This weekend was busy…not that I have any other kind. Horse show, home, strip 2 stalls, empty vacuum, blow aisle, show horse to prospective buyer, sweep stalls, rebed stalls, mow, inhale leftovers for dinner, zip to mall to use some coupons and buy a couple of work outfits, home, put away clothes, sleep, get up, bring in horses, ride Sparkle, clean tack, mow, check watch, go clean Bali & Tanq and head to jumping lessons…in the RAIN! argh! Take lessons (in the rain! argh!), come home, no flat tires (whew!), park, unload and turn out horses, eat chips and salsa and drink wine. Too tired to cook.
So, Tanq was the champion this weekend. Seriously! He got Champion in the Schooling Hunters at the local Philomont Volunteer Fire Dept. horse show. I wanted to do well, he is a sale horse, and sale horses need good rides to look good, but he was amazing.
I got there, unloaded, entered, tacked up and hopped on. The schooling area was teeny. There was a 8″ vertical and a 18″ solid panel to warm up. Tanq objected to the panel. It was hard to get a forward ride when there was about 2 strides on either side, and ponies on the landing side more often than not. So, I didn’t fuss too much over his two stops. He went over, it wasn’t pretty, but I was not going to accomplish anything in that ring, so I decided that was what the “warm up” was for.
The warm up….er, the first jump, going away from the in gate, was a panel. A very PINK panel. He stopped. I re-presented him, badly. He stopped again. I re-presented him correctly and he went. The second jump in that line….a panel. This one Burgandy. I let him stop. Since it was the warm up and a local show, they kindly did not ring me out of the ring. He went and then we found our rhythm and he went around the rest of the course reasonably well.
I hadn’t realized that they put me down as the first rider in both over-fences classes. A quick glance at the course map, thanking the Hunter Gods that there is never any variation from outside/diagonal/outside/diagonal combinations and I knew where to start (outside, outside, diagonal, diagonal for those who might care) and my dyslexia kicked in. I almost started my circle going the wrong way. I quickly realized this error, and turned, picked up the correct lead and we proceeded to a reasonable round. It felt pretty good. One slightly deep spot, a bobble in one line and he built on the down-hills, but he came back in the corners and did a flying change before the one corner where he’d landed on the wrong lead.
Next round was the same course as the warm up. That round felt awesome. I was so pleased with the little man. What I did not do was learn what the striding was supposed to be. I just rode a nice, forward canter and it felt great.
The Under saddle (u/s) class was last. Tanq was very good, but going left a young lady said she was going to pass on the outside, right next to a fence. Tanq thought we’d be jumping that fence when I brought him in a bit more to allow her room. She didn’t pass, he trotted, he picked up the wrong lead for a moment, I came back to the trot to fix it, and they asked for the trot…I just stayed there. The kid stayed behind the other direction as well, but I just ignored her, and figured Tanq was being amazing. I also figured since only 6 had entered the u/s class, we were guaranteed at least 1 ribbon for the day. There were 7-10 in the over fences classes.
We lined up and waited. And waited. Finally, they started to announce the winners.
Under Saddle class, Tanqueray, First place! Whoa! Sweet. And they brought me a bag with a prize to go with that pretty blue ribbon.
Class # 5 (first over fences) – Tanqueray, First place! Wait, we had a bobble in that one…but ok! Another bag w/ a blue ribbon.
Class # 6 – Tanqueray, First place! That one, he deserved, even in better company.
This means that he was Champion, because with first place, you won! ANOTHER bag of swag! Holy shit! Can I ride carrying 2 plastic bags, 2 paper bags and 4 ribbons? Why yes, Tanq had a bit of a swagger. He knew he’d done good.
Onto the trailer and back home. Did I mention that this was my local fire department and a whopping 10 minutes (including load time) door to door? Pat made me a late breakfast (it was 11:15 by now) and I lazed on the porch in the sun for 20 minutes or so. Then a lady came to try Tanq. I was cleaning the barn when she arrived and he was a good boy. She liked him,rode him nicely, said he was the nicest horse she’d tried so far, but his gaits had a bit too much suspension for her (back issues), she also thought he was priced too low. Good feedback.
Oh, the swag!
A pewter cup, that we can get engraved. A pewter note paper holder, a stainless steel and painted water bottle, and $10 of Dover gift certificates! Sweet! I almost wish I was a point chaser and had hung around to enter more, but I’m of the opinion that less is more when it comes to riding and teaching young horses.
Onward to Sunday. I never did manage to ride Bali or Sparkle on Saturday.
A nice ride on Sparkle, who was incidentally diagnosed with ulcers on Tuesday (deserves a blog post that I won’t have time to write). She got day 6 of Gastrogard and it is really working. She is much more relaxed and happier in general.
Tack cleaning and mowing, then it was time to take Tanq and Bali for some jumping lessons with a new instructor. A friend enjoys riding with him and mentioned his farm was Bert Mutch’s old place. Well, location won. I loved that farm, so I hauled over for rides with Brian Murphy. He has an accent…Irish or British, not quite sure. I should have asked. But, he was confidence inspiring.
First off, that ring has good mojo for me. I have never had anything but excellent rides at that farm. Both with Bert & Ronnie Mutch. That put me in a good place to start. What also helped, my friend is great and she has great confidence in me. I bust my ass riding a lot, and I struggle with perpetual feelings of inadequacy. To the point I’ve actually been reading sport psychology books, and refuse to say “I suck” anymore. I now say “I ride well and need to improve X, Y & Z”. It might help, but like everything in life, DOING IT helps more.
I mentioned that I’d lost my confidence over fences, and was officially labeling myself as “chicken shit”, I put that on the table. I’ll mention that it had started raining as I left the farm. It was a pretty soaking rain coming down.
I was riding Bali first. She was being naughty and herd bound. Little shit. She spooked at the judges stand/spare jumps/creek…all at one end of the ring. Wench. Bali is athletic. I love her. She is a brat. I smack her, she kicks out, I smack her again, she goes forward. She squeals, she squeaks. We are riding around and she is squeaking, as she knows I’ll smack her for screaming. Hmmm…maybe time to smack her for squeaking.
After warming up and bringing her brain back to me, and not in the barn with Tanq, we started trotting into a line. Give a bit more over the fence. We did a few times, and I asked how much to give. A hunter-like climb up the neck was too much, and it was just to move my hand 3″ or so forward. Let her figure it out. Come into the line and do nothing. Too much nothing and she is on her forehand. She gets longer and lower as the line continues. I need to keep bringing the canter uphill. Perfect timing. The canter needs to be way more uphill in second and third level dressage anyway. It just makes more sense to do it when jumping.
The line became a one to a two. We kept going through it, working largely on me. Then, we did a green vertical (started as a crossrail), and she stopped…and then we proceeded from where we were, as she can go over a crossrail from a walk. That was her only time of hesitation over going over a fence. Then we added in a skinny to the vertical. We were to do it in 5, 4, 6 strides at various times through. I made it happen (thanks to Marit and recent jumping excursions at Foxcroft) but it wasn’t as pretty as it should be. So…work on making those adjustments upon landing….not the last two strides, which I’m working on, easy to say, not so easy to do.
Next we did some planks to an oxer. Also in 5 or 6 strides. Cannot remember if we did 4. I was working on keeping the uphill balance, and the letting Bali do the strides without letting her fall on her forehand and get longer and lower as we went.
She ended very nicely and Brian was kind and said I ride well and that I need to just ignore the nerves. He’s right.
My friend took her second lesson and I went back to rinse Bali and swap horses. My friend’s first horse was being very naughty and broke his door open, ACK. I quickly tossed Bali into the stall WITH Tanq (not ideal, but I knew they’d be ok) and I grabbed the naughty boy. Nobody was around, so I walked him to my trailer to get Tanq’s tack, and he was very well behaved with my stern threats of a beating for breaking a door! I found a groom and got permission to swap stalls for both the bad-boy and Bali (I didn’t want her all alone) and then tacked up and headed back to the ring.
Tanq is a rock star. All that spooky stuff at the end of the ring that Bali had conniptions for the entire ride? He bulged in a step or two at first, and was ho-hum.
Brian came out and we chatted a bit. I told him Tanq is a sale boy and I think he wants to be a hunter. So, the lesson was geared towards getting that hunter round. Smooth, powerful jump. The first line only had 2 jumps for Tanq, but the out became a very wide, low oxer, with poles set on the jump to get him very straight to the center. I dealt with my nerves, but let my old bad habit of drifting to the turn way early upon landing. I corrected that and that boy had some amazing feeling jumps. We then went to the skinny to the vertical line and worked on getting that in 5. He kept getting better at the 5, then we came around and let the 4 happen. The line was perfect. So we quit.
What a good boy Tanq was this weekend!
I hope to have pictures soon. Well, for the show. Doug & Suzy couldn’t come today because she had to go to WORK!