Monday, November 10, 2008

Clinics and Lessons

Last week I was very lucky to have three days of lessons and a Jumper Show under my belt. I view having lessons as a combination of a trip to a spa with a shrink session thrown in!

For some reason, last week after my trip to Florida, I found myself on a real downer in my head about the way I was riding and managing the horses. I suppose this is fairly normal after having been on such a high for so long. I was very upset with myself for making the same mistake (twice resulting in elimination!) with Pickles at Rocking Horse.

There was definately something missing in my flatwork, which I had been feeling really good about up to that point. I'll tell you the truth, I had to get off one horse after 15 minutes of sheer frustration... and very bad thoughts. I thought it best to simply walk away and get on another one. I did not have a plan, I had no feeling. Everything I asked for on the flat seemed blocked and the horses were unhappy. I couldn't wait for the Doctor to arrive. Wait Wait wait........I am not good at that.

On top of that I am not good at indecision and it EATS me ALIVE till I make a decision, then I can go on. I am contemplating moving Peter and Harry up to Prelim. but there is something keeping me from making the committment to myself. In the past I would START horses at prelim. without a second thought. So in the two years that I haven't been riding the biggest tracks in the US with regularity and riding mostly young green horses, something has changed. HMMMMMMMMM.

Enter the Doctor. Five minutes of whining with TEARS in my eyes and a frog in my throat, sounding like a complete imbecile, she says.Go off do this. And as usual, ZAP! all the world was right again. Well ,as usual I was going to the wrong part of the horse, asking the wrong questions first, so I deserved EVERYTHINGI got from them. As usual the horse was right in saying, "I am not going to answer you because you are asking me the wrong way." DUH! So I had 7 lessons in a row into the dark and said, "Wish you could stay the night." ZAP! "OK," she says!" Fortunately I have already paid this month's mortgage so I am OK there... but the light bill may be a little high!

So we had a great dinner and got up early the next day and did the Four Devils in a row - River included. Enter the double bridle.I felt like I was training for the Russian weight lifting team. Dressage is SUCH an illusion. There is little that is easy and light in the way I ride at the moment! Anyway, I learned so much.So much that I have heard before but FINALLY I am ACTALLY able to understand so many of these things I heard for 35 YEARS!And I am starting to hear the words Pre Saint George and Grand Prix more often. Can ANYONE out there believe that?

So we wrapped up the Dresage portion of the day and had the Three Devils on the truck by 12 Pm and off to the local jumper show we went. Ann K brought Norman as a forth for her debut into the outside world.I was sad to leave River home but he was too wooley to go out in public anyway. (Sunday is reserved for clipping all day!)

Harry and Peter were to make their debut into the 3'6" division. My babies are growing up. I had to be a big girl and not allow myself a practice class at a lower height.I was going to go straight in. All my "advisors"(Barbie and Ann) assured me I was ready for the big one!.

Oh GREAT! Guess what.3A-B was and oxer to a verticle one stride right in front of the in gate. Exactly what I had botched up the week before on Pickles! I HATE stopping at fences and don't do it that much so now its another current phobia after Rocking Horse.

OK I'm going in.... Just like jumping off the helicopter in Vietnam at night.Pickles first.Pickles hates the warm up and hates other others going around him so the warm up was sticky as usual. But he jumped around in the ring like his old self, was great in the jump off and got a prize in the class. Peter next. He jumped like a star, wasn't overfaced. I did have one rail that kept us out of the jump off but that was ok. I was a very proud mother.

Last was Harry. He ate the course up and jumped very well. Straight, sqaure,with power that is scary sometimes. Alas I had the same rail as with Peter in the jump off but that didn't matter. We left the show alive, in one piece. We won the war. I wished I had River there as the Mini Prix looked doable to me... maybe next time.

Next day,two entirely different types of horses to Jump with Micheal Tokaruk at the SPCA clinic.I am lucky enough to ride Strider a lovely grey polo pony that Terese Scott owns and a Budweiser horse from Georgia. Strider was a champion as he doesn't own his canter at all yet, but went around and jumped all kinds of great questions presented to us both by Micheal. I simply did my best to steer and stay quiet as the horse worked it all out. We left with a lot under our belt.It is good for me to practice riding difficult situations as it makes me better in the long run...

Budweiser was also a star answering even more difficult questions. Micheal presented all normal tests for us all to perform but I was on horses that wer very green to this game.They were stars.It was easier for me to work on myself with the second horse . I had a great time with this wonderful opportunty to ride.

I THRIVE on my lessons and can NEVER get enough. I hope as a teacher that I make my students feel that way too.I am out of my cave of darkness again and am looking forward to getting back going again. Stay tuned!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Rocking Horse Stable Horse Trials

Barbie and I were looking forward to our trip to Florida after what seemed a long times between events.Our own competition at Paradise really knocked us out of our gear and we were hoping all would stay on track for our next event.

The Devils are great shippers and travellers in general and the trip was a breeze at 6.5 hours.We arrived at Rocking Horse Stable a day early to allow us all to settle in and relax.Theres not a chance of that at home so we felt like we were playing hooky down in Florida.WE had fantastic stables right next to the wash stall and could park right in front of our stalls so camp was made and we were all tucked in ready for things to begin.

The horses worked in really well the day before as we watched everyone ship in and get ready for the next days competition.Upon walking the cross country course that afternoon,I wish I had moved all the horses up a notch as I felt the prelim would have been well suited for a first time start,but one never knows.Both the prelim and the training were on the soft side which makes me just as nervous because one must never get complacent about anything.

Dressage was not a high point for me this time.Pickles was nervous again,just a bit tight and had very poor marks.I felt badly for him.He had warmed up well but wasn't happy in the ring. He is a very sensitive fellow that I must continue to try and find the key with.I know a good test is in there somewhere.
Harry (Next dance) moved beautifully and was very obediant.I was delighted.He is such a cheerful,uncomplicated fellow.As usual,when one likes the test,we had a surprising score and were left feeling rather defeated by the judges opinion.
Peter pranced around like a trooper.He is getting stronger by the day and really beginning to grow up.Though we were again shocked with the score at least he was a credible 2nd.

My dressage times were rather close to my first show jumping ride so I barely got to run round the course.I was felt pressure to get out of the ring so the class could start and I did not walk the related distances.I thought just eyeballing would do.It normaly does and I get away with it.Well folks.NOT THIS TIME!!!!!

Pickles warmed up like a zillion dollars.Loose rein,soft,both leads.Great.All the right stuff.A GREAT track in the ring,I was excited and ready to go.We cantered in,jumped the first four really well ,came around the corner ,jumped 5A an oxer to a one stride verticle out and BANG!Pickles stopped!I was really surprised.I cantered him around quietly till the bell rang again ,Found my line ,came around the corner,jumped the oxer agin,soft as you please and BANG!Whistle,I got the big E.Two stops and your out these days.

I was very surprised and went straight back to the practice jumps and he was a star again,so there was nothing wrong with him.I was shocked so I watched a lot of other horses ride the track and there were several akward jumps at that end of the ring.And there were a few that stopped there as well.

It turned out that the distance was a bit longer than I anticipated and I actually should have approached the double with a different canter.Hindsight 20/20.I could not blame Pickles as he was jumping exactly as I had asked him to but I was mad at myself for not being more astute!So I will certainly pay more attention to the track before I ride another one!Yet another lesson learned.I opted not to run Pickles XC as I felt he did not need the run so he was done for the weekend.

Harry and Peter had double clears in their show jumping.I was please they didn't look at the liverpool as they hadn't jumped one in a while.

Harry and Peter bombed around their training cross country tracks .There were two skinny types fences that they had a look at but they ate up the rest of the course.

End result.Peter pan second to a lovely horse that deserved the win.Harry moved up to 5th and Pickles the big E.

All the way home Barbie and I discussed what we needed to do for improvement.Maybe another event where I move everybody up to prelim.I think they are now all ready and I need to get my======in gear.

There is a local jumper show here at home this week.You bet I am going to go practice and walk that course!!!So I needed that wake up call.I got it.I am awake.Stay tuned!