Monday, February 22, 2016

1:9 scale hunter seat equitation: fine tuning

Most dolls are never going to be equitation superstars, but that doesn't mean they get a free pass to ride poorly. There's a big middle ground between polished Maclay winner and discombobulated novice. Today's post will show you how to fine tune your doll's position to make him/her look like a competent and educated huntseat rider that is an asset to your performance entry.

This doll is exhibiting a very common position fault--she's sitting much too far back. This might be okay for other divisions, but remember hunt seat riders should be should be a couple degrees ahead of the vertical at the slower gaits and inclined forward for galloping and jumping.
This is better. She could still be a little more forward, but this is within acceptable limits, particularly for a flat (no jumping) class. 
For an over fences class, this is nearly ideal.
The male doll has a customized, bendy neck. This allows him to keep his head up when his body is inclined forward. I can not recommend this modification enough, particularly for dolls used on galloping and jumping horses.
Hands should be held low and close together just above the horse's withers. Ideally, the reins should enter the hand between the hand through the pinky and ring finger and exit through the under the thumbs. This youth doll has had her hands modified to allow such a hold.
This doll has not. Some judges may object to this more basic hold, but personally, I think it's an acceptable compromise. As long as the contact with the horse's mouth is correct, I can live with the reins entering the bottom of the hand rather than between the fingers.
Per USEF rules, the bight (buckle end) of the reins may fall on either side of the horse's neck. The bight should flip forward and down so it lays in front of the saddle, rather than back and into the rider's lap.
Real reins have enough weight to stay down on their own. Model reins do not. Care must be taken to fold them down over and in front of the fingers so they don't stick up and look messy.
A strong leg position is the foundation of good hunter seat equitation. The stirrups should be short enough so that the doll's knees  fit into the saddle's knee rolls, and the heels should be down or at least down-ish. Even with leather boots, it can be exceedingly difficult to make your doll adopt a true heels down position.
The toes should point out not in, and the stirrup should be placed on the ball of the doll's foot. 
The lower leg should be slightly behind the girth. Ideally, the stirrup leather will be perpendicular to the ground. 
The final installment of this series will cover equitation over fences. Don't expect that tomorrow, however. I've spent enough time playing with dolls this week. I'm ready to take a little break!

14 comments:

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    1. Thanks! This has been a lot of work--not just taking the photos, but also decided how much detail is enough without going completely overboard.

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  2. Such a well-written article... and the hobby is so detailed!
    Which horse is in the first 2 pictures? I don't recognize him/her from your collection page....

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    1. The bay braided hunter? That's Getaway. He is a Windfall resin sculpted and painted by Sommer Prosser. He was my first serious custom/resin performance horse. I showed him a lot in the mid 2000's and he's won a big stack of pink NAN cards. He's been retired for the last several years, but who knows? I may dust him off someday and see if he's still competitive. I'm guessing he will be.

      :D

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  3. I've gotten dinged both ways and I'm tired of it, so I have to ask: bight inside the reins or outside? That is, should it drape over the top of the doll's hands and then under one rein, or over it? I had been showing with it under one rein, but then a couple of years ago another shower threw a fit to the judge for placing me first when I had done so (stay classy). Thoughts?

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    1. Definitely under. If it's over the rein, it will interfere (at least a little bit) with rein function and contact.

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    2. In real life, I always ride with the bight over the rein, because my horses get rub marks (and the reins get sweaty) when the bight is underneath of it. I hadn't really thought about it a lot before, however, and now I'm going to have to go read my Pony Club literature again and see what the "normal" way is. Although, if it's like anything else in the real-horse world, there's probably a 50/50 split opinion about it!

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    3. Thank you SO MUCH for weighing in. In all my years of riding, I've never had a trainer tell me to put the bight over, but your explanation makes perfect sense. I still think under is better for models, if only because the rein helps hold the bight down. However, this is not something that would ever factor into my judging. Right/left, over/under... it's all good!

      Honestly, I feel like there are a lot of hobby judges and showers who spend way too much time obsessing over this sort of nit picky detail. As far as hands and reins go, correct contact is far and away the most important thing. The bight is small potatoes in comparison.

      :)

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    4. Thanks very much for this- I think I'll switch it back to under simply for a neater appearance and to help hold the bight down. I'm also going to take an X-acto knife to my dolls to free up the pinky finger for a more realistic rein hold. I already did it for my saddleseat doll, so it shouldn't be too tough. Just have to go slowly and not cut the finger _off_.

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  4. Thanks for this! All of my dolls are discombobulated novices... XD I'm trying to customize them to help with that, and that's given me a whole new respect for the hobby doll artists out there. It's tough!

    Will you be covering other disciplines sometime in the future as well?

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  5. This has been so helpful to read! Thanks for writing this. :)

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  6. Great and helpful info. Thanks much.

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  7. I would love more if my dolls to have bendy necks, have any doll customisers ever done tutorials on this do you know?

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    1. To my knowledge, no. However, I will be running a tutorial by Anne Field that discusses modifying other body parts within the next week. I think it holds some clues as to how you'd create a bendy neck.

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