Sunday, June 8, 2008

Rachel & Grandma and Arabian Horses - Salem - Select Rider

Part One Salem

Now that I've told about Rachel's class on her Arabian horse that wasn't so good, it's time to tell about mine. It was the Purebred Western Pleasure Select Rider 40 & over class. An important class to me because it was the one I felt I was the most competitive in even though my horse wasn't going as well as I'd hoped.

For those of you wondering a select rider is a rider who hasn't won at least a top five at the regional level or three top fives in the select rider class at regionals in a particular division. A rider may not be eligible to ride as a select rider in one division but still eligible in another. I cannot ride select rider in trail because I have a top five there but am eligible in all other divisions.

You might wonder how that might be. I am a more experienced rider than many amateurs in my division. I am one of only a handful training my own horse. The funny thing about that is I showed the most when I had little experience.

I've spent most of my twenty years learning how to be competitive. Once I got there, I have spent very little time showing. Seems like when I do show, I'm always showing a horse that's not quite finished yet. I don't bother to show at regionals unless I think I can be competitive. Thus I'm still sitting here with my select rider status.

So while I'm out there showing my horse who's still worried about the western bridle, I know we're the most competitive in the select rider class. Points are points. It doesn't matter where I get them. It just matters that I do. To show at regionals I need five points. If I'm going to be there with Rachel, I'd just as soon get to show myself as well.

Preparing for this class I actually had a pretty good warm-up on Legs. The horse was slower and more responsive than he'd been the day before. The only problem was the horse was missing his leads to the left. He was nailing them each time to the right but really working to get the correct lead to the right. I was going to have to be just off the rail when asked to lope so I could move the horse into the rail before asking. That lateral move would force the horse to take the correct lead.

When they opened the gate and called us to enter, I was, again, the first one riding into the arena. My strategy, I wasn't trying to ride on a draped rein. I figured a soft rein would do. In the select rider division, those draped reins are not easy to maintain with a collected horse. Usually when you see the rein draped, the horse is strung out and the rider is unaware that the horse is long. Soft and round was the order of the day for my Arabian horse and me.

The Arabian stallion jogged softly through the gate, past the judge in a line up to the rail. He was rated better than he'd been the day before but was still a little bit fast. However, in this select rider class most of these horses would be a tad bit fast. We just worked on steady......

When I got to the far end of the arena, I looked back down to see where the progression was in the rest of the class entering. I could look clear down to the Pavillion warm-up arena to see the string of western pleasure horses slowly making their way into the arena. So again I decided to use that end of the arena to school my horse on the jog. I even thought about doing a few strides at the lope just to check but then I chickened out.

It seemed like it took forever before that gait was finally closed. Next thing you know the announcer instructed us to reverse. Shortly thereafter they called for the lope.

I wasn't expecting to lope so soon so I was still on the rail. But this was loping to right and Legs was nailing that lead so I decided I was ok where I was. I asked the horse to lope and I swear he moved up into the correct lead but then something odd happened. It felt like he stalled or something before we went moving down the rail.

The horse stayed nice and round and actually pretty slow. It was a pretty good lope for what he had been doing. Coming down the rail on the far side, my friend, Bev, said: "Wrong lead!" and I about died.

Mortified would be a good word for how I felt. My mind raced forty million miles an hour trying to replay that departure and figure out what had gone wrong. I was convinced that Legs had been on the right lead.

It had taken me a long time to learn about leads. Riding alone or around people who didn't know one lead from the other made it difficult to figure out which was which. Even at the shows most people would not tell me if I was on the wrong lead. If I heard them telling someone else, I wondered if they were talking to me. It was a mess trying to learn the darn things.

I thought I'd gotten to the place that I could trust myself. It's a funny thing about confidence. One minute you can have it and the next it is dashed to bits. That's exactly how I felt knowing I'd ridden my horse around on the wrong lead. I guess that's what I get for being a bit smug about "belonging" in the select rider class. I sure looked like I was just another beginner.

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

Select Rider - Part 2

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  1. OOH NO!!! Cant wait to see how it pans out.

  2. About the wrong lead, well things happen sometimes and we just don't realize it, I'm sure the rest of the class went well.

  3. OK now oyu left me hanging here, wondering what the heck is up with Legs hindend, and wanting to make sure he is OK back there to pick up that darn

  4. Oh dear, I'm sure I would not know the difference, but I don't do western pleasure. Sounds like a lot to tune yourself and the horse for, not sure if I could remember it all. :)

  5. As disappointing as that was for you, I must again thank you for sharing your mistakes as well as your triumphs.

    I don't ride very often, but put all my money into the girls riding. I often wonder after eight years of riding how N can still not know she's in the wrong lead. We now know it depends on how much she can feel the horse. In her thick pad she can't always feel it. In her thin pad she knows exactly what he is doing all the time.

    I'm anxious to hear how this turns out.

  6. beth, that's exactly how I felt!

    grey horse, I wish I could have been that calm about it.

    mrs mom, me too, I'd like to know what was behind this problem. Still don't know if it was anything more than just tired.

    callie, I think leads are probably the biggest buggaboo for all who compete.

    kathy c, I think at eight years I was still struggling with leads. Now I'm struggling with them again because it rattled my confidence.

  7. gosh well written.. especially about the confidence... breakdown before breakthrough!!!

    trot on, friend, trot on
    GP in Montana

  8. MiKael MiKael MiKael, there was no chance that the judge hadnt seen you before you noticed? Now I have to wait again for the update, you are killing me!!!!!