Thursday, June 12, 2008
A Blogger at the Western States Horse Expo 2008: 3
I always love watching the Magnificent 7 competition. It's so much fun to watch these horses, the best of the best, doing 4 events in one night.
I have learned quite a bit by watching all these years and I know a lot more about how to tell different levels of quality in a sliding stop or a spin or flying lead change, etc.
One thing I have noticed lately is the different amounts of applause for different riders when they are introduced. The "new" riders always get less applause, which is logical. Bob Avila, who won twice in a row AND one year got 1st and 2nd place, is understandably very popular.
He, more than any of the other yearly contestants, is well known for consistently exhibiting high quality horses with high quality maneuvers. You can pretty much count on a certain high level of performance and professionalism. As usual, he did a great job that evening. However, Russell Dilday got a score of 147 in the last event of the night, the herd work. This event is where the horse chases the cow up and down a fenceline, demonstrating he can keep the cow there. Then, he takes the cow off the fence and runs it in circles and figure eights. It is a very exciting event! Russell was brilliant in it that night. One of the best performances I've ever seen - he was totally in charge of that cow, which was a fast one! Everyone in the stands was really excited and clapping more than at almost any other time that night. He was now within a point or two of the frontrunner, Bob Avila.
When Bob Avila came out a couple horses later, he did OK. There were a couple of bobbles and he was not totally in control of the cow, but it was decent. Then the score was announced - 147! That score meant that he won. I am not the only one who felt that it was unfair. For the first time at the Expo, there was booing from a large part of the crowd. So yes, Bob Avila made history by getting three Mag 7 wins in a row, but I'm sure he has mixed feelings about it, as it should not really have been his trophy this time. I am glad for him, as he is a good trainer, but I really hope Russell Dilday does great next year and wins!
The whole issue was a good example of some of the failings of human nature. Judges are human, and when they see someone time and again, especially someone who always does a good job, and usually a great job, they can start to expect great things from that person and, rather than examine them as closely as they would a stranger, just give them credit they might not deserve. It was disappointing. Hopefully that will not happen again.
On the good side, there were several improvements in the organization, such as the speed at which the arena was dragged between events. Rather than taking 10+ minutes, it only took a couple of minutes this year - phew!
And just look at these gorgeous horses! Drool...
Those horses are so amazing to watch. :-D