Friday, June 6, 2008

Rachel & Grandma and Arabian Horses - Salem - Day Two

Part One Salem

I think that our first class on Friday morning was Rachel and Cody in a purebred hunter pleasure class. I didn't hold out much hope for Rachel getting qualified. The class was more because she prefers to ride hunter pleasure than because the Arabian horse and Rachel were competitive.

I had injured my back earlier in the week and found myself unable to ride the posting trot required to school the horse. Rachel was on her own with getting the horse ready for any hunter classes. Only riding for a couple of weeks since the long winter layoff, this was a pretty tall order for the kid but she was a trooper about it.

One of the really good things I see about us riding with Angie and Richard's group is it sets Rachel up to be competitive. She has that natural urge to prove herself to her peers. Angie's kids consistently ride their horses in a much rounder frame than Rachel rides. Not that the horse doesn't know that rounder frame, it's that Rachel doesn't always get it from him. If she's going to keep up with these kids, she's going to have to get this frame thing figured out.

One of the other pluses about riding with this group is they take video of the classes. Being able to look at mistakes can be a strong catalyst in putting things together. I was looking forward to having footage of Rachel's rides starting with this hunter pleasure class.

In the warm-up arena Rachel did pretty well. The horse was moving underneath himself and in a decent frame. Their moving in and out of traffic also went well. I don't think I noticed the horse's ears pinned even once despite all the warm-up confusion.

When the paddock announcer called for the class to enter the ring, Rachel and Cody headed up to the arena together. Coming through the gate Cody's horse looked nice and round. Rachel's horse was much longer than he'd been the whole time in the warm-up ring.

If Dandy isn't pushed up underneath himself where he belongs, he can get lazy and actually drag a back foot. That makes the horse look lame when he really isn't. Watching as he moved down that first rail, there was that gimpy gait. It was 3/4s of the way around the arena before the horse looked sound and Grandma was just shaking her head..........

The transition into the canter wasn't much better. The horse popped up like I hadn't seen in I don't know how long. The canter was long and lazy and the transition to the hand gallop hardly visible. It was pretty clear there would be no ribbons here.

The second way of the ring wasn't much better. The horse was strung out, just not going like he should. Rachel was oblivious to his hitchy trot which should have felt like a flat tire. In addition the horse was pinning his ears at the other horses he thought were getting too close.

Usually if the horse gets uncomfortable in traffic, the rider can reassure him by directing him clear. At the first sign of moving away from the problem horse, Dandy's ears come back up and he's fine again. But instead of Rachel guiding him away from traffic she stayed on the same line. Sometimes she even rode him closer to a problem horse.

I was beginning to worry for the first time ever that Dandy might kick out at another horse. Thankfully that didn't happen but only because the announcer called for a change of gait. That broke the horses up and gave Dandy some room. This hadn't been one of Rachel's finest hours in the arena. For that matter it hadn't been one of Dandy's best either. Had it been their first trip together it would have been ok, but beginning our third show season, the scene made me nervous.

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

Select Rider

Geez! I was really tired when I wrote this post last night. Looking at it today I realize I left out the best part.......Rachel had a blast! It just goes to show that sometimes all that focusing on work and collection, etc, etc, isn't all there is to showing. The real reason we're there is to have a good time!

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  1. Oh dear, I bet the video helped Rachel a lot to see where she was going wrong, loooking forward to more positive rides in the future.

    As a photographer I have often had people come up and say they didnt think I could possibly have got a shot of their horse looking good because it was a bad ride, and quite often I have to convince them to look a the proofs to see that they do have periods of brilliance and sometimes I actually catch these on film LOL. Makes them feel better about their horse and their ride.

    Looking forward to the next instalment. How did you hurt your back?


  2. Rachel probably just needs more saddle and riding time to pull it all together. I'm sure with a little more experience things will begin to click. Dandy looks beautiful in English tack too.

  3. lori, I think the video did help Rachel a lot. It was easy for her to see that the horse was looking off in the video and she could see how she had actually ridden the horse deeper into traffic when he was feeling clostrophic. She could also see how the other rides compared to hers and make sense of why she didn't place.

    grey horse, you're right about that. When we had entered the class, we had figured on two full weeks of riding time. Then I went on foal watch, had after foaling problems and hurt my back, the combination really affected this outcome.

    However, I think Rachel had a great time riding this class and that counts for something too.

  4. I enjoyed this post a lot. Also see Lori is out and about. LOL Hi Lori.

  5. " hitchy trot which should have felt like a flat tire." haha! Ive felt that a few times myself.

    Glad Rachel had a good time :)

  6. I'm so glad that Rachel had a blast! That is so important! This whole world of horse showing can be pretty stressful but if you can have a good time and fun at it that makes all the difference.

    So sorry about Brittany breaking her leg. Can happen so fast. I took another header yesterday. Buddy tripped on something with a back foot and went right down on his knees and then over on his side. I have no idea what caused it. I am fine just lame and sore in a few places. He seems fine, tendons a bit swollen in the leg he fell on but no heat or anything. The vet put him on bute for a few days and then we will evaluate. He has been going the best that he has in years with the work we have been doing so this is a real set back to say the least. I'm not sure I can ever have confidence again when riding him. He's always been a bit clumsy but nothing has ever happened like this. I can't take too many more falls off horses at my age!

  7. lol, I sometimes think that there is no better training tool than video. When you school with someone on the ground coaching, you have a mental picture of yourself accomplishing the goal. I can remember when my daughter saw herself on video for the first time(age 14-15 or so). She was sooooo mad at herself! It took her about a month to process facts: she had a lot of work to do! When she finally got back to work she was absolutely focused and driven to compete effectively, AND she succeeded! I think video is amazing!