I’m happy that the season for horse clinics and shows has started up again, because I’d been feeling isolated and worrying that I couldn’t do much this year, since Drew isn’t quite ready to show under saddle. But hey, I have my old buddy, Apache!
He’s been blossoming, so I figured I might as well see what he can do. He did ok in a clinic last year, so I dragged him out of his dewy morning grazing and took him to a clinic with Tarrin, to see if we could do the functionality patterns and obstacles.
We were in the first group, and definitely the least experienced. And it didn’t start out well, when he decided he didn’t want to do what I asked, but after a little calming activity, he turned around! We managed to complete the functionality test just fine for our first tries. I think we had fun.
After the patterns we all tried something new, working with a flag. It’s a thing people like to do on horseback. Tarrin introduced it slowly, having us follow her while she carried the flag.
The riders whose horses who did ok with the flag then got to try carrying it and doing a figure 8. We did well, and I learned it’s hard to use your feet and hands to direct the horse while carrying a flag, so you need to use your body. What fun!
If a horse just isn’t up to being ridden, though, em riders can dismount and walk them, so they don’t forfeit the whole thing. Sully did fine with this, and there was another horse who needed this option. They can keep working on it!
Other obstacles also got worked on, different ones for each group, which grew more advanced throughout the day. We enjoyed practicing figuring out the best path between obstacles, which differs whether you’re doing the precision phase or the timed phase. We did ok. I was just happy Apache was up for 2.5 hours with me on him.
I enjoyed watching all the groups of horses and riders. You can learn a lot watching others. I also learned in the “class” part of the clinic, where Tarrin showed us things that can happen to horses that aren’t visible from the outside.
Sara was a good sport and helped demonstrate how pulling back even gently on reins makes it hard for horses to move. I had to unlearn that habit. And I’m still learning.
I’m feeling lots better about this year now. Apache and I will have fun and work to improve our skills. And maybe Drew will get to join us later. I’m sure grateful for this horse community!
Admittedly, the gray things with horsepower are quite different. But they’re both pretty.
One Horse with Power
Today was Drew’s turn to shine. He was scheduled to get filmed doing the dressage part of this quarter’s Working Horse Central virtual show. We walked over to Sara’s lovely arena that she made all by herself. I had to bring a bag with my show boots, show shirt, number and a drink, along with Drew’s show lead and little crop. The only problem was the heat. i was already dripping from grooming Drew and cleaning the former concrete out of his feet. Thankfully, it was dewy this morning, so each foot was packed with mud, not concrete!
I wrote up every detail of our dressage pattern in my horse journal, so I’ll just summarize here. He did a GREAT job this time, not perfect, but with much improvement. I also did better with my posture and not going so fast.
I didn’t go too fast trotting, and Drew even got through the right circle at a reasonable pace and only one attempt to bite my hat. No doubt my circles weren’t even, but we did better! Yay us!
After our two minutes of glory, it was time for Sara’s horses. It’s been a lot of fun watching Sully get better and better. I’m so proud of how hard Sara has worked with her.
Of course, Aragorn did great. Well, it wasn’t like it was a walk in the park getting ready for it! His feet are doing so much better, and he didn’t cough once during the pattern. It is so fun to watch the two of them (Saragorn) work together. They have also come a long way in their partnership.
Sara has also come a long way in her show outfits. These guys are so coordinated now, with navy and tan, along with her Wild Type Ranch logo. They’re sharp! I, on the other hand, could not find my belt anywhere. So, I am wearing a yellow bungee cord that accentuates my “full figure” oh so well. Where was my belt? Right next to the boots I DID find.
I enjoyed watching the horses interact with each other when it wasn’t their turn, or when we were getting ready. There’s a lot of gray horsepower among these three! Horse heaven!
Before you get the idea that all this horse stuff is positive progress and great behavior, I must share that when we set out to leave, Drew was having nothing of walking quietly beside me. He was, I guess, jumpy, or jittery. So, I had to stop and get him to trot in circles for a while, to try to focus him. He was having none of THAT, either, and began trotting weirdly, coming in way too close to me, and not going the direction he was asked to go in. I channeled my inner #TarrinMadeMeDoIt and kept stopping and starting him over and over. There were kicks and bucks followed by severe words coming from me. I did great, never lost my temper, and got him a little calmer.
Still, walking down the narrow alley of trees didn’t go great. He was rushing and crowding me. So. Much. Discipline. My arm was killing me by the time we got to the barn. He was not feeling inner peace. BUT. After a bit of a rest in the shade, we headed home. Who was this horse? We had a perfectly pleasant calm, slow, walk where I barely had to hold on to the lead rope. I do wonder what was going on in that boy’s head!
355 Horsepower Grayness
So, Lee’s Tahoe has been giving him some trouble. It is now living at the dealership getting its troubles dealt with. He decided to replace it and get a mobile office. That’s more easily said than done, but I will summarize by saying that something of a reasonable size and the power to tow the horse trainer will be ordered as soon as the dealer gets an “allotment” and customized in some number of months. That way he can drive me to horse lessons and then stay and work. This is all great, but doesn’t replace the Tahoe right now. Lee didn’t have to ask twice when he wanted me to go look at cars. I love car shopping.
So, he looked for a comfortable vehicle that would tow the trailer if needed and be nice for our travels. That was getting frustrating until someone returned a rental vehicle to the dealership that was not too big, not too small…just right.
Anyway, I don’t think I’ve ever sat in such a comfortable seat in a car, and the back seat has enough leg room for very large people. And there’s a huge trunk for carrying bags of horse feed. Oh wait, it’s for Lee. It doesn’t have adaptive cruise control, but otherwise is crammed with safety features. I hope it works out. I, of course, like the ambient lighting that changes colors and the pretty covers on the speakers.
I am glad I don’t have to drive back and forth to College Station every day now that the Lee’s Gleemobile is here (it’s a GLE 350). I’ll also feel a lot safer in a vehicle that doesn’t randomly die as you’re driving along. And, I got to enjoy lots of time in my car, which I am not giving up yet, plus got crocheting done.
That’s my story. Fancy used car deal complete. And before you think I’m being snooty by getting a Mercedes, it was less than the Tahoe or other American cars that fit our needs.
And hey, I didn’t get this one, though I tried to convince Anita that’s what Lee picked. Red seats. Convertible. Giant engine. MMM. Do well on ranch roads? Nope.
While it’s been rather rainy and my work has been eating into my horse time (work funds the horses), I’ve had time to make progress with my beautiful, dapple gray teenager, Drew (or Andrew or Droodles).
While there hasn’t been any cantering and jumping (blame mud), there has been a lot of other stuff to work on, and I’m proud of his progress and mine.
I’m working on keeping his trot and my jog both slow and steady when we are in hand. It’s improved! We are also practicing side passing and other walk-level activities.
But mostly I’ve been spending time with him and the others, just enjoying the day. It’s paid off!
Yesterday it dried out enough to go to Sara’s and practice obstacles for the next couple of shows. We skipped a clinic this weekend because they are hard to do in the ground and I had no driver. Rainy times are not ideal for trailer pulling practice!
The highlight was actually the walk between our place and hers. He was much calmer than in previous trips, and we practiced stopping, starting, transitioning to trot, and staying in synch. We had fun!
He got distracted by long grass and other horses once we arrived, but did pretty well practicing. Since I’m just out to enjoy the shows and just trying to improve our skills, I think he will be fine.
We are trotting much calmer if I just concentrate on it. There’s just so much to remember! What obstacle is next, how to do it right, what side of him I need to be on, whether he’s trotting or not, blah blah. More than my ancient mind can do all at once. So I’ll just have fun!
That was a pep talk for me. In any case, it’s great to see Sully and her improvement, and to enjoy her and Sara working together.
I also took pictures of Sara and her new mat for standing horses on while working with their feet. It’s just the right size! I enjoy doing horse stuff together like we used to.
Droodles gets a break today, as the plan is to ride Apache with Sara on either of her grays. Sully is still working on going forward. Aragorn’s feet are looking well enough he may not need his shoes for a while! Good job to all who worked on his feet!
This morning Sara and I took advantage of the cooler morning temperatures to film the second part of Drew and Sully’s in-hand virtual show. She was going to do Aragorn, too, but he lost one of his fancy shoes that is fixing his foot issue. Tarrin spent a lot of time on that shoe, and showed Trixie how she did it, but horses get into stuff! They’ll get it fixed. But for today, she could not film Aragorn and ride with her new saddle. Boo.
We both agreed that setting it up was a lot more work than anticipated. I really appreciate that Sara has a dressage arena set up on her part of the ranch and has kept it so nice. It’s a lot of effort, not to mention scooping poop and arranging all the other stuff we’d need. For my part, I had to bring both Drew and my stuff from my house. It’s too close to trailer him, but far enough that pulling the wagon with my stuff in it was hard. Drew, though, did fine walking beside the wagon.
I’d hoped that walking over to the dressage arena would be enough warm up for Drew, but I don’t think it was. He ended up being a bit “spirited” when we tried to do the patterns the first couple of times. Once he pushed himself out of the arena boundary (BZZT – disqualified), and the other time, he pushed me all over the place when we were trotting and just didn’t seem to want to turn left, sort of like that model in the movie who could only turn one way.
I did a lot better than yesterday, though, and kept calm. It helped that I got rid of some of the distractions. For one thing, I wore different boots, which were more comfortable and less slippery. Sara let me wear her hat that has a string on it, because the wind kept blowing mine off. And I figured out a way to deal with attaching our number, even though I apparently left my actual number in Sara’s tack room. Geez.
Luckily, after getting the pattern down, Sara set off with Sully and did a spectacular job on the pattern, PLUS the video software thing worked and caught it all. Winner! She trotted so calmly and did the backing up part perfectly, after not doing it well at all every time she practiced. Yay, she came through when she needed to. What a gal! She’s only had four lessons, so she is both an easy-to-train Andalusian and has had great work done by Sara. Trixie, who owns her, should be so proud!
After being tied up to the truck and watching Sully (and looking chastised), Drew and I tried again. I used his regular halter this time, and maybe that helped. He did a GREAT job on his pattern the last time. I was so proud of him. Our mistakes are mostly things we aren’t good at yet, but otherwise, he did well and so did I. I talked to him and that may have helped, too.
We both ended up with smiles on our faces and felt like the hard work was worth it. Teamwork made the dreamwork as we helped each other and encouraged our gray beauties to do their best.
I’m glad the next show is indoors, however. And of course, I am very grateful for all the support from our extended equine community and our families, which allows us to have this fun.
Today Sara and I took Drew and Sully, the mare she is training while waiting for her to get pregnant, over to Tarrin’s to film the obstacles test for the Q2 Working Horse Central show. We were ready for fun!
It went pretty well, other than Sara’s first video failing. Luckily Sully did just as well the second time. She’s learned so quickly! And it’s beautiful to watch her trot.
Drew did okay. He started out refusing to do the figure 8, which confused me, because he hardly ever refuses to walk with me. Then he got better until he fell down heading into the slalom! I did the right thing by checking on him.
It got better after that and he did fine on the other parts. Tarrin said his jump was beautiful. That made up for the other parts.
It was a good experience except I got all upset with myself for not leading Drew well enough and that he fell. Normally I’d be fine but you know, it’s been a hard week.
Also, since I get overheated so easily, I gave up trying to do a second take. It’s just like an in-person show, you lead the horse that showed up and accept the performance. Tomorrow we do the Functionality test. Maybe this time we will do better on that! If not, we will learn things and know what else to work on.
Back at home we are all happy and eating dinner. Life’s good if you are one of our horses!
Lots got done here, too. Both the Hen House and the Suna Shack got latches to hold the doors open, and lots got done of the living space for Lee’s brother (no photos yet).