October 4, 2013
By Christine HamiltonThe American Quarter Horse Journal
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AQHA Professional Horseman Deanna Searles
It’s nothing but the best advice from top AQHA Professional Horsemen for the free Ride the Pattern clinics at the SmartPak West and Nutrena East AQHA novice championships.
In Las Vegas, the last two clinics featured trainers based in Arizona – Karen Graham of Cave Creek on trail, and Jim and Deanna Searles of Scottsdale on horsemanship.
In both clinics, the horsemen went over the competition patterns, the judges’ expectations and how the class procedure would flow. They all emphasized the importance – despite the nerves – of having fun, and enjoying the spotlight with your horse, no matter what.
“A lot of (the trail) questions were about scoring and how to plus,” Karen said. “I think a lot of their concerns focused on looking at an obstacle and how they should ride it. Of course it changes for each horse and you have your stride rules.
“For example, in the triangle (in this pattern) you have to trot over one point and then circle around and trot the next point. Some of them were doing three strides coming in and two strides coming out, etc., and I was trying to show them how to ‘shape up’ which means to get in there on the right angle so that you get two strides on each side.
“They need this information,” she added, in support of AQHA Professional Horsemen giving free Ride the Pattern/Ride the Rail clinics at the novice championships. “They need a lot of confidence. Some of them are coming here without trainers or they are coming here facing for the first time patterns that require so much precision… and they are worried about it.”
Memorize the pattern, and then don’t stress over it, “just let it flow,” Karen said. Remember that at this level you’re trying to improve your riding, and you need to focus on just feeling good about the ride you end up having.
“I just want them to slow down and think about what they are doing," she added. "Relax, and just take a deep breath and enjoy the moment.”
Here are some words of wisdom from the Ride the Pattern horsemanship clinic with AQHA Professional Horsemen Jim and Deanna Searles of Scottsdale, Arizona. Horsemanship shows October 5.