I’m tired but happy after a weekend where the only job I had was to drive to a place full of horses. And this morning’s drive had so many hawks and herons to enjoy that the hour flew by.
Today we were back at the Highlander Ranch in Waco for a Working Equitation dressage clinic with Doreen, who is a great clinician. Watching people work on refining their riding skills was really helpful for me. The stuff I’m learning in my lessons was reinforced very well. I guess it makes sense, because Doreen and Tarrin used to do clinics together.
I’m glad I got there in time to see more advanced people in their sessions. That shiny horse from yesterday did leg yields and side passes at a canter like a dream. but he had things to work on, too. It was nice to see Doreen as patient with absolute beginners as with the experienced riders.
I learned all about dressage patterns, which are exercises designed to showcase a horse and rider’s skill and finesse at whatever level they are at. They look for precise turns, straight lines, perfect stops, and smooth transitions.
Each rider and horse had different challenges, so it was fun to see how they worked in them. Everyone improved! It was especially cool that there was only one experienced dressage person in Sara’s group, so they were all thrilled at their progress. They’re all planning to come back!
The most interesting skills they worked on were transitioning between walk and trot and doing “half halts” to signal that something is coming up and keep the horse’s attention. They did an exercise showing how it helped stops be better. Here’s Sara doing it.
I was the only person dedicated enough to just watch this stuff, but my own horses aren’t ready for it, so I may as well learn and support my friend. By the way, Sara got a nice prize for being one of the most improved students. That had to feel GOOD!
I was very impressed with Aragorn. He was solid as a rock. He was great when they practiced the obstacles all by themselves and just super in the clinic. He paid attention and did everything he was asked. Now Sara knows he was worth his cost, and she sees the wisdom of waiting until they were good partners before doing stuff like this. Yes!
Now I can look forward to working with my guys as much as possible this week, even if it’s cold. I want to keep doing better!
Woo I’m tired, but I know who’s more tired. This guy:
I followed Aragorn and Sara up to the same facility near Waco where we first discovered working equitation, Highlander Ranch. There, he had his first clinic, and first experience off ranch since she got him. He was a trooper.
I learned a lot from the clinicians, Doreen and Kiki. I can take the ideas straight to Apache. Great ways to stay straight and do transitions, etc.
Sara and Aragorn did a great job on all the obstacles and learned how to fix any missteps.
I also enjoyed all the other horses and their riders. They ranged from a woman who had never tried the discipline but had a very willing horse to Aragorn’s breeder, who cantered everywhere.
Here’s a cool horse. He was so shiny and was so sweet, and had been abused, but you’d never know it.
We also had Trixie join us, and now she’s ready to participate, too! It was such a laid-back event, but full o’ education.
I enjoyed the facility, too. Wow they have a HUGE barn, where Aragorn got to rest after he learned his stuff.
I am so tired, though of course Aragorn and Sara are more tired. But they can be proud of themselves. Here are a few more photos. There will be more tomorrow!
I’ll take lots of videos of Sara learning dressage techniques tomorrow. I took a lot today, so she can analyze her technique to improve. I’m glad I got to tag along.
That’s right. I’d never been to a horse show until yesterday, when Sara and I returned to the beautiful McClennan Community College Highlander Ranch for a working equitation competition. Fun was had by us, and we sure learned a lot!
It was hard not to drool at all the gorgeous gaited horses, Gypsy vanners, and giant warmbloods. but, thanks to the very welcoming people at Heart of Texas Working Equitation, we did learn what was going on, what the goals of the dressage and obstacle competitions were aiming at. What fun.
We lucked out in that two really experienced women were sitting near us, and they were nice about explaining what made a good horse, what made a good rider, and the history of some of the competitors. That made it lots of fun.
Our favorite of the many great stories we heard during the day was about Pam and her gray paint/something fancy Jed. It turned out he had a year like Apache did last year, only worse. His feet were so bad that they recommended he be put down, but they managed to nurse him back to health. This was their first time in the arena since 2019 (well, they didn’t compete last year anyway, but he wouldn’t have been there).
He is such a great horse that I see why she didn’t want to lose him. He basically slept between his events, breathing so heavily on Pam that her shirt was wet. Then, when she put his bridle on, he perked up, went out, and won the obstacle course, too!
As I mentioned in my previous post, I was very happy to get to see my first Gypsy vanner horses in person. These are small but robust horses that were used to pull wagons, but also had to be very tame, because they were always around children. They are a perfect “Suna size” horse. And of course, there is the hair. The glorious hair. Brush, brush, wash wash, braid braid. Sounds like a good retirement hobby to me.
Naturally, these are really expensive horses, so I will admire them from afar. But, they are living My Little Ponies!
It was also fascinating to watch all the gaited horses, which have a different, smoother “trot” than quarter horses and most other horses. The horse looks quite busy when gaiting, but the rider is smooth as if they are sitting on a couch. I am really tempted to get one of those, since Apache has a really rough trot (one of the horses in the show did, too, and its rider was bouncing around at both trot and canter). I’m afraid I was too enthralled with the warmbloods and hair horses, so I didn’t get any photos.
I did enjoy one little quarter horse, mainly because she was such a great size. This is the one where Sara asked if she was a former brood mare, and her owner said no, she was a nightmare. But, she did pretty well considering her history of not doing much until she was older, and was a very friendly girl
It was exciting to watch the experience riders, who were on Lusitano and Andalusian horses. Those are the big ones. They are able to do all sorts of collection moves, fancy walks, snazzy trots, and things I will never do in my entire life, but are fun to watch.
The final part of the day was where they ran the course as fast as they could. That was a lot of fun. Two of the most fun were when Doreen, the woman who did yesterday’s clinic, didn’t go fast, but did the whole course as smoothly and with as few extra steps as possible. She wasn’t getting scored, because her gaucho pants had knocked over something and disqualified her in the obstacle course. She was a great example of taking one’s mistakes with grace, and showed that even the experts have mishaps.
But the most fun one to watch was a woman who raises Australian stock horses. She and her horse ran that thing like a race, and it was a hoot to watch. And in this part you are allowed to cheer. It was a great way to end the day!
I look forward to doing some of these obstacle things with Apache, if I can ever ride again, and to taking some lessons to become a better rider, even if I’d never get past the first level of this stuff!
Thanks for bearing with my horse love. I am moving on to another topic soon, I promise!
Today Sara and I went back up near Temple to watch a working equitation show. Fun? Yes. Nice people? Yes. Pretty horses? Drool. Yes. I’m just going to share two pictures of two beautiful horses. I’ll write more tomorrow.
Today Sara and I went and did something together! What? Yes! We ranch ladies went off and did a horse thing somewhere near Waco. We hadn’t done anything together since last year!
We went to a beautiful facility and audited a working equitation class. The clinician was really nice and let us stand close enough to hear her. It was tons of fun learning all the things horses and riders do in this relatively new sport in the US.
The idea is that working equitation includes aspects of cattle working from European, US, Mexican, and South American traditions. There are dressage elements (fancy horse steps), cattle working elements, finesse, and speed.
Another cool thing about it is that riders wear apparel from their own tradition. So you see all kinds of saddles, tack, and riding outfits. Some horses are big Andalusians, others are gaited horses with fancy walks and runs, while you also see quarter horses, too. Sara and I sure enjoyed all the beautiful animals and skilled riders!
My favorite of the things the students learned was picking up a pole in a barrel, snagging a ring on it and depositing it in another barrel. the gate opening task was fun, too.
I can see why Sara is interested in this sport! We learned all the patterns and figured out some of the skills we’d need to learn (me way more than Sara). Now we just need horses that are healthy and can learn with us. I still have faith in Apache.
Tomorrow we’re going to watch a show, which also will have dressage. This is all new to us cowgirls, but everyone was so nice to us, supportive of each other, and eager to learn. The horses all seemed to be having fun, and most of them were sweet animals, too.
In other news, there were more floods and rain today, but some fence work did get done. And I got to play with Vlassic much of the morning.
Another fun thing this morning was watching how curious the cows are about all the fence work. They are compelled to explore each new piece.
And the little steer has been so cute and friendly. He kept coming up and licking my hand with his rough, black tongue. I can’t wait until Haggard joins the friendly cattle (hoping that will be tomorrow, since he is officially cleared).
Anyway, despite the rain and more rain, it was a fun and educational day. Hope yours was, too.