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First Show of the Season

I had a long, involved post written, but I really need to think more positively in general. So here’s all I’m going to say about the beginning: I took the day off on Friday to go up to the show early and watch an old friend show [she and her young horse looked great in the Baby Greens!] and chatted with her, which was really nice. After that I schooled and it sucked. Vinnie was “up” and we didn’t get to do much; I ended up going over a few fences, but couldn’t put anything together [no lines, just a few singles]. Vinnie’s antics were totally different from the minimal prep horse I rode last year. I went home very upset, worrying that I might not get to show.

Saturday

The next morning my BFF N [also Trainer’s working student] schooled Vinnie and he was marginally better. At first I thought I would show pretty early in the day, but I ended up not showing until about noon. I went off-course in the warm-up class and promptly wanted to crawl under a rock and die. My two division over fence classes were ok, but not great. Vinnie was still strong and I felt like I was doing everything my trainer asked, but without seeing much improvement.

After my classes Vinnie was still wired, so we went to one of the practice rings and rode some more and did a few more jumps. Again, I went home upset and not looking forward to showing the next day. Honestly, I briefly considered cancelling, but I was already out the money, so I figured I might as well suck it up and go out and ride.

Sunday

N schooled Vinnie again in the morning and I rode right after her. He was great for her, just okay for me. I decided that all I cared about was two things: thinking on course, especially in between the lines, and following well over the fence. Below were my two courses:

Both courses went much better than Saturday. I still struggled with pace; I was in such a take-back frame of mind from the day before that I really didn’t allow for the correct striding, so we added in the lines. And by the end of the last course I wasn’t following as well because my legs were so tired. BUT it was much improved, and I accomplished the two goals I set out to do. For your viewing pleasure, the best of my rounds from Sunday:

I ended up with as 6th and 8th over fences for my efforts on Sunday out of 12-14 in the classes — which I was much happier with! I also rode the under saddle well, but didn’t place. Overall, I’m honestly not quite sure what to make of the whole experience. I was frustrated, and still am, about how things went on Friday and Saturday, but I’m not sure how much to blame myself (which I usually jump to!). I’m annoyed that I’m showing the same horse in the same division last year, and I feel like I’ve made a lot of improvement, but that it’s not translating into being more competitive.

I guess I’ve sort of decided to not worry about it and focus on the next show, which is mid-June (two weeks away!). I’ll see how that goes and go from there!
Bay stock horse

9 Equestrian Questions

Wow have I been busy! After collapsing on Monday after my horse show, I have been crazy busy at home and at work. I promise to post all about the show later this week — I’m uploading videos to share, which is taking longer than expected (stupid, uncooperative phone!). But until then, here’s a little Q&A:

1. How long have you been riding?

I started in 4th grade, so about 15 years.

2. What discipline do you do, and what’s your favorite thing about that discipline? 

I ride Hunters, mainly because for me it’s more exciting than only riding on the flat, but less scary than other options. I really enjoy low-level Dressage, but I don’t think I could do only that day in and day out. I would consider Eventing, but there is no way I could ever make it through an entire cross country course without having a heart attack!

3. If you couldn’t do your current discipline, what discipline would you choose? 

Reining for sure — it’s a heck of a lot of fun! I used to not know how to answer this question, because even though I tried a lot of different classes in 4-H, none of them are appealing anymore. Then last year I got the opportunity to participate in the NRHA’s Ride-A-Reiner program at Quarter Horse Congress and it was amazing!

Keep Calm and Let it Slide

4. Do you show? How often?

I show about 4-7 times a year. Showing is one of the things I love about riding — it gives my competitive nature a positive outlet. I would show every weekend if it was free!

5. Long-term equestrian goal?

Before I die, I’d like the opportunity to show in Adult Amateur or Amateur Owner at WEF or similar big-name shows, but I’m definitely a long ways away from that! Like 30 years far away. At least. So a more realistic long-term goal of mine is to compete on a local circuit at 2’6″ for a year-end award. That could more reasonably occur in the next five years.

6. What has your main riding struggle been?

Lately, it’s been filling in the gaps in my education. I was a 4-H boss in high school and I’ve had to learn the hard way that especially when it comes to jumping, I have a lot to learn.

7. Favorite horse book?

The Thoroughbred Series for sure! There are about a million books in the series and I never got through them all. Sometimes I want to go back and read them, but they are really written for a younger audience.

7b. Are you subscribed to any horse-related magazines? 

Just the free stuff: In Stride, America’s Horse and I look at the Equine Chronicle and Go Horse Show online sometimes.

The Thoroughbred Book Series

8. How often do you clean your tack?

I clean my bridle, girth and martingale after every ride… and I really need to get better about cleaning my saddle and tall boots. Those I only manage once every couple of months… which is awful.

9. What lessons in life have horses taught you?

Horses have taught me so many lessons, I couldn’t possibly list them all. I think the most important include that hard work pays off, I’m never going to be the best or the richest and that you get what you put in. But I’m learning more each and every day!

Wild

My lesson last night started out well. I got to the barn early and had time to chat with the girls before we tacked up. And that’s about where the good ended. As soon as I got on Vinnie looked like this:

Wahoo!

We warmed up, did some transitions, trotting and various circles, serpentines, etc. to no avail. He has definitely been strong lately, but last night he was on a whole new level. Don’t get me wrong, Vinnie isn’t bad — he wasn’t spooking or bucking or carrying on. He was just feeling really good — too good for 2′ horse for beginner riders. We trotted a ground pole and he launched into the air and cantered away. This from the horse that three weeks ago was moving at a snails pace to the left. So we ended up switching bits to a pelham before even attempting to canter. The bit changed definitely helped, but my experience with double reins is about almost nothing (except for the stint in middle school where I pretended to ride Saddle Seat). I pretty much wore this expression for the first 10 minutes:

Dizzy with Double Reins

After I settled in to my (considerable amount of) hardware, we got to work. I’ve been working on following more over the fences, and last night I had some success. Probably about 60 percent of the time, I do well. But when I don’t really see a distance, or if I see a long one very late, I just pose.

This is what you’re supposed to look like over the fence, right?

I felt like I didn’t get to work too much on this, mostly because I was schooling Vinnie the entire lesson. We circled before and after fences, we stopped before and after fences and we did transitions. And I thought he was going to pull my arm out of its socket. About 30 minutes in to our 45 minute lesson, I was about done. Vinnie’s antics were really starting to get to me and I was pretty frustrated.

Really, Vinnie?!

But I held it together and we finished on as good of a note as we could. Hosed the wild pony and turned him out… which I think was where he wanted to be the whole time anyways. But, on to the next ride! Trainer is taking him on a long trail ride today or Thursday, so maybe that will help mellow him out some — I sure hope so anyway! Otherwise this might be me at the show this weekend:

 

Baseball diamond

It’s Definitely Summer!

I had an absolutely wonderful long weekend! I took half of Thursday and Friday off work to go to my little sister’s college graduation with the whole family. It was a little long, but a lot of fun and it was a great feeling to hear my sister’s name called as she walked across the stage to get her diploma! She worked really hard to accomplish this goal of hers and I’m so proud of her for making it all the way to the end.

Friday night the sibs, Sam and I went to the Indians game together. Sam is a huge baseball fan (his favorite team is the Braves) and he had never been to Progressive Field before. It was dollar dog night so the four of us loaded up on hot dogs and sat in the nosebleeds laughing and joking the whole time. The game went into extra innings but the Indians managed a win in the 10th with a walk-off home run. It was a blast, and it was a gorgeous night for baseball.

We left Saturday afternoon after our fill of awesome home-cooked meals and quality family time. And of course Rocky always enjoys the non-stop attention he gets at the house from everyone, and generally leaves thinking that the world revolves around him.

Rocky sitting on Pillows
Sunday I had a nice [albeit short] flat ride on Diamond. I didn’t get out to the barn until late morning and it was hot. I rode outside in the sand ring, which I like to call “the beach” in the summer, because you bake on it. All the sun reflects on that sand I swear it feels like it’s at least 15 degrees hotter than it really is. Regardless, I worked on focusing on my right aids, especially to the left, when I use them less… but the fact that they aren’t there really hurts my riding. Also did some pole work and concentrated on following Diamond even across simple ground poles.

 

I am happy to report that my right aids felt stronger than my last ride on Diamond, but still not where they need to be. I also noticed a big difference in my overall balance when I was able to correctly follow her stride over the poles. Maybe this whole “transferring what I learned on one horse to the other” is going to work after all, just a bit differently than I had originally imagined.

Weekly Schedule

  • Tonight – Lesson
  • Wednesday – Flat Vinnie
  • Friday-Sunday – HORSE SHOW!
Look at How Far You've Come

Leaps and Bounds

I often feel with horses that I’m either improving dramatically with almost every ride or that I’m at a plateau and going nowhere. Right now, I am the former; I am advancing in leaps and bounds. After my private lesson on Saturday and my flat ride on Sunday, a lot of concepts really “clicked” for me and I was able to carry a lot of learning over to my Monday night lesson (trainer even said so!).

Vinnie was high as a kite and I’m pretty sure he had “No Worries” playing on repeat in his head the entire lesson. It wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle, but as a result we did a lot of schooling and didn’t put much together. We would jump a line, come down to a walk and circle, then pick up the canter and jump the next jump, stop. Stand. Canter the next jump; wash, rinse, repeat.

The exciting part was that I could really feel a difference between what I’ve dubbed as my “flowing two-point”, in which I correctly fold my upper body, while maintaining my core and legs versus my “posing two-point,” where I mostly stand up in the stirrups (okay, it might not be quite that bad, but it’s very a very static position). Additionally, even when I posed, it wasn’t as static as before (if that makes any sense). I was able to follow better with my arms and maintain more weight in my legs than before. This is very exciting for me, because I know now all I need are more reps over fences before all of this becomes habit and my posing two-point becomes the occasional “oops.”

Look at How Far You've Come

In other news, I’m heading back home Thursday afternoon for my little sister’s college graduation – YEAH! I am really proud and excited for her; she has worked exceptionally hard for this degree and I’m happy I was able to get time off work to go celebrate with her. PLUS she just got a job (and she’s been looking for something at least part-time for months) so our family has a ton to celebrate.

Only eight days until the first horse show of the season!