Saturday, March 31, 2007

Rachel and Grandma and an Arabian Horse

Youth Nationals Here We Come! Part 2

Part 1Two weekends ago, Rachel (granddaughter) and I (Grandma) took Dandy (Arabian horse) and went to clinics and a schooling show sponsored by the Daffodil Arabian Horse Association. The clinics and show were held at the Western Washington Fairgrounds in Puyallup, Washington. (The fair committee graciously donated the facility to the club since it was a fundraiser for the Daffodil Youth. )

The first day was clinics all day and Rachel and Dandy (Arabian horse) were signed up for two clinics. Rachel's mom, Colleen, had to work all day so it was just Rachel, Dandy and me. The first one was a hunter pleasure clinic and was instructed by a young woman, Jamie Karnatz, who works for R O Lervick Arabians in Stanwood, Washington. The second clinic the pair signed up for was trail which was taught by Jackie Davenport.

Rachel had only been riding the Arabian horse in hunt seat for a couple of weeks before this clinic but felt confident enough to give it a try.Grandma sat on the rail watching and biting her fingernails (figuritively). It had been a while since I had watched Rachel ride the Arabian horse and I'd never seen her ride hunt seat. What I had to go on was her mother's comments telling me the pair was doing great. What I saw from the rail didn't look great to me at all.

I was quite concerned that Rachel was not giving the horse a release. Dandy was beginning to show some of the signs of a horse being ridden off his mouth. The Arabian horse was doing some rooting in the bridle and even lifting up against it some. The more the horse did this the more concerned Rachel became, the tighter she hung onto him. It was a vicious cycle.

Basically when giving clinics you have to deal with the level of rider you have in front of you. The young woman giving the clinic had no idea that this behavior was not normal for Rachel. Jamie gave Rachel some excercises to do to get the horse to soften. Jamie was clearly dealing with what looked like a very inexperienced rider. And to be honest, Rachel looked like the rest of the kids in the group. But I knew this was a set of nerves attached to the new discipline. Rachel was capable of riding the horse better than this. Rachel learned a couple of useful exercises and Grandma decided it was time to be more proactive in Rachel's instruction.

The trail clinic went about the same as the hunter clinic. The western pleasure horse that had been so soft at the Daffodil Arabian Summer Show last fall now looked uptight and confused. Jacke did a great job of pin pointing some things for Rachel and the Arabian horse to work on as Grandma's wheels continued to turn, looking for a solution for this latest setback.

Since Rachel is dyslexic it can be very difficult sometimes to get her to understand some concepts. It had been apparent to me in my conversations with her at this clinic that she just was not getting what I was trying to tell her. I knew from many of our "on the rail" converstaions pointing out what's right and what's not that she knew riding the way she herself was now doing was not the way to ride an Arabian horse. The problem I was having was getting her to understand what she was doing with the horse was not what she really wanted to be as a rider. I really struggled trying to figure out how I was going to get her to understand the two things were one in the same and then it came to me.

I had sold a couple of horses a while back and both ended up being "trained" by some one who was doing much the same thing as Rachel. This young woman could sit on the rail and tell you a horse wasn't going forward and the rider was constantly in the horse's face, all of the right things. But as a rider she did not ride what she talked. Her horses weren't going forward and she was constantly in the horses' faces. The sad part was that both of these horses were young and one was not even started when they came into this woman's hands. Both horses were experiencing major issues because they were being asked to "bridle up" when they still didn't understand the concept of going forward.

One of these two Arabian.horses Rachel loves deeply. She has dreams of owning him some day ,rescuing the Arabian horse and turning him into the great show horse he was destined to be. We have spent many long converstaions talking about what has happened to both of these talented Arabian horses and what problems being ridden this way has caused them.

Somehow that evening watching people schooling horses after the clinic, it dawned on me that the impression of what was happening to these beautiful Arabian horses, and in particular the one that Rachel loved so much, was the way to show her what she was doing to Dandy(the other beautiful Arabian horse she loves.)

At that moment I called her over and quietly said to her, "Rachel, you know how I've been trying to tell you what you're doing with Dandy? Well, you're riding just like D _ _ _." The look on her face was instantaneous. Rachel was horrified and she totally understood. That is absolutely the last thing she ever wanted to hear about her riding because D_ _ _ was the last rider she ever wanted to be like.

There could not have been a more powerful image in her mind of what the problem was with her horse. She totally understood. For a brief instance there was a tear in her eye, not because I had called her on her behavior but because of what she realized she had been doing to her horse. I couldn't have been more proud of her than in that moment . Rachel took another huge step forward towards being the great horse woman she dreams of being.

To be continued.
Part 3

1 comment:

  1. Hi MiKael

    I am enjoying this story immensely. I am glad that you managed to get the message across in a way she could understand. I look forward to watching her progress.

    Hope you are having good weather and getting some riding time in. I still haven't ridden mine but mainly because I have other issues with my husband's health to deal with at the moment which is sapping me emotionally and mentally.

    (((HUGS)) keep well, give "no name" a huge hug for me, I cant wait to have my own baby horse to hug again, she still hasnt popped!