Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Daffodil..................Select Rider............

Part 1

Once I got to the warm-up arena it was clear my horse was still looking for trolls. I think the "biggest" of my wrecks in the warm-up was caused by a rig going by with a long white trailer behind. I don't know how many trucks and trailers my horse has seen but he sure didn't like this one coming up behind him. He scooted forward and broke gait just before it was time to head into our first class.

I remember thinking as the paddock annoucer made the call the class in front of us was lining up, there just wasn't enough time to "fix" what was bothering my horse. I might as well make my entrance as soon as I could so I had a little time before the gate closed to school my horse. If I could get him "relatively" together by then I might have a shot at an ok ride so I headed out to the entrance ramp to get as close to the front as possible.

This was the purebred western pleasure 40 & over select rider class. Overall the riders have nerves about showing which make them less confident in the ring so these riders are usually in no hurry to get into the ring. That would give me a couple of extra minutes to get my horse put together before the gate closed.

I learned a long time ago, the best way to enter the ring is to find a point on the rail farther down the ring to ride towards. That way you ride a nice straight line past the judge instead of making a turn right and riding the rail when you enter the gate.

It also seems to help the horse because there is lots of scurrying going along on the rail as support persons swap places for the outgoing and incoming class. I've seen many a horse start off scared because of the movement on the rail.

When the paddock announcer called my class, I moved my horse into the jog and headed straight towards the gate. Even before my horse had cleared it, I picked the line I would ride past the judge. By the time we actually jogged by Josh Quintos, my horse had settled into the nice smooth jog I've come to know.

I looked ahead straight into the audience to see if that portion of the rail was quiet yet. Seeing some movement there, I moved my horse laterally off my leg to make those final steps to the rail. I wanted to be sure his focus was on me where it belonged instead of thinking about what might be going on over his head.

Then I glanced around the end looked towards the far corner to see if the tarps near the gate opening were flapping. I cut the end off leaving myself plenty of room to ask for more lateral movement. Keeping my horse doing more "difficult" things that just jogging down the rail is the most effective way I know to "deal" with his troll searches.

Despite this effort the horse startled at the sound of a lunging horse on the outside of those tarps.For a brief moment Legs dropped his b*tt compacting his frame and tensing his body. While he didn't relax from that point, he did settle into the bridle. As long as he didn't react anymore than this, we might just have a reasonable ride.

Because the horse had reacted to the noise on the other side of the wall, I took a short pass around that end of the arena. The gate was not closed yet, and this maneuver helped me with my ring position and it also helped Legs "see" there really wasn't anything scary at that end of the arena before we had to lope.

By the time we finished the pass at the far end of the arena, the gate was closed and I moved my horse onto the rail. We were well down the far side rail before we were asked to walk. I remember thinking that Josh Quintos must be thinking he was going to put us select riders through our paces. No horses on auto pilot were going to get past him.

At the time I sent in my entries for the Daffodil All Arabian Horse Spring Show I had not ridden my horse in the bridle since the Jody Strand Clinic last November. Entries closed about a month before the show so I figured I had that month to work on transitioning my horse back into the bridle. Then my husband wrecked my truck and my trailer so my truck spent two weeks in the shop being repaired. After that weather had not been my friend so I'd only ridden Legs in the bridle a handful of times before now.

Because the horse is going so much differently than he was before the clinic, the impact of the bridle on the horse has been huge. With our lack of schooling in the bridle, I knew I needed to be careful and not take for granted our communications were well understood.

The biggest place for those "missed" communications seemed to be at transitions so I'd been taking my time setting my horse up for his transitions. Now, in this class, my horse was showing a bit of resistance to the bridle. It was like he just wasn't sure what I was saying. I was glad our first transition had been down to the walk exposing this issue before it was time to lope.

When the lope was called for I made sure my horse was off the rail. Then I moved him laterally off my leg back into the wall. As we made that lateral move I squeezed the rein in my hand several times before asking Legs to move off into the lope.

I felt the horse coil up underneath me before he went forward. The result was a smooth, round, slow lope that didn't need to be adjusted for several strides.

At that instant, I didn't really care how the rest of the class went. I'd been working to achieve such a transition in the bridle from that time back when I first put the horse into the bridle. Now my horse had truly carrying himself into that transition without having to be supported by pressure from the bridle at all. A sense of satifaction washed over me as we slowly loped down the rail.

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

Select Rider part 2

This picture is Jody Strand riding Legs at the clinic. Unfortunately I have no pics from this first class at the horse show this year.

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  1. Congratulations on that beautiful transition on Legs, hopefully thats a sign of good things to come!!


  2. It's such a wonderful feeling when they finally give it to you. Sounds like it's going to be a nice round.

  3. It sounds like you and Legs were really tuned in to each other for this ride. I hope it resulted in a nice overall ride for you two.

  4. Ah! You and Leggs were winners as soon as he made that beautiful transition! Congratulations on finally seeing some payoff for all your hard work together.

  5. Nothing quite like some beautiful transitions to make your day in the saddle. It made me smile to read that once that canter happened, you didn't care about the show anymore. That's a sign of good things to come!!