Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sport Horse In Hand

Today's photos were taken during the Three Year Old Geldings class at a recent Friesian Keuring.  This class was run under a standard Sport Horse In Hand format.  That is, each horse was individually "on the triangle."  Here's a fairly typical triange pattern.
The horses enter the ring one at a time...
and are stood up in front of the judges for inspection.  Most Sport Horse breeds favor an "open stance".  This means the front and hind legs are not lined up squarely.  Instead,  the two front legs and two hind legs are placed with one leg slightly in front of the other, allowing all four legs to be seen simultaneously from the side.
At the judge's signal, the horse and handler move off at a walk. 
The triangle pattern allows the judge to assess the horse's movement from three different angles--going away, side view and coming toward.
Once the horse and handler have completed the walk triangle... 
they pick up a trot...
 and trot around the outside perimeter of the triangle.
Quality of movement is of utmost importance to the Sport Horse crowd, so the horses are asked to move out on a long, powerful stride.
Not surprisingly, this happens a lot.   
When it does, the horse is brought back to a trot, and the judges may ask the handler to go around a second time.
Because these pictures were taken at the Friesian Keuring, the horse is being handled by a show provided runner and whip.  At most other shows, the handler would be dressed in khakis and a polo shirt or perhaps huntseat riding attire.  Similarly, the horse would wear a  hunter or dressage type snaffle bridle rather than the white Keuring bridle.
After the trot work is completed, the horse may be stood up for the judges a second time.  He is then led out of the ring before the next horse competes. 
Performance showers beware:  Strictly speaking, this is a halter class.  Since it includes a pattern, there's a tendency to use it as an Other Performance entry.  I have no problem with that. but some judges may be less lenient.  The Scene Class may be a better option.  If in doubt, be sure to ask the judge!


  1. I was wondering this when I saw your last lot of photos, are the horses quite short or are those handlers very tall?

  2. Online research indicates that the average Friesian stands 15.3, but they can range in height from 14.2 to 17 hands. I would guess that most of these horses were in the 15.1-16.1 range. The runners were tall.

  3. Ugh. This brings back bad memories of ill-behaved horses. Have I ever mentioned how Friesians are just ox's in a horse body? They are complete bullies and only a tall, handsome man with a whip can make them see otherwise. I LOVE the looks of them, no question about that, just not grooming for them. Keep in mind, I do love ponies and wild jumper/eventer (mainly hot mares) warmbloods!

  4. I have never ridden or handled a Friesian. That said, my riding instructor feels the same way about them as you do. I'll happily stick to my ponies!

  5. Really - that's interesting! I had never heard that about Friesians. I actually went to a huge Friesian-only show here a couple years ago (may have been their national championships, in fact) and didn't see a lot of ill behavior... but maybe that's because it WAS their championships. :-)

  6. Ill behaved is a training issue. I'm sure there are a lot of well behaved Friesians. In fact, most of the horses at the Keuring were very well behaved, even the foals.

    The part about them being complete bullies is what Aline agreed with. I don't remember exactly how she put it, and I hate to paraphrase because I know I'll get it wrong. The basic gist was that they have very distinctive character traits and won't be a good match for a lot of people. I know you like Thoroughbreds, so I'm guessing you are the kind of person who shouldn't get a Friesian. Me too, actually.

    I still like looking at them, though!