Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Before I forget

One of the reasons I started blogging was to chronicle my Wednesday night lessons so I could look back and review what I had learned. The other day I wanted to do a drill that I have done many times with TL and I couldn't for the life of me remember all the intricacies. I came back to my blog and looked to see if I had written it out and of course I hadn't. So tonight I asked TL to go over one more time and she was gracious enough to indulge me. Here it is.

Loping from one corner to the other, round the corner and lope down to the other corner (diagonally - think a rubber band). This gives you a little more distance then just loping straight across. Get a good cadence in the lope where the horse is relaxed and moving well. When you are going along nicely start to push your horse up in the bridle and then release. Make sure not to let the horse dive into the corners. Make sure that if the horse speeds up you make them slow back down by making a small circle until the pace is back where you want it. Continue to lope, and push into the bride, and release, make the corner, lope, push into the bridle, and release. When you are able to do this really smoothly you can ask to push the hip into the inside. Make sure that they are straight or a little bit arched to the inside when they are moving the hip to the inside. Ask for a step or two and release. Eventually you are going to ask for a lead change. After you move the hip to the inside you are going to take your outside leg off and put your inside leg on and ask for the change. If they change you let the fence stop them.

We also worked backing circles. I need to remember to release faster, keep the body arched to the direction I am pushing the hip towards keep the shoulder up. Use both moving the shoulder and the hip to achieve backing nice circles.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Spoiled rotten

I am so spoiled. By my family, my friends, my employer but most of all by Semper. I swear this horse has ruined me. Spoiled me rotten. Let me explain. Semper is the kind of horse that says things like "What can I do to make you happy" & "whatever you want me to do, I'll try my hardest". He rarely has one of those moments that he thinks that it isn't worth his time to try. When you get after him he just melts. He is crushed. He is a pleaser.

Ms Lily on the other hand is a real piece of work. She has absolutely no attention span. No patience and a real "know it all" attitude. She can be going along just fine and then something will catch her attention and she shuts off quicker than a light switch. I have been riding her at least 4 days a week. I started out just doing simple things and not asking to much of her. Each ride I would expect a little more and basically I would get it. But what I noticed is that other things would fall apart. She would not want to lead. She would not want to back. She would not want to move off my leg. Things she knows how to do, but for some unknown reason would decide that today she didn't know how to get them done. She would complete whatever it was I was asking for but then not want to lead like a lady back to the barn. Or she would have done really nice leg yields at the first part of our ride and then all of a sudden - nothing. I was kind of letting it go thinking that it was just her loosing focus. Maybe it was too much for her all at once. I rode her in a lesson and she was doing really well two tracking and then just quit. She saw something shiny and she was gone. Got really pushy and just didn't want to work anymore. I ask her again to move off my leg and she just pushed me right back. I told her with a gentle bump of my spur "get over there" - again nothing. I jabbed her with my spur - nothing. Then I just went to town on her. I took my foot out of my stirrup and just kicked the crap out of her and she finally gave me one small step. I stopped and waited. Then gently asked again, then told her and she moved. I let her stop again and then gently asked again and she moved. She went the other way fine. Brain back on. The next night I wanted to take her for a walk to cool her off. She literally did not want to lead. She would drag behind, shake her head, and then when I asked her to put a move on it, she would run into me. I felt as though I was pulling a ton of bricks up hill. So here we go again. I went and got a lunge whip and asked her to stay with me. She ran into me again. Nothing infuriates me more than to have a horse run into me. And she knew exactly what she was doing. So she gets a lesson in leading that took about 20 minutes of my time to get her back to being lady like.

Here is the thing, she is an alpha female. She is very herd dominate and will fight for position when in the herd. I know that. With this horse I can never let any little thing go. Fix it right then and there. She doesn't give a darn if I am happy or not. All she cares about is if SHE is happy. She thinks she is the boss and when I let something go, I am reinforcing her belief that she is the boss. I hate these types of relationships. She is a tough little horse and she will take a lot before she says uncle. I leave the barn feeling like all I ever do is get after her. She is getting better with every ride, but because of the constant struggle with her I wasn't feeling successful. I hear TL in my head telling me "to ride the horse I am on" "raise your expectations" and "this is going to make you a better rider". I sure hope she is right. This constant battle of wills is tough. I wonder if she will ever concede that I am the boss and want to please or is this just how our relationship is going to be?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Show of Champions

When I went to the first reining show at SCR where I board the show secretary asked me if I wanted to go to the Show of Champions in Oct. I asked her what the deal was and she said that CA State Horsemens Assn. hosts a final show every year where the top 10 riders in each discipline qualify for this special show with lots of prizes etc. Being as it was my first year I told her that I didn't think that I would need to worry about going. She said that there weren't going to be 10 reiners from our district and so she was sure that if I wanted to go, I would qualify. O.K. then. It was an extra $25 bucks so I paid it and went on about my merry business. I figured what the heck, if I qualified, I did, and if not it was a $25 donation to a worth while group. In August I got a package with all the info and entries for the "Show of Champions" (SOC). I looked at it and put it away for another couple of weeks to mull it over. It was at a very nice, very large facility about an hour and a half away from home. The reining was on Friday night at 6pm so it was totally doable for me. I decided to go. I got the stuff out and started to fill out the forms but the class list was missing out of my package. I called the show secretary and she sent one over to me and suggested that I call my area representative. I called a very nice and informative lady named Lisa and she walked me through all the forms and classes. She said that this was the first year they were offering Performance Halter and that I should entry. I haven't shown halter in years. Like 30 years. But again, it was $25 and it was for a good cause and in August is seemed like a good plan.

Last Thursday I went out to the barn washed Semp and fitted him as best as I knew how. Friday morning we load all my stuff and we are off. We get down to the venue and the first of the performance halter classes is being called. They had so many horses entered that they broke it into age groups (by exhibitor). I would be in the last of 5 classes - 35 and older. I am o.k. with that. How many old timers could there be right? I start to panic and get butterflies while watching the 14 - 17 year olds. Man are these kids good. And the quality of horses is pretty amazing. 18 - 35 just got tougher. Now I am thinking I should scratch. My husband and daughter coaxed me into "just doin' it". I am still thinking it is going to be a small class. There were 20. The cute little butterflies in my stomach had now become fire breathing dragons tap dancing on my intestines. I waited to be the last horse in the ring. I knew Semp was never going to stand patiently for any length of time. He wouldn't be bad but he would gawk around and nibble on my shirt or want to smell me or something equally as ridiculous. He decides that the chain on my lead made a nice sound if he hit it with his chin - repeatedly - over and over and over. The more noise it made the faster his head would bounce. It was annoying to say the least. The judge comes by and I swear she snickered. I was doomed. I knew that conformationally he is correct. He has nice movement and he kind of looks like a halter horse. I kept telling myself that as long as I didn't go to the bottom of the class I would survive this humiliation. They called first place and it was a really nice young paint horse. They called second place and it was Semper! Go figure. He redeemed himself of the entire chain lipping, banging incident and made me proud.

We had a hour or so wait till our reining classes. I had decided that no matter what I was going to pamper the crap out of this horse at this show to see if it made a difference in his behavior. Boy did it ever. He is such an attention whore. He got treats all day, my daughter brushed and loved on him all day. I even caught my husband loving on him a little. I let him smell me, and nose me, and rub on me and make some new friends. I let every little kid, grandma and dog within a 1 mile radius love on him. He was in heaven. When the time came to do our first pattern he was ready to go. He probably thought that all those people in the stands were there to see him. He tried really hard and did a nice job. We had trouble with our stops but everything else flowed nicely and he wasn't pushy or cranky. We ran three patterns and got third all three times. And yes, there were more than 3 in the classes! I was happy with the way the day went and had a great time. After my last run we loaded up and headed home. Fifteen minutes in to our drive home a friend called me and says "hey where are you? you won a buckle!". Won what? He said that I had won reserve or champion or something. HUH??? No way. Another lady had won two of the classes and placed 2nd in another - how could I have won anything? Welllll..... folks, it was that halter class. She showed in it but didn't place. The points from the halter class put us ahead of her by one point for the 18 and over SOC Reining Champion. I have mixed emotions about winning based on the point system and not on the reining alone. I am very proud of Semper and myself (remember those fire breathing dragons in my gut)for doing so well over all. But I don't want to slight another rider who clearly kicked my butt in the reining! She was a great rider and was truly the "reining" champion.