Horse Experiences, Memories and Opinions

My name is Tom Simmons. I have had Morgan horses since 1963. I have trained almost any breed you can think of. I have had a good amount of success. I have written articles for Western Horseman, The Morgan Horse, and The Carriage Journal. In the 47 years that I have worked horses, I have seen a lot. I would like to share with you some of my experiences, opinions and memories. Please feel free to email your thoughts. I will try to address them. Tom

Location: North Carolina

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Halter Horses # 1

Two halter classes stick out in my mind more than most. One case involved a mare and the other a stallion. Both of these horses just happened to have two crosses to Pecos.

This one class that I saw the mare in was probably one of the most exciting in hand classes that I have ever seen. I have seen lots of halter classes, and lots of good horses. In most halter classes the horses trot in, some with brilliant action and proud carriage. They line up and do their individual work and then are placed by the judge.

But on this particular day, this mare started her class outside of the ring. Just as the other class of mares was leaving the ring, this mare's tail started to rise. And it went up and up until it stood straight up. Then she started to blow and she started to trot in place, pausing momentarily at the highest point of each diagonal. When the class was called into the ring she came in blowing and snorting while doing a trot that looked as if her feet did not touch the ground. She made her entry pass, as we call it, and lined up to wait for her turn to be presented to the judge. But today this mare came to show and show she did. The judge was doing his best to judge the other horses, but there was this thing behind him snorting and blowing and trotting in place. He kept looking back at her. She was stealing the show. While he was having the other horses work he would find himself staring at this mare. Boy was she putting on a show, and she never did let down. It got to be funny. Everyone in the stands started laughing. Even the judge started laughing. There was but one mare in that class that one day. She won her class that day. Her dazzling display won everyone's heart. That day she did what she was bred to a show horse. Conformation you could pick her apart, but that day she was the most beautiful mare any of us had ever seen. Saddleback Lisa # 076063

Halter Horse #2

I happen to be leading the horse in this story.

I worked for this gentleman who owned a very nice black stallion that won almost all of his driving classes. He won a lot of halter classes. One day I said to the owner, why don't you leave him out of the halter classes at the next show. He answered why should we. I replied he really is not a halter horse. He wins all of his driving classes, why do we have to show him in halter. He said, the judges like him. I said that's why we shouldn't show him. The judges should not like him that much.

The next show we were entered in the halter classes. Owners always have the last say. As I waited for our class to start, I just did not want to show this horse. I showed this horse, but not too enthusiastically. There was about 19 or 20 horses in his class, and the judge lined us up 5th which was about where we belonged. As we stood there, I suddenly didn't want to be 5th. So I told my whip hang on, we are going to move this horse. She asked what are you going to do? I said hang on. Then I went into my show horse mode. I moved the horse out of the lineup. I moved him about 5 feet to the left, still in our 5th place , but just out of the line. A I went I snapped my whip and started barking Whoa! Whoa! in a very sharp voice. The judge turned to watch and as he did I asked this old horse to park out. He could park like few horses could. Now I said he was not a good halter horse meaning conformationwise, but I never said that he couldn't show. I parked him out about 8 inches farther than any horse should be and all the rough edges flowed into a very smooth body , and he found something , as he usually did, way up in the top of the grandstands to look at. He had a plain head, but huge eyes. He stood there fixed in place as if he were stone. The judge hurried back to him, looking at him intently and wondering how did he miss this horse. He looked at him then told the ring steward to switch these two horses. Now we were 4th. The judge seemed to say to himself what else did I miss. So he started walking the line again. Who he got back to us, he told the ring steward to switch these two horses. Now we were in 3rd place. He walked the line again. My horse was still modeling as few horses can. The judge switched us one more time and we ended up reserve champion 5 and over stallion. So a super attitude will whip correctness in many cases. Correct conformation does not always win conformation classes. I will never forget the look on Rock Walker's face as he led his horse out of the ring as we were getting our ribbon. He knew our horse should not have beat his.