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July - September 2010's POSTS
September 20, 2010

(Explanation of the Chambron Headstall)

Hey Lonnie, could you give your advice on using the Chambron (sp?) and also a little info regarding the why's and hows's and so forth. I have of course seen this in use with what looked like great benefit. Would this be something you would advise for use on younger horses? Or.....is this primarily for use on an individual that won't come to the bit? Hope I am making sense here. Thanks,

Tip of the Day - Unlike assembly line products... God's horses are difficult to place in a mold so they can appear standardized..... Although some people still like to try!!!

The true Chambron and other devices using the similar principles have been used for years in Europe. Primarily developed for use "on the lunge". it is lately being used while the horse is ridden, mostly here in the good old USA. Like most such appliances, it is not a quick fix that can change conformation or make up for serious, dedicated and intelligent training procedures. As with most training tools it has a purpose but over used or implemented by the wrong hands, it can be a useless and torturous device with sometimes devastating results especially when used on young horses. Working on the nerves at the horse's poll and the punishing of the mouth, the desired intent of this gadget is to lower the horse's head, straighten the neck, stretch the back and place the horse's center of balance and the bulk of his weight on the forehand rather than the hind quarters. As anyone training ASB show horses would know, that end is a complete reversal of what we are trying to achieve. Quarter Horse, Hunters or horses of other breeds and disciplines whose conformation and desired performance lend itself to such lowered and forward head placement would probably find some benefit from this piece of equipment. On occasion, I have used it on a rare individual but have found the best place for it when dealing with a show horse...is on the hook. I think it is important to note that any unyielding training device should always be given some serious thought before its use. I hope I have given you some food for thought. I wish you Good Luck and Good Riding.

LF Lavery


September 6, 2010

Should I be Changing Horses in Mid-Stream?
(Which is better, BNT Barn or Small local one)

Mr. Lavery:

I enjoy reading your column.

My daughter has been riding American Saddlebreds for about 7 years now (she is 13). And she has performed very well on our small show circuit, riding mostly 5-gaited pleasure horses. We have now stepped up and purchased a 12-year-old 5-gaited mare who has performed very well historically (including last year) at Louisville, Lexington, Kansas City, etc. including Reserve World Champion designation. She was being trained and ridden out of a very big, very well known training barn. However, we are at a relatively small barn where my daughter is the only person competing at this level.

I am concerned about taking this fine horse who has competed well on a national level and training her through an understaffed barn (we have one trainer and one instructor; and they seem overextended). So, I have several questions:

  1. Should I leave the mare at a bigger training barn and acknowledge my daughter won’t be able to ride her as often? There are good ones within two to three hours of us but no one locally.
  2. How often should a 12-year-old mare who is very good at all gaits and transitions be worked and trained?
  3. What types of training should she be doing to make sure she stays on her “A” game?

She is beautiful with a lot of action and "go forward".


Tip of the Day - All that Glitters, The Grass is always, Be careful what you wish for... etc, etc etc.

Thank you so very much for your question. Please also accept my congratulations on what sounds like a very wonderful purchase. Ownership of a World Champion puts you in a very elite club. As you probably know, for many years I ran a "very big and well known training barn" We were lucky enough to have many World Champion horses and many wonderful clients. With 40 some horses in training and 10- 20 clients, I must tell you it was some time very difficult to give the individual attention I felt the client might desire, deserve or need. "One small strike against the large training barn." Even at the shows, often two or three of our riders might be in the same class thus further dividing our attention. In truth, although we refer to ourselves as professional horse trainers, we are really in the "Personal Service" business as well. By this I mean, clients pay a good deal of money each month not only to have their horses trained but for our advice, help, council, and to make their experience "painless" by handling entries, reservations, veterinary, blacksmith, shipping, equipment procurement, speaking with them on the phone and working around the client's schedule for lessons and being ever conscious of the client's wishes and pocketbook etc. That type of Personal attention is as important as how well your horse is trained for a trainer to live up to my credo "It is a trainer's business to make a client's hobby a pleasure." As you can imagine, that type of personal attention often cannot be found at a large stable. I note that for seven years, you have obviously been very satisfied with the stable you are now at. Your daughter has done well and your trainers seem to have taken their time and have now decided that she was ready for the next step. I am certain your relationship with them is more than just business by this time and I for one have always felt most comfortable knowing a friend is looking out for me. Do not get me wrong, the large successful stable can be a great experience and a wonderful place to be and if your current trainers cannot handle the situation, I would not hesitate to move if you desire. However, I do have the feeling that if they felt that way, they would have told you before making this move up to the WC. If you have this question, I would discuss it with them before making any decision. One more Tip Of The Day... Horse trainers spend most of their working days trying to read horses' minds... They shouldn't have to read yours too!!!

As far as the training that is required..A twelve year old WC gaited mare is really not handled much differently than any other gaited horse. Certainly to be worked on a daily basis to keep fit and in show shape. Because she is a "veteran" or a "made" mare, jogging and some riding is should do her nicely. The real "training" will involve putting the team of she and your daughter together so they may be at their most competitive, The barn you purchased her from certainly knows the mare well as your trainer and instructor certainly know your daughter... Decisions, decisions !!!!

To sum this all up, there is really no correct answer to your great question. (as, I might add, I do not think there is an incorrect one, in this case) The final decision lies with you and your daughter. I hope I have given you some things to weigh and I wish you the very best of success no matter how you choose. Good Luck and Good Riding!

LF Lavery

"We welcome, in our guest book, reader's comments about this or any other topic"

July 5, 2010

Why are They Reaching for the Sky?
Equitation Position

Mr. Lavery,

I'm a director of the Appaloosa Horse Club and at our recent Nationals the saddleseat riding was APPALLING! Appaloosas aren't supposed to move like a saddlebred, more like a country pleasure Arabian. Well the Appaloosas showing didn't move like anything except western pleasure horses with double bridles. So imagine a group of horses with their heads down below their chests, but their riders' hands up level with their shoulders. It was horrible. Is there anywhere that you know of that has a modern, concise, but easy to read, description of saddleseat available online? Because it's obvious that our stock breed judges aren't getting it.

I would appreciate any help you could provide in this direction, because the ApHC either needs to start doing this class correctly or quit doing it at all.

Second question:

What is required to get an ASB judge's card? I'm going to retest at NCSU and get my TWHBEA card and want to get one more gaited breed card.

Thank you,

Tip of the Day - Although form is indeed important to correct Equitation, function tells the story. Just because a rider can assume the correct position does not mean she or he can ride the horse to its best advantage. As the old timer once said.... "If she fell off, she would be laying on the ground with her heels down, elbows in and a big smile on her face!!"

So very good to hear from you and what a wonderful question. You will be pleased to know that this problem is not restricted to the breed or the discipline you mention but seems to be rampant everywhere. Somewhere along the line, the emphasis has shifted from equitation being the actual art of riding a horse to a posed beauty contest. From the Mclay finals to the "Good Hands" and all in between beauty seems to be "Queen" with control a distant second. The visual I have in my mind from your description really tells the story.

Although the three basic riding seats here in the USA are all "cousins" closely related to the term Balanced Seat, each has a slight variance that is necessary for not only the required criteria of the individual discipline but also to accommodate the vastly different conformation of the different breeds of the Equines involved. As you pointed out, it is indeed folly to think of customary Saddle Seat position on a horse whose poll is lower than his wither as would be to think of a Forward Seat rider on a horse whose neck came straight up out of his wither with his poll several feet above the rider's head. Form to function!

In the particular instance you refer to, there is a caveat that this often overlooked when basic S/S position is described.....Hands should be carried at a height in line with the height of the horse's head. Of course, here is the rub.. When the horse's poll is below the wither, the rider's hands on the wither or below almost preclude correct and upright S/S position. (Shoulder, hip, heel) A judge must use some common sense here to reward riders who are attempting to truly ride and penalize those who, as Madonna said, are into "Vogue".

Below is a excellent description of Saddle Seat Position that comes from the USEF web site, Rule Book Section.

EQ115 Position.

1. GENERAL. Judges should note that the required Equitation Seat should in no way be exaggerated but be thoroughly efficient and most comfortable for riding the type of horse called for at any gait and for any length of time. In Saddle Seat Equitation classes, riders should convey the impression of effective and easy control. To show a horse well, he should show himself to the best advantage. Ring generalship must be taken into consideration b the judges. A complete picture of the whole is of major importance.

2. HANDS. Hands should be held in an easy position, neither perpendicular nor horizontal to the saddle and should show sympathy, adaptability and control. The height the hands are held above the horse’s withers is a matter of how and where the horse carries his head. The method of holding the reins is optional however both hands must be used and all reins must be picked up at one time. Bight of rein should be on the off side. According to tradition, the on side” is the side on which you mount and therefore, the “off side” is the opposite side.

3. BASIC POSITION. To obtain proper position, rider should place himself comfortably in the saddle and find his center of gravity by sitting with a slight bend at the knees but without use of irons. While in this position adjust leathers to fit. The rider should not be sliding off the back of the saddle nor should there be excessive space in the seat behind the rider’s back. Irons should be placed under ball of foot (not toe nor “home”) with even pressure on entire width of sole and center of iron. Foot position should be natural (neither extremely in nor out) with heels down.

This description and the drawing make it completely obvious what is desired when dealing with Saddle Seat position and as mentioned, is readily available on line. There are, of course, many other wonderful instructional materials concerning this with the great Helen Crabtree's books high on my list but I feel this conveys the general idea very well.

You will also find the USEF site helpful in explaining the procedure for acquiring a Judge's license. Briefly, you must attend one of the 1-3 day clinics offered each year, take a test, "guest" or junior judge some shows, then apply for the card with some references. Once secured, may have some "refresher" clinics and tests every few years. The expenses involved are pretty high as are the fees to maintain a license but if you can garner at least 2 shows a year, you can usually break even. More importantly, you will be "paying your dues" to the horse industry and doing your part to insure the standards of judging maintain the highest level.

I hope this has supplied you with the kind of answers you were looking for. I thank you again for your wonderful question. Good Luck and Good Riding,

LF Lavery


Links To Questions & Responses
Date Subject Search Criteria
Sept 20, 2010 DO YOU CHAMBRON? Explanation of the Chambron Headstall
Sept 6, 2010 Should I be Changing Horses in Mid-Stream? Which is better, BNT Barn or Small local one?
no new posts in August 2010
July 5, 2010 Why are They Reaching for the Sky? Equitation Position

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