Sunday, April 6, 2008

Baby Boomer Dreams - Dandy's Story - Regionals

Part 1

I think I only took Dandy to one more show in Region 5 before the Regional Championships. I was still having trouble getting Dandy to round his neck up like he should but people were telling me it was me and that Dandy was taking advantage of me. I didn't really know what to think. I thought I had enough knowledge to do this but clearly it wasn't getting done.

I think it was at the Washington State Classic that I talked to Kelly Alcorn about taking Dandy into training. I had worked with Kelly some on trail with my first show horse, Malachite, and I felt that her training methods would be more consist with what I wanted for my horse.

I didn't want the horse to be gimmicked into looking right, I wanted the horse to be right. Kelly assured me that's what she would do. It was only about ten days before the regional championships when Dandy went down to Alcorn's for training. I knew that wasn't enough time to fix whatever was going on with him before that show but maybe by the time we got to Region 4 or Region 17, my horse would be as round as he needed to be to be competitive. I really had my heart set on going to the Nationals for Bonanza.

The way that the Bonanza program was set up, the horses competed in three of four possible divisions. Trail was mandatory and then the riders could chose two from country, hunter or western. The horses that placed were awarded points. At the end all the points were totalled and the horses with the ten highest scores would be awarded Top Ten honors which included $1500 and earned the right to go onto US Nationals. Once a horse had earned a Top Ten in Bonanza it couldn't compete at other regional shows in this division.

Some people picked country as one of their choices because there were few horses in that class so each horse was guaranteed points. That's not the way I wanted to go, I wanted to participate in divisions that my horse could really do so Dandy and I were participating in the hunter and western.

When we showed at the Region 5 Championships, Dandy gave me everything he had. We didn't get a ribbon in the western or the hunter classes. While I wasn't surprised, I was disappointed. The other placings were all over the place and those who were calculating scores said it was going to come down to trail which horses actually made it into the Top Ten.

Everything seemed to point to Dandy and I being totally out of it but I didn't really care. I knew that Dandy would shine in trail and I wanted people to see my horse was good at something. This was my baby, my dream horse, I wanted people to see in him what I did. I planned on us going out fighting.

Some of the other riders were suggesting skipping trail altogether because they didn't have a shot. I was adamant that it wasn't over until it was over. Dandy and I where going to give them a run for their money.

While I don't recall the entire trail pattern, I remember as we walked the course thinking this course was made for us. The obstacles were set up pretty tight. Even though the rules state a course shouldn't benefit a small horse or a big horse, this course was really designed for a little horse.

The great thing about Dandy as a trail horse is he can do obstacles just like the little horses only better. Despite his size, the tighter the course the happier the horse. Tight is the way the horse and I have always schooled and the horse loves it that way. The more challenging the better in Dandy's eyes.

One of the components in this course was a serpentine consisting of five little trees. While the other horses went through those cones in big loops, Dandy and I maneuvered them like I used to cut slalom courses on my water ski. I had the horse half passing left then half passing right keeping the tree as close as possible to the horse, almost close enough to touch. The other riders just shook their heads, they had no idea a horse could even maneuver the serpentine in that manner. I knew how difficult this was and that we would get plus ed big time by the judge for this type of execution.

I also remember we had to lope into a box and halt. I think we then had to turn, walk over the pole straight towards a wall and then lope off turning to the right. With Dandy's size that lope was directly into the wall but he didn't raise up at all. The horse stayed round and pivoted as he pushed off the starting foot, turning in the air and coming down on the second and third beats completing his change of direction within the first stride of that lope AND the horse made it look easy. I knew we would be plused again.

The other components of that class went the same. I don't think that Dandy's mistook a single step in the entire course. He executed each obstacle like a seasoned trail horse.

When we finished the course, the people in the stands exploded. It was clear our effort was appreciated.I can remember coming out of that class elated. I knew we had nailed that course. At the end of the class I took my horse back to his stall and changed my clothes. Then I returned to the arena to find out if the final results of the Bonanza class has been compiled. I wanted to see who of my friends had made the Top Ten.

As I neared the arena I heard them paging me. I then saw my trainer yelling at me to get my horse. Dandy and I had won the trail class and we had been the tenth horse to earn a Top Ten award.

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

Another Regional Experience

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  1. Wow I had chills reading that, I could almost feel that lope transition :D

  2. What a cool experience! That's the way to approach showing - going out and doing your absolute best and not worrying about the ribbons. I've had similar experiences where I've gone out and felt out of my league or out of contention and just concentrated on having a good ride - and ended up placing well. It's a cool feeling. Sure would be a lot nicer if everybody concentrated more on having a good, correct ride and less on ribbons - but hence is the nature of competition I guess.

  3. Wow - those sound like difficult maneuvers and you both did them so well. The barn where we boarded had an obstacle course and I loved either beginning or ending a ride with that course - it pushed both me and my horse to apply movements to "practical" situations, and really changed the flavor of the training.

    Every now and then I ride into and/or out of our arena and deal with opening/closing the gate from the saddle. It's amazing how much work you can do on leg aids, lateral movement, and exact communication/cues doing something so simple.

    Great job!

  4. That's great MiKael! You and Dandy did a great job, I'm so happy to hear that you made it to the top ten, hard work does pay off.Dandy is a beautiful and talented horse, with a good trainer for a mom.

  5. I like the photo you posted today. Nice work.

    Abraham Lincoln in Brookville, Ohio where you can see a tiny fly on a honey bee's wing.

  6. way to go!

    I like the trail classes, they are so much more exciting :)

  7. Congrats!! Great job! At our playdays they have a obstacle course and I just love it. It makes the rider and horse work together and get all the obstacles done. I love the Extremem Races as well. tHanks for sharing your story!

  8. Hi. I just came across your comment on lurking. I didn't even know what that was, but it turns out I am one. So this comment is an apology.

    I came across your blog about a week ago via a link from Jessie and Remington's mustang blog.

    I am very inspired by your blog. I also had a horse named "Legs," but I was forced to sell him when I was 19. Now I'm 30 something, and I often despair of ever having a horse again. But your stories give me hope.

    Thank you for taking the time from your horses to write.


  9. oohh...!!!! These cliff hangers are killing me. Way to star in that trail class.

  10. WOW! Congratulations!! Way to go! Glad you didn't throw in the towel! Can't wait to read more! :)

  11. What a great story!! Once again I need popcorn

  12. Good for you. You knew you could and you both did. I have always like the Obstacle Course too.
    Dandy is beautiful.
    Thanks for visiting my blog. Last year the Tulips were early. Good ole Mother Nature. MB

  13. And that is a fabulous moment when you realize you WON! How terrific and what an accomplishment.

  14. Congratulations!! Dandy sounds like my kind of horse.

  15. You got me all teary eyed! I am s sucker for a come from behind story.

  16. Wow! That's awesome! What a thrill that must have been!

  17. Hi5 MiKael and Dandy! You gave me massive goose bumps here reading that post! Cant wait to see more. You have such a talent at leaving us ALL hanging here. Looks like a darn Art Form! LOL

    :) Keep 'em coming MiKael!!

  18. I have enjoyed these last few posts, hopefully one day soon I can enjoy my horses in the same way, only I am not competitive so it will just be riding for pleasure.

    Cant believe I was only away a day and I had got so behind.

    Looking forward to the next instalment.


  19. kahless, thank's for the enthusiasm, I know much of this is Greek to you. I appreciate you following along.

    beckz, that lope transition was so cool, I can still picture it today,

    jackie, I agree it would be great if more people could focus on their ride and having a good time instead of winning. It's unfortunate for those so caught up in winning they can't see what they're missing.

    billie, I think that working on obstacles of some kind can really change riding too. I know it sure taught Rachel to be more responsible with her legs and much more effective.

    grey horse, I was pleased because I knew we got there on what I had trained the horse,there was no way he had learned that with only ten days with a trainer.

    molly, it was pretty cool! and I had no idea, I was totally shocked.

    abraham, thaanks, and I saw the bee with the bug on it's wing. lol

    barngoddess, I'm with you, I love trail classes, I really need to spend more time riding them.

    kris, I read about the extreme races on your blog, they do sound like fun but I don't know if they are done here.

    jen, thanks for de-lurking. I hope the day comes that you get another horse.

    ranchette, sorry, I didn't mean to leave anyone hanging. But Dandy's story is long, it's not going to go where you might think. lol

    equinespirit, I'm glad I didn't throw in the towel either, that $1500 check came in real handy. lol

    20 meter cirlce, I may need popcorn too before this is over. lol

    small city scenes, maybe it was the year before that the tulips were late. I can't keep track. lol

    beth, it was definitely fun once I got over the shock. lol

    browneyedcowgirls, I think Dandy is the kind of horse that most horse people can appreciate, he tries hard and gives it everything he's got.

    onethebit, I am a sucker for those underdog stories too, just never expected to be one. lol

    callie, it really was thrilling. Trying to get the horse tacked back up and me dressed for the presentation in the ring only added to the excitement. well, maybe that was confusion...anyway, it was really fun. lol

    mrs mom, I guess I didn't think I was leaving anyone hanging, I almost decided to not post the outcome until next time! That would have been hanging! lol

    lori, for me it's not really about competition it's about the collection. I love learning to do this and showing is a measure of whether I am getting the job done.

  20. Congratulations. It looks like you have a nice following for your stories.


    I write a blog for boomer consumers called The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide at