Yesterday I went to my first "real" Paso Fino show. I had been to another one, but only got to see one class--which lasted 1 1/2 hours--but that's another story.
I have some questions about the show I saw yesterday. The classes were small, only 2 to 4 horses in each class. Most of the time, my friend and I agreed with the judges in their decisions. But sometimes riders were asked to leave the ring before the class ended. What was that all about? I only saw the slightest problems--such as one time the horse jigged a little when the riders were asked to walk. The rider got the horse walking in a matter of seconds, but he was asked to leave the ring. Another time, a horse that was doing a marvelous job, was asked to corto across the boards last. As the horse went across the boards in front of him, he sidled nervously a few steps, knowing he would be next. And he was asked to leave the ring. The worst was a woman riding in a class called Country Pleasure. She was the only person in the class. She did a very nice job with her horse. When it was time to "line up," instead of giving her the blue ribbon, they said she didn't qualify and told her to leave the ring. I was in the entranceway taking photographs, and as she left, she was fighting tears. I felt like killing the judges. Every other horse that happened to be the only one in the class got a blue ribbon. Her horse did nothing wrong. Why would they do that? I've ridden in piles and piles of hunter/jumper/English pleasure classes. I had never seen anything like it. I've made my share of mistakes and had my horses make their share of mistakes, but never been asked to leave the ring. The only time I've ever seen it in the horseshows I used to ride in, were if the horse was out of control or dangerous--rearing, bolting, slamming into other riders, wildly kicking out.
My next question is about color. I've noticed that most of the Paso Fino champion winners seem to be dark bay, black, or gray. There was a stunning liver chestnut Paso in several of the classes. He was like a little machine, carrying his head at a perfect angle, never wavering in his gaits, just flawless--with flawless conformation as well. Several times he was pinned under a gray or a black horse who held his head up rather high, minced at the walk, and was uneven at the corto. In the final championship class, he was absolutely perfect, but they gave him reserve rather than champion, and the one they awarded champion was a gray--who was very nice, but just not quite the pleasure (it was the pleasure championship) that the liver chestnut so obviously was. Is there a strong prejudice against chestnuts? I noticed there were only a handful of chestnuts at the show--one flax chestnut and one dun only.
I also noticed that in the classes where females rode, they were almost never placed over the men. In fact, now that I think of it, in only one instance was the female placed over a man, and she was riding that flawless liver chestnut. That horse never put a foot wrong in all the 5 or so classes I saw him in. He was obviously smoother than the rest of the horses. His rider never moved out of the saddle.
Were the judges seeing things that I couldn't see? I know nothing about showing Pasos, so I was just baffled.
When the riders were asked to largo, I saw almost no difference in speed. I had to use my imagination to think they were going any faster.
And last, what is the difference between Pleasure, Country Pleasure, and Performance? I noticed that the Pleasure classes did not fino, but I could see no real difference between Pleasure and Country Pleasure, except that the rider dismounted and remounted. What is the difference between Performance and Fino?
Hope I am not boring all the non Paso people on the forum. Hope someone can answer my questions. Here are some photos:
An adorable pony in the child's class. This boy was the only one in his class.
This horse wasn't in any classes--just for sale for $10,000. Nice, huh?
Gorgeous Performance Horse
Another lovely Performance horse