Wednesday, December 21, 2011

HDS Shooling Show Championships - 12-18 Open Intro B Championships Judge@C

Championship Class Intro Test B, L Cummings, Judge
HDS Schooling Show Championships

1. Enter working trot rising. At X halt through medium walk. Salute
6 = a bit sticky through salute

2. Track left working trot rising
7 = fairly straight

3. Circle right 20M at E
6 = large, and not round

4. Between K & A Medium walk
7 = could be more active

5. F-E Free walk
6 = needs steady stretch & swinging strides

6. E-H Medium walk
6 = sometimes lazy

7. Between H&C Working trot rising
6 = slightly counterbent, and fussy in bit

8.Circle left 20M at B
5 = circle large and not round

9. X halt salute
6 = some neck twisting, bracing

Rider comments
Gaits = 7
Impulsion = 6
Submission = 6 (*2)
Rider's Position = 7
Rider's Effectiveness of Aids = 6
Geometry and accuracy = 6

Attractive duo. Horse needs to show more suppleness through body, including neck and elastic connection to bit. Watch geometry. Accuracy is important to development of horse.

HDS Shooling Show Championships - 12-18 Open Intro B Championship Class

Championship Class Intro Test B, J Darnell, Judge
HDS Schooling Show Championships

1. Enter working trot rising. At X halt through medium walk. Salute
6 = against hands in halt

2. Track left working trot rising
7 = fairly bal

3. Circle right 20M at E
6 = reins long, nose wags

4. Between K & A Medium walk
6 = keep NRG

5. F-E Free walk
7 = clear stretch

6. E-H Medium walk
6 = keep NRG in trans. And steadier connection

7. Between H&C Working trot rising
6 = slightly counterbent, has steadier contact

8.Circle left 20M at B
6 = nose wags, slightly counterbent

9. X halt salute
6 = threw outside shoulder in turn, against hands in halt

Rider comments
Gaits = 7
Impulsion = 7
Submission = 6 (*2)
Rider's Position = 7
Rider's Effectiveness of Aids = 6
Geometry and accuracy = 7

Nice pair. Reins got long & horse wages head – encourage him to accept steadier contact

HDS Shooling Show Championships - 12-18 Second Warm Up

Before the second test, I had a game plan. We were the only AA's competing in the Championship class, and while that meant fancy ribbons and procession, that didn't mean I was quitting. No ma'am. That meant we were working harder. Bigger rated judge, fancy longer arena, more eyes watching. I wanted this to count, even for a great experience for Harley.

Without a longe first, I walked him for about five minutes, varying contact and stretch. We trotted just a tiny bit, then hopped up into canter. I kissed quietly, and used my leg aids. Correct lead left. Great! We cantered about a circle, then back to trot.

There was his energy! I found it! I glanced at my watch, and saw we had just enough time for all of our warm up work. We cantered right, with more success, and an even better trot out after. The transitions were there, the general contact was there. I did lengthen my reins, and decided less contact was better than a battle.

Two judges in the Championship test. I rode by the judge at B, same judge as my morning ride. She was still smiling, happy as can be, as we rode by. The judge at C was sure serious, and didn't even look up except maybe a glance. There were plenty of people watching from the seats above, and another handful watching from outside the arena. Wow... What an audience of attentive folks, us being the only horse & rider competing at that moment. How absolutely overwhelming.

Judge @ C rang the bell, and were were off. It was the top of the game. My championship ride with Ransom was cut short in disaster, and I didn't want anything like that happening again. I saw the videographer camera tuned into us, and I could hear the photographer's shutter snapping rapidly. This was *my* moment with my new show horse, and I was insanely excited!!

HDS Shooling Show Championships - 12-18 Open Intro B My Thoughts

That's the best I can describe how I felt in the test. Harley did NOT want to be forward, he was daydreaming off the bit, and would wiggle his nose to avoid the contact. R told me later he pooped in the second circle. Oh Me Oh My. I'm glad he at least stayed in his trot while pooping, but goodness.

I considered using tiny spurs in the Championship class, or at least in warmup. I tried to consider what I'd done differently in the morning warmup. We'd done many transitions, lots of loose rein walk breaks to rest, and then I realized what the gap was.

Every other ride, after the longe, I usually canter early in the ride, to "wake things up", and get his mind on the ride. That morning, I didn't canter. There were too many other riders around in too small of arenas, and since I nearly got crashed into at a walk by a galloping advanced horse, I wasn't confident Harley and I could manage canter in the chaos.

I committed that we'd FIND a place to canter before the Championship class. I'd get the spurs out, but not put them on, just keep them close enough for use if I needed. We were *going* to canter in our second warmup, and that just might be enough.

HDS Shooling Show Championships - 12-18 Open Intro B

Open Class Intro Test B, L. Cummings, Judge
HDS Schooling Show Championships

1. Enter working trot rising. At X halt through medium walk. Salute
6 = straight entry. Tense halt

2. Track left working trot rising
7 = fairly smooth

3. Circle right 20M at E
6 = neck twist, fussing with bit

4. Between K & A Medium walk
6 = tempo varies

5. F-E Free walk
7 = lovely stretch, could swing more

6. E-H Medium walk
6 = nose tilting, inside bend

7. Between H&C Working trot rising
6 = slightly counterbent

8.Circle left 20M at B
6 = needs inside bend

9. X halt salute
6 = a bit crooked in salute

Rider comments
Gaits = 7
Impulsion = 6
Submission = 6 (*2)
Rider's Position = 6
Rider's Effectiveness of Aids = 6 sometimes list left
Geometry and accuracy = 7

Attractive team. Work for more consistent, elastic connection to bit. Need inside bend. On your way.

HDS Shooling Show Championships - 12-18 Warm Up

When I arrived at the showgrounds to feed Harley, I found him the only horse in the barn aisle laying down, curled up snoozing. He got up for his breakfast, and ate eagerly. I also found his water bucket near empty, so that was delightful. I cleaned his stall, then headed back to the hotel to pack up, and find some human breakfast with R.

We got back to the showgrounds, and with a general sense of schedule, got Harley saddled and me in my showdress pretties just in time. His longing warmup was lazy but good. Warmup ride was an adventure. Arena cluttered with riders heading every which direction. At one point, a higher level rider was galloping down the diagonal straight towards us, and nearly smashed into me & Harley. Frightening! Harley did well, and stayed calm. I found him a bit lazy in the warmup ride, and hoped I could shake his motivation as we headed into the show ring.

I didn't hear a bell ring or a whistle blow, but wasn't sure if it was my "turn" in the ring or not. I darted into the ring, saw the judge & scribe watching us intently. I trotted right up the centerline, and halted at "X". It felt and probably looked like a hurried halt. The judge laughed. "We are ready for you, but you can let him look around a bit first before we'll blow the whistle for you to start. Go take your time, let him see everything."

I laughed myself. Told Harley, "Good job dear, but let's go look. Hey, look! There's people up there that weren't there yesterday! Let's hope they don't cheer like it's a football game, and they sit real still-like." (I hoped the audience was listening at that point, and heeded my request.)

The judge blew her whistle when we were at "B", so I turned down the rail, picked up a trot, and headed down the centerline. This was a class of 3 total riders, and in my mind, the "warm up ride" to our championship test.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

HDS Shooling Show Championships - 12-17 The Arrival

We arrived around 2:45pm Saturday. The show was already going on, and there were riders and horses scattered around the two warmup arenas, and the main show arena. I found the office, acquired Harley's number & stall assignment, and went back to unload. Settled in his stall, he immediately dove into his hay, more interested in his belly than in the chaos outside that stall. Hay, water, and shavings all over the stall floor, and I left him to relax a while. R and I ventured to the main arena, and we snooped a bit. Watched a bit of some rides, but I was fairly distracted. Surveying the crowd, the horses around, and the bleachers of people.

Just how much noise does it make when they walk around? How many banners are on the walls? Do the people outside the arenas wander around a lot during the tests?

I was given the "green light" to practice and school in the main arenas around 5:00pm. R and I headed back to the stall, and found Harley still munching hay. I tacked him up, and headed to the show arena. I hand walked him everywhere I could without getting directly in anyone's way. A few of the instructors wandering around coaching helped us out, sitting and standing at the judge's table, rattling plastic bags and papers, and calling out tests and instructions to their students.

We walked back to a warmup arena, longed a little, and I hopped on. Harley was quiet, and relaxed. He didn't seem concerned with the people walking around, the other horse/rider sets riding around him. Back to the main show arena, since that's where the tests would be Sunday, and that's what I was more concerned with.

There were two dressage arenas set up in the main ring. A 20x40 and a 20x60. A huge warmblood in a double bridle with a very focused rider took off at an extended trot down the long diagonal of the 20x60. They were headed straight to us. The horse's front knees and ankles flipped out as he trotted my way. Yikes! I'm not going in that arena just yet. She'll totally flip her lid if I get in her way with my little man. The 20x40 had a small girl on a little paint pony, instructor calling out some stern words. Trainer and child had a major disagreement over their earphone/mic speaker communication tools. Child's parents appeared to be watching on outside the arena. I glanced at the trainer, and said, "Sorry, but I'm crashing the party. No way I'm going in the big arena and interfering with that big horse's trot." Trainer said to me, "That'd be awesome, actually. Maybe motivate her (pointing at Child) to work harder." Trainer and child argued some more, and it became apparent Child was having an emotional hissy fit. Knowing this would be good for Harley, I entered at walk, and quickly picked up trot. Trainer called out, "You see that grey baby there? He's being quiet, even in a scary new place. Your horse is FINE! You are the problem! If you quit every time you have a slight problem, then let's sell the horse and your tack, and quit the sport. You can't quit just because he argues with you once. Now shut up, and RIDE!" Child looked at me with a sad longing face, and I just shrugged my shoulders and trotted on by her.

Harley's ride in the small arena, over walk and trot, was fantastic. Finally big warmblood left the 20x60, and a TB-type mare & older teen were riding. I joined in the fun, explaining to that teen's trainer Harley's youth and inexperience. "Oh , you'll be fine. We'll stay out of your way. Don't worry." I rode Harley through all three gaits, and even had some nice canter on contact. He was "on".

No spooks to work out, no boogers to iron through. No wild rides to sit it out. Just a quiet young Quarter Horse, acting like he'd done it his whole life. I patted him part way through the 20x60 ride. "Harley, if I didn't know better, I'd think you were Ransom. God bless ya, baby boy. You're doing great." *I almost cried, but I made it through. R saw my face, and knew... "He's doing great, babe. You look pretty awesome, too...*

Would Sunday be as great as Saturday? Sunday opened up with Intro B Open test first, 20x40 arena. A decent break, followed by the Championship test in the 20x60. I'd done all I could do. The training was done, the teaching was past. No "lessons" left to cram in Sunday morning. It was all down to the "big deal, main show, fancy class". I unsaddled Harley, gave him his supper and cookies, put a neck sleezy on, and his sheet, and smooched him goodnight. "Sleep well, my super star."

Friday, December 16, 2011

We Leave Tomorrow

I really have been riding. A lot, in fact. Taking some afternoons off from work, and riding two in an evening.

Boss and I are getting along well. There's much to learn, as some days, things seem to click really well. Other days, I have trouble making circles and corners. Were it not for the arena rail, he'd probably wander aimlessly when I can't find his bend. I'm learning I have to ride Boss very focused, and very centered, mentally and physically. The slightest "relax" on my part, and he'll break gait to a lazy walk.

Harley and I are going to squeeze a ride in today, and then we're off. Series Championships are Sunday, and we're travelling there tomorrow for schooling tomorrow evening. Scheduling didn't go easy, and I had to contact the show staff to discover my registration entry was lost. I had to contact them a second time today to receive ride times. The copy I received today shows slim competition for Intro "B" at Adult Amateur level. I can understand the economy isn't great, and Christmas shopping preceeds show dreams. It still seems odd there are very few AAs competing at the championships.

I will do a better job of blogging to capture tomorrow and Sunday, for sure. It's a new place for Harley, a big place. We'll be warming up and showing over FOUR different covered arenas and one outdoor arena. Absolutely huge facility, and that's even with some of the showgrounds "off limits" to us. He'll have a LOT to take in and get adjusted to.

His trot is fantastic.

His walk , well , I just wish it were bigger. ..

Free walk? When he's paying attention, it's beautiful.

I am slowly introducing canter with collection. I start with canter barely on contact. Then, I gently shorten my reins a little directly after he's in the gait. Down the long sides, I'm pushing with legs/seat, and shortening my reins a bit more. Relax on the short sides, repeat down a long side. I had a few strides on each lead collected down long sides. Harley's learning this much like he did in the trot - finding that balance point between "collection nicely" and "hanging on the forehand". Hanging on the bit usually makes him trip within a stride or two, again, much like the trot work. We'll get there, and thankfully, we don't need it in the show on Sunday.

Friday, December 2, 2011

In Other News

Read the news article.

Police: Father fatally shoots 4 kids, wounds wife

Now, go hug your kids. Love on your family.

And if your husband or boyfriend is using you as his punching bag, GET OUT!
RUN to your nearest police department, and TURN HIM IN.

Harley Update

Through the weather changes.
Through the gunfire.
Through the shortening evening light.
Through the body clip.

With the exception of one evening, Harley has been awesome. I gave him a body clip at the start of my week long vacation, and he stood completely still the entire time. Now with a shorter coat, he's easier to ride in the evenings, and isn't a sweaty gross mess after every ride.

We've worked on increasing the walk energy, and that's going fair... His working walk to free walk transitions are incredible now in both directions (giving and taking rein). I've got some very nice circles working out, and improved straightness in the lines.

Probably the only thing I wish I had a little more of from Harley, is energy. He often feels lazy, and requires a lot of motivation from me to move-on. On the longe line, he looks excellent, and may be going just the same under saddle, but just feels lazy compared to Boss's long strides. I haven't had any video in a while to observe him, so I'm hoping to get some soon for comparison.

The trot/canter/trot transitions have come a long way. I've begun to introduce a bit of collection on his canter - instead of barely any rein contact, I've shortened my reins just a bit. Somedays that goes really good, and others are a flat disaster. Harley takes that rein pressure as "slow down", and it's difficult to keep him In the canter. Nevertheless, our canter goal has been met - he almost never gets his leads wrong now, and I can go most rides all on correct-lead canter. He gets them on a bend in the circle, and I haven't asked but once or twice on a straight line. We'll get there. I think I need to get better at my own cues from Boss on a line before I ask Harley to learn.

Last night, Harley reminded me he's a baby. He was lazy on the longe. I flipped the whip just a little, and he took off like a flash. Galloping around the circle, eyes wide, it took about ten minutes to get him to relax. Then, in the trot, he was refusing to walk. No walk, no halt, nothing. Just trotting, totally ignoring all body language, all verbal cues, even a tug on the line/halter. I took the neck stretcher off, and focused on small circles, just on the walk. I'd let him go about half a circle, then tell him, "whoa!". About a dozen later, Harley was ready to stop rather than keep going.

I checked him over nose to tail, down all four legs, reaching, stretching, and all the tricks. He's not sore, he's not hurting. Just bein' a baby. It's all good. If 90% of Harley's work is slow, lazy, and obedient, he's entitled to a bad-day. I used to give it to Ransom to have a gallop-off-like-a-nut days, no reason Harley can't have the same.

Romeo Romeo ...

My sweet little Romeo.

You're the "break" in between my student horse and my teacher horse.

You're the quiet one.

I can push ya in any gait, adjust the stride, and hit the brakes with a word.

Mo and I haven't been venturing off the property at all, however. That makes me sad. I miss walking and trotting down the road, just to see how far I can get. My goals of leaving home on a trail ride are looking bleaker every day. Deer and dove hunters fire off their shotguns and rifles at random times throughout the day. More annoying, the neighbor children have made a hobby out of target shooting a little 0.22 rifle. Since Mo was shot at by his previous owner, he's got a lot of good reasons to be afraid of the gunfire. I haven't chosen to stay at home, in the arena, where I can control his reaction to the fear, rather than be out in the open, wandering down the paved roadway, just to have him panic and scramble.

This means things with Romeo are easy-going and quiet. Gaits are all steady and relaxed, and the more I stay out of his mouth, the happier he is, and the lower his ears go. =)

Boss Update

Things went from decent, to terrible, back to good, with Boss.

When he first came to my house, he was antsy to start his work, a bit of a booger for the first 20 minutes (from catch into the ride). He'd jig around, ants-in-his-pants, and then half way through the walk, he'd finally relax a bit.

Then one ride in the howling winds, he decided to take off in the arena between halter off and bridle on. Off he went, in a flash. I pushed him around with the longe whip, made his life generally difficult, and found he LOVES to rollback, butt facing me. No, sirreee doodeedah, that sh!t ain't happenin' here, MisterMan. Chase Chase Chase, ease up the body pressure, and as soon as he'd give two eyes, I'd back away and walk off. After the third time one evening, he gave up. I rode a little while, (5 minutes or less), just long enough to prove I am BossMare, and called i quits.

The next ride, he was a turd to start yet again. "I'm not playing this game!", I called out. After two eyes facing up, I hopped on. By the third ride, I had a plan - longed him in the Side Reins. his ears flipped wildly, eyes wrinkled up tight. He *knew* then I meant business, and I wasn't playing a gallop-game anymore. Not only is his running disrespectful, it's dangerous. After the longe session, I took all his head tack off, and haltered him. Boss gave me the most bewildered look, as if he didn't understand quite why I wasn't going to ride. "That's enough for today. Let's see what I have tomorrow to ride."

Thursday, I longed him in the halter for 10 minutes to start. He was wild for only a circle or two, and then settled right down. Interesting .... The ride? It was great. I found a few holes in my riding ability, and checked with Samantha over them. She reminded me that I need to use my outside rein for good turns and bending.

Earlier this week, I put that inside rein to the test. With a sharp movement, Boss was making 90-degree turns. Outside leg, outside rein tight, turning my body from the waist up where I want to go, and Boss turns! He turns hard! We made the smallest circles ever, and I had absolutely no idea the Big monster could bend like that!

I have also found the secret to his "go". Spurs. I'm not a huge fan of the darn things, but I've noticed it only takes a poke or two, followed by leg pressure, and he's forward-going. We've also negotiated the canter transitions - he pushes up into them instead of the one-time rearing show he gave me, and he also stays in the canter now without me kicking every stride. It sometimes feels like my legs are out in front of my seat when I ride Boss - his swayback positions my saddle a bit odd, and that makes my legs feel a bit forward. With my legs in that spot, however, it's very easy to push him forward. I had the best trot and canter we've had yet together earlier this week.

"well done grasshopper" Sam sent me in a text when I told her about the inside rein and the forward gaits. well done.... :) hop hop!

Thanksgiving Week Update

Rather than go through the last week+ by only a day at a time, a horse at a time...
Here's the summary ..
11/20 - Boss & Harley
11/21 - Boss & Harley
11/22 - Harley & Romeo
11/23 - Boss & Harley
11/24 - Boss & Romeo
11/25 - Harley
11/26 - skipped
11/27 - Harley, Boss, & Romeo
11/28 - Harley
11/29 - skipped
11/30 - Boss & Romeo
12/1 - Harley longe

Now, onto what has actually happend worth noting, by horse, informative and non-informative. =) Do anyone else's legs hurt just reading that, or am I imagining the soreness again?