OT – Sunday at the Barn – Like Little Worker Bees


M called and asked if I could come out at 3 instead of in the morning.  D had some shoeing jobs he had to wrap up in the morning, and he’s the Blondie guru.  Erin told me she isn’t even working her.  I guess I should feel special that Blondie’s his pet project. Smiley

I had a quick lesson on Harley before he got there.  The first part was with no stirrups (ugh!), and the rest was transitions.  Since Kim has been leasing him for 4H, his head set has really improved!  Too bad he wasn’t like that when I was showing him over the summer.

When D finally arrived, he started working Blondie.  He explained that because the rack is a lateral gait like trotting, he won’t let her trot until she learns how to rack.  Then he has to teach her how to trot again.  Hopefully all of this will happen before April, so we can go to River Ridge.

When it was my turn to ride Blondie, M came in and tried to give me another lesson on slow gaiting.  We just worked one rail again, and concentrated on keeping her in the gait.  This was hard, because I can’t tell yet when she’s doing it and when she’s not!  I also was using my hands too much, jerking the bit to keep her going.  On the last pass, I did it correctly, just jiggling the bit and keeping her going.  We quit after that, to leave off on a good note.

D mentioned that as soon as Woody’s show season is over, I can start riding him to get a better feel for the gait.  After I put Blondie away, I watched D and Robert struggle to drag one of the carts on top of the trailer.  Everyone was busy packing up, so they could take Monday off. They’re planning on leaving at 6 on Tuesday morning, and it’s a 20 hour drive!  Not wanting to get in the way, I left shortly after.

OT – Lesson 8, Block 5


Sadly, fall is in the air.  It was rather chilly this evening, but at least it was dry.  The weather has been just awful the last few days, with gloomy skies and unending drizzle.  The sun even came out, shining brightly to blind me on my way to the barn; I was driving into the setting sun, and couldn’t even see the traffic signals!  Good thing I haven’t packed away my sunglasses yet.

Tonight I rode with all new riders.  I’ll have to drop Kim an email an find out where she was.  The other riders tonight were Tina (with Gio), Robert (Pepper), and Abby, riding Alex.  I went to Hartmeyers last spring with Robert, Abby, and their mom.  Everyone in the arena shows Morgans but me, so Harley was the only Saddlebred out tonight.  He was still the best looking horse out there!

Abby is going to be showing in the Morgan World Championship in 2 weeks, so we were given the instruction to crowd her so she felt more comfortable riding with traffic.  This reminded of my first group lesson, when the FBI invaded, and only Kim and Jilly were there to get in my way. 

D showed up to shoe some horses, and he suggested we trot figure 8’s, two going one direction, and two riders going the other.  I think he just likes to watch collisions.  Just trotting around in circles is too boring for him, and he likes to toss in some risk.  Kind of like how Jen thought it was exciting when someone fell off during a class at the horse show she went to.  There were many near misses, but nobody ran into anybody else.  Since Harley is so slow, I didn’t have to worry too much about it.

We worked on transitions again for the rest of the lesson.  I still rush the canter.  I don’t set up the horse correctly, but instead hurry through the cues and wonder why the horse picks up the wrong lead.  Good thing I have until April to work on this.

The show horses have been moved to the lower barn, which is attached to the arena.  Yeah!  No more having to pick our way carefully through the ice, snow, or mud, and no more getting soaked when it’s raining.  The tack room was even set up! For the past few weeks, the tack room was just a jumble of equipment tossed into an empty stall in the new barn.  And the dreaded tent was gone!!!  Things are finally getting back to normal!

OT – When the Coach is Away…


There are some advantages to being a decision maker where you work.  People want to give you free stuff, or take you out to lunch.  We are shopping  for insurance, and a potential new insurance salesman offered to give me a riding lesson.  I had a problem at his farm a year and a half ago, when I scheduled a lesson with his mother, and she blew me off, so at first I wasn’t too enthused.  This was during the bleak days, before I discovered D & M.  Since they are off at a horse show, I decided to take Dave up on his offer. 

Dave teaches hunt seat, which I have scoffed at.  This is mainly because the first place I rode, a hunter barn, ripped me off, and because when I was so depressed that I couldn’t find a place to ride, his mother missed my lesson.  In retrospect, these were good things, because I found great trainers, a great place to board my horse, and, oh, yeah, I have the most awesome horse in the world!

I arrived at the barn a little late.  Stupid me, I got lost!  I had to call my boss, to get the number for one of his friends whose daughter rides there, since I didn’t have Dave’s number with me.  Thankfully, Mark answered his cell phone, and he told me how to get there.  Somehow I remembered 7 Mile as being 8 Mile.  Did I mention that I can’t find my way out of an open paper bag?

It’s been over a year and a half since I have  ridden in a hunt seat saddle.  I forgot how small they are.  Dave gave me a leg up, and I ended up on the back of the horse, with the saddle in front of me.  I laughed and hoped my lesson went smoother than that!

This was a really fun lesson.  Hunters travel very slowly, though, compared to saddlebreds.  I kept thinking Ginger was trotting too slowly, when Dave would call out encouragingly that I had her at a nice working trot.  I was having a problem keeping the balls of my feet on the stirrups; they kept sliding too far in, which is a problem I’m trying to work on.  With hunters, Dave explained, it’s even more important to keep just the ball of your foot on the stirrup because of how your lower leg is used. 

After trotting (a lot), we moved to the canter.  This is going to give me a problem.  In saddleseat, you bring the horse to a walk before asking for the canter. You never canter from the trot.  This is so the horse doesn’t tear its shoes off.  In hunt seat, you transition from the trot to the canter, back down to the trot.  It was really hard for me to sit a stride at the trot, and then give the proper leg commands to move forward at the canter.  There’s no vocal signal (maybe "canter" for some horses), no tipping, nothing that I’m used to.  I had the wrong lead twice, and I’m so confused how to get the correct one if you don’t angle the horse’s body.  I’ll have to ask more questions about this the next time out.

After he was satisfied that I could ride well enough, he asked I had ever jumped before.  I started freaking out because I wasn’t expecting to jump at all this lesson.  I’m a beginner!  What if I fall off?!  The only time I fell off a horse (the time with Harley doesn’t count!!), I was riding a pony that liked to jump.  It saw a roll top, and headed towards it.  Since I could barely ride back then, and the thought of going over the 3 foot jump almost made me pee my pants, I panicked, lost my balance, and fell off the horse.  Oh, and my foot got caught in the stirrup, so I got dragged about 5 feet.  Thankfully, nothing was broken, but the mere thought of jumping terrified me.

Dave arranged the poles so they were about 14" high, and he assured me that the horse would basically be stepping over them.  Ok, I guess I was game.  He instructed me to rise up to the two-point (which we didn’t practice prior to the jumping!), and to grab a handful of mane.  Grab mane?? After riding Blondie, I know how to do that!

First, we approached the jump at a posting trot, and Ginger trotted over it, picking up the canter on the other side.  I remember when that would have caused me to fall off!  Now, I was able to slow her back to a trot, re-steady myself on the saddle, and circle around for another pass.  We trotted over the jump a few more times, and then moved to the canter. 

OMG!!  What fun!!!  It’s like flying!  The first time I wasn’t steady at all, and Dave had me trot over it again, and lean forward more.  He pointed out that I was too upright.  Then he had me canter over it again.  And again.  And again, from both directions.  Then we worked on trotting and cantering again, and the lesson was over.

This was so much fun that I’m going to try to work more of these lessons into my schedule.  I’m really happy with all the progress that I have made in riding; after going over the jump the first time, I wasn’t nervous, and when I started to lose my seat, I quickly made adjustments and steadied myself.  I was able to keep Ginger moving, though I let her cut corners too much.  I think that if I’m able to have a hunt seat lesson every other week or so, I’ll become a better saddleseat rider.  And, I have that silly desire to do some eventing.  I have to hurry and do it before my bones become to brittle Smiley

OT – Lesson 7, Block 5


The weather has been awful the last few days, with constant rain.  My drive in to work featured another obstacle course, as I tried in vain to avoid squishing all of the frogs that were stupid enough to stand in the middle of the road.  Some of them were so stupid that they hopped in the direction of my car, instead of away from it.  I figured, sadly, they were too dumb to live.

At the barn, I helped bring in two of the lesson horses.  They were soaking wet, and their pasture was nothing but a huge mud puddle.  Kim got stuck in the muck, and thought that jumping would free her.  Too bad she landed back in the puddle, and splashed mud  in every direction.  Thankfully, I wasn’t standing near her at the time. 

To my disappoint, Harley was my appointed lesson horse.  Blondie is out of commission until D gets her racking again.  And puts her shoes back on. She pulled both of them during her training, and since she started racking better, D decided to leave her barefoot for the time being.  Knowing that she didn’t have to work anymore yesterday, she was very cuddly when I stepped in her stall to say hi.

We worked on transitions most of the night.  M placed two ground poles, parallel to each other, in the middle of the arena, and we had to ride between them, and perform whatever change of gait she requested.  The first time Harley got near them, he didn’t want to have anything to do with those horse eating poles!  He woke up long enough to notice that he was about to walk between them, and started backing up as fast as he could.  He had to be forced through them twice before he stopped panicking when we were approaching them.  He’s such a chicken!

I had a really had time getting the correct canter lead during these exercises.  When I’m not on the rail, I get confused about what way to angle the horse.  If you want the right canter lead, you angle left; if you want the left, you angle right.  It seems so simple, but I mess it up if I’m not on the rail.  I’m happy to say that Kim was having a harder time with the canter exercise than I was; Sammy was being lazy and would only trot, or he kept picking up the wrong lead.  I would really like to try some of these equitation exercises on Blondie.  Hopefully D will get her racking soon, and I can actually start learning how to ride my own horse!

OT – Sunday at the Barn


Today was the first Sunday lesson in ages.  M is out of town, so I wasn’t sure when I left this morning whether or not D would be there.  If he wasn’t, I was going to just brush Blondie and go back home.  When I arrived, I was happy to see most of the Sunday crew at the barn.

D said he wasn’t sure if I was going to come or not, and he had already worked Blondie.  After a few minutes, he told Kim to throw a saddle back on her, and we would work her again.  At first he said he didn’t want her trotting until he had her racking again, but when we got to the arena, we did the usual walk/trot/canter.   I was even able to get Blondie to canter both ways, on the correct lead, every time I asked.  When we were done, D said that it looks like I’m finally learning how to ride.  Then he reminded me that I couldn’t even walk a horse correctly when I first started riding there.  I’ve come a long way in a year.

After Blondie, Kim gave me an equitation lesson on Harley. I kept getting his canter leads wrong, and the really bad thing about it is that I still can’t tell whether I’m on the right or wrong one.  It’s so frustrating!

OT – Lesson 6, Block 5


Finally! Another riding lesson!  I was looking forward to riding Blondie all day (all week, actually), and working on forming that magical bond that we need to win a couple of horse shows next year. Imagine my dismay when Kim told me I would be riding her horse, Sammy.  Then she said that D would be riding my horse.  Then I asked why we all can’t just ride our own horses??

To top off the disappoints, Sammy was still stabled at the dreaded tent, which didn’t get picked up today like it was supposed to.  While this was a good thing for the farm, as they have suddenly run out of enough stalls to go around, I really wanted to work in the new, partially completed, barn.  Maybe on Sunday.

I am embarrassed to admit that when it was time to ask for the canter, I was a little afraid of Sammy.  He’s great at the trot, but he has been a total pig at the canter.  He snatches at his bridle and just takes off.  First way of the ring his was fine, though I was still a little nervous, which had me popping out of the saddle.  Second way of the ring, I just wanted to strangle him!

 First, he kept picking up the wrong lead.  I think he was doing it on purpose, so I would be quite flustered.  Then, finally taking the correct lead, he confused himself for a Thoroughbred.  He raced around the arena, ignoring my cues to slow down.  He kept dropping his shoulder on the corners, and picking up speed every time he did it.  M let me struggle to slow him down for about 10 circuits, and seeing that I wasn’t bright enough to figure out what to do, she helped me by telling me to lift my inside hand on the corners.  What a miracle!!  He started to slow down.

After the lesson, D brought Blondie out and worked on gaiting her.  While watching them, I was struck with a horrible thought – I probably won’t be able to ride her until he’s got her racking again.  Or as he likes to say, he has to fix her before he’ll let me break her again.  Argh!

It was dark by the time we were finished, and the electric is not hooked up in the barn, so I couldn’t check it out.  The bathroom isn’t complete yet, either – the toilet’s not even in.  So things are basically the way they were the last time I was there.  More about the new barn when I can see it.

Back from the World Championship Horse Show – 2006


He’s the Man heading over to collect his ribbons

I’m back from the horse show.  Since my laptop was locked in my parents’ car most of the time, and I was getting back from the show late, the only time I had to blog was first thing in the morning.  The show started at 9, and since I had to grab a shuttle over to Freedom Hall, that didn’t leave me much time to post!

I was able to meet the people that I purchased Blondie from.  I was hoping to see one of their yearlings, Bingo Night, but they sent her home on Thursday.  SOB!!  There was a picture of her in one of the show publications that was released every morning, so I at least have her picture.  Ann said she would send a picture and a video, and I hope she remembers.

 He’s the Man’s victory pass

The highlight of the Friday night classes was the Amateur Roadster to Bike Championship.  What an exciting class!  The judges called for two workouts, where they ask part of the class to show again, because they couldn’t decide on a winner.  I love the roadster classes to begin with, and to see horses of this quality compete was really fun!  Incidentally, William Shatner was driving one of the horses, and he came in second, for all of you Star Trek freaks out there. 

Saturday night, decked out in a dress and my tennis shoes (my dress shoes were in my camera bag, but I had developed a blister from all of the walking, and couldn’t wear them!), I watched He’s the Man take first place in the Five Gaited World’s Grand Championship.  There was no workout, which was disappointing, and though the winner looked good, I think Five O’Clock looked better.  He’s the Man had a few issues, and wasn’t what I would  consider the "perfect" horse.  He broke the first way of the ring, and I don’t think he deserved the championship.  He is a beautiful horse, though.  I think I liked his conformation the best.  I think Echo of Thunder was second, and Five O’Clock was third, but I was so tired from being out late and getting up early that I might have them reversed.  EDIT:  I do have them reversed.  Five O’Clock was second, and Echo of Thunder was third. 

I was able to see Along Came A Spider again, but she came in second!  I love this horse! I think she should have won.  I found that I often didn’t agree with the judges, but I’m sure that is mostly because I’m new to whole thing and don’t really understand what they are judging yet.  One thing that really bugged me, though, was the number of last year’s (and the year before, and before that, even!) that won again this year.  This sport reminds me of figure skating – there’s a lot of politics going on in the background.

I wasn’t able to enjoy food this trip.  I found myself stuck at the fairgrounds most of the time, which meant eating fair food.  Yuck! I am now thoroughly sick of corn dogs.  There is a restaurant in Freedom Hall, and I had  an expensive buffet lunch there, which I really enjoyed, but I didn’t discover it’s exsistance until the end of the week.  It was nice to sit in the air conditioning, and have people run over to fill my coffee cup every time it dipped below the halfway mark.  Next year I will probably eat there a couple days if I go again.

On Saturday, I went shopping at the Executive Inn with the barn people.  Since I had already been through the shops, there wasn’t anything new to look at.  I did purchase a dufflebag with a saddlebred embroidered on the front, and the day before I purchased a garment bag, some jods, and 2 lapel pins.  Most of the vendors were high-priced, exclusive shops, and their wares were a tad too rich for my humble means.

I only covered the most important stuff, so I don’t bore anyone.  If you want more details, I’ll fill you in  later!

World Championship Horse Show – Wednesday Night


This post has been edited to correctly report Along Came A Spider’s finish. 

Finally, we arrived at the State Fair!  We took the shuttle over, and after finding out where the barn area is located, I headed over to see if any of the horses were being worked.  I was in luck! There was one 5-gaited horse in the practice ring, but they were almost finished.  Boo.

Some of the tack stores have trailers set up for shopping opportunities, and I found some cute, totally geek shirts to spend my money on.  I also purchased the mondo huge show book, which is spiral bound and weighs about 5 pounds.  I bought one for Kim, too, since she can’t be here and begged me to pick one up for her.  That was 10 additional pounds that I had to drag around all night!

We headed, slowly (we do everything slowly!!) to our seats, and waited for the show to begin.  The first class as a HUGE 5-gaited mare class.  I can’t believe how many entries were in each class!  There were 19 in the first class, and that was about the norm all night.  There were 11 hackey ponies!  At most of the shows I have been to, there are, at most, 3.  It was really fun seeing all the ponies, though 2 had to be excused.  The fine harness class had about 10 entries.  Some of the classes were split because there were so many competing.

It was really exciting seeing some of the horses in person that I have been reading about in magazines.  Along Came A Spider was here, and what a beautiful mare she is!  She finished 1st in her class.  The quality of horses here is incredible.  Jenny Taylor was in 2 classes, including a 4th place finish on Beringer Red.  Until this show, I had never seen a horse as lovely as he is.  After seeing the other horses in last night’s performance, he doesn’t look quite so special.  I can hardly wait for the championships!