Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Mr. Mac's Wild Ride

Well, we ventured to another show a couple weekends ago. I had signed up for the show a few weeks ago but due to the fires that were burning in that area, I waited until the last minute to decide if I'd actually go or not. The show organizer sent me a note and let me know that the winds had changed and it was clear and not smoky in the area, so I decided to go.

I should have gone the night before but I didn't. We trailered over the morning of the show and I walked Mac around a bit and he seemed fine. He's been to this place a few times now and I thought that it would be okay if we got there early in the morning. And in the beginning, it was fine. Got him settled, did some yoga and meditation, then tacked him up and warmed up for our first class. He was so good and quiet in the warmup that I offered to go in early. I spoke too soon. Just as it was my turn to go in, a certain horse (and I don't know *what* it was about that horse) caught Mac's attention and got him riled up. He was very naughty in our pre-starting around-the-arena warmup (what IS that called, anyway?) when he let out a huge buck. But then the judge rang the bell and we had to go in. The first test was very tense - he wasn't listening to my leg at all and so we were drifting sideways, he wouldn't bend through the corner, etc. All the things we had been practicing at home flew out the window. We got a 60.5% which was good for a yellow ribbon. But I didn't feel good about it.

Before the next class I did a take-no-prisoners warmup and he was GREAT! Had comments from others in the arena how cute he was and what a nice horse he was and I was so happy with how he was behaving. Things seemed to be going fine when we went in for our second test and then BAM!!!! The second half of our first canter circle was a disaster - something had caught his eye and he ran in the opposite direction and then threw a bucking fit. After getting him stopped I asked the judge where she'd like me to start. She and her scribe said "wow, I can't believe you stayed on!" She told me to do the circle again. Again I got a bucking fit, but it didn't last as long. I told her I'd withdraw from the class.

The judge was very nice and accommodating and asked if I'd like to stay in the arena to school him, so I did. Guess I shouldn't have withdrawn after all because we were able to complete the rest of the test without incident. I wouldn't have scored well, obviously, but I would have liked to get scores so I could get her feedback. Oh well. We finished. My husband was proud of me for not having a meltdown, for being a good sport and finishing, and holding my head high.

As a result, though, I realized Mac needs more work with busy stuff. His issues all seem to revolve around one of two things: mares or horses running around him (like running, not just cantering under saddle in the arena). I'm interviewing trainers to see if there's somewhere I can send him for a couple months so he can be put into situations that will trigger his outbursts and then he can learn how to work through them. I want someone close enough that I can go and work with him a couple days a week so I also can be part of the training program.

Until then, I'm suspending my dressage lessons, although I am hauling him all over the place. Next week we'll go audit a dressage camp, then we're going to go visit a friend and go trail riding, and then maybe go to a show and just hang out without showing. He needs more exposure before we put ourselves in front of another judge.

I will say I had the most lovely ride on him yesterday, so I know not all is lost!

Friday, August 3, 2012

The joys of trail riding!

The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. Wait, there is no victory in trail riding! (At least not the way I do it.) Can you tell I'm watching the Olympics?

Went on a fun trail ride in Mac's old 'hood on Monday. We rode down to a lake and then actually to his old stompin' grounds when we mistakenly went through a gate that wasn't meant for us to go through. It did seem like he recognized where we were! We went by the house of his old owner, then into the pasture where he lived when I bought him. We had some nice trotting and cantering work until a rider on a pony who was in our group decided to pass us and so Mac had to indicate his displeasure with a bucking fit! To which I promptly yelled at him to "knock it off, you little shit!" (in front of an 11-year-old) and that was the end of our cantering for the day because I was NOT going to come off in a field in the middle of nowhere on the hard ground. I may have brought the level of fun down for the rest of the group but I've got to look out for number one first (in case you couldn't tell, I'm number one).

Had a fun trail ride today by ourselves where I rode in my western saddle and looped the reins over the horn and did 99% of the ride without using my reins. I like doing fun little challenges like that on trail rides. I steered with my legs or with pressure from the whip on his shoulder; we walked, trotted, and cantered, and I did the transitions without using my reins. Then we worked on walk-trot-walk-trot transitions for a while, leg yields at the trot, and finally walk-halt-walk-halt transitions. It was really fun!

Our next goal is another schooling show in a couple weeks. I think I'm going to do Training level test 1 and 2 instead of Intro C and Training 1. My goal next year is to do rated shows at Training level, so I might as well start working on those tests now.

It is HOT here, in case you were wondering!