I have been thinking all day about Nancy’s and Bill’s comments on my post about Morgans In-Hand. I am interested to know what Nancy feels is not user-friendly about the Morgan shows that made her stop showing in-hand “years ago.” I would think that shows would want to do everything they can to be user-friendly so that they will stay in business. What do they need to do differently? Do you see the in-hand classes for Classic, Hunter and Western horses as an attempt to include more horses in the in-hand division of a show, or is it an ill-conceived notion? I would also like to know what was different about the in-hand classes at the northern California show that drew so many exhibitors. Were the class specs written differently? This could be important information for other shows to consider. Shows are more likely to stay in business if they have more participants in each class.
It seems to me that what Bill is describing is like the Sport Horse Suitability class that is described in the USEF Morgan Division (MO) rules, which in some respects is a performance class, as horses are judged on the way they move in addition to conformation. This class is usually judged by a dressage judge and scored similarly to the way dressage rides are. It also appears that Bill likes the feedback. (I have often thought that it would be great if judges had to give reasons the way we did in 4-H.)
With such a versatile breed as Morgans are, individuals are going to excel in different divisions. Perhaps it’s unrealistic to expect there to be only one kind of in-hand class. But with the rules for in-hand classes written the way they are, why is it that the high-stepping horses are shown in, and winning, the “breed” classes? It wasn’t that way when I was a kid, but something happened in the 20 years that I was away. Any ideas about what happened? Theoretically, a horse that is trained for any discipline should be able to win an in-hand class. Are there any Morgan judges out there in cyber-space who would like to comment on why the park-type horses are dominating the breed classes? Why don’t we see a dressage or western horse named Grand Champion Stallion or Mare or Gelding at our all-Morgan shows?