2018 US Arabian Nationals Finals Course
Pictured here is the finals course at the 2018 US Arabian & Half Arabian National Championships. Designed by Robert Dehn, this course issued some challenges that weren't evident until you walked the course. I had the good fortune of winning the Purebred Open on Zee Fire Ball owned by Sharon Connelly. The Half Arabian Open winner was RCC Friar Tuck ridden by Jeffrey Wilms and owned by Robyn Meyer.
I thought the first obstacle posed more challenge than was evident in that the striding for the space between second pole and bridge and the space between the bridge between the bridge and the third pole were optional. A rider had to be smart here and needed to make a decision based on the nature of their horse. The important aspect was not to disrupt your horse's rhythm for the prescribed strided slots.
Two different set of jog/overs were next. The second set of jog/overs were extended jog/overs on a curve. A horse needed to bend its spine and maintain a even, committed trot. Afterwards, a horse needed to collect and pick up a right lead in a very limited space.
Obstacle 4 was a total of 10 right lead lope/overs. There were 4 corners that required execution and to do it well each corner was best done in 4 strides. Keeping a horse straight and on the correct tract was challenging.
Then after doing all those fast, gymnastic obstacles a horse's fine motor skills were tested at the gate (obstacle 5). It appears a simple task, but doing it well after calling on a horse in obstacles 2, 3, and 4 made it difficult.
After closing the gate a horse needed to pick up a left lead and go back to a gymnastic type obstacle with the lope/overs and then a set of extended lope overs. I thought executing the extended lope/overs and then going straight into a chute, rolling back and exiting the rollback at a trot was a very creative test that required horse with a soft, responsive mouth. A number of horses had problems doing that series of tests well.
Keeping a trot even after rolling back required confidence and responsiveness by a horse as it had to then serpentine at a jog maintaining a regular stride throughout.
Again after all that upbeat pace, a horse's fine motor skills was tested again as it had to trot into the box and STOP! A horse required a genuine resolve here as it needed to settle instantly, then turn 360 degrees and pick its way over another set of walk overs.
It was very exciting and memorable to win on this course. When I finished the last obstacle I felt like Zee Fire Ball and I were truly tested.