Saturday, June 29, 2013

A Show Day

This weekend has been a long one. Friday preparation and Saturday and Sunday showing all day long; I'm beat. My shoulders are sore from some heavy lifting, and my finger is sore from heavy clicking. Playing photographer all weekend has taken it's toll.

It's a different feeling not to show. No early morning rides, no memorizing courses, no ribbon collecting, no having to smile all around the ring; it feels great! Haha! I love to show, and I know I'll be doing it a lot more often in the future, but to sit back and enjoy for once feels pretty nice. It's like trail riding after a long ride in the arena. It feels good.

Unfortunately, my day was ruined by the ever present, stuck up, cocky, and/or unhumble (is that even a word?) riders. Please, for your own sake, take every ribbon you get with a smile on your face. Pat your horse after every class and after every round. No one gets first place all the time, and those who do are in for a disaster when they get something lower than that. Aim for perfection, but do not expect it.

Another good friend of mine also bought her first horse a month or so ago. This horse is an absolute beauty. RPSI 4 year old by Sempatico. She moves like a dream, and she has a temperament to die for. She's the calmest 4 year old that you'll ever meet. However, she requires a wide tree saddle, and my friend had to buy the saddle that the previous owner had. My friend's saddle was too narrow. At the show, there was a CWD vendor, and the woman who worked there was a professional in saddle fitting (she also works closely with my trainer's horse's chiropractor). Turns out, the saddle that came with the horse, nor my trainer's saddle, fit the mare well. Both pinched her shoulders too much, which, as I later saw, restricted her movement up front. As my friend was trying out the saddles, I was listening and watching really carefully to what the fitter was saying. It was a lot of what I've read in the past, just a more in depth and detailed. The only problem with all of this was that my trainer wasn't buying it. She wasn't liking what the fitter had to say. She said it was too much information at once, and it was a lot to take in (and the fitter was talking faster than a Ferarri), but it was all true. It seemed to me like she was pushing my friend away from the idea of a new saddle, CWD or not, which just made me shake my head. There was one point where my friend was trotting in a CWD that fit the mare better, and the fitter asked if we could see a difference in the mare's movement. Everyone was silent, except for me. I said yes. I don't have the best eyes (vision was 20/40 last time I checked), but they are sensitive to change and I saw a lot more swing and reach in the mare's front end. Maybe I'm crazy, just maybe, but that's what I was seeing. Oh well, I'm still young and inexperienced, so my opinion doesn't carry much weight. I did tell my friend how I felt, and hopefully she takes those words to heart. At the end of it all, I think I might buy a CWD.

In terms of showing, the day was spectacular. Everyone was on their A game and putting in their best effort over the two days, so I was happy in that aspect. My photography wasn't the best, but I got some good shots of the adult hunters and derby horses. I even found a Duke look-a-like! Anyways, enjoy!

Duke's twin

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Guess who rode a pretty pony today?

Yup, I did! There's a show tomorrow, but since I haven't ridden in a while I decided not to compete. It's a 2 day show, and Duke is being used both days, so I didn't want to wear him out with unnecessary extra riding. I rode my pretty pony Molly instead.

She was just a doll, slight attitude, but a doll nonetheless! My legs are aching from such little riding over the past month and a half or so. All I wanted to do was walk and trot. Last time I rode her I fell off trotting over some ground poles, so my confidence on her is still basically nonexistent besides walk and rising trot. Even my sitting trot is a battle.

I ride in the advanced lesson which has a lot of jumping. Walk, trot, and canter aren't a challenge, so I felt a bit out of place today. We started with a nice walk around the big ring. She was perfectly fine. We picked up a trot 3/4 of the way through, and then fell into the group circle. We just had a storm too, so the low spots were flooded. Molly wasn't thrilled with even getting near any damp spots, but I made her. It wasn't so wet that she would slip, just . . . damp.

When everyone goes to work on their canter departures, my trainer asked me if I wanted to try. I just said no thank you. It terrifies me to canter on Molly. That's where most if not all of my problems started with riding, so I try not to do it now. Everyone's cantering and I'm just trotting.

Then we moved on to the jumps. A friend of mine had knee surgery last year, and she's slowly getting back into riding. Right now, she jumps sparingly, and it's only over ground poles. My trainer set up a line with two ground poles and asked my friend and I to just trot over them and focus on being straight through the entire thing. Easy enough, except Molly has about the biggest drive to jump that I've seen in any horse. Remember, the last time I rode her I fell off over a ground pole. I was very nervous, so much that I didn't go over it the first 3 times before we changed direction. After we changed directions, I mustered up the courage to just do it. If I fell off, I wasn't near the mud so it was okay. We go up to it and I have her on a bit short of a rein. She's getting a bit nervous and on the forehand, but I kept my cool and just talked to her. She likes it when you talk to her. I'm expecting her to jump this ground pole, and to my pleasant surprise, she trot over it like a packer. I can't even exaggerate, and it was the exact same thing going over the second one. She didn't even bat an eye, just kept up that god forsaken attitude and stuck her nose in the air a few times.

We went through it 4 or so times before it was time for everyone else to do their course. My trainer had me trot the path but just go next to the jumps and change my diagonal where appropriate. When I finished, she asked me again if I wanted to canter, and I said no. She's very encouraging, and won't push you to do anything that she knows you can't do. She said, "Come on, just do it," but it was her joking voice. She repeated it under her breath, again joking, but I knew that she really wanted me to at least try. At this point, since I had just finished my course, I was still trotting. Something in my head must have messed up or something because, at that moment, I sat, slid my right leg back and asked her for the left lead. She crow hopped. Any other time, I would have grabbed some mane and given up, but nope, not this time. i pulled her head up, asked her again, and she went. I did about 6 strides before breaking back down to a trot. Any more and I would have went into panic mode, that's just how my brain works now.

In the end, I'm glad I tried and I'm glad that Duke got an hour to himself (I bet he's glad too!), but I still don't plan on riding Molly regularly again. I'd be back to where I was before, and I don't want to go back there. When I'm better, I'll try again, and hopefully that will happen near the end of this year. I'd like to be showing her again next year, but you know what they say. One miracle at a time.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Welcome to my blog!

Allow me to formally welcome you to my blog. A little bit about me, I am an avid equestrian living in the great United States. My goal is to become an Olympic show jumper, but I am quite a ways away from that right now. I am a member of the Chesapeake Pony Club, but I ride more often with another trainer. Horses have been my life since I was born, despite the fact that I started riding at 13 years old. I have always love those hairy, half-ton poop machines, and being able to work with and ride them is very rewarding.

At my main barn, I am smitten with a dun pony named Molly. She was an abuse case, and can be a bit untrusting at first, but is a doll once she warms up to you. She's got a bit of an attitude (Hancock blood), but it just adds to the many reasons why I love her. Molly has been green for quite a while now, and that is part of the reason why I don't ride her anymore. I am a nervous rider, and it didn't benefit either of us. I still long to ride and show her again some day, but that day is not today.

Showing with Molly
Molly in the pasture with Todd

At the moment, I am riding a pony named Duke. He is the perfect pony for a less confident rider, and I have learned so much on him. Over the past 6 months, he has helped me gain so much confidence and knowledge as a rider and horsewoman (er, girl?). He has taken me from just trotting cross bars to cantering full, 2'0" courses, and I appreciate his honesty and forgiveness very much.

At our last show
Jumping (bad equitation here)

I enjoy photography as well. I photograph for my main barn both at home and at shows. I will warn you, this blog will have lots of pictures! Here just a few of my other photos.

I hope you enjoy my blog. I will try to update weekly about my riding as well as including some random posts about horses, horseback riding, and horse care. Comments, constructive criticism, advice, and words of wisdom are always welcome. Thanks for reading!
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