Monday, March 16, 2015

Rocky Mountain Horse Expo: Saturday

Saturday dawned bright and early for me. I was wide awake at 5:12. And couldn't go back to sleep. I got up and walked the dogs, cleaned the patio, and got myself some breakfast. That was when I had both time and energy to post my Thursday blog. J woke up about 8 and came downstairs. I convinced her to stay home for the early part of the day. I needed to run out to the barn and pick up some more hay (always bring more than you expect to use, since really all your horse has to do is stand and eat).

Plus, I wanted to run by work and grab a package that was waiting for me. I have been watching for a good deal on a mounting block for a while. Schnieders ran a special on a step/tack box for $29.99, down from $69.99. I ordered one in grey and it had been delivered to my office on Thursday. That one step is all I need to be able to mount without dragging my horse over sideways, although I did mount from the ground and from the panel fence in the warm up arena several times over the weekend. It worked perfectly and I love the nifty little grooming box in the bottom. It is going to be perfect for trail rides.

I got back to the house a little after ten, grabbed the coolers and kissed every one goodbye, then headed to the barn. J and T would hang out for a couple of hours and make their way to the barn about 2ish or so. I took Ashke out and hand walked him around outside. A train came by and it was pretty fun to watch the three horses out there trotting in circles around their handlers as the noise of the train ebbed and flowed. There was one woman walking up and down with a completely calm and disinterested horse. I remembered Black Beauty and how the young horses were housed in a field right next to a train to desensitize them to the noise. We did not reach that place over the weekend. Ashke does not like trains.

After the train, I took him up to the round pen and let him frolick in the sunshine for 20 minutes or so. He reared and kicked, tore around like a mad horse and otherwise stretched his legs. I walked him back inside when he was done, and spent another half hour or so washing the green from his legs and hip. He sure looked pretty afterwards.

The classes were running about 30 minutes late, so I started getting Ashke groomed about the time J and T showed up. T said hi to Ashke and then he and J went and wandered around. I got Ashke into the warm up pen about 3:15 and was ambling around when CS and her second-niece (SN) showed up on their horses, plus Stacy, another rider from the WE group on Friday afternoon. We had two grey horses and two bays. We started playing follow the leader (one of my favorite games) with two sets of grey and bays. I followed behind C O and Stacy followed behind Cruizer, and I was laughing to myself as we trotted patterns around the other horses in the warm up arena. It is much more difficult than you might imagine to trot next to a horse and follow a pair fairly closely. It was good practice for Ashke to have to collect his trot enough to maintain his gait while not running up the back of C O.

CS and SN did a great job of staying next to each other in the pattern, while myself and Stacy had a bit of an issue with maintaining our spacing. I'm not sure if her little bay Andalusian was tired or fractious, or if they just didn't feel comfortable next to Ashke. Anyway, it was fun and gave me some ideas about an act next year for the Mane Event. We shall see if either pan out.

The clinic on Saturday was lateral work, which was a lot of fun. We started with sidepassing over a pole in both directions. Ashke was a little sticky at first moving from left to right and J said his right leg was twisting under him. I need to make sure we are working on this at least a couple of times during our rides in the arena. Then we moved to the L shaped poles for sidepass. This requires a turn on the haunches at one corner (going in one direction) or a turn on the forehand (going the other direction). By this time Ashke was fairly warm and moved easier in both directions. Then TJ added a third pole and made it Z shaped. That requires a turn on the forehand and a turn on the haunches in the same element. Ashke did it really well.

After the pole work, we moved to the lateral work between poles. There were two poles with a cup that was to be moved from one pole to the other. At first the poles were  horse width apart. The cup could be picked up and moved from one to the other while the horse stands quietly. (Standing quietly is not Ashke's forte.) Then as the horse advances, the poles get wider apart. At the final width, we were to canter in and pick up the cup, sidepass to the other pole, set the cup on top and then canter away. Ashke was awesome about cantering up, stopping, moving sideways to the other pole and then the beast would not stand still. He was anticipating the canter away and got fractious. (Have you see Tin Cup? Where Kevin Costner decides he can make the swing and takes like 30 strokes to finally land the ball where he said he could? It was like that, only with the horse.) TJ explained to the audience that Ashke knew he would be asked to canter away and was excited/anxious to get moving and since we were training and not showing, I was doing the right thing in making him stand still. He finally stopped moving his feet and I made a big deal about him holding still, then sent him away at a canter. I have mentioned that he loves the speed round, right?

At that point I think we were all done with moving sideways. TJ asked if we wanted to work on any of it any more and we all didn't answer. Then CS made the suggestion that we work on the jump (which is a legit obstacle) since there were jumps in the arena already. TJ jumped on the idea and headed over to set one up. I glared at CS, who was laughing and trying to tell TJ it was a joke. I got called to try the jump, which was set at 24". We trotted up, Ashke stopped right over the jump, with his head down and ears pointed. I was staring at the jump as well (laugh all you want you hunter/jumper people - we are not jumpers) and then he leaped the jump like a deer. I managed to stay with him and kept my hands forward so I didn't catch his mouth. However, I caught about two feet of air between me and the saddle at the high point of that jump and J said her heart was in her throat. T said he was ready to come rescue me from the dirt of the arena. I didn't feel like I was in danger of coming off, but I did know I had been jumped out of my saddle.

TJ lowered the vertical to a cross rail and everyone took turns. Ashke and I jumped it three or four times, but we never really got better. It is something to work on.

That was the end of our ride on Saturday. Ashke got brushed out, untacked and tucked away with a bucket of carrots and TC Senior. J, T and I made our way over to our favorite food place at the Stock Show and ate hamburgers and fries for dinner. After dinner, we headed back to get seats for the Mane Event. I wanted to be sure to sit in the middle where I could really see the acts, rather than on the end.

The first act was the Dance of the Garroucha. CS, AM and TJ rode with 13' long garroucha poles. It was beautiful and great to watch. AM was riding the garroucha dance for only the second time with Shiloh, her Arabian mare, who had not trained or practiced for the event at all. I thought they all did a great job and it was wonderful to watch. I would love to get good at handling the garroucha and doing all of the patterns with it.

The other part of the event that impressed the hell out of me were the Icelandic ponies. There were eight Icelandic ponies and their riders in a group. They spent their time doing the Tolt, which was impressive enough to watch, but at the very end two of them did the Flying Pace, which propels them at speeds up to 35 mph. It was amazing and I feel madly in love with their furry little selfs.

After the wonderful Mane Event show, we said good night and took ourselves home after making sure the boy was tucked in with yummy treats and plenty of food. He was dozing in a corner when we left. I was so tired I let J drive us home. A shower and I fell into bed face first, asleep before I hit the mattress.

1 comment:

  1. I just realized I put the comments for two different posts into one post, the previous one!

    I've heard that a lot of Arabs tend to jump like deer, especially when first being introduced to jumps, with all 4 feet leaving the ground at once. It can be very difficult to ride, so kudos to you for sticking Ashke's deer leap! :)

    You do a fantastic job explaining all of the maneuvers taught during the clinic; it is so easy to imagine!