WARNING!! THIS POST IS A RANT!!
We have now been to two Welsh Pony Shows, one in the States & one at Olds.( I just found out my 2000 km trek points don’t count towards championships in Canada). Illusion had very poor placings on the line. He is not the type of Welsh Pony currently in style. What was especially disappointing was that he didn’t place in Sportpony in Walla Walla. I was asked by a senior Canadian Judge, who was there spectating if “there even was a definition of a sport pony”. I told him to go to North American Sportponies site and read “breed type & standard”, nevermind the various European registries of “Riding Ponies”.
When Greg was showing hunters, I used to console him by saying, “when you are showing in a subjective class, you are paying for a judges opinion; sometimes you like it and sometimes you don’t”. After Walla Walla we decided we wouldn’t show in Sportpony anymore, as Illusion doesn’t have to prove to anybody he is a sportpony; he holds a First Premium North American Sportpony Stallion License”
Then came Wild Rose Welsh Show. There were three horses entered in “Stallions 3 & over”. Two of them were entires (never having bred a mare). They were badly behaved; calling out, rearing, fidgeting, hanging out and generally being bad. Illusion, a breeding stallion in breeding season, handled the ring with dignity and good behaviour…. We placed third. He doesn’t have the chunky neck typical of Welsh Section B stallions or the heavier, almost cobby bone structure (that’s why I like him) that is the flavour of the week right now. I was told he was close to 150 pounds underweight for the halter ring. Well, he is a bit underweight, because he is breeding and showing, but it is nowhere near 150 pounds….and he is performance fit with a Body Condition Score a high 4. There was one mare who placed first in a class that I swear had a founder crest….NO THANK YOU, I’LL TAKE UNDERWEIGHT!!
I was so glad we didn’t enter Sportpony, as the judging was all over the map. It was double judged and the judges weren’t even using the same entries. A student, of a trainer friend of mine, asked one of the judges how the sportponies were judged. She received the answer that they were similar to hunters on the line but with snappier, higher knee action. OH MY!!!
Line classes that are double judged are twice the price to enter. It is very expensive to get someone else’s opinion. As our stallion isn’t in fashion right now (with apologies to Corb Lund, as I plagarize and paraphrase “Horse Soldier”) It is with a rear guard action we retreat and(not so) silently take our leave from showing on the line.
The Welsh Pony practise of receiving championships on the line and retiring to stud doesn’t sit well with us. We come from the equestrian and race horse scene, where a stallion stands based on his performance. Warmblood registries also require licensing and approvals based on confirmation, temperament, free jumping (5 categories), and performance with their own rider as well as test rider.We will continue to support Welsh Pony Shows, but only in equestrian performance disciplines. Our time, energy and money will be better spent promoting sportponies in Alberta, as well as entry fees for shows where Illusion can participate (DON’T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON EQUINE CANADA’S RIDICULOUS RULING OF ADULT AMATEURS ONLY BEING ABLE TO RIDE LARGE PONIES ALONG WITH JUNIORS NOT BEING ABLE TO RIDE STALLIONS).
On a brighter note, Illusion’s driving was fantastic. He was the only pony entered (although I received several critiques about my rig ; to those people, my response is “MEET ME IN THE RING!”). I knew he was fabulous, but both judges commented he would have placed high in a large entry.
Our next show was the Amberlea Meadows Novice Rider/Horse Development Show. Here I ran smack into Equine Canada’s rulings about adults riding ponies, and juniors being unable to ride stallions. With their new “pay as you play” policy whereby every rider needs a bronze sport license to participate, almost all the shows of any merit are Equine Canada Bronze rated. Since there were several nonrated classes, I thought Illusion could show in the nonrated hunter divisions. He has been schooling hunter courses at 2′, 2′3″. But no, the ruling applies to all classes at a rated show. So we “ponied up” and did jumpers at 2′6″.
Many thanks to Jamie St. Hillaire, the very capable young lady who rode him perfectly. Not only did Illusion have to go up in height, he had to tackle some very formidable oxers and combinations, which he had never encountered before. He was also a little overwhelmed at first by how many jumping efforts are required on a jumper course over a hunter course. He was 16 seconds over time allowed his first round, but it was beautiful. By the second day, second course, he came in within allowed time. He is so careful, he only had one rail the entire three days and that because he was arguing with Jamie about how to come into the combination.
On Sunday, he placed first in the Jr/Am class. He was quite funny, as she had to convince him to get on with his immediate jump off; he thought he was done. When asked to put the pedal down for the first time, he was a little ragged, but overall a very nice trip. He placed second in the Open division, a full 6 seconds behind the winner, but a picture perfect round, showing us he learns everytime he goes out. We are pleased as punch with our little dude.
Show photos to follow and check his page for more, as soon as we get them from the show photographers. Until then go to Linda Finstad on www.facebook.com and scroll down to photo montages. Linda is A Sharper Image Photography, website www.imagineitsold.com She has made up an awesome montage of Jamie and Illusion.