Friday, May 6, 2011

Daffodil Spring Arabian Horse Show........ Schooling for the Open.......

Part 1

Saturday morning I was supposed to get to sleep in. Since I didn't have a class until the afternoon session and the people I was stabling with were there to feed in the morning, I figured there was no reason to keep my alarm set for the 5:30 am time I'd used the previous day, something more like 8 was in my game plan.

Murphy, of course, saw things differently and I awoke with a start at 4. A nightmare got my adrenaline pumping as I awoke before being blown to smithereens in whatever weird world I had visited. There was no getting back to sleep after that, just too much fear and too much adrenaline for any kind of rest. I was wide awake and finally gave up all hope of sleeping in so I figured I might just as well rise and do something productive.

I got up and putsed around here. Took a shower, washed my hair and dried it more thoroughly than is my normal routine so I wouldn't freeze my *ss off in the barn. If I couldn't sleep, I figured I might just as well go to the horse show, get my horse's stall cleaned and watch some classes.

When I arrived at the horse show, Legs had his hay all spread out around him and was leisurely eating while laying down. I didn't have the heart to disturb him, the stall cleaning could wait until the horse was on his feet. I did go into his stall and smooch him a little. He responded with little sighs of contentment and, of course, he nuzzled me looking for a handout.

By this time, the nightmare's rush had worn off and I seriously considered napping with my horse. If those portable stalls weren't so darn small, I probably would have tried a little power nap but there just was no place for Legs to go if he decided he wanted to rise. I knew he wouldn't step on me but I hate to keep him down if he feels the need to rise especially when he's worked hard at a horse show.

Instead I sat in a chair outside his stall listening with one ear for the horse to get to his feet. Before long Legs rose and I could feel him nuzzling my hair through the bars of the stall door. "Whatca doin' Mom?" curious because he doesn't see me sitting often.

I got up and cleaned his stall. Then headed off to then arena to get information about the break and schooling times. The afternoon class we were showing in was the western pleasure open. I knew it wouldn't be a big class but I would probably be the only amateur in it so I wanted my horse to be as good as he could be.

Many trainers think that amateurs don't belong riding in the open classes. I'm not really sure why that is but I started off in a barn with that kind of thinking so I've pretty much stuck to it. I don't really know what got into me that I entered this open class. Maybe because it is a sweepstakes class or maybe I've just decided "open" means open to everyone so why not.

Now as the class got closer I was thinking maybe I shouldn't have. I found myself making all kinds of excuses so I could scratch this class. If I did, I wouldn't be riding again until Sunday. Since the weather has not been my friend this year, I couldn't justify not taking advantage of any opportunity to ride. That thinking is what won out in the end but believe me, I was a reluctant participant.

I schooled my horse at the break. I pushed for that little bit more of collection and a little less speed as in each previous session. Legs was responsive. His transitions were good and he seemed to be ok with traffic. It was a fairly short ride and I was heading out of the arena when I remembered the hand gallop.

Any open class includes a hand gallop as part of the class requirements. I have not practiced this with Legs since last year. With his reluctance to go into the curb bit, I figured I better do a little bit of work with him on speeding up when asked. Even if we didn't get quite to what I would consider to be a hand gallop, that would be ok. What I needed was enough difference is speed to be noticeable. I knew a true hand gallop would not likely be seen in this open class anyway. I just wanted enough to fit in with the rest.

I'm not really sure how others go about cueing their horse to hand gallop in western pleasure. For me, I move my hand up the horse's neck a couple of inches, lean forward slightly, add some leg and do repetitive kissing until I get the desired speed. The leaning has to do with my balance. I find I can't keep my seat firmly in the saddle without this little bit of lean. With it, I sit nice and snug with no bouncing........and I sure don't want to do any bouncing on any of my horses.

I've been working on exercises for my core specifically because of galloping.....well, that and being stronger for when young horses do any unexpected sideways stuff. Those are the two areas that I have trouble with my balance and core exercises are a must. While I still have a long way to go, I can see that my core strength is improving.

When I remembered that I must hand gallop for this afternoon class, I turned my horse back around to the direction the other horses schooling in the arena were travelling. I asked him to lope and once he got into that, I cued him for the hand gallop.

As I expected Legs was reluctant to move forward into this curb bit so I continued kissing to him and bumping him every so slightly with my legs. I wasn't looking to "kick" the horse into more speed. I just wanted to gently encourage him.

It took three or four strides before Legs began to increase his rate. It was a gradual increase and we probably travelled a quarter of the way around the arena before I quit cueing the horse for more speed. We had not achieved what I would call a true hand gallop but there was definitely enough difference between it and the lope to be discernible.

I let Legs continue at this rate for about another quarter of the arena before asking him to return to the lope. The transition down was smooth and easy. We continued on at the lope for a little longer before cueing for the hand gallop again.

This time Legs moved up easily into the faster rate without needing all the extra encouragement of the first time. That kind of response was good enough for me. Legs has always loved to gallop. All I needed was for him to know it was ok to move out like that and it looked like he had gotten that message pretty clearly. I figured if he would do it the one direction, I would have no problems getting it the other way of going.

I brought my horse down to the walk. We headed back out of the arena and back to our stalls. We were as ready for this open class as we were going to be as far as I was concerned. I didn't want to wear my horse out with three more classes to ride. I'd just have to wait and see if I knew my horse as well as I thought............. would we hand gallop? or wouldn't we? Despite our good schooling, I was still dreading riding in the open western pleasure class.

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

Ready for the Open.......Or Not!

I think this picture is Vee at about 3 hours old. She was such a princess right from the start.

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  1. Ooohhh the hand gallop. I will never forget taking Quinn to his first schooling show, and not knowing there would hand galloping asked of us. He was already excited, fresh off the track, thinking all these other horses were there to race. Whinnying and prancing, acting like a ninny.
    When they asked for that hand gallop I like to of died. He gleefully jumped right into it and we FLEW around that arena, lol. Wish you could have seen my face.... very wide eyed. But we did good all in all, reserve high point for the day. And I didn't fall off :)

  2. I don't know why we question ourselves once we get to the shows. I used to do the same thing. Now I just stay away from the shows. LOL But I know, and you know, that we would have been just fine showing!

  3. It's good you remembered the hand gallop. I'm sure Legs will have fun with it once you get to the classes.

    Waking up so early like that really stinks. Just puts a damper on the whole day when you feel tired.

    Vee is a cutie alright.

  4. I cue for the hand gallop similarly by moving my hand up the neck and tipping forward a bit. I cluck for increased speed though, saving kisses for upward transitions to the lope and lead changes only, but that might be a reining thing since there is no trotting in reining and I know clucks are a more traditional trot cue.

    Glad to hear Legs was no longer voicing any objections to the traffic. Dee likes to pin her ears at passing horses and its not pretty.

  5. Sounds like a lovely time with Leggs in the morning . Mine are great to get going , but the transition down would have been a rare treat I am suure. Leggs is such a class act I hope he did well for you

  6. Mikey, I wouldn't like hand galloping much if I didn't know it was coming either and I sure would like if with a horse fresh off the track. You did good to ride it out and that must have been some expression on your face.

    Have seen them ask for it once at a schooling show. Everyone was looking around with big questions marks on their faces. Not good! Sounds like it wasn't particularly good for you either for you to remember it so vividly. Reserve high point is good though.

    HAOL, I don't know why we do that either. I sure was dragging my feet about this class.

    Arlene, I think if I hadn't remembered to practice it, Legs wouldn't have done it for the class. I definitely think doing it is good for him. Normally I try to spend part of my schooling sessions galloping but the arenas where I school have been too wet. Otherwise we'd have been well practiced. LOL

    You're right about that early morning wake up putting a damper on the whole day. I do think that was part of my issue not wanting to ride that class. I was dragging before noon.

    Story, interesting to note the cues for reining. I do use the cluck for trot and kiss for lope. I do not know how to do a flying lead change, but my horse does, although it's been a long time for him. I can see why using the cues the way you do makes sense for that discipline. I hope to begin schooling for reining with Tag sometime this summer. I'll have to figure things out soon, I guess.

    I don't think there's anything pretty about any horse pinning their ears in a class. Dee isn't alone in that department and Dandy is bad about that too. He doesn't want anyone close to him especially if he's packing a kid. LOL

    FV, it was a nice time with Legs in the morning. It's one of the things I like about horse shows sometimes. Too busy here for such happenings. Have to go to a show to spend quality time with my horse.LOL

    Wait until you hear about the transitions in the class. They sure surprised me, I can tell you.

  7. Glad you remembered to hand gallop. It was explained to me once that horses are like rubber bands. To get collection, you must also ask for extension.

    Stretch them out and push them, then gather them up and let them come back down. It's something I am working on with Kat too.

    The baby pics are cute as ever. And why is it that when we can sleep in, we don't, but when we have to be up by ___ am, we have to drag ourselves out of bed and load up on coffee? Even then it is still questionable with only one eye open.

  8. I don't understand the difference between a hand gallop and a lope. Is it just the position of the rider? When I ask my horses to move into a lope I squeeze with my legs until I get the change. My instructor last year forbid me to cue with any sounds and she pretty much broke me of the habit. I think she wanted me to concentrate on my energy and body position and learn to communicate more strongly like that. I liked the concept, so it stuck.