 2012 SmartPak West AQHA Novice Championship Show marks her first time to show outside of Washington and Oregon. She qualified nationally and also through Washington’s spring show.

“I have a trainer, but it’s great to get another trainer’s perspective,” Autumn told the Journal. “I like the horsemanship, it’s my favorite class; it’s challenging but fun.”

She has shown since she was 6, but took a break during and just after college. She started showing AQHA about three years ago and bought Zippenwitchu. The 2003 gelding by Mr Big Zipper and out of Zippos Goldy Lock by Zippo Pine Bar just did western pleasure, and she’s enjoyed putting other western all-around classes on him with trainer Lisa Freimark.

Autumn works as a public educator for the fire department, which posed one unusual obstacle for her novice championship experience: Snohomish County Fire District No. 7’s annual open house was scheduled for this week. Autumn had to beg her boss to move the event, which he did, so she could make the horsemanship October 7.

Her first AQHA Novice Championship will be her last – she’s pointed out of novice in all her classes but trail. But she’s going to have a full fan club in the stands: Husband, Josh, and her parents and in-laws are coming into town to watch.

Here are some of Holly’s comments on the horsemanship:

  • First you’ve got to get your foot in the door – prepare as best you can, know your pattern, look your best – then make it your own. “Show me what you go; don’t fear it, show it!”
  • Good first impression for the judges: You are up and ready to go at the cone, in position, your horse is in the bridle.
  • If you make a mistake, don’t get discouraged and don’t give up. You don’t know what the judges saw or what they thought. Ride to win and keep going.
  • Bad first impression for the judges: Rolling your spurs up your horse’s belly, his head overbridled and gapping at the mouth.
  • Give yourself time to think, prepare first and then present each maneuver. It’s not a speed contest.