There seems to be a bit of confusion about the new "series" I started with the "HATS" post recently. I received a comment wanting to know why I didn't "critique" the model and her position ("horse is in front of the bit and the headset is not correct...what about that?"). 

The "HATS" post was strictly about the correct position of the western "hat" in western pleasure, western riding and trail classes...not about the rest of the doll, the tack or the horse. This series is not about critiquing an entire set-up at's about taking it apart and scrutinizing each "part" in order to  make the entire set-up better. I hope to address the rest of the doll, the tack and the horse in this continuing series.

(The girls "line-dancing" in the picture were some of the original dolls "I" made many, MANY years ago. They are cute (and one of them won at NAN)...but I'm not in the same league as Joan Yount and Keri Parker. But...considering I had never sewn a stitch when I decided to try dressing them...they're not half-bad :)) Their hats and hair are OK for line-dancing...but would need some "tweaking" for riding/showing!!
We want our show performance entries to look perfect for the we'll start with the dolls who ride our "mini" equines. One of the first things that can give a bad impression about your set-up is to have the doll's hat on incorrectly. It's a small thing that makes a BIG impression.
In the first example the hat is TOO high up on the head, the front is "tilted" up and it is "twisted" to the side. The hat should not be perched up on top of the needs to be fitted  down  straight on the head.
In this example the hat has been straightened up...but is still WAY too high up on the head and the front is still "tilted" up.
We're getting closer...the front has been lowered a bit...but it still needs some "tweaking" to be correct.
Now we've over-corrected...the hat is on the head "straight" but is WAY too low.
Now we've got it!!! The hat is straight from "side to side" and "front to back" (parallel to the ground). This is the correct "hat" position for riders on horses in western pleasure, trail or western riding classes.  Entries in more "action-packed" classes  like cutting, working cowhorse or games may have the hat in a different position. The hat is one part of your set-up that can help "illustrate" the level of action in the class...make sure you have it placed correctly for the class. 
There still seems to be confusion about the correct stride placement for a horse "loping" over ground poles.  In looking at the 2013 NAN winners  I noticed exhibitors are still not getting it correct...and some of the judges "judging" the entries are placing these incorrect entries first in the class.
There seems to be a real tendency to "split the stride" and place the ground pole BETWEEN the front legs on models that are at the end of the stride with most of their weight on the front legs.

A horse loping over ground poles should have both front legs on one side of the pole and both hind legs on the other side.  It doesn't matter what configuration the poles are in for the trail obstacle or if it's just a single pole in a Western Riding class...the stride position going over them is the same. This is a rule that is consistent across all of the horse breed associations and the USEF.
I received a very nice message from a reader of my BLOG.  She is using the BLOG in a very interesting way and I thought it might help other model horse performance showers. 
- - - - -
Hi Susan: Just wanted to show you this (the above picture).  I've compiled and copied just about everything so far...ran out of ink...LOL!!  I'm working on the "Zippo Project".  Setting up each model with judge's placings & explanations.  I take the book to shows and it's been a great reference for me and others...all stuffed into a 1-1/2" binder.    Pat McDonald
- - - - -
Thank you Pat for letting me know the BLOG information has helped you and others with showing your model horses in performance. 
There seems to be a problem with a lot of the advertising signs being placed on the fences in performance classes...THEY ARE TOO SMALL!! I frequently see a cluster of small signs that appear to be more the size of a notice that might be placed on a bulletin board for people to walk up and read.  A group of small signs can look rather "jumbled" and messy and distract from your horse and his/her performance. The signs on a fence in an arena need to be seen by the people sitting on the OTHER side of the they need to be LARGE!!
Limit the number of signs you use to keep your set-up looking neat & clean...and make sure they are placed so they are hanging "straight" on the fence. You don't want a "jumble" of crooked signs to detract from your set-up.
Susan is having a little computer trouble at the m0ment, and asked that I  answer a question she just received.  The question was  - is it OK to use the diagrams posted in the Western Riding blog.  And the answer is YES!!!  Any of the documentation or diagrams  she posts here are yours to use.   The goal is to make people aware of the correct way certain classes should be executed.  So feel free to print these out and use them at your next show!!! 

There seems to be some confusion when it comes to the term "western riding".  In the horse show world it can mean a couple of things.  It can mean a general "style" of riding using some type of western tack OR it can mean a very technical "pattern" class which is done in western tack.  The Western Riding class and Reining (another western class) are a bit like the "dressage" of the western style of riding.  The classes have very specific movements which must be performed at precise points in the arena.
The class pattern consists of a short walk,  a jog over a ground pole, loping around a "set" cone pattern changing leads at the lope 7 or 8 times (some lead changes are done along a  serpentine line down the cones and some are done crossing the arena between the lines of cones), a halt and back.
Western Riding is a VERY technical class. Winning rides consist of horses that change leads "exactly" at the mid-point between the cones on the line path or "exactly" in the middle of the arena if doing a crossing change.  Jogging or loping over the ground pole is done "exactly" in sequence with the gait the horse is performing with no hesitation or change of stride.
The tack  and rider's clothing for a "Western Riding" class entry is the same as western pleasure. One mistake I often see in model horse set-ups of this class is the ground pole treated as a trail obstacle........with lots of flowers and plants around a striped pole. The proper "Western Riding" ground pole prop is a white pole (no stripes) with a cone at each end. Cones may be colors other than red/orange.

A "Western Riding" entry is great for that "Other Western" class at a show.  Be sure to carefully place the components of your set-up so you can be the "precise" winner.
For those who have been following this, the first experimental project -Zippo - is now complete.  I'd like to thank the judges who gave so generously of their time and expertise, and also to those who were brave enough to submit photos to be critiqued!  This really gives you a good idea of just WHAT a judge looks for! The first placings were really consistent, but after that things got interesting.  LOL  There is a lot of good information on what to look for in a top placing entry – I know that *I* was surprised by some of what was said!! So head over to Positively Perfect Performance page and see how this turned out. You can just look at the photos as they were placed or read the critiques from the judges. And keep watch – there could be another project in the works!  :))