Monday, 4 July 2011

More than just a pretty face

This weekend has been a bit of a horse-fest! On Saturday I managed to get to see the first day of the Morphological competition being held at my riding club and on Sunday I was able to do a new practical test for my dressage judges' course.

If you've never seen a Morphological competition then Spain is a good place to experience one. The Spanish breeders and owners of Pure Breed Spanish horses get very excited when one of these types of competitions is held! It's a bit like a beauty competition for the breed, they're looking for characteristics of the breed in the horses that compete but particularly to find stallions and mares for breeding.

Competition program
There are different categories and age groups to be judged. This weekend there were 5 groups of mares being judged from 2 years old to 7yrs and over, and one group for stallions of 7yrs and over. To be honest, the turnout wasn't as good as at other competitions that I've been to of this type, but I suppose that with Tenerife being an island, and the boat trip from the mainland taking 3 days, that a lot of breeders decided not to bother. It's a shame because these events are always more interesting when there's a bit of fierce competition.

For the judging, all the horses from the same group have to stand in the arena. Then, one by one, they have to move along the long side at walk, do 4 circles on the lunge line at canter (depending on the age group - 2 and 3 year olds are not judged on canter) and then two full lengths of the arena at trot before stopping in the middle to be graded on their physical 'attributes'.

Walk

Trot
Each horse is then scored individually for each of the following: head, neck, front part of body, chest, thorax and stomach, back and loins, hindquarters and tail, front legs, back legs, overall shape and fidelity to the breed. Then there's also a score for movements. It's quite a rigorous examination and, to me, it seems pretty complicated to score. But the main judge is also a vet, so I suppose he knew what he was looking at!

'Is this my best side?'
As with any competition, first, second and third positions win a rosette and a prize - and can also go home to tell their friends how pretty / handsome they are!

Hasta pronto!

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