Friday, April 30, 2010

Daffodil..................Western Pleasure AAOTR

Part 1

On the way back to the barn my next class was already on my mind. It was an evening class and everyone knows that things get spookier at night. With my horse already convinced bad things lurked in that arena, I really needed another schooling session in there if I could get it.

It was then I learned the evening schedule did not have a listed start time. I knew that meant the show manager could begin any time he chose after the end of the afternoon session. I suspected he would make that start time as early as possible so the show could end early for that day. If that was the case, they wouldn't take much of a break.

At least my horse would get a small break even if I didn't. Our class had been in the midpoint of the afternoon session. I'd untack my horse and let him have some down time while I sought out the appropriate officials to find out the plans for the evening session.

As we walked into my barn, the woman in the first stalls was working on horses in the barn aisle. The woman noticed our ribbons and acknowledged our success. Legs did his usual......and just quietly walked by not taking any kind of notice of "strange" horses in his path.

I heard the woman remark what a "sweet boy" as we passed. I really didn't think much about it at the time. I guess because I have the expectation my horse will be good, I don't understand why others are surprised when he is. Personally I think expectation has a lot to do with how horses behave.

I walked Legs directly to his stall tying him up until I could get to him. I threw a cooler over his back just in case the wind whipped back up before I finished changing out of my show clothes. Since our stalls were right by the big door and that wind blew directly into Legs' stall, the last think I wanted was a chilled horse.

Legs dropped his head and sighed as I closed his door. He knows the routine. I figure the horse was thinking he wasn't done yet since he was being tied still saddled.

Normally I untack him before I change out of my show clothes but I didn't think I had time to do that. At this show Legs had decided he wasn't sure he wanted to "duck" under the curtains to go into the ready room.

I don't know what it is with horses they can do something for years and suddenly decide it looks strange to them. Since I didn't feel I had time for a schooling session on entering the ready room, I was going to get out of my show clothes and pack my tack from the horse's stall to the tack room.

I wanted to give the horse as much real down time as I could so he could really relax. I thought that might just let his brain chill out more than staying tied most of the afternoon.

Only after I began putting the horse's blanket on did it strike him that he really was getting a break. I didn't even have the last leg strap attached when Legs dropped his head looking for a place to drop. I firmy corrected him with my voice and Legs looked at me with a puppy dog gaze, "Come on, Mom, I'm pooped!" but he stood quietly for me to exit. Then it was down with a thud. Before I even left the barn, my horse was in dreamland. That searching for trolls is exhausting work.

I learned at the in-gate the break between the afternoon session and the evening one would only be forty five minutes. That meant I would need to be up at the arena waiting when the session ended if I wanted any chance of getting the appropriate schooling done. I thought of poor Legs back at the stall taking his siesta. His nap was going to have to be cut short if we were going to get in the schooling time we needed.

Unlike the afternoon session, our evening class was farther down the schedule. At least I wouldn't have to tack up my horse all ready to go show. He'd be able to get a bit more of a break on the other side of our schooling session.......or so I thought.

Because there was only a short break, the arena was a zoo with horses schooling for the evening session. That gave Legs lots of things to worry about at the scary end of the arena. It also added additional scared horses for Legs to feed off of. That made it a productive session.

Legs got lots of reminders that he's supposed to be respecting the bridle and my legs instead of making his own decisions about how to deal with those trolls. I stayed at it until the horse finally seemed to relax some at that far end. It was the first time since we'd arrived at the horse show that I'd heard him sigh anywhere near those tarps. I figured that was a good place to stop and we headed back to the barn until our next class.

Back at the barn, the same lady was working on horses in the barn aisle. Legs walked through just like he had the first time and again the woman seemed surprised at his manners.

I half chuckled to myself thinking people put up with too much stuff from stallions. I didn't find out until much later this woman hadn't even realized yet that Legs WAS/IS a stallion.

Thinking of that now really makes me laugh. I just have to wonder what she thinks acceptable behavior IS for a horse. Either that or what kind of things have happened to her in the past at horse shows that she so appreciates a horse that walks quietly down the barn aisle like it should. Either way, there's some kind of story there and I just can't help wondering what that might be. Maybe someday I'll know. I really liked that woman and I hope we will be friends.

It turned out that the evening session had cancellations I hadn't counted on. When the paddock announcer made his first call of the night, he rattled off the list of cancelled classes and there were about three of them before the Purebred Western Pleasure Adult Amateur Owner to Ride 40 & over class.Since I can get rattled getting ready for a class, I was now wishing I had tacked up my horse for schooling with my show pad so I wouldn't have to redo things now.

It's a good thing that Legs is used to me bouncing off the walls about getting ready for classes. The horse just doesn't take on my nerves. I scurried and fussed while he just stood there calmly getting all slicked up for another trip back into that arena. The only protest from him was getting that goop on his face. The horse hates that stuff.......the best part of it to him is getting it wiped off at the end.

As it turned out once I had the horse ready and got myself dressed, there was no down time. I grabbed my horse and we headed up to the warm-up ring.

Legs was still calm and I actually got a pretty decent ride off of him in the warm-up arena despite the fact it was much more crowded than it had been earlier in the day. Of course there were no big rigs moving through either. By the time we lined up on the ramp, I was confident we might just have a troll-less ride.

I think this class was the biggest class I rode at the horse show. There were eleven horses in the class and Legs was pretty good. He still tensed up at the far end of the arena and there was still some resistance at his poll but it was a reasonable ride. I couldn't ask much more.

The only real issue was a break from the lope going the second direction. I'm still not sure if it was my fault or the horse's. I asked him to move to the inside to avoid coming up on a horse that was struggling and Legs broke, just for an instant, but he broke.

We did not get a ribbon in that class. I don't know if it was that break in stride or the tension and resistance, no matter how small. This division is much harder than the select rider class. I know when we can win here, we will really be where we belong.

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

The Second Day

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  1. It's too bad he broke and you didn't get a ribbon. I'm always amazed too when people comment on how well behaved our horses are. Isn't that the way they are supposed to behave? All of our horses have manners, they're way too big and powerful not to.

  2. How many entries were in the Select rider classes? I showed in a Region 12 show in April and we only had 2 in ours and another over 50 AAOTR. Also, a question... my boy is 15 . I have had him 2 years and he has been great for me with and now without a trainer but he was pretty finished when I got him. Now I would like to resend him to a trainer at the cost of $857 a month plus hauling and his show//rail fees which avg $700 a 3 day show and $1200 regionals My friends that showed for years but no longer are saying not worth it as he is older and not flashy enough anymore against the 6 to 10 year olds showing with AAOTR.
    Legs is close to my boys age...what do you think? Main reason for the trainer is I have no one to show with, no trailer, I have tried local Arab clubs, cannot get anyone to come show!! Will I be waisting my $$ and perhaps save it if he is not going to be competative? He was just awarded his legion of honor...most points earned before I bought him!!

  3. How many werein the select classes?

  4. Arlene, I'm with you on manners but I do see horses out there showing who don't have good ones.

    Parker, at this show the classes were smaller than I've been riding in. One class was 4, the other was 7 and the championship had 5. Regionals last year there were over 10.

    Age has nothing to do with how competitive your horse is. There are many aged show horses showing at all levels on the Arabian circuit. I don't remember if it was the champion or reserve in my division at US last year but one of those horses was 15 or 16. In other classes I saw horses over 20 winning big prizes. Quality and performance should be the defining factors.

    It's been my experience that many people make excuses for why they are not successful that have nothing to do with the reality of the situation. I can't tell you whether your horse is competitive or not because I don't know him, nor have I seen the way he goes.

    Also I don't know the level of competition in your region. Some regions have tougher horses than others. It all affects the answer to your questions.

    For me the bottom line would be is it worth it to you? Do you want to win? or do you want to have fun with your horse? Whatever you expectations might be will define whether it is worth it to you or not.

    Your friends opinions are nothing more than their opinions of whether it would be worth it to them. Only you can answer if it will be worth it to you.

    Also I'm not sure about flashy. It does get attention in the ring but does not always win. In the AAOTR classes at my show the classes were won by a horse I would not call flashy. He is a great horse though. Well trained. Pretty gaits and he did his job. Some would call him a plain brown horse but he was sure pretty and soft going down the rail.

    Do you need the help of a trainer for keeping your horse tuned up? Or could you maintain that with regular lessons and you doing your own training? Seems to me there are lots of possibilites here to make this work for you.

    If I can help, shot me an email. You can find my addy on my profile page.

  5. mikael, i enjoyed this update. since i hated showing (nerves!), i am happy to hear about people who feel at home in the ring. just like public speaking though, when you feel you have something important to say (show), you suddenly have more confidence.

    i also thought for sure that was dandy coming up behind you in the photo!: )