Monday, September 04, 2006

Some observations on the 25th Annual ODS Championship show

The Oregon Dressage Society championship show is now just a memory. Trite words, but oh so true. It didn't rain, in fact it could have been a little cooler, but all in all, a nice weekend.
As with any show of size, myself and my staff worked hard to meet all of our obligations to take photos of those that signed up. Sunday is usually our last day to make sure that we have everyone covered. We plot out our course of moving from ring to ring at the just right times to catch all those we need to catch. This year, the awards ceremonies were split up into several small affairs, most all at the arena at the top of the hill. This pulled the photographers away from photographing the tests at an alarming rate. If we were unable to cover your tests, we apologize. If I get a vote, I much prefer the old way of fewer awards ceremonies with more classes being pinned together down in the main arena. This gets the crowd together and makes for more of a well attended "ceremony" and it allows us the time needed to do the work we have promised to do.

A word about sign ups and shooting fees. When I photograph large shows (more than 2 rings) it becomes necessary to hire a staff, primarily an office/computer person for downloading images and filing them each to their separate folder, and a second photographer to help cover the rings. The sheer volume of images to manage doubles and even triples and makes for not only alot of work at the show, but for several days afterwards. Shooting fees help pay for the staff and materials that make all this possible. We thank you for your confidence in us!

Some overall observations of the horses and the riding. I've been involved in this community, either actively participating or just observing my entire adult life.
These days the Pacific NW can boast nice horses to equal or surpass the best in other parts of the country. The quality of horseflesh just continues to come up. Overall, riding skills have improved greatly and we have a few "star" riders that always seem to come through for our entertainment. I was encouraged to see some young riders riding very nicely, showing a good discipline and some of our adult amateurs looking pretty darn good.
But to my eye, we are still seeing an overall majority of horses not really working from behind. Either tight over the loin/croup taking short steps behind while obediently negotiating the tests with their heads down, or just no "sit and carry" for the level that they were working at. I think that it is something that our area needs to take a good look at and adjust our thinking in how we are approaching the training. It starts at the concept of what we are asking of the horse in order for it to progress in its training to the ultimate goals.
Of course, if it was easy, everyone could do it and it wouldn't be such an elusive worm on the hook. But then....what do I know, I am just a shuttermonkee and this was one more adventure in observation through the lens. ;)

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