I’m rethinking my approach.

I think the universe may be sending me a message. The last two shows I’ve tried to do have (for very different reasons) not worked out. Baron went lame right before the one in June and this time I was an idiot and did not get his Coggins updated in time to show on Saturday. So twice in a row I have been over the moon excited about showing and had my hopes dashed. I’m starting to think I should forget showing for the rest of this year and focus on riding with that extra time and money. Maybe I can start showing again next spring after another winter of riding as much as possible.

With this in mind, I called my old trainer, Mary, who I haven’t had a lesson with since last Thanksgiving. I would like to start taking one lesson a month with her. I only have time for one a month because it’s such a hassle to trailer off to her barn. My kids are just too demanding right now to leave them for very long.

I’m looking forward to starting the lessons again because I feel like I’ve hit a wall with my training. I’ve done about all I can do on my own. I need help at the canter and I need someone to help me progress into jumping. I’m really excited about this next step in our training!

No show this weekend.

In getting ready for the show, I got Baron’s Coggins test out to make sure it hasn’t expired. Well, guess what? It HAS expired. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! It will cost me over $100 to have a Coggins pulled by Saturday. It would have to be overnighted to the lab and overnighted back. SUCK!!!!! I can’t justify spending an extra $100 to go to a schooling show that isn’t even specifically for hunters. As much as I want to go, I just can’t justify spending the money. So again, I will not be showing. This is really starting to piss me off. I can’t believe I didn’t get this taken care of earlier. Grrrrrrrrr…..

Upcoming Show!

My first show of 2010 is July 31st. It’s the Paulding County Saddle Club show, a local fun show. I have no idea what to expect because I’ve never been to the show as a spectator. Typically I like to go check out a show before entering to get an idea of what the competition is like. My impression of this show just from the website is that it’s laid back and a chance for people to get out, have fun and show off their horses. The judge is an AQHA judge (hope she has a soft spot for TB’s!), so  I’m not expecting to be totally outclassed by a bunch of  uber-wealthy people on imported warmbloods. I’m looking forward to getting Baron in the ring, putting some show miles on him and having a chance to defeat my stage fright and show nerves.

Speaking of nerves, when I was in high school I sang the national anthem at basketball games. It made me so nervous I would throw up before I had to sing. I hate being in the spotlight, I am definitely a behind the scenes person. I was a cheerleader as well, but that wasn’t so bad because I was performing in a group and all the attention wasn’t on me. At my last show I felt the same way as I did in high school before singing- nervous and on the verge of puking. I’m really looking forward to confronting my nerves at this next show. It’s a local fun show; it’s not the freakin’ Rolex after all.

The classes I’ve picked out are:

  1. Beginner Walk Trot (probably me and little kids)
  2. Beginner Walk Trot Equitation (again, probably me and the 8 year olds). I am determined to ride well in this class because I sucked it up in equitation last time.
  3. Open Green Horse Walk Trot (this one should be adults, yay!)
  4. Open English Walk Trot
  5. Adult English Pleasure
  6. Open English Equitation

The odd thing about these classes is that unless they specifically say “English,” they’re combined Western/ English. I think that’s kind of weird, but oh well. I’m just excited to get out and show!

Crossrails!

My killer new camera lets me take video and it also lets me pause the video and create a still picture. That’s how I got these two. The video I took wasn’t great, but the pictures are cute. The first picture was right after he hopped over the little crossrail. You can’t even call it jumping. In the second picture, he broke gait right before the crossrail and walked over it instead of trotting. So I was laughing and saying, “Let’s try that again.”

Even though it’s just crossrails that we’re working, I’m learning a lot about keeping him straight to the jump and encouraging him forward without losing impulsion. When he broke gait and walked over it, I knew I had become a passenger expecting him to carry me over instead of being an active partner and urging him forward. It’s also improving my flatwork because I’m having to look around my turns and keep him on the right path to the crossrail.

I also worked on cantering on my last ride. We just cantered up and down the dirt road. I took the advice of an instructor who commented on my post about sucking at cantering. I worked on leaning back a little so I didn’t perch forward. It went much better, but I still have a long way to go. I’m definitely not ready to do a canter class at a show. I’ll be sticking to walk/trot for a while.

Isn’t she pretty?

 

This is my friend’s horse Brooke. She’s a registered Paint with very nice bloodlines and he’s trying to sell her. He wanted me to bring out my English tack and get some pictures of her for the ad he’s placing. This was her first time in English tack and she did great. I think the pink saddle pad really popped in the pictures.

Random Thoughts from Last Week…

Here are some things that have been on my mind… (Yes, I’m numbering my random thoughts. I’m organized like that.)

1. Hunters vs. Show Jumpers: I am now certain I want Baron to be a hunter and not a show jumper. My reason for this is purely aesthetic. I’ve been watching some show jumping events on TV and the horses don’t go around as prettily as they do in the hunter ring. They seem to race around with their heads in the air and tossing their heads and being generally amped up. This makes perfect sense to me because show jumping is all about speed and the rider is more concerned with moving quickly and efficiently around a course than she is with having a nice pretty headset. Also, show jumpers are asked to go over some high, scary stuff. Horses that are brave enough to make it as show jumpers are probably not the type to trot slowly and prettily around the arena. I want Baron to be slow and pretty, so hunters it is.

2. What “look” does your horse have? I’ve also been watching some eventing on TV and those horses have a different look to me than horses who do straight dressage. Event horses look more like racehorses to me, very lean and lanky. The horses I know that do straight dressage have a more heavy, muscled look. I think Baron looks like an event horse. He’s long legged and lanky, and no matter how much I feed him, he still looks a bit like a string bean.

3. Lucinda Green Clinic: Lucinda Green is a British equestrian and a member of their Olympic team, although I’m not sure what year. I caught an eventing clinic with her on RFD-TV this weekend and it was suuuuuuuper informative, even though I have no interest in eventing. The clinic focused on the cross country portion, but she had the horses and riders start out in an indoor arena before moving outside to the cross country jumps.  The participants in the clinic were not terribly experienced, some of them not much further along in their riding than me. In the indoor portion of the clinic, she had jumps set up and she kept them at low heights, like not more than 2 foot. Despite the low height, each one was a little tricky. She said height wasn’t important; what mattered was getting the horses over the jumps confidently and getting them used to a variety of questions, essentially making them brave before making them skilled. I really liked her approach. She was very creative in setting the course.

She gave some great tips that apply to what I’m doing with Baron. She said to imagine your legs as a tube that squeezes your horse. When you’re approaching the jump, it’s important to have steady contact with your calves to encourage your horse to move forward even if he’s a little unsure. You don’t want enough pressure to speed him up, just enough to remind him that you’re up there and you have a task for him. The steady contact reassures him and keeps him from running out. She also talked about the tension between directing your horse over jumps and letting your horse learn to think for himself. It’s important not to micromanage because you want him to take responsibility for himself as he jumps, but you also want to guide and reassure him in his efforts. She highlighted the partnership aspect of jumping. I really enjoyed watching her clinic because I’m new to jumping and she had a lot of good foundational information.

We’re Jumping Again!

My husband and two year old are out of town so it’s just me and the baby, and it has been FANTASTIC. I only have one baby to take care of and the house to myself! With all my free time I’ve been able to ride more than I normally would. On Thursday I did a trail ride with my friend who used to board at my barn. He has two horses, both gorgeous paints with one blue eye, and he’s trying to sell one. He wanted me to ride Brooke, the one that’s for sale, in English tack so he could get some pictures to put up in the ad. I brought my hot pink saddle pad and it really popped with her black coat. Brooke’s nickname is Princess because she is very prissy. She is a more timid horse and very particular about getting her feet wet or muddy. She tends to be a little spooky and I had never ridden her before so I wasn’t sure how the trail ride would go.

Turns out Brooke was great. She had a couple opportunities to be spastic and she kept it under control very well. It was good for me to ride a different horse. I realized how comfortable I am with Baron. I’m used to the way he moves and I can anticipate when he’s going to spook. I had to up my game riding Brooke and get used to  different movement. I think it would be beneficial for me to ride other horses from time to time, just to keep me on my toes.

This weekend I got up early and rode Baron to beat the heat. I set up one ground pole and one crossrail on different sides of the pasture to make a sort of primitive course. You can’t really call a ground pole and a crossrail a “course” but it’s a start. Since I’m not working with a trainer, I have to come up with my own training philosophy and that philosophy is simple- take it slow and keep it simple. First we just walked the course. He stepped over the ground pole and the crossrail and he got a chance to check them out thouroughly before being asked to trot over them.  When I asked him to trot, he did wonderfully. He let me center him over the “jump” and he wasn’t looky or timid. I was also able to adjust his pace. When I ask for a trot he usually gives me an active, fast , sometimes rushed trot. That’s the racehorse coming out. When he’s asked to go, he goes! I wanted to go slow around my little pretend course and when I half halted him he gave me a steady, slow trot.

I was very impressed with our little “jumping” session. If he continues like this, I might even put him in a crossrail class at the July 31st show!