Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Green with Card Envy

Green NAN cards (aka “breed cards”) are the most common type of NAN card, and likely the first you will encounter. They are given to the first and second place winners of breed classes in halter divisions. OF Breyers, Stones, resins, customs--they all win identical blank cards (on which you fill out your name, your horse's name, and the name of the class it was won in.)

Individual shows have a fair amount of flexibility to create their own classlists. But if they are giving out green cards, it means that each class is formed around a specific breed or breed group. Typical breed classes include Appaloosa, Morgan, and Arabian, while typical breed groups are Carriage, European Warmblood, and Stock Pony.**

**These groups all tend to contain the same collection of breeds from show to show (with some variation.) Stock Pony generally includes Paint Pony, Quarter Pony, Pony of the Americas, etc. European Warmblood covers a long list of breeds including but not limited to Hanoverian, Trakehner, Dutch Warmblood, German Warmblood, Selle Français, etc. Carriage…deserves its own entry.

Winner of a "European Warmblood" class (shown as a German Warmblood)

If a class is particularly large, a show holder or judge may choose to further divide the class. This is often done in the interest of fairness. As a judge, I like classes to all have roughly the same number of entries. If the Paint class is twice the size of the Quarter Horse class, the ribbons and NAN cards won in each class don't mean the same thing.

If a class is split, NAMHSA puts no restrictions on how they are split. They can be split be breed (Stock Pony divided into Paint Pony and everything else,) or virtually any other factor. Splits by gender, scale, and color are common. I once split a Clydesdale class by Wintersong (the mold) and molds that weren't Wintersong. Hey, I ended up with equal sized classes.

You will rarely, if ever, see classes combined. A published classlist is often treated as a promise by the show holder to their showers. If only one horse is entered in a class--oh well. The system isn't perfect and never could be (since no one could agree on what "perfect" means.)

As I’ve mentioned before, at this time shows do not have a nationally accepted standard and the judge must choose her own. Having said that, most of the time they judge on similar basic elements. The major elements in a breed class are Realism, Conformation, and Type (usually in that order.)

I could write a novel on these elements and what they mean, but I’ll save the nitty gritty for another day. Here’s the cliff notes version:

Realism: In a nutshell, is this horse even possible? Impossible horses usually means they have uneven measurements, impossible gaits, and cartoonish proportions. Or eye brows.

Conformation: A model horse can be a 100% realistic representation of a real horse--and still be ugly (conformationally speaking.) I will cover this topic in more detail in multiple future posts, but the most basic is this: balance, body angles, and straight legs.

Type: Think of type as measurement of how closely a horse matches the look of its assigned breed. Does a model Arabian have a dishy head and high set tail? Does a Shire have adequate feather? Does a stock horse have a large enough butt? Then they’re “typey.”

Generally, these elements are considered in this order, with major realism issues taking priority over subtleties of type.

Tune in tomorrow when I unravel the mysteries of the yellow NAN cards! (Or not.)

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