I suck at cantering.

I finally got to ride today!!! I headed to the barn about 8:30 a.m. to beat the heat, but I swear it was getting hotter by the minute. My goal for today’s ride was to work mostly on cantering because I registered for walk-trot-canter-classes for the show July 31st. My second goal was to do some basic flatwork, circles and walk-trot transitions.

I videotaped myself by setting the camera up on the spare tire on the side of the trailer. Worked out pretty well, better than no video at all I guess. I LOVE having video of myself riding. It helps me to objectively judge how I’m progressing. The down side of it is that I’m super hard on myself. I’m sure other riders have this same frustration- the feeling that if you had more time and more money for a trainer that you would be such a better rider. I’ve had Baron for about a year and a half and while my riding has definitely improved, I don’t feel that I’ve turned Baron into a more accomplished horse. He still trots around with his head in the air like a racehorse. I know someone with more experience would have him winning blue ribbons, doing 1st level dressage, and jumping 2’6 by now.

I shot this video of the last part of our ride and it’s just trotting. I cantered up and down a long dirt road for the first part and it did not go well. While I was riding this winter during my pregnancy, I felt like I was improving a little. Today I just flat out sucked. I kept getting too far ahead of the motion and losing my balance. I was cantering in half seat (I think?) and I kept gripping with my knees instead of sinking into my heels. It was just all off and awful. Cantering is still overwhelming for me, like trotting used to be. It’s hard to steer and think about my body position at the same time! I know that the only way to get better is to keep at it. Eventually my body will figure it out. It was the same way with trotting. It used to seem so fast and out of control and now it’s second nature. I rarely ever lose my balance at the trot. I gotta get back out there and keep on cantering!

Feel free to leave me some pointers on my riding. I appreciate helpful tips, things I could work on and do to improve. You don’t need to tell me I suck though, I already know. 🙂

Mistakes were made. Lessons were learned.

You have good times and bad times with horses. Yesterday was a bad time. To put it bluntly, I could have been killed. Mistakes were made.  Lessons were learned. Here’s the recap.

My husband did not get home til 8:30 last night to relieve me of child-related responsibilities. I hauled ass to the barn to try and ride before dark. When I got there I realized the 3 new horses were out with the herd for the first time. They were all bucking and snorting and establishing a new hierarchy. My first thought was that I’d never be able to separate Baron from the hullabaloo and convince him to follow me out of the pasture. Surprisingly he let me snap a lead rope on and he followed me away like a lab puppy. I had him tied in the round pen ready to tack up. The problem is that the round pen sits inside a small pasture and I, like an idiot, had not closed the gate. All of a sudden I heard the rumble of hooves hitting the ground and the 7 other horses came tearing at full speed from the larger pasture into the small pasture where Baron was tied in the round pen. They settled down and started to graze.

I thought I would be able to tack up and ride in the round pen while the others grazed. Not so much. After I got the saddle on Baron, the other horses decided they would haul ass out of the small pasture back across the large pasture. This is when all hell broke loose. Baron tried to take off and follow them when he realized he was tied. Let me just say here that he has NEVER had a problem being tied. Well, this time he went ballistic about not being able to follow his friends. The knot I tied was supposed to be one of those quick release knots where you pull the end and the whole thing unravels. Again, not so much. I need to go back to knot tying school because I could NOT get him untied and he was flipping out. He was lunging away from the rail and the round pen started to move with him. It actually picked up off the ground when he reared and moved across the grass.

So here I am in the round pen with a big horse who’s going crazy and he is strong enough to actually move the fence. I’m thinking he is going to knock me down with the fence and drag it over me, at which point I would suffer multiple broken bones if not death.  

Miraculously he let me approach him and take the halter off. Even more miraculously he stood still and let me take off the saddle. It was apparent at this point that I was not going to get to ride. Daylight was almost gone and he was beyond amped up, way too frantic for me to even think about riding. So after he was stripped down I let him out of the pen and he cantered off to find his buddies.

Apparently very important things were going down in the pasture that Baron could not miss. Lesson learned. Do not tie your horse until you are far, far away from other horses who are snorting and bucking and acting like a-holes. Make sure you really know how to tie a quick release, not just think you know how to tie a quick release!

This whole saga does make me feel good about all the ground work I’ve done with Baron. He trusts me enough to let me get close to him at his most frantic moment. This little anecdote also goes to show that I am ever so lucky to have such a level-headed horse. He was able to think instead of going all primitive on me and simply reacting and pulling a round pen on top of me. He’s a good horse. I think I’ll keep him. 🙂

Show Names

Horse names are fantastic, especially racehorse names. The best horse name I ever heard was actually a pony called “Daddy’s Last Dollar.” I thought that was hilarious. Baron’s race name was Storm Ballad. His dam was Storm Threat and his sire was Concerto, so I guess they came up with a combination of the two.

I’m trying to decide if I should show Baron under his racing name or his barn name. I’ve heard that it’s a good idea to show ex-racers under their racing name so that previous owners and trainers can keep up with them if they’re so inclined. That would be my only motivation to show Baron as Storm Ballad. I’m not crazy about the name and to me it represents his old life.

I could show him as Baron, but most horses’ show names are long and formal and I’m afraid Baron is not quite flashy enough for the show ring. A friend of mine suggested coming up with a whole new show name. Her horse had a crappy racing name, not cool at all. His barn name is Chase so she shows him as Chasing the Dream.

I like the idea of coming up with a whole new show name. I’m thinking Queen Anne’s Revenge. It was the name of Blackbeard’s ship and it references Anne Boleyn, who is my favorite historical figure. (I’m really interested in all of Henry’s wives, but Anne is the most fascinating.) I always thought it was a cool name for a horse.

So what do you think? Should I show him as Storm Ballad, Baron or Queen Anne’s Revenge?

Next Show is July 31st!

Of the two shows I had to choose from in July, I picked the local saddle club show. It’s closer and they have a couple classes specifically for adults. I have picked out the following classes to participate in…

  1. Open English Halter- IF Baron has hair by then!
  2. Beginner Trail Walk/ Trot- Why not? I watched some trail classes on youtube and they involve walking over and through various obstacles. I think Baron will do fine. I’ve done so much ground work with him that he’s pretty good about putting his feet on new, scary things. Or we might totally suck. You never know until you try!
  3. Beginner Walk/ Trot
  4. Beginner Walk/ Trot Equitation
  5. Beginner Walk Trot Canter
  6. Adult English Pleasure 

They have lots of youth classes and some classes specifically for ponies so I’m hoping I’ll be showing against some other adults. As long as I’m not the ONLY adult in the class I’ll be fine. Geez, just throw in a fifteen year old even, someone bigger than 4 feet tall!

I should be at a horse show right now.

But I’m not. I’m convinced that the universe is conspiring against me. First my horse goes bald just in time for the show I’ve been looking forward to for months. Then, two days before the show he comes up lame. Not horribly lame, just tender footed on the right front, but enough to where I can’t ride him. He was without a shoe on the right front for over a week because my farrier was out of town. Then immediately after the new shoe was put on, he started limping. I couldn’t be there when the farrier came, but one of the other boarders told me. He was FINE before the new shoe went on, which makes me think maybe he was trimmed too short. I really don’t know enough about horseshoeing to blame anyone, but it does irritate me that he is lame AFTER getting new shoes. Grrrrrrrr…

The show series I was supposed to do today doesn’t have another show til August! I can’t wait that long!!! I have two options for shows in July. One is a hunter schooling show about an hour and a half away. The other is a local saddle club show that’s fairly close to my barn. The hunter show does not have an adult beginner class which means I will be showing against eight year olds. I’m not sure I want to do that again. I think my husband is right. No judge in their right mind is going to give me a ribbon when there’s an adorable eight year old on a pony. The saddle club show is more geared toward Western riders but they have a few English classes. It will be more low key than the hunter show, which may be better for me. I tend to be a bundle of nerves!

I guess the up side of all this is that Baron’s hair will have a chance to grow back in and I’ll get some more time in the saddle before we show again. I probably should not be so obsessed with showing, but I had so much fun last time and I can’t wait to do it again.

In the meantime, here are my goals:

  1. Work on flatwork- more controlled turns and circles, better transitions.
  2. Work on cantering. I feel pretty comfortable at the canter, but my form needs major improvement. I canter in two point for now, which is fine, but I want to work on keeping my hands still.
  3. Groom Baron meticulously to keep the rain rot away!
  4. Learn to braid. This is more of a long term goal because I don’t have a ton of time, but I want to learn to braid. I would love to show up at a schooling show with Baron braided like an A rated horse! I found a great book that explains how to do all the different types of braids, and now I need to practice.

Horse Show Prep

The show is Saturday and there is  much to be done.  First, prepping the pony. I’ve been so busy working and popping out babies this spring that I didn’t give Baron his spa day like I normally would. The feathers on his ankles and the hairs on his muzzle and under his neck are long and scraggly. Yesterday I went out into the pasture and trimmed his feathers but I couldn’t get his muzzle very well. He wanted to graze, not play beauty parlor.  

Then I decided I would load him into the trailer once more. He hopped right on (oh how my heart swelled with pride!). As I was standing next to him, I heard a buzzing noise above my head. Yep, wasps or hornets or dirt daubers or whatever you want to call them were pouring out of a nest. I hadn’t even noticed the nest. Luckily we both got out of the trailer with no stings. Aaaaaahh, the great outdoors!

Surprise I found in the trailer
Ima sting you.
Baron and best friend Thunder
Lilies in the pasture.
The current state of Baron's rump.

We’re going to the show!

I have decided that we are going to the show, bald spots and all. You may think I’m crazy, but I worked so hard this winter trying to ride as much as I could and really improve. I loved the show I went to last year and I looked forward to show season all winter long. So I’m not going to let a little bald patch get in the way of my dream. This is something I’ve wanted to do since I was a little kid and I’m loving every minute of it!

Here are my goals for the show:

1. Have FUN!

2. Don’t let my nerves get the best of me. Last time I was so nervous I was literally shaking. I got there late, had to tack up and change at lightning speed and I missed the warmup. It was my first show EVER and I had no idea what to expect and I definitely let my anxiety take over. This time I’m going in with a whole different attitude. It should be fun, not stressful. I have my job and my two kids to stress me out. I show for enjoyment!

3. Be on time. I’m leaving myself waaaaaaaaaay more wiggle room the morning of the show to deal with anything unexpected. I’ll get there in plenty of time to tack up at a leisurely pace and get a nice warm up in.

4.  Ride better than last time. Like I said, my nerves totally took over at the last show and I rode like absolute crap. I came in LAST in equitation. How completely embarassing. This time I will relax and put to use all that I practiced this winter. I’m not expecting a blue ribbon (or a ribbon at all) but I want to know that I rode to the best of my ability. I highly doubt that we will win anything simply because Baron looks so shabby. I doubt the judges will look past that. 

A side note on the subject of ribbons: The thing I want more than anything in the world is a ribbon from a horse show. I go to bed at night dreaming of horse show ribbons. Blue, red, yellow, pink; hell, I don’t care if it’s puke green. I just want a ribbon from a horse show. I have since I was old enough to know that such a thing existed and could be won. So if by some freak chance my bald-patched horse and I manage to win a ribbon (I’m told they pin to 6th place) , I will officially be the happiest person alive on this planet. I could potentially be the happiest person alive on ANY planet.