Monday, October 29, 2012

AAQHCongress Report 2012

Wednesday is the LAST DAY to vote in the Hobby Horse Designer Contest!!!!  A HUGE Thank You to everyone who has already taken the time to vote!  It's been so fun reading all the positive comments from strangers!

And now, the Congress Report!

The 2012 All American Quarter Horse Congress has ended.  This year I was able to attend Congress on 4 separate days.  Usually I only get one day, but my work schedule allowed for more fun this year.  I splurged on the $70 Whole-show parking pass instead of the $25 per day passes.  The pass saved me a little cash, but the best part was that it allowed me to park IN the grounds rather than in the far-away parking lots.  I'll admit it made me feel cool getting through the Pass Gate amongst all the giant hauling trucks, and parking above the barns, right next to the shopping areas.

So here's what I have to say about this year....

Holy Hideous Pleasure Jackets, Batman!  I know that everyone is entitled to their own taste and opinions and I really do respect and appreciate the work of the artists and artisans, especially when I know the kind of creativity, time, and patience it takes to work with these materials, but DEAR HEAVENS some of the show jackets I saw were HIDEOUS.  And yet there were many I drooled over. It's a strange thing, western show clothing is an acquired taste, and it morphs from year to year with trends coming in and out.  Right now it seems the IT thing is to have a pleasure jacket absolutely COVERED in appliques of everything from leather to lace, plus airbrushing and hand painting, then cover everything with hardware ranging from crystals to nail heads to chain to brooches, to metal spots, to gigantic crystals, to feathers and fringe made from leather or chain or..... and that's all on one jacket.  And they are HEAVY! I guess "less is less" right now! Each booth had rack after rack of unique jackets.  It's hard to tell what the original jacket color was.  Many of the booths had "jewelry store lighting": multiple points of light so anything sparkly is REALLY sparkly.  Most displays featured a jacket or two on rotating forms so the jackets acted like mirror balls.  The booths don't allow photographs so I don't have any, sorry.  :(   I'll toss some links below of some of the companies that were there.
Had to use crappy digital zoom. :(

The weirdest thing I saw was a gal in the Novice Amateur Showmanship class whose hat brim was completely covered in crystals on the underside.  I think I prefer a more workmanlike appearance when showing; but it was pretty!

Speaking of Pleasure - I was completely grossed out by the 2-year-old Western Pleasure Futurity we watched.  Again, I respect that everyone is entitled to their own opinions and preferences, but if I saw a horse moving like that in the field I would call a vet immediately.  "Natural" my ass. Those poor babies. It's not natural and it's not pretty and it doesn't even look comfortable.  The jog is apparently now acceptable as some weird perverted walk where the leg pairs aren't in sync, and yes, horses doing this advanced to the finals.  At the lope, horses have so little forward motion that the momentum their bodies need to go in a 3-beat turns into VERTICAL motion.  Heads were bobbing along so much I could count the number of rails between the upswing and the down.  And can you say over-canted?  If your horse has to be at a 45 degree angle from the rail to lope, you're doin' it wrong.  Yes, I know it's a hip strengthening and under-reaching exercise to bring the hip in, but if your nose is on the rail and your butt is a horse-length from the rail...  Once I got used to watching it and my gag reflex lessened I actually fell asleep for a minute, lulled by the ridiculous organ music like a carousel on downers.

Hunter Under Saddle. I saw something I've never noticed before and I wonder what on earth is going on.  In the WP classes I watched, the exhibitors hugged the rail, really hugged it.  In the HUS classes, the horses were 6, 8, 15 feet off the rail ALL THE TIME.  I even watched groups of exhibitors cut off the entire short end of the arena over and over again even when the rail was clear. They'd stay 4-6 deep in a tighter revolution rather than spread out and hug the rail like in WP.  It was the same number of horses in the classes but the HUS looked chaotic as if the closer you got to the judge, the better your score would be.... Maybe I'm doin' it wrong?

I was amused that the vast majority of the horses in the HUS classes were all humongous, DARK bay, DARK brown, or black, and very few had any markings at all.  Of the 20 finalists in one class, only three were non-dark.  One was roan, one buckskin, and one grey.  I heard a LOT of variations of "Invitation" in the names of the placed horses.  Let's all hope in 20 years we can't trace some yet-undiscovered genetic mutation back to Invitation Only.  We'll have another HYPP/Impressive fiasco.

Speaking of Breeds.  This is a Quarter Horse show.  It's called "the world's largest single breed horse show" and boasted 19,861 entries with 5,000 horses, but if you line up the champions from Halter, Western Pleasure, Hunter Under Saddle, and Barrels, and Reining, you will see what looks and moves like 5 different breeds. The "Versatile Quarter Horse" had become multiple specialized sub-breeds.  I wonder if the AQHA will ever consider typing the horses (beyond the Appendix) similar to the way Pinto and Welsh do.  And yeah, this from the girl who has a Paint that's half TB.  FYI, When we register with Pinto we'll be in the Hunter Type.

I did come across this article about a two-year-old stallion, Heza Ivy Invitation, by Invitation Only, who made the finals and placed in both HUS and WP this year.  Even his owners recognize how rare it is nowadays to have a horse, especially this young, excel in more than one discipline.  I wish I could have seen him go in both classes to compare.

So what did I buy at the Congress' SEVEN ACRE shopping mall?  Not much, really.

I replaced our too-big, multi-times-repaired, no-longer-waterproof Tekno Fleece Turnout blanket with a new one.  I bought a new neck cover too, but returned it after I realized it was not re-designed with velcro rather than clips like some of the other styles were, so I'll just repair the old one rather than buying a new one.

I finally broke down after years and years and years of wanting an embroidered halter.  Instead of getting one of the company's halters I picked up a pretty Weaver Sedona halter and lead from Rod's and took it to the embroiderers booth to match the pink in the lead rope. It won't become his every-day-hang-on-the-stall-turnout halter, but I'll use it for events or whenever I want to. I think it's adorable.  His opinion? Oh well.  He can man up and wear pink.

Junior is man enough to wear pink... AND not to freak out when he steps on his lead rope.

I also got myself some of my favorite boot socks and a new sparkly cell phone holster that matches my boots, my belt, and my spur straps.  Uh oh, do I really have that much bling?  Ooops!

Just a few of the show clothing companies I saw at Congress:
Show Clothes Unlimited - has supplies and instructional DVD's on how to make your own!
La Collezione di Anna
Carolina Beverly Hills
Show Girls Apparel
Show Me Again


  1. Gee, I always thought the Arabian people knew how to bling, but that hat is extreme! Not sure what I think of it lol. I admit, part of what I love about the western ring is the bling but I wouldn't cry if things shifted back toward a more conservative look. My show shirt isn't nearly as blingy as a lot of what's out there now and yet I still feel like a disco ball under bright lights!

    You wonder how much further the exaggerated look in the ring can go. I remember taking a friend who was into dressage to a big QH show many years ago, back when the peanut roller trend was really getting popular. She absolutely freaked at the WP class we saw. Said they all looked like camels.

  2. It's funny how many people can't stand the WP and how it still goes on that way? It makes you wonder what it will take to change things.

    And that hat? It must have weighed a lot with all those crystals! Thanks for the update. This was fun to read!

    1. I wonder this quite often...what will it take to change things? I asked myself, how many bizarre things have I done in the name of show ring trends? More than I'd care to admit I think.

  3. As much as I like western pleasure, the way the horses are going now is crap. I hate the wog, and loping the horses that canted off the rail is stupid and makes the QH people look stupid.

    Yeah the HUS thing has gone to far as well. Apparently you wont get "seen" if you stick to the rail.

    1. Makes me think of the Arabian saddle seat people who have to make several more passes after the line up is called, like the judges couldn't possibly have seen their horse earlier or maybe that one more pass will make them change their minds. Saw National classes where they had called the line up 4 times! I'd eliminate them all. See how long it takes them to line up next time!