|AC showing a |
client's Green horse
CHLOE: Okay, first thing is first. Tell us the truth, do bays get more points??
AC: Uh (insert laugh), I don’t award extra points to horses for being any color, except bright pink.
CHLOE: Fine, you can tell me the truth about that later, off the record! Now for the boring questions that I am required to ask you… What is your favorite part about being a judge?
AC: Getting to see new talent in horses and riders and watching competitors in general within the industry get better and better with each show season.
CHLOE: We all know that 1st impressions are critical. I have been told that my first impressions are generally the best in the business. What makes a good first impression in the show ring for you?
AC: A crisp workmanlike appearance, a happy expression on a horse’s face, as well as bold but fluid movement with effortless carriage.
CHLOE: So, we now know what makes a good first impression on you, but what makes a really bad impression?
AC: Bay horses… just kidding! My pet peeve is seeing twisted reins, but seeing a rider sitting off center or ride with their body counter to the horse’s correct bend drives me crazy!
CHLOE: I am going to go off my “pre-approved” list of questions for a second... What are your thoughts on tail swishing?
AC: If it’s an expression of discontent and not a defense against flies, then it NEEDS TO STOP.
CHLOE: If someone has a perfect trip over fences, but they and/or their horse are not well turned out, do you penalize them for it?
AC: I try not to, but it depends on the situation. If tack or clothing is so ill-fitted that it becomes distracting or interferes with the horse’s performance, then of course, points would be deducted. Of course, if that were the case, they wouldn’t have a perfect round anyway.
CHLOE: In an under saddle class, tell us what your ideal winner looks like? Sorry, pointing at me is not an answer.
AC: A relaxed horse or pony, with a long, effortless, ground-covering stride, that travels in a lightweight compact frame on minimal contact is what my ideal hack class winner would look like.
CHLOE: For an equitation class, what are the top 3 things you are looking for from the rider?
AC: A classically correct position; an effective use of the aids and soft execution.
CHLOE: Lead Changes (insert head toss)! They have gotten the very best of us at some point… mainly rider error, of course! What if we miss a lead change, is it better to hold the wrong lead, simple change or cross canter? Please help my silly rider!
AC: Never, ever cross canter – the horse becomes disengaged and is essentially cantering on two leads at the same time. Simple changes are sometimes acceptable, but only at the lowest levels of hunter competition or (for good reason) in IHSA competition. Of the three choices, to hold the counter lead is best (except in intercollegiate equitation competition).
CHLOE: Do you judge the tack in the hunter ring? For instance, do you give more points to the person without a martingale versus with one? Or the person in the Snaffle versus the Pelham?
AC: Some tack is not allowed in the hunter ring. I would have to eliminate a rider if they were using tack that is not allowed. If a standing martingale is needed, then by all means, please use one, just not too tightly; although I personally prefer to see a hunter compete over fences without one but only if the horse doesn’t need it. I have no objection to a Pelham bit in the hunter or equitation divisions so long as it is used appropriately. I have often used one, past and present. But, if the horse is bracing against a Pelham bit with a stiff jaw or topline or is curled behind the bit to evade it, then the Pelham is not being used correctly and the rider should switch to a milder bit such as a snaffle and do more work at home on light contact and transitions.
CHLOE: Is there anything else that you think riders need to know before they walk into your show ring?
AC: Yes. Relax and show me the best of everything your horse can do. If your horse has a lovely walk, show me his best walk. If your horse has a great jump, ride him to a fence and give him his best advantage to jump the heck out of it. Don’t override and take away from the horse’s natural ability, let him show himself off with just a little help from you. For example, it drives me crazy when riders chase their horses at the trot in an under saddle class. What I mean is, they keep pushing their horse more and more to achieve an impressive trot. But, instead of gaining an easy, long, ground-covering stride that gets you where you want to go efficiently (lots of ground gained with very little effort); they’ve created a faster, quickened and shorter stride which is inefficient and totally refutes the very essence of the definition a “hunter hack”. Also, never bring anger or harshness into my show ring. If a rider acts abusively (even inadvertently) without thinking of how the horse perceives his actions, then I am not in any way tolerant of this form of riding.
CHLOE: Do you have a favorite Hoof Hi-Lites color?
AC: “Gimme Gold” because that what my horse’s heart is made of. (Insert gagging noise from Chloe).
CHLOE: Would you like to ride me?
AC: Chloe? You’re kidding, right? I already do, whenever you’ve taken your normal Diva self to some new extreme! (And you love every minute of it, in our love/something relationship.)
A special thanks to AC Jones for being Chloe’s first interviewee! For more information about AC, or to contact her directly, please visit her website at www.firstcallfarm.com! If you have ANY question you want Chloe to answer, or if you have any interviews that you want Chloe to do, please email her assistant at firstname.lastname@example.org! xoxoPG