This month I'm offering the Senior AQHA Course at the SCQHEA "Show Me The Money" Circuit" at the LA Equestrian Center. Cherie Vonada did a great job designing the courses and they were set by my old friend, Don Lehman. I had the pleasure of judging this class with Mr. Steve Meadows from Virginia.
This course started with a good "loosen up" combination obstacle of a sidepass and
a straight back. It was not a particularly difficult test, but I could see Cherie's logic of making the first obstacle simple so they could warm up before meeting much more challenging tests.
I was impressed how many of those California horses went clean over obstacle 2. The center pole of the walk/overs was deceptively high and the poles were on a curve which requires discipline when picking your line of travel. They were all single-strided slots after an optional stride distance between the bridge and the walk/overs.
The horses continued at the walk into obstacle 3 and stopped in the second box, performed a 360˚ turn and walked out over two logs. Some horses got in trouble here as their riders attempted to raise the degree of difficulty by going fast in the turn.
Obstacle 4 was also tricky. Look at the photo and you will see the elevated ends were varied. They were set for a two-stride and the rider had to find those two-stride distances while partially disregarding the potential peril of going over a high spot. It required an athletic horse.
The first time the horses had to negotiate the teal and black jog/overs (Obstacle 5), it appeared a simple task, but finding a clean rhythm in multiple strided slots, after those lope/overs, was challenging.
The first portion of the lope/overs in obstacle 6 gave a lot of horses trouble. The configuration made for a sharp turn and the middle pole was elevated. The multiple strides between the three portions of the obstacles were best suited for a thinking and aware rider.
Even the gate (obstacle 9) was not simple. It gave the rider moment of respite, but there was a step/over that required rating.
The final obstacle (obstacle 8) was a return to the teal/black poles from a different angle. Again managing multiple strided distances were the challenge of this obstacle and the apparent theme of this well thought out course.
There was a lot of top riders and horses in this class making it fun to judge!