Baron is healing up faster than anyone expected. His wound is still open, but it has started to seal up around the edges and it’s much smaller. The vet came out today and said he is much improved. I can tell he’s feeling much better because he has his perky personality back. His stall looks out toward the indoor arena and he watches the kids take their lessons. He’s also on limited turnout now with his new girlfriend, Bailey. She’s also a chestnut Thoroughbred and they could almost be twins. We are both very happy at the new barn!
This past weekend my new barn had a little schooling show for all the lesson kids. They had three adult classes and I got to hop in at the last minute. It was quite possibly the best day of my life. I know I’m supposed to pick getting married and having babies, but OMG, horse shows are way more fun than that!
I rode a big Belgian mare named Roxy who I had never ridden before. She and her sister Rosie were rescued out of a killpen and brought to Blue Skies. They were pitiful and skinny when they arrived, but they’re happy and healthy now. They are still gaining their weight back, but they are such pretty girls even if they’re a little on the skinny side.
The three classes were a walk/trot, walk/trot with no stirrups, and trotting over ground poles in two point. The Belgians were a driving team before they came to Blue Skies, so they want to walk next to each other all the time. They do NOT like to walk in a single file line. So during the show, the girl riding the other Belgian and I were trying to get our girls to stay in a single file line. It didn’t work so well!
We didn’t coordinate our outfits; it just happened that way, I swear!
You can tell that this was not a serious, stuffy show because my friend is riding in a surgical boot!
When we did the ground pole portion, the Belgians trotted side by side through the fences over the poles. It was like synchronized swimming but with giant horses. Everyone in the audience thought it was really cute!
I ended up with three ribbons- one fourth, one third, and one second. SECOND PLACE! Woo hoo! That’s super close to winning! I was walking on air all weekend. I won a RIBBON!
First off, let me give the disclaimer that I don’t consider myself a “dressage rider.” I want to compete in hunters, but I believe dressage training is essential for the development of the horse, especially a young-ish green horse like I have. I read dressage books all the time and watch Jane Savoie videos on youtube, but definitely consider myself a hunter rider.
With that said, I want to do a post on some of the trends in modern dressage that I’ve noticed as a curious outsider. Specifically, I want to talk about headset and overbending. From my somewhat uneducated standpoint, it seems like many of the pictures and videos I see from the dressage world show horses that look uncomfortable and contorted. Here’s an example:
This horse’s head is cranked so far back I’m not sure how he can see what’s in front of him! Pull your chin down to your chest for a second and see how that feels. It’s not comfortable, is it? Surely this can’t be the relaxed, happy state dressage riders are aiming for!
Here’s another one:
This horse is bent behind the vertical just like the last one. This horse seems to be starting a turn though, so maybe he’s overbent from turning. It just doesn’t look attractive to me. It looks contorted.
Now, here are a couple pics I found of dressage riders where the horse is clearly on the bit but not cranked so far behind the vertical.
This horse looks like he’s using his back and stepping under himself, and he looks comfortable! He is definitely connected to the rider’s hand though, so she hasn’t given up contact by giving the horse more freedom in his head and neck. I think they make a very pretty picture!
What a pretty picture! Look at the suspension- all four hooves are off the ground. He has a beautifully developed topline, the rider has contact, but his head isn’t cranked down to his chest. This is the sort of thing I would aim for with Baron. To me the horse looks light and bouncy, very controlled, but freely moving. Aaaaaah, maybe someday!
I was on my way to church on Sunday with my kids and husband all dressed up in our Sunday best when I checked my cell phone and found a voicemail from my trainer. She said Baron had jumped out of the pasture and injured himself pretty badly. I immediately called her back and found out that he had gashed his side on the wooden fence post as he jumped over. The vet was there and had cleaned the wound, but couldn’t stitch it because the cut was too jagged. Now here’s the picture:
I just about fainted when I saw this. Luckily there was no muscle damage and no reason why he won’t fully recover. He is on double antibiotics and can’t be worked for 6- 8 weeks, but thank God it isn’t any worse than it is. The vet said it’s ugly, but not as serious as it looks.
At his new barn he gets lots of attention and I’m confident that they’re taking good care of him. He went there to be a lesson horse and is now laid up on stall rest. They were very cool about that. The owner said, “That’s horses for you.”
Here’s one more picture of all the little girls petting Baron and feeling sorry for him.
Also, my trainer told me she thinks the pony gelding he was pastured with was picking on him and he jumped the fence to try and get away from the pony. Baron is SUCH a weenie!
Today instead of eating on my lunch break, I hauled a$$ to the barn and rode. And boy am I glad I did! We had a quick but fantastic ride. We trotted our first “course” of ground poles. My trainer had all the jumps set with the rails on the ground and she had us ride patterns of different jumps. Granted, they were just poles on the ground, but Baron did so well. He was forward and perky and I felt like he was really listening to me and saying, “What are we hopping over next, Mom?”
I also got in two point at the walk and stayed there for quite a few trips around the arena. Then I dropped my stirrups and practiced sitting trot. My trainer was impressed with my leg strength. A few months ago, my attempts at sitting trot were pathetic. I bounced around like a jackhammer. Now my sitting trot is passable, where before it was hardly identifiable as a sitting trot.
At this point I have to rave about P90X. I freaking love it. I am 8 weeks into the program and I now weigh less than I did when I got married, less than before I had kids, and less than I did in high school. I’m not really worried about how much I weigh though. I wanted to be stronger, and I am. Today I was able to stay in two point faaaaaaaaaar longer than I could before, and I felt tighter in my legs and core. If you want to get results fast, give P90X a try. P.S.- no one is paying me to say that.
One last rave- I am in love with my new saddle. I feel tight as a tick in it. I can get my leg under me without contorting all around. I’ll try and get some riding pics posted soon!
I have the right horse, the right saddle, the right trainer and the right barn. Things are falling into place like I’ve wanted for so long!
My trainer came down with a trailer and moved Baron to his new home yesterday during my lunch break from work. I ended up having to go back to work and couldn’t go with him to the new barn, which really worried me. I didn’t want him to think I had sold him! Immediately after work I drove up to the new barn to check on him, and of course he was fine. He had settled in nicely and was meeting his neighbors. My trainer and the girls at the barn told me he was definitely looking for me and was a little unsettled until I showed up. That made me feel good. Man, I love that big red goofball!
This afternoon I’m going to ride him in the indoor. I will post more pictures later!