08-03-2009, 12:06 PM
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I'd been around horses since I was around 9, but didn't start seriously riding or showing until I was 13, in 4-H. Walk/trot division in my state's 4-H program is 12 and under. I ended up thrown in the Junior division, and barely able to canter safely. I survived, but I often wonder why things are divided purely by age at so many of the shows I go to. On the other side of the coin, I see little kids who are darn good riders confined to walk-trot pleasure, etc. at many 4-H shows, when they can easily and safely lope/canter in the ring.
In my first year of 4-H I went to an Open show and rode in 13 and Over W/T Pleasure. I was still very unconfident and unready to canter, so I was all excited that I found the perfect class for me, ha ha. I was the only entry under 30, 6 other riders were well known trainers in my area, and most were cantering their horses in the warmup ring.
Another age/experience conflict I see occasionally is in respect to the horse. I know several (and own one myself) horses who are physically and emotionally prepared to show at the walk and trot, but are not balanced enough at the canter (or even older horses who are healthy to show W/T, but arthritic or otherwise unable to canter) to be competitive. Granted, the solution is to simply wait to show and work on the canter, but I still smile when I read an open show pamphlet and see an Open W/T Pleasure class. I dunno, maybe I'm a whiner, but there are some oddities out there in the show world. Shoot, maybe I'll be lucky enough to someday have access to an arena and run my own open show and I can come up with the class divisions that make sense to me, lol!