Friday, April 18, 2008

Baby Boomer Dreams - Dandy's Story - The First Class continued

Part 1

The rest of the ride with my Arabian horse went about the same. When they stopped us on the rail they asked us to back up. I remember I had Dandy off the rail at that halt and he stopped perfectly square and parallel to the rail. For the back the horse dropped his head and lifted his back as he reversed while staying nice and straight. It couldn't have been a prettier back.

Although I must admit I'm always confused whenever asked to back up a set number of steps. Riding a quadruped my mind just doesn't want to compute what five steps might be. I go with five footfalls which makes more sense to me.

Once we finished the back, they let us stand until the whole class was stopped. Then we walked off a few steps before they sent us off on the reverse. My horse moved off softly and turned keeping his hind end engaged. It seemed like this ride was about as good as you could get.

When they asked us canter, my horse coiled up underneath himself and moved off fluidly in a totally forward motion. The canter was soft and round and it didn't seem like I had to much to keep him there. He just stayed together like he knew exactly what to do. If I hadn't known better I would have thought this was his good way of going, it was so smooth.

By this time, I couldn't wait for the hand gallop. Would it be a soft and breath taking as it had been the first way of going? With a couple of turns of the arena I got the chance to see.

Again I carefully shortened my reins, then placed my fingers up on his neck and as I moved into the two point position, my horse lengthened his stride. I thought I was in heaven. The hand gallop was so smooth and so much fun. My horse was so soft and responsive. This ride couldn't get much better.

This time they transitioned us from the hand gallop to the trot. I sat down, pushed and clucked the horse into the trot. The horse didn't miss a beat. From one gait to the other, he made it look like it was easy. I didn't do too bad either, I actually came up on the correct diagonal and we were off. The trot was fluid and sweeping just like his entrance into the ring.

It wasn't until the last lap of the that trot that we had a problem. Then that same horse that had cut Dandy off before came flying at us again from across the arena. The horse didn't cross our path but was clearly headed at us.

Dandy must have thought it was happening again. My horse stopped just like he had before. He rolled up softly underneath himself and broke to a halt. It was just for an instant, one brief blink of an eye and then Dandy trotted back off like nothing had happened..........but it had.

I looked around the arena and saw two judges strike us off their cards. I could even see the disappointment on their faces. It had really been an incredible ride but there was no excuse for the break this time according to the rules.

We trotted on into the line-up and I looked down the row at all of the beautiful young hunter horses standing there with their adult amateur owners. It was an impressive sight. I watched as the photographer made his way down the line taking pictures. I had to focus on something. I was crushed by that one flaw while still elated at the experience.

Dandy put things back into perspective for me as he stretched out to pee. The horse could hold it no longer. He had no sense of the decorum of a line-up at nationals, nor even the need of the photographer to get his line-up shots without Dandy's interference. Who wanted that in their memorial pictures from nationals. The horse didn't care. He stood there and made a great yellow lake right there under his belly. I couldn't believe how long it flowed. The photographer had to come back and take our picture and the one of the horse next to us, once the horse was finished. It was actually great comic relief at the time.

From that point on in the lineup I quit thinking about the bad thing that happened and thought about the good. It was an awesome ride. I couldn't have asked for a better ride from Dandy at that time. For a young horse that had started off his show career with that experience at the Tacoma Unit, his response here was understandable.

To this day I can't even imagine a better ride. Even thinking about it now gives me goose bumps. I couldn't have been more proud of my pony than I was that day. He had conquered his demons and given me everything he had to give. I couldn't fault him for being frightened. I couldn't be more impressed he had handled it appropriately instead of running off.

Outside the arena, the owner of Feature Farm (the big farm I used to groom for) and her adult daughter came up to us telling us what a beautiful ride we had had until that one fatal instant. I mentioned coming off of two cards and they corrected me. They had seen us stricken from three cards. Not only had we been on enough cards to make our cut, we had actually had one extra. In a class that size making three cards was amazing. It was too bad that fate had intervened. We did not go on to the next cut.

I checked those judges cards later when they were finally posted in the show office. In all three sections of the Bonanza hunter pleasure class there was only one horse of the 89 entries that made it onto three cards. Dandy would have been the second horse had it not been for that second break. A pretty impressive feat for a home grown horse, that was the first horse every trained by his amateur owner. We might not have made our cut but we had certainly done ourselves proud!

To be continued............

More Schooling

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  1. You did so well, and have such a great attitude about the whole experience. I am happy to see that you are proud of yourself and Dandy, you deserved better than being cut because of the other riders steering inability. By the way I think you two look terrific in English tack.

  2. Bummer on that last , er, "mistake". Why did that other rider do that? I don't understand or is that there are so many horses that they have to run an inside circle as well? But good knowing that you and Dandy did have such a great ride.

  3. I think your victory was the best kind - a fabulous ride on a horse you bred, raised, trained, and RODE! You'll always have the feeling of that fluid perfection and thanks to Dandy's matter-of-fact sensibility, a smile over the Very Long Pee. He sounds like a winner to me.

  4. Oh WOW MiKael.... PLEASE tell me that you guys went on showing, and DID place as well as you so richly deserve!?

    Dandy sounds like an incredble horse, and that ride.... I wish we could have seen it, but your description of it is incredible.

    I always thought that the "little guy"- who does it on his own, bringing along his own home bred horse, would never stand a chance at a "big" show. Your story of Dandy's debut has really made me stop and re-think that line of thought, as it is pretty obvious that if you have a darn good horse, and work with a clear goal in mind, you CAN go places beyond the little local shows.

    Thanks for the insipration lady! ;)

  5. ooh, how heart breaking!!! but it sounds like you had a perfect ride either way!!!

  6. Such a beautiful horse. I really like these horses.

  7. this may not be what you want to hear, but for me, a horse that takes good care of me in the ring is the best horse in there, regardless of what the judges say. If he broke to avoid a wreck the first time and remembered that horse and that near-wreck the second time.....I'd say he did well.

    Dandy went right back to his job. I don't see how anyone could ask for more than that. You and he won that class, even if others didn't see it.

  8. Wow!! Awesome...congrats on the ride...too bad for that one little mistake but otherwise...WOW! I would have been so proud of him too! Not sure I could have held it together during the lineup and not because of that break in gait but because of that wonderful ride! I don't think the happiness and tears could have been contained long...LOL!

  9. Okay, tell us the truth. You were really psyching yourself up for a brawl with that out of control rider who interfered with your horse TWICE, weren't you? I'm just kidding. You obviously were in the right frame of mind. I probably would have wanted to kick some butt, though. Just kidding again.

  10. MiKael-
    These last two descriptions of rides gave me goosebumps! There is no better feeling in the world than a great ride, is there?

  11. grey horse, it would have been nice had it turned out differently, but I also understand Dandy shouldn't have stopped because a horse near him was being naughty.

    I don't mind riding English but my braiding skills could still use some polishing especially that darn tail.

    callie, that rider was definitely out of control again. This time I saw it coming out of the corner of my eye and it was totally sideways, Then it leapt forward before making contact with us.

    billie, I was very proud knowing that I had done all the work on this horse myself. I am still particularly proud of the fact that Dandy is the very first horse I have ever bred and he's turned out to be great horse. He's taught me most everything I know. I am truly blessed.

    mrs mom, of course we went on showing. By now you should know that I would never quit. lol

    I'm glad you can see that it is possible to win at any level if you do your homework, a great horse ridden properly can and will get the job done. That is one of the reasons I blog about my experience to dispel those rumors that say otherwise.

    beth, I did have a perfect ride. I think it will always be my standard to work towards. It was amazing and I loved every minute of it.

    abraham, I'm glad that you like him. He's pretty special to me.

    holly, I totally agree with you. I do not ride solely for the judges. I ride for the experience and my own personal goals. I measure each ride against the ideal I am working towards. What the judges say can be a bonus but not what keeps bringing me back.

    In my mind we will always be winners in that class. We proved we belonged there and can be competitive. What more could I ask for?

    equinespirit, I'm really good at holding it together but I can tell you I went back to those stalls with my buttons bursting. My buttons still burst over this horse. He is very special to me.

    nuzzling muzzles, believe it or not, in that swarm of hunter horses, I don't know if I could have found them outside the ring. lol But since brawling is considered unsportsmanlike conduct and USEF highly disapproves, the thought never crossed my mind anyway. But I do wonder what that whole rider's ride was like, while mine was a joyful experience, her's must have been a mightmare.

  12. It's too bad about that second halt. Those large classes get so bustling with traffic; I think you young one did a great job.

  13. Dandy must be doing much better!! And Billie said it best... your victory is the best kind.

  14. Your perspective was so positive!
    Do horses get marked down for cutting others off? Did that horse make the cut??

  15. This gave me goosebumps as I read the details of your ride. By far Mikael this trip was well worth it, you should most definately be proud of you and Dandy's success!!

    It's a shame someone was having problems manuvering through the ring. What that horse did the first time, cutting you off, do judges see that as a reason to remove them from their card? Or is that considered OK?

    Here's a virtual pat on the back! Even though you didn't "win" you most certainly won in my book.

  16. Thank You, I truly appreciate that you measure your success by your own and your horse's performance. Kudos! Wouldn't it be a completely different experience showing with more people who shared the same values? Thank You!

  17. Oooooh how frustrating for you, but I can see your total enjoyment of the experience in the way you write about it. I can only wish to have one day like that where I can experience that type of joy at being with my horse, sadly that is not going to happen in the near future. I waited 40 years to have my own horse, now I have a barn full and have lost total interest. It has been a bad day, started off okay, ended up in a train wreck.



  18. Mikael
    thought of up today as I went to Salem for the AHACO show. I had never seen most of these type of classes and it was very interesting and there were some lovely horses...all so fancy

  19. Were you suppose to keep going, even though another horse and rider were going to crash right into you... ??? I am confused =) and why did you get your cards stricken... did the other person get their cards striked?