Horse Madness

This is one of my favorite times of year for many reasons, not the least of which is that it is Triple Crown season. It’s like March Madness, except with horses!

This year a horse named California Chrome swept the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago. He’s definitely the horse to beat in tomorrow’s Preakness and many are making a case for him being a Triple Crown contender. It’s been 35 years since the last one, so we’re due.

I just have one thing to say:










As befits any elite athlete “Chrome” has merchandise like T-shirts and hats:







As well as a relationship with the paparazzi:










It’s a great time of year to be a horse watcher because you can totally geek out, and with the addition of Facebook and other social media… well, the sky’s the limit!


Photo of Stacey and George (I hope you don’t mind I used your picture.)

But something just as exciting is happening that really has me checking the social media. Stacey Riggs, one of the trainers at Sound Equine Options, is take her adopted-on-Valentine’s Day-mustang “General George” to Norco, California (known as Horse Town USA) for the Extreme Mustang Makeover. Everyone at the barn has a soft spot in our hearts for this cute horse, and under Stacey’s tutelage he has bloomed. But as much as we like George, Stacey has taken the hardest hit and now is hoping to buy back her horse at the auction at the end of competition.

10255810_631785126912944_4493183062614086923_nAll her friends and SEO members have been barraging her Facebook wall with well-wishes.

Today was the first day of competition, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who checked Facebook, waiting for results to post.

After the first event, a pattern class, she sat second. Her trail ride (a city course through the town of Norco) was compromised by George’s impatience; the horse he had been stalled next to took off right before him and he was raring to go. But by the end he settled down enough for the team to take 20th in trail. This left Stacey sitting 3rd overall. The final event of the day was a showmanship/conditioning class that they took 1st in.

The last mustang event Stacey entered, she just missed the top 20 position, which meant she didn’t get to do her freestyle routine. This is smaller event and she needs to make the top 10 to show in freestyle.

I’m so excited for her, but as I told her, it’s a bit of a nail bitter as well. If she does good, there is more chance George will go for a higher price.

Tomorrow is a Adult Combined Leading & Riding Obstacle Class, the top 10 are announced. I hope you will join me in rooting Stacey and George on and wishing them luck for bringing George home.

P.S. If you are really interested in this, check out all the things Stacey had to teach George in 90 days to get this far!

Description of Mustang Makeover Event

A. Handling and Conditioning – 20 points
Handling – 10 points – The trainer will bring the horse into a small pen and the Handling and Conditioning components will be judged during this time. During the Handling portion, the trainer will un-halter and release the horse in the pen. The trainer will exit the pen. The trainer will then be allowed back into the pen. Upon re-entering the pen the trainer will halter the horse and exhibit the horse to the judges at a walk, trot, stop and back, then exit the pen.

Each handling maneuver (halter, walk, trot, stop and back) will be worth 2 points for a total of 10 possible points for
the handling score. There is not a time limit for this class.

Conditioning – 10 points –  The horse’s conditi on will be judged in two areas:
Appropriate weight/muscling (5 points)
Overall Appearance –  this score will reflect hair coat, feet condition, etc. (5 points).

B. Pattern Class – 40 Points from each judge
This class is intended to show the horse’s willingness and ability to complete a pattern of generic horsemanship maneuvers. Judges will assess exhibitors showing in either Western or English discipline accordingly. A horse will be given credit for traveling with
his head held in a natural position, ears alert and moving at a natural speed for the gait requested. Credit will also be given for making a smooth transition between gaits and for keeping the correct lead. Maneuvers may include but are not limited to:

  • Walk
  • Trot,
  • Lope/Canter
  • Change directions while on the rail
  • Stop
  • Back
  • Pivots or turns to right and left
  • Lead changes

C. Combined Leading & Riding Arena Obstacle Class – 40 points from each judge

This class is designed to show a horse’s ability and willingness to perform several tasks that might be asked of him during the course of a normal trail ride or work day. Exhibitors will be asked to lead and ride their horse through a course of obstacles and maneuvers
in the arena.

Leading elements obstacles/maneuvers may include but are not limited to:

  • Walk, trot, stop and back
  • Walk over logs/poles
  • Walk/trot between cones/obstacles
  • Maneuver forward and/or reverse through a simple chute
  • Pick up all four feet
  • Brush horse once on each side
  • Load and unload from stock trailer

Riding obstacles/maneuvers may include but are not limited to:

  • Walk, trot, canter/lope, stop and back
  • Turns and circles to the left and right
  • Walk over logs/poles
  • Lead change
  • Walk over bridge
  • Maneuver forward and/or reverse through a simple chute
  • Pick up object and carry from barrel to barrel
  • Dragging items specified length
  • Additional elements may be added such as brush, artificial foliage, rain slickers, etc.

D. Outdoor Trail Challenge – 120 total points – Approximately 2 hours of riding Trainers and Mustangs will be scored on obstacles on an outdoor trail which may include but are not limited to:

  • Negotiating rocks
  • Maneuvering up and down steep hills
  • Dismounting and mounting on the trail
  • Crossing draws and bridges
  • Crossing streets
  • Using tie rails
  • Traffic noises
  • Negotiating river beds
  • Crossing creeks of knee-high water
  • Walk, trot and lope/canter


Contestants will be judged on the execution of 10 compulsory maneuvers. Each maneuver is worth four points each.
This score will reflect completion of the maneuver as well as the horse’s level of willingness to execute the
maneuvers in a relaxed and confident manner.

  1. Walk
  2. Trot
  3. Lope/canter
  4. Stop
  5. Back
  6. Lope/canter one full circle to the right
  7. Lope/canter one full circle to the left
  8. Lead change
  9. Pivot or spin 360 degrees to the right or left

Freestyle Performance

Trainers will have 3.5 minutes to com plete their freestyle performance – music and time will start when competitor
enters the arena.

Music is a required component of the freestyle performance – if the trainer does not turn in music during the finalists’
meeting at the event, management may select music for him/her.

Overall Horsemanship-30 points – Communication/part nership between horse and rider and the horse’s overall willingness to perform and execute maneuvers correctly in a controlled, relaxed and confident manner (15 points)

Incorporation of maneuvers and their degree of difficulty (15 points). These maneuvers would include but are
not limited to: sidepass, two tracking either direction, pulling or dragging, jumping, serpentines, rollbacks, roping, mounted shooting, lead changes, circles with variance in size and speed, stops, etc.

Artistic Interpretation – 30 points:

Components of Choreography – the composition and arrangement of the ride in relation to the music and its rhythm, as well as the use of maneuvers, costumes, and/or props to enhance the performance (15 points)

The “WOW” Factor – level of originality and the overall entertainment value (15 points).