Thursday, October 30, 2008

Baby Boomer Dreams - Dandy's Story - After Nationals Part 2

Part 1

Several years went by and things with my Arabian horse just didn't get any better. We struggled for everything we got in the show ring in western. Although we still managed to stay in the ribbons pretty regularly at the A shows, the horse just wasn't going the way I would have liked. We could get qualified for regionals but we sure couldn't get in the ribbons there.

I did everything I could think of short of putting my horse into training. I hadn't had much success in finding a trainer who would work at the rate of my horse instead of spur and jerk him into submission. So I felt the only way was for me to figure this out on my own.

I bought lots of videos from big name trainers. I went to clinics and still do every chance I get. Everyone had the same thing to say, "The horse just needs to get a little bit rounder." The only thing was no one could show me what it took to get that from this horse. They all seemed to assume that I just wasn't asking enough of my horse. I sure wish it had been that simple.

But I worked really hard with the information I did get. I schooled my horse over cavaletti. I learned lots of dressage basics to help get the horse engaged. It sure wasn't for a lack of trying that Dandy and I weren't getting it done.

Dandy has a really long neck and a fine beautiful throat latch. One thing about Dandy that I've learned is that his neck is really deceiving when you're riding. From his back he can look like he is rolled over and round, really using that neck like an Arab. But from the ground he can be bent up near his pole and not really using his neck at the base at all. I've even seen professionals get on the horse and not be sure what his neck is doing. So it really wasn't just me. He's a hard horse to tell.......even to this day.

The people where I worked the horse would tell me he looked great. These were successful quarter horse trainers so I'd think I was making progress. Then I'd get proofs from photographers after the horse show only to see what I thought I had really wasn't there. My horse was flat and I had lost that collection I'd had in that first season after nationals.

It just didn't make sense to me. The horse's gaits still felt the same. He would jog this little tiny slow jog that was so cool to ride..........and his lope, those quarter horse trainers were always ohhhhing and ahhhhhing over that lope. That horse barely moved his head as his feet came up underneath him and he moved on. His transitions up and down were jumping up or stumbling down. The horse just went. Those things were so cool..........and certainly much smoother and felt totally effortless compared to anything else I had ridden. And believe me I had ridden a couple of very well trained horses. I just didn't get it..........the only thing that made sense to me was that something must be wrong with my horse...........but still the professionals told me he was fine.

Several years later I began working at a tack store to bring in a little extra money to support my horse habit. (You all get how that goes!) I didn't want to give up riding Dandy so I was getting up at 4:30 am to haul my horse to the Tacoma Unit to ride before work. That worked really well for me until winter came along. Icy roads at that hour of the mornings were interfering with those plans.

I decided to move my horse to my own stomping grounds, Feature Farm. By now, Shannon Armstrong had retired and the facility was functioning mostly as a boarding facility. It was right on my way home from work and with my job, I could afford such a luxury. I could school my horse after work and not have to worry about transporting him on icy roads or tacking him up outside in the elements.

Who knew that move would help find the cause of my problems with my horse.One evening the Mexican groom, who spoke no English, came up to me with a Spanish to English dictionary in his hand. Very carefully he said to me "Too much.........too much................your horse, he sleep too much!"

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

Part 3

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  1. Hmmm now this is getting interesting... Please don't takea shoot off on another tangent until this one is done. :)

  2. OMG! You left me hanging! I can't wait to hear the rest!!

    I feel your pain about finding a trainer that understands the hotter horse. I'm in a dressage/eventing area full of warmbloods.

  3. It's going to be interesting to find out what the groom meant. But I'm sure it must have opened up a different avenue of training for you and Dandy or you wouldn't have put it in on the end there.

  4. lady of chaos, hmmmmm, me......tangents????? LOL

    grey horse, I think you'll be surprised to see where this leads. You are right that it being on the end means that it is an important clue.

  5. Oh, I have no idea where you are going with this. Reading this post makes me want to ride Dandy, though! He sounds awesome.

  6. Oooooo...interesting!! Leaving us hanging again huh?!? LOL! Looking forward to finding out what the groom meant!! :)

  7. Whaaat? Sleep too much? Geez.

  8. ok, you've definitely piqued my curiosity with this one!