Friday, June 27, 2008

Salem for the Region 4 Championships Part 4

Part 1

For Rachel's western pleasure class in the late afternoon, I schooled the Arabian horse in the warm-up first. Dandy seemed to be a bit stiff but nothing that didn't seem to work itself out. By the time I was ready to put Rachel on him, the horse was going along in a very collected frame using his neck like an Arabian horse should be.

As long as Rachel was riding in the warm-up, she did a pretty good job of keeping the horse in that collected frame. Both of them seemed to be relaxed and I was thinking that they might just have a pretty good ride.

All hopes of things going smoothly were dashed as Rachel jogged the horse into the ring. I swear the Arabian horse came through the gate doing double time over the jog he'd been doing in the warm-up. I think by the time that Rachel was half-way down the rail, her patience was gone and she was no longer riding off her legs. Instead she was grabbing at the horse's face which only makes this particular horse nervous.

Despite the quick jog, the horse was staying pretty round the first way of the ring. When the announcer called for the lope, the horse's transition was very pretty but he immediately dropped his shoulder and began to lengthen his frame. I think when we get the video from Richard it will show the horse is heavy on the forehand even though he stayed nice and slow.

Transitioning into the walk, the horse sat down quickly, maybe even before Rachel asked. His walk was too fast and he was clearly pushing Rachel's buttons. She did reverse him into the wall to try and get him back but used mostly the rein for the turn and little leg. This strategy didn't help her much and the horse stepped off again too fast and not listening.

It seemed like the horse's frame was getting longer and longer with each step. By the time that Rachel asked the horse to lope he had lost most of the arch in his neck. Knowing that Rachel tends to be very competitive, riding like this wasn't going to garner the results that the kid wants. As I watched on the rail I wondered how I was going to get through to her so she can accomplish what she wants. Sometimes teenagers are just plain tough!

Even when this horse gets long, his transitions up into the lope are always pretty. It amazes me sometimes how he can be so long and still pull off such beautiful transitions. I guess it just shows how much talent this horse really has.

Now if I could just figure out a way to get Rachel and the horse tuned in on the same wave length we might get to see some of what we saw her very first classes with him. It was going to take some work if Rachel and Dandy were going to be competitive in their regional classes.

After the class Rachel's parents went into town to find a new battery for her cell phone. The old one was not holding a charge making it impossible for us to communicate on the fairgrounds. Once Ray and Colleen were able to see the size of the grounds and where our stabling was in relation to the show arena etc, it became clear to them how much we needed the darn phone to be up and working.

While they were gone, I worked on schooling Legs for our class later that evening. I wanted to get the horse into the arena to see that there were no ghosts or anything else scary for that matter.

Being that far away from the arena can make it difficult sometimes to figure out the timing on riding at those breaks. Sometimes from the point the paddock steward announces the arena is open and when we can actually reach the arena, the darn thing has already been closed. So I saddled up my horse right after Rachel's was put away after her class and waited.

When I heard the call for the last class of the session, I headed up towards the arena. By the time I got there it seemed like twenty gazillion other riders had the same idea. When the gates were opened for schooling a mob moved in and took over.

Fortunately for me, Legs does not have the problems with traffic that Dandy does. But then Legs has never had the wrecks in the ring that Dandy has, knock on wood. I try to make sure it stays that way and so I was very careful about the route I chose to maneuver through all of these horses.

Legs warmed up easily and seemed to be quite relaxed despite the traffic going both directions at an assortment of speeds. I doubt if I did more than a lap or two each way of the arena, just enough jogging to find a good place to lope. Followed by just enough loping to make a complete turn of the arena. The horse was quiet and responsive and I called it good making my way out again.

The evening class was going to be the select rider class. Again this was the one in which I knew we would be the most competitive. I was still riding in split reins so I could have better control over adjustments. Trying to keep this horse square between my legs when he's still afraid of the curb is definitely a challenge and the split reins make that easier to manage.

I had purchased a new pair of split reins because the old ones had been shortened by a former trainer. I was finding myself having a problem getting away from a set spot on those reins. I guessed they were probably a weighted rein that was shortened from the wrong end. No matter what the problem, the old reins were not as easy to adjust as they should be.

This had been only my second ride with the new ones and I could already see that they were worth the investment. Since I was no longer fighting that "spot" on the old reins, I was able to make much smoother and quicker corrections. The results was my horse was getting softer. Along with that softness came slower. Each ride was getting better and better.

to be continued..............

Select Rider Class

This is an old picture of Rachel and Dandy. I have to admit I totally screwed up in the picture department at the Regional Championships. But even if I had managed to get pics, my camera is on the fritz and I wouldn't be able to retrieve them. I may have to revive my old camera.

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  1. Oh dear, it sounds like it is going to be a long week for you and Rachel. Glad Legs is settling in so nicely. I never ceases to amaze me what trainers will come up with to get horses going the way they want them to, I have never heard of weighting reins!!!!

    I am going to join Stan and Val on Monday and Tuesday at the camp grounds, staying away the night (lots of kicking and screaming as you may imagine) but I would do it for the whole week if I didnt have to ask Richard to look after the horses. I hate taking advantage of him. I need the break and they always have a spare horse. Three of their four horses they got from us so it is always nice to see them. Eb (the B&W) is already riding light trails and is still a stallion and Val is riding him. He is being a star.

    Looking forward to the next instalment.


  2. Hope you both did well in your classes, I'll be back to see how it worked out.

  3. I enjoy reading about your show experiences. I have always felt so overwhelmed and intimidated when I showed in my youth. Good luck!

  4. WOW what a week! Love hearing about your show experiences!