Saturday, June 28, 2008

Salem for the Region 4 Championships - Pre-Show Select Rider

Part 1

The evening's classes at the Arabian horse show seemed to be moving along a bit slower than I'd hoped. I guess I was thinking maybe they'd flow smoothly enough that Colleen would get to see my ride before she had to leave but that just didn't happen. With them both having to work early the next morning, they left the fairgrounds about two classes before mine was called into the ring.

Right after they left I made my way up to the warm-up ring with my horse. Heading for the horse chute to take the short-cut across the field something got to Legs. He spun around and stared out over the top of a huge mound of dirt like something important was out there. Trying to get the horse's attention back on getting to the ring, I could tell that the horse was a little bit buzzed.

Despite the horse's concerns about whatever lay out yonder in the darkness, Legs really tried hard for me in the warm-up arena. I didn't have to fight with him to slow him up or work to keep his attention. He was really giving me everything.

At one point as we worked down the long side, something crashed right beside us on the other side of the rail. The horse scooted his butt and threw his head up with a startled expression but rolled right over as soon as he connected with the curb. I could tell that he was rattled even more than he had been when we'd arrived but he was still giving me a nice ride. I was hoping we could get to the ring for the class before something else distracted him.

When the paddock announcer called the select rider ages 50 & over up to the gate, I was glad to get my horse headed away from this warm-up. This was the first time I'd ridden in a 50 & over class and I wasn't sure what to expect for the number of horses. I was surprised to see only three horses line-up behind us and follow us into the ring. That made this a smaller class than the other select rider classes I'd ridden in up to this time.

Legs went through the gate just a bit nervous. The horse wanted to look around as we rode into the ring and his jog was a bit faster than it had been in the warm-up. It didn't take long and he quickly settled down for me.

With the small number of horses in this class it didn't take long and the horses were all in the ring. By the time I cut across the arena next to the gazebo as directed by the ring steward, the gate was closed and the class was being judged.

We only jogged around the end before we were asked to lope. Leg's transition into the lope was much better than it had been. He started off slower and was staying slower than he had been at the previous show.
Right about the time I thought I could relax and enjoy this ride, I heard what sounded like an explosion right next to us in the stands. My horse jumped out from underneath me and for a minute I thought I was going to eat dirt. Actually it felt like he leapt into the air with a bit of a sideways movement, followed by three or four little leaps before the horse settled back in and went on down the rail.

The rest of the class I could feel the horse's heart pounding between my legs. It was clear he was absolutely terrified by still trying to please me. I don't know if it's visible on the video but every little noise sent a shudder through my horse. Despite that he kept on giving me his very best effort. He didn't scoot through the bridle or raise up one time. I doubt that anyone watching knew he had not gotten over that "explosion." I couldn't have been more proud of my horse than I was in that class.

With four horses in the class, Legs and I placed third even with our wreck. I learned later that the "explosion" had actually been a dropped cell phone. It had indeed been right next to us and the owner had mumbled an apology to my friends.

Looking at the video, I was pleased to see how much Legs has improved since the last show. He is much slower at both the jog and the lope although still not rated. If he continues to improve like this, he might actually be finished in the bridle by the end of the summer.

So take a peak at the video and tell me what you thing.

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

Western Riding

The picture is of Angie's dog, Dakota, who is related to the boxer I lost a couple of years ago. Keep your fingers crossed for puppies this fall because I'm first on the list for another female.

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  1. I'm going to sound really ignorant here, but what do you mean by 'finished in the bridle'?
    Love the video - can't believe how quickly he settled after the little explosion! Echo would have been half way across the arena in that situation!

  2. What a beautiful ride Mikael! What a good boy to settle right back in after that explosion! Even though he was rattled he did his job so well!! You go girl!!

  3. I can sense that... the way he gingerly takes each step, with a slight hesitation... I love how he keeps time with the rhythm of the music. I think your prediction is accurate.... it's like a spiral, and once it's turned the other way, big changes happen fast.

  4. echo, a finished western pleasure horse needs to be soft and responsive to the bridle. Legs is still afraid of the bridle and I must take a hold of it and push him into it to get him as round as he needs to be. Once he is finished, he will be moving totally off my legs into that round frame without any direct contact on the bit. Any message transmitted from the bit will be a mere wiggle of the draped rein. So a finished bridle horse would be soft, round and slow going on a draped rein.

    midlife mom, thank you, he really is a good boy. I can't ask for much more "try" than that.

    susiej, his keeping time with the rhythm was really apparent in that class. Richard was teasing me about not singing along.....

  5. Wiw MiKael that looked like an awesome ride, I bet the judge was looking right at you when that happened, no such luck that he was looking at someone else in another direction. People can be so careless (spectators), I thought you both looked great. As long as you were happy with the ride that is all that counts, the more miles the easier it will become and the more confident he will be. He is beautiful.

  6. I thought he looked a little tense and a touch behind the verticle in his face but I know nothing about Arab showing so take that for what it's worth.

    Overall I'd say he came right back to you, stayed pretty soft and I loved his canter departures. They were smooth and easy.

  7. I can't believe how quickly he settled down after the phone dropped, of course the judge was looking right at you for that, isn't it always the way. My horse would have gone sideways or spun and took off. He was a real spooker. Since I don't know anything about western (Arabian) showing it's hard for me to say anything constructive. I thought his transitions were very smooth. I don't know if it matters in western or not but you seem to look down a lot(we get points off for that)but it could just be the angle of your hat. I do have one question since I'm a little slow, is it mandatory that everyone ride with their left hand controlling the reins. I noticed that everyone does it. We're used to riding with the two reins as you know.On the whole if I were you I would be proud of myself and especially proud of Legs, he had a lot of distractions to deal with before and during the class, but he settled down like a pro.

  8. I think you guys look great! I watched it several times and I see where he popped, but still marvelous control. What a good boy he was! I'd be proud too!

  9. I think you had a pretty nice class, and that it was much better than your last classes that I saw. I hate to sound like a pill and give ciritcism, but there are a few things that could use improvement.

    I think Legs looked a little tense, which made him travel a little fast in the trot. I thought the canter looked pretty good, but a bit more relaxation would make it even nicer. I'd also like to see his whole neck carried lower. I realize that he still has mental issues with the curb, so you're working on the relaxation thing.

    I'm not riding the horse so I don't know for sure, but it looks to me like you could pick him up with your legs (kind of like a big very soft hug) and then just drop your hand down and he would follow the bit down and round. I know you've been riding him on a short rein and not a really draped rein, but I think that it's not the best thing to be holding him on the curb. He seems to be holding tension in his neck as a result. I think you could try at home to get him round, then hug and release. He's not going to get it on the first try, and but I think that lots of verbal praise when he does follow the bit down as you release it will give him the idea what he does not need to be held in the mouth but can hold himself up with his abdominals and be soft and round in the neck.

    Keep it up MiKael, you're making progress. And you're actually showing, which is much more than I am, so maybe I should just shut up huh?

  10. lori, you're right. The judge was looking right at me when this happened.

    holly, I'm not sure if it's tense or tenative. He has been tentative ever since I began showing him in the bridle. I expect it won't be gone until he has gotten through being concerned about that bit.

    Many Arabians are behind the verticle and I'm not really sure why that is. I know that Legs is behind because he doesn't respond to that pressure until he's at the point. I think that once we get through this issue, he will be where he belongs.

    grey horse, a rider can ride with either hand but cannot change hands once they have started. I believe that the common thought is if you are right handed you ride with the left because you would use your right for roping. That's what I was told anyway.

    I tend to ride with either hand depending on what kind of mood I'm in I guess. But I'm not really consistent with either hand especially when I'm schooling. lol

    Also, I am guilty of looking down a lot. I think it has to do with my double vision. It's hard for me to look down the rail and not get sea sick. Sometimes I do better than others.

    callie, yes, I am proud of him. He was a very good boy. That sharp sounding noise made me jump too.

    dressagemom, I appreciate your imput. I would like to see the horse's neck carried lower as well. I would like his pole to be the same height as his whither. That's where he goes in the snaffle.

    In the curb sometimes it's there and sometimes it's not. My guess is once he gets over being afraid to go to the bit, he will settle in where he belongs.

    As for picking him up with my legs, I sure wish you were right. It maynot be obvious in the video but I wrap my legs around him a lot. As a matter of fact, I have to keep them wrapped around him most of the time at the lope and pulsing to even keep the horse moving forward at all.

    As for dropping my rein hand and the horse following it down, he just isn't there yet. If I don't hold direct contact and push him into it, he won't round up at all. The minute I release him he hallows out again so I have to pick him up again. The releases are very small but they are there. They will increase in size as the horse learns to stay soft with this bridle.

    The tension in his neck starts the minute the curb bit is put into his mouth. It isn't going to leave until he learns that bit isn't going to hurt him. When schooling I try to ride him to the point where he finally relaxes but sometimes that doesn't happen. I have to settle for him rounding up a hair more than the ride before.

    I have been working with a trainer on what to do with this problem. While you wouldn't normally want to hold a curb bit like this because you don't want to desensitize the horse, in this particular circumstance desensitizing him is exactly what we need to do. It is the only thing that seems to be teaching the horse he doesn't have to be afraid of the bit.

    It seems to be working. The horse is getting better and better although I admit he has a ways to go.

    In my ride on Friday he actually held together for about two strides, I was tickled to death. That is the very first time he has held it at all in the curb. Yet I can ride him all around the arena in the snaffle and never touch his mouth at all. It's a small start but we can build on it from there.

    All I can say is if this isn't a prime example of what can happen to a horse when a curb bit is abused, nothing is. I wish I could whisper in his ear and tell him it's all going to be OK.

  11. MiKael, thanks for visiting my blog and commenting so often! I read yours and don't comment most of the time, but not because I don't enjoy it! Just wanted to let you know that. Thanks for all the sharing you do--

  12. Wow, darn cell phones! never good for anything! well, okay, something, but they always making me mad! lol. Especially when they don't have service, or get dropped during a horse show! lol. Congratulations on 3rd place, even with a spook. I don't know if my horse would spook or not, maybe a tiny bit, but I think if he spooked, he would freeze up and look around to see what scared him. Also, today I saddle him up, rode in the arena, and went out to the roads on a dead end road. He went amazingly slow on our way out. Slowest walk I think we have ever had. He never walks that slow in the arena. We checked out all the houses, and the holstein cow dairy at the end of the road, and on our way back, he would go into unasked jogs and I think he even wanted to canter his butt home LOL. I had to keep slowing him down! kept having to pull back on the reins and ask for a walk and he would, but he just wanted to be grazing again.. when we finally returned and untacked him, he was sweaty and hot, so I rinsed him off and hand grazed him til he dried and when he finally dried off, it was dinner time for him. And back to adoring the barn owners foals. One was born 2 weeks ago, a Arabian Friesian colt, such a CUTIE! my two favorite horse breeds combined into one! and the filly born at noon today, a TB Friesian filly. Both by the same sire. And these foals and mares just love attention, and totally let you pet their foals all day long if you wanted to. They're all registered, and so will the foals be. These foals are soo cute too! I can see why people breed horses, cause they get cute babies.. except for waiting a year to get them and sleepless nights mare staring and all the training that they will require, or paying someone else to train them. Those are the parts where I wouldn't look forward to lol. Although if I did all that, I'd never need to go to a gym with all the workout I'd be getting! also, if people lose weight sweating, then I must of lost some weight today! I cant believe how much sweating I did today. All I did was go to church, trim 2 goats, ride a 4wheeler around (once I got the hang of it, boy was that SO much fun! going from flat ground to up and down on hills, and places I didn't think the 4wheeler could take me!) and play and work with my horse Dandy today in 90 degree weather! although I seemed to sweat just standing around in the weather, probably just from dehydrating LOL!

  13. wow, legs is lovely :-)

    i've had horses that were curb-o-phobic (usually due to someone abusing it in the past) and i've found wrapping the mouthpiece with smooth leather or rubber and/or using an elastic curb 'chain'/strap works wonders in helping the horse accept the bit. it may not be regulation for showing, but even just schooling in it helps.

    also, my english-oriented brain wonders if schooling in a double bridle (a snaffle and curb at the same time) might help the transition, as you can use the snaffle while the curb is inactive and then introduce the curb occasionally while having the snaffle to go back to as needed. or even using a solid-mouthpiece (rubber maybe?) pelham and working primarily off the snaffle rein, introducing the curb action gradually...? just a thought.

    also, bitting fascinates me, so i was wondering, what kind of mouthpiece does your bit have?

  14. What about this - since jointed curbs are permissible, and he goes so well in a snaffle, what if you rode him in a jointed curb at home with two rings - one at the top next to the mouthpiece and one at the bottom of the shank. Warm him up with the reins at the mouthpiece, then switch the reins to the shank. It will be the same bit, and maybe he'll make the connection that it's the same bit and not a big deal. You can show in that schooling bit and while it won't be a pretty silver bit, it will help you get through this issue and then you can graduate to your show bit.

    I hope you don't think I'm picking on you, I just want to share my ideas in the hope that something might help. I just think he's neat and would love to see you guys get to where you want to be!

  15. Wow MiKael-a person can certainly see what you are going to have when Legs gets solid! Such a nice walk. Legs really reaches up under himself. There are several times when you can see what his trot is going to be when he gets solid-soft and his legs move real slow. Your transitions are beautiful!

    I can see what you are striving for and Legs will only get better and better. Time! Nothing finishes a horse except time and experience.

    Some horses-whether they have been abused by harsh training methods or not-just take longer to get solid, but usually when they get there, they stay there.

    I was going to comment about your looking down a lot-but you already answered that. Wished I had a suggestion for you on how to deal with the sea-sickness feeling because when you are looking up or toward the judge, it really helps your presentation.

    Alas-in a perfect world we wouldn't have to think about so many things when we are in front of that judge for those few minutes and we would all have perfect rides and be World Champions. Awww heck-that sounds rather boring to me-LOL.

  16. Wow! I think you both were wonderful. I can't believe how slow he can go. Your video was awesome - both of you deserve a big congratulations.