The Hippo


May 25, 2020








Jackie Johnson of Brentwood riding her horse Storm. Courtesy of 4-H.

Upcoming shows

NH Hunter Jumper Association Spring Show
When: May 6 - 8
Where: Cheshire Fairgrounds, 247 Monadnock Hwy, Swanzey
More info:
NH Horse and Trail Annual Show
When: May 13 - 15
Where: Deerfield Fairgrounds, 34 Stage Road., Deerfield
More info:
North Shore Horsemen’s Council Shows
When: May 22, June 19, Aug. 14, Sept. 25
Where: Senator Bell Farm, 156 Derry Road., Chester
More info:
State 4-H Horse Show
When: July 15 - 17
Where: Deerfield Fairgrounds, 34 Stage Road., Deerfield
More info:

Pretty Ponies
From beauty to athleticism, horses strut their stuff

By Ryan Lessard

 There are several different kinds of horse shows that take place in New Hampshire, and as any horse owner knows, a lot goes into preparing for and participating in them. 

Show basics
In New Hampshire, local equestrians take part in horse shows that focus on the aesthetics of the horse and the rider, shows based on horse breeds and more competitive and athletic shows that involve jumping or obstacle courses.
Judy Forsyth of Barrington has judged shows for about 20 years.
“We do breed shows, 4-H shows, fun shows,” Forsyth said. “A fun show would be more of a learning type show for children or for adults.” 
Forsyth is also involved in the NbarH Riding Club, which hosts its own shows.
“They have a pleasure show, they have a miniature horse show … and then they have the gymkhana show, which is a gaming show,” Forsyth said.
The pleasure shows, Forsyth says, are judged on presentation of the horse and rider, including the horse’s cadence, but there are no obstacles on the course. They are usually divided between western-style and English-style or by age, or both.
The gymkhana show is a combination of several technical, timed objectives including pole bending, barrel racing, relay racing and keyhole racing.
“In pole bending, they have a series of six poles in a straight line and they have to run to the end and then turn and weave through the poles and weave back through the poles and come down on the straight side on the other side,” Forsyth said. “In barrel racing, they do a three-barrel race. So it’s set in a triangle and they go to one barrel, go around it, and another barrel and go around, and the third barrel.”
One of the most popular competitive shows is the hunter/jumper show.
Equestrian Jessica Elliott of Kensington has had some success on the hunter/jumper circuit.
“It’s [judged] more on the horse’s performance on how they move and how they jump and their styles,” Elliott said. “If a horse knocks a rail there are points deducted, and you have to ride the course within a certain amount of time allowed.”
Beauty pageants
In almost all of these shows, grooming and presentation are just as important as training. 
“You give them a bath prior [to the show]. Make sure they’re trimmed as far as facial hair, around the hooves … you may band their mane or braid their mane. The tail, if it’s an English horse, you’d probably braid that. There’s sprays that you can use to [make the coat] glossy and more appealing to the eye,” Forsyth said.
Even in the athletic shows, Elliott says, they have to take special care of the horse’s appearance.
“We train six days a week on our horses and … the horses do need to be bathed and braided, and we clip them,” Elliott said. “It takes a lot of preparation the day before to get them presentable, and it also takes a lot of time and preparation as a rider to be ready for a show.”
One of the required 4-H classes for horse shows is purely about presentation, according to Jan Brubacher of Fremont. 
“One is called sit and show, where the kids present the horse after being bathed and cleaned. It’s more like a beauty contest of how well the horse behaves and being evaluated from the ground and how well the youngster shows the horse,” said Brubacher, a 4-H coach and the head of the Peppermint Ponies horse club. “Just like people getting a haircut, making sure your nails are filed, making sure your coat is in good condition, that you’re fit — height appropriate to weight.”
She says kids in the 4-H program can even elect to concentrate entirely on the grooming and handling of horses if presenting and riding isn’t their cup of tea. They work effectively as stable managers and receive recognition and credit for their behind-the-scenes role, according to Brubacher.
She says many people don’t realize that horses also play an important role in therapy for young and old people alike.
“Horses have such a wonderful calming effect on people’s nerves and anxiety and tension,” Brubacher said.
Walk the walk
In nearly all these shows, judges pay close attention to how the horse walks and moves. Some shows are specifically focused on that one aspect, where they’re judged on different gaits such as walk, trot, canter and gallop. Each gait has a specific pace and tempo, and it takes training to command a horse to perform the gait expected of them.
“Just like dog obedience, you need to work with the animal, get your cues figured out, get your commands straightened out, be able to work under distractions like at a show environment,” Brubacher said.
She says these shows are judged by age, riders’ skill level and the ability of the horse. 

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