Thursday, May 5, 2011

Daffodil Spring Arabian Horse Show...... AAOTR 40 & over Western Pleasure

Part 1

With the problem in the stands, I decided I really needed to get back into the arena as soon as possible to "show" my horse there was nothing to fear. Even with his final sighs signaling some form of relaxation, I wasn't going to trust that. I figured the more time we spent schooling in that arena, the better off we'd be so I tried to pay close attention to the paddock announcer so I didn't miss the break.

I had ridden my morning class in mid afternoon but it was a class very near the end of that session. Still that meant the afternoon session would be starting close to the time it was ending. Because of this even though they pretty much had to take a break to feed the judges, they did not open the arena for schooling. Instead they worked on the footing again so I'd have to listen closely for the break between the afternoon session and beginning of the evening session if I was going to get a chance to school.

The Adult Amateur Owner to Ride 40 & over (AAOTR) Western Pleasure class was in that session. That was one of the classes I had entered on Legs as well. Since evening classes have been the most difficult for Legs in terms of spooking, I knew I needed to get schooling time if I didn't want to be setting us up for failure.

That afternoon session the judges pushed through the classes lickety split. I heard the paddock announcer calling there would be a half hour break for dinner but didn't catch whether the arena would be open for schooling. Knowing a half hour break can be taken up just getting the horse tacked up and up to the arena, I headed towards the paddock area to find out if I would be able to ride my horse at this break or not.

It turned out the arena was going to be open for schooling immediately after the last class of the session. It's a good thing I went up to check when I did or we'd have probably missed the opportunity to school. There was a class in the ring and then that last class would run so I ran back to get my horse ready to ride.

Legs and I made it up to the arena just as the last class was getting their ribbons. We waited on the ramp for the last horse to exit but instead the trainer took the horse to the corner and stood there. I think the horse had gotten rattled by something as the ribbons were being dispensed so he was getting schooled too.

Technically a class is not over until the last horse exits the arena. However, the man in charge told me I could go in and so I did. The judges were already gone and I didn't want to miss one minute of schooling time just in case I need the whole thirty minutes.

Legs and I entered the arena at the walk with other horses following in behind us. First place I took him was that spot on the rail where he had been spooked. I let him stand there for a minute or two the whole time petting him on the neck before proceeding with our schooling session. My horse seemed confident and relaxed so I just worked on getting him more collected and a little slower than he'd been going for me.

The evening class was at the fourth one in the session. Because of that when I had tacked my horse up for schooling, I had tacked him up for the class complete with my show pad. All I had to do when I returned to the stalls was throw a cooler over him add some "grease" to his face and get myself ready. By the time I had that done, it was time to turn around and head back to the arena.

The weather has been so wet here this winter, that Legs has really not gotten any regular schooling. When I went to retrieve him from his stall to head up to the arena for this class, poor Legs turned and looked at me with an expression that clearly said, "Not again!" I must admit I felt a little sorry for him. My horse was already pooped and it was only day one of the horse show.

The western classes at this horse show were small. The biggest western pleasure trainer in our region has not been coming to this show for the last two years. Instead her barn heads down to Scottsdale for the regional horse show there and a reining horse competition that runs the following week (I think - but it could be the week before) killing two birds with one stone.

This particular trainer has lots of amateur riders. Without them at the show, my AAOTR class had only six horses in it. I keep saying that being competitive in this class will be a measure of when we are really ready to go to nationals. However, for me that only counts when the class has those horses from the big western barn in there. It doesn't mean much in terms of competitive ability if the class isn't full in the first place.

After the start we'd had in the warm up arena and the select rider class, this AAOTR class was pretty uneventful. The call judge did reverse us at the jog shortly after the gate closed but that was the biggest surprise in the class. Legs doesn't get rattled by those changes in routine and I really appreciate them since it helps keep my horse from anticipating what's coming next. It was an ok ride.

Legs was pretty consistent although for the first time I can remember the horse was getting a bit defensive about horses coming close to him. If he thought the horse was too close, I saw some ear pinning. I imagine this is a result of the horse running into him in the warm up arena. I hope it's not something that's going to stick around.

Ear pinning is not a good thing in a show horse. It is considered to be a sign of a bad attitude and since "willingness" is one of the class specifications, that's not a good thing. I tried talking to the horse whenever he pinned his ears to assure him he was ok. Hopefully that will help his confidence and we'll get by without this new behavior becoming permanent.

Throughout this class Legs was still not quite as round as I would like, nor as slow as he can be, but there was a little improvement from the class before. We're getting there in little increments. Each time I ride the horse is a little rounder and a little slower. Even though the improvement is slow, it is consistent and that's what I'm looking for.

The other thing that is happening with the horse at this point is I don't have to "pick him up" quite as dramatically as I have had to do up to this point. I can pick my reins up lightly and get the response I used to have to make full contact to get in times past. He is responding more to my legs and not having to have that full contact to be pushed into before getting the desired effect. I can see the day is coming that he will be responding to my legs and not need that cue from my hand.

Even though this was the last session of the day, the judges were still clipping through the classes in quick succession. I must admit I was grateful for that. I think by this time I was as tired as my horse. When they called for the line up, I had to catch myself from doing a little sighing of my own. I suspect if I had, my horse would have stalled right then and there. He was ready to be done too.

In this class of six horses, we got fourth from each judge. Placing ahead of us were what I would call the three big guns of the class. Before I got off to nationals in the AAOTR class I need to be winning over those horses. That will be a good measure of how we're doing in the ring. For now, we are still behind them which is as I expected but Legs gave me what he had to give in this class and I was pleased with that. It was time to put my horse to bed and get myself home.

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

Schooling for the Open.......

This is another picture of Dare. She has propped herself up against a bale of straw I had put in there to loosen up for bedding. As I worked on separating the flakes, Dare made herself comfortable. If you look at her closely you can see around the area of her flank where she is caved in from the limited space there had been for her inside the womb.

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  1. Sounds like Legs is doing really well. It's interesting to read about.

  2. Adorable Dare! She looks like she has found a snooze spot.Glad Leggs settled and worked well

  3. So glad that Legs got over the scare in the ring and didn't get too rattled. It sure sounds like you two have great communication. I used to ride Amateur Owner Western Pleasure too, it was my favorite class. I hated those late classes though, one night it was almost 10 PM before the class started! I was pooped and so was my mare!! Can't even remember if we placed, probably not as that class usually had about thirty or forty in it. :o(

    I love my raccoons, have had them for years here but since they moved into my hayloft it has become a problem as they poop on my hay! At $6.00 a bale I cringe when I have to throw out 6 or 7 bales every spring!!!!! Thank goodness they pick their spot and don't do it on all of the top bales. They opened the big doors again, strong little fellas.

    Love, love, love the pictures you put in each time!

  4. That is a cute picture of her sleeping!

    Glad Legs got over his spooky spot, sounds like less and less reactions everytime now.

  5. Sounds like you have a good perspective on it and know what you need to do move forward. Ear-pinning can be an issue. My horse, Cowboy (insecure), used to do it, but he never does it anymore. I'm not sure how or why he grew out of it.

  6. I know exactly what you are saying in this post! We had a late summer show here in NC every year for years that always conflicted with nationals. It still drew a fair amount of horses, so was a great A show to attend for “practice” since those in attendance obviously were not going to Nationals…but no more. Last year was the final one…economy has just about killed all the shows! That’s why the other clubs here got smart.. a NC and a VA club combined their spring shows this year into 1 huge April show to qualify for region 12 and 15. All the BNTs from several states around were here in full force! It was great…reminded me of the old days when classes at this level had to be split! I am looking forward to my first regionals ever in July! I was looking at thart newe non AHA show in VA in August as well, but prize list is out now and classes are $250 for the first and $175 each after that with stalls at $225 each!!!! Great read today as always!!!

  7. i had to show the spookiest horse i've ever ridden in the hunters, so i know how challenging it can be. spookiness is probably the most difficult training issue to deal with, but it sounds like you've got a good plan for helping legs through it. glad you guys were able to work everything out.

    dare is too adorable :-)