Thursday, June 8, 2017

Spiffy Duds


On the new Working Equitation tests for 2017, Presentation is one of the categories included on the back page of both the Dressage Test and the Ease of Handling trial under collective marks. The new relaxed tack and attire standards made it necessary to add a mark for presentation on the Ease of Handling form. Often times, at the large shows, Dressage and Ease of Handling are performed on different days. Historically, riders are not using the exact same outfit for both their Dressage ride and Ease of Handling (because dirty). Starting in 2017, a collective mark for Presentation will be factored in to the Ease of Handling trial, as well as, the Dressage trial. This gives the competitor two opportunities to maximize their points for that section of the collective marks. Presentation, overall, is a fairly subjective category, based on the judge’s perception, but there are things a rider can do to bank those points.

 HCWE member Jo B on her horse, Holiday, at the B-Rated show in March
On the first day of the show, Jo sported this look for the Dressage trial. 
On the second day, she wore a dark pink shirt, which really accented nicely with her horse.


Presentation is the turn out of the horse, the tack being ridden in and the attire a rider chooses. The new rules released in December have lifted many of the restrictions on tack and attire that existed in the prior rules, such as allowing any legal bit to be ridden in any bridle. However, the rider is left with some general requirements. All horses must be outfitted in a saddle with stirrups, and a bridle or bosal. Riders must be in long pants, breeches or a riding skirt, long or short sleeved shirt with collar, and a hat or helmet. Footwear must be appropriate for showing (heeled) or mandated by a specific tradition. Any allowed bit can be used regardless of tradition or discipline. The same tack and attire must be used for all trials, even when the trials are held on different days.

 In order to help give our membership tips on how to maximize their presentation score, Tarrin Warren was asked to share her thoughts over the week of Expo. Her first response every time the topic came up was to say that the presentation score is very subjective. Her second response was to say that she looks at the horse and rider together, looking for all of the pieces to fit into a seamless whole. When that happens the rider disappears from her attention, so that she is focused on the horse and rider as a whole, not on the component parts. 

So what can a rider do?


First off, make sure your horse is clean and neat. Showing a horse that has green or yellow spots on it is an insult to both your horse and the judge, even at a schooling show.  Mane and tail should be neat and tidy, even if it is unbraided. Trim the long hair at the edges of their jaw. Trim the long hair on their legs (unless they are of a feathered breed), and around the tail dock of their tail, to present a neat and orderly appearance. If the tack chosen is part of the English discipline, braid their manes. It is no longer required, but if you want to maximize your score, take the time to do so. In Spain and Portugal, a WE rider is expected to show up to lessons with a clean and groomed horse, braided and in show attire for LESSONS. That standard should also apply to schooling shows.


Second, attend to the rider. According to the rules, the rider should be neat and orderly. Embellishments should be minimal, with no sequins, garish colors or flashy items. It should be of a consistent tradition. For example, the competitor is riding in a Western saddle with a western bridle. They should be in some type of western style pants, with a quiet, western style shirt, and cowboy boots. The western style vest, spurs, chaps or chinks and scarf are optional. For English, the competitor would be in a Dressage saddle, English boots or half chaps, breeches, shirt and jacket. Hats or helmets are mandatory for every discipline.


Taking into account that Tarrin wants the horse and rider to meld into one image, pieces of tack or attire that distract from that whole, will impact the presentation mark.


Tarrin's example: a dressage rider wearing a beautiful white shirt, breeches, tall black boots and black gloves, with a white saddle pad under a black saddle on a dark horse. Those choices were chosen to create a seamless look, however, the only thing Tarrin could see was the black gloves moving up and down across the front of the white shirt as the horse moved. They kept drawing her eye and distracting from the whole. 

Another example: a dressage rider with a mix of English styles and a dressage pad with piping that did not match anything. After receiving the Presentation score on their dressage test, the rider changed the dressage pad to a plain one that matched their attire. The Presentation score improved in their EOH ride.


An example: a western rider using slobber straps and Mecate reins. The ropes and straps dangle and swing under the horse’s neck, distracting from the flowing lines of the horse and rider. Tarrin also said that really long western reins are also problematic, since they dangle and swing along the side of the horse, sometimes touching the ground. She spent an entire dressage test worried that the horse would step on the trailing reins and hurt itself.

Another example: a western rider with a scarf that flaps and flutters outside of the rider’s shirt. It bounces and flutters as the rider moves. Instead it should be tucked into the rider's shirt or vest. A flapping scarf can be a real detriment, especially if it comes undone and falls off.


Suggestions for maximizing Presentation:


1. Matchy-matchy


There is a lot of leeway given to tack and attire, so think about the overall look created. The riders who scored the best picked colors and styles that would match and/or set off the color of their horse. Solid, plain saddle pads that match either the horse or the rider’s outfit scored higher over saddle pads with zig-zag lines or multi-colors. Non-required items, such as jackets, chinks and scarves, can help maximize the presentation score, but should not distract or negatively impact the overall look. Adding the extra touch - a somber pair of chinks, a shirt that is of a muted color, a plain, tucked in scarf or bandana – will help highlight the overall appearance of the pair.



 HCWE President Chris S on CO.
Chris and her horse match. The red hat and shirt set off the image very well. The solid black saddle, saddle pad and pants all combine to create one overall impression.



2. No danglies


Get rid of the stuff that dangles, swings or otherwise distracts the eye from the movement of the horse. Be aware of how your hands look in front of your outfit. Tuck in items that bounce or swing. Quiet, clean, utilitarian lines will draw the eye to the overall picture, rather than away from the whole. 

HCWE member Lauren G on Uno.
Yes, there are danglies here, but the overall impression of horse and rider is one of unity. The saddle pad is a solid color and the rider's attire sets off the dark points of her horse. The top color of her chinks matches the color of her saddle. The lines are clean and attractive.


3. Pop!


Use color to accent and highlight, but not to overwhelm. No sequins or flashy items. Be careful with scarves, since the flapping ends can really distract and the color should meld with the rest of the outfit.  A muted colored shirt that matches the horse and the tack will bring a little excitement to the overall look of the outfit. 

 HCWE member Kate S on Eddy.
In order to maximize the Presentation score, Kate might add a burnt orange shirt to her attire, matching it to Eddy and exchange her saddle pad for a solid black one. The saddle, pad and her leg would disappear into one another and the shirt would tie the image together.


4. Glam


If at all possible, have a saddle pad that is used only for the show, in order to keep it looking new and crisp. Saddle pads that are used all the time become sun faded and stained. Keep a solid colored pad just for the shows. Clean the tack before the show. It is a working rider sport, however, that doesn’t mean tack shouldn’t be cleaned and oiled before a show. Wipe the dust off your shoes once you are in the saddle. 



HCWE member Keith J on Boz
A solid working outfit. Clean and well presented. 
The image of the working cowboy.

In the end, the rider should approach their outfit with as much attention to detail as they do their dressage test. Since Working Equitation transcends so many traditions, each rider can choose an outfit that will help them make an impression on the judge while still highlighting the unique combination they and their horse present. 

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