Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Summer Show............Pilot Error.............

Part 1

By the time the paddock announcer called our class to the arena, Legs and I still hadn't really gotten things worked out. My horse was trying but there just wasn't the space to do the exercises that would get me what I wanted.

The situation of heading into the arena with a horse that is less than what I'd hoped is a familiar one to me. I headed my horse to the ramp as soon as the announcer called us to line up. There was no point in trying to get something that was more than I had time to accomplish. Legs was trying and that's what counts most to me.

I moved into a front position in the line up before I really thought about the red stallion coming from behind. When I realized my mistake I pulled out of the line just to see where he might be. As long as he was not the horse directly following me I figured I could make any needed adjustments inside the ring.

The rider of the red horse was going for the last position on the ramp. That gave me plenty of time to figure out strategy before the gate would be closed so I moved my horse back into his position in the line.

This time heading into the arena I made sure to give myself plenty of room in between the first horse and myself. For the first class I'd followed the horse in front of me way too close. It was a very slowly jogging gelding and I'd have to move off to the side to go around the horse or I'd have cut off her pass right in front of the judge.

The only bad part of that is I ended up without really presenting my horse to the judge on our entrance into the arena. It's the one time a rider really has to be sure the judge gets a good look at her horse and I'd ruined mine by not allowing enough distance between me and the slower moving horse. I was not going to make that same mistake again.

Another thing I try to do in the line-up going into the arena, is I try to follow behind a poor moving horse if I can. There's nothing that makes the good movement of a horse stand out more prominently than following behind a poor mover. Sometimes in smaller classes it's not possible to make such a decision but it's something I'm always watching for.

Legs entered the arena smoother than he had in the previous class. Still he was not as slow as usual and he wanted to stall out at every opportunity. My legs felt like rubber before I even made it down the first rail.

This judge seemed to take forever to move through the gaits. It's not that I'm in a big hurry to get my class over but by the time we were on our second complete lap at the jog I was wishing we were on to something else. My now mushy legs were just not getting the kind of response I needed from my horse. I sure hoped that it didn't take as much work to keep my horse loping.

Legs' transition into the lope was pretty nice considering the current condition of my horse. The first few strides were pretty good too. Our once most difficult gait had now turned into our easiest one. Just goes to show you never really know what's coming next.

I didn't have to work nearly as hard to keep Legs round at the lope. While the horse wasn't as round as I'd like him to be, he was definitely rounder than he'd been at the jog. Pushing with my seat was more effective at the lope too.

The only real problem was keeping the horse moving. Any little jiggle of the reins or shift of weight and the horse wanted to break. We managed to get through the whole first way without a break but we had several very close calls.

The transition down was not nearly as good as the one up. Despite my efforts to round my horse up before asking for the transition Legs still managed to land pretty heavy on the forehand. It's funny how something like a change of bit can cause things to disintegrate so profoundly.

The walk wasn't good either. Legs was hesitant and the gait came across in that halting effect that happens to horses intimidated by the bridle. At least he looked like most other horses in the class except for the one that didn't want to walk.

Going the second way of the ring my horse was not any better, as a matter of fact he was actually worse. The jog got rougher and a little faster. Legs was bulging his shoulder to the outside.

Even at the lope the horse just wasn't square beneath me. I ended up shortening my inside rein to get his nose turned to the inside. With that adjustment, he was better but still nowhere near how he'd been in the snaffle or even how he'd been at the Daffodil Spring Show.

This class was the 40 & over western pleasure and one of the largest of the show. I think there were eleven horses in the class. It felt more like twenty when we loped that second way. It seemed like lots of the horses were fast and the judge had us loping forever.

It felt like there was a lot of confusion in that class. I didn't really see anything particularly naughty going on but something felt off. I thought maybe we might squeak in on the tail end of the ribbons until my horse broke at the lope the second way.

In all honesty it was totally my fault. I was watching for that red horse and had made a change in my position on the rail. I was paying such close attention to the red horse, I over looked the fact I was riding Legs right into a dead end.

There were two horses, side by side on the rail coming out of the corner. Both were loping much slower than Legs and there was no place for him to go. I had to break him down to the jog to give the others room. Once we had room ourselves, Legs would not go back into the lope. We were halfway down the rail before we got back into the correct gait.

It's not often I make that kind of pilot error. But when I do, I do it up good. Of course, Legs added to the problem by not wanting to go back into the lope but considering his reluctance to go anywhere in this bit it was not surprising. There was no ribbon for Legs in this class.

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

A Little After Class Adventure

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  1. So I have been reading and thinking and reading and thinking some more .MAking my first foray back into showing this year, just 1 at halter ,but next season I will be taking Phoenix(young stud) and Cat (hopefully going under saddle by then) I am reading in your posts how much planning and strategy you are needing to use on each ride.I am finding it both healpful and scary , don't know if I will be up to the challenge. But I sure appreciate being able to "see it" through your eyes. Also , can't seem to figure out where the bridle problem comes form , are you ridng in the show in a different bit?

  2. I'd also like to know a little more about this bit. Sorry you didn't place in that class.

  3. fernvalley, I know this is premature but can't wait to see how your show season goes. I am definitely a "thinker" when it comes to showing but not everyone shows like that. Find your comfort zone and go with it, that's my motto.

    As for the bridle, NOPE, haven't changed a thing just haven't used it since the Daffodil Show this spring. That spance of time was enough for him to have flashbacks. He's working through it much easier this time but it's sure a head's up not to just expect him to greet it like a comfortable old friend like Dandy does.

    smazourek, it's just a C port. Nothing fancy or severe. The very same bit I showed at nationals in. When he gets insecure, he's much more comfortable with a little pressure on the bit instead of just carrying it himself.I have backed off to a little bit smaller port since I'm having to hold him in it. He is definitely coming around but I think from now on I'll be sure to spend regular "quality" time in the curb so we don't go through this again. Poor guy!