Sunday, September 20, 2009

Horse show today!

Does anyone else do this? I am constantly amazed that I can barely drag myself out of bed for work every day, yet practically skip out of bed before the sun is up for horse shows.

We're showing today, but not til the end of the day, and I don't want to tire myself out too much, so I've sat myself down in front of the computer for a bit to catch up on the blogs and emails I've been neglecting this week (whew! busy week!). I swear, I have to treat myself like a five-year-old on horse show days.

We had a fantastic lesson yesterday so I feel really good about today. We finally had nice weather this week so we got to use the outdoor ring. Alicia schooled Tucker on Friday so he was really good yesterday, quiet and relaxed but forward. And we got our lead changes! I'm happy to say that some of the jumps yesterday were 3' and they looked less like the Puissance Wall to me. I'm trying to remember that Tucker's the one that has to jump them, not me. 3' is really a piece of cake for him, but I'm cantering up to and I swear, I hear Piglet's voice in my head... "P-p-p-pooh? Th-th-th-that looks awfully big..." So, I just stare up at the trees and try to do nothing. I should hum a little tune or something.

I'm working really hard on not interrupting his chain of thought three strides out from the jump. It's somewhat of a miracle to me. My horse is actually thinking for himself. My whole life it has been drilled into me that I had to "find the distance" or that the great riders have a "good eye." Alicia is opening up a whole new world for me, a world where Tucker finds his own distance, and I just stay out of his way. If I can just master the art of doing nothing, it could get really easy. In fact, when I do manage to do nothing, it is really easy. It has got to be one of the coolest feelings in the world when you see that you're going to have to add and realize that your horse is well aware of that fact, already a step ahead of you, collecting his stride all by himself and making the distance work out perfectly. (Really? He can do that? He is a wunderkind!!)

The funny thing is, Alicia can see that I'm trying to force myself not to do anything (she says I'm trying to resist "micromanaging" him -- it's the perfect term). I have this whole crazy dialog with myself from the time I come out of the corner til the time he leaves the ground... "Okay, this is a good canter. Wait? Is it a good canter? I think it is. Maybe not. Okay too late to change it, go with this canter. Does he see something? He does, leave him alone. Wait? Really? Are we going to get there? Close my leg? Add? No, stop it! Don't change anything! Sit still! [Tucker jumps the 3' oxer without batting an eyelash despite his mother's schizophrenia.] Okay, that wasn't bad. Good boy." And so on, and so on.

So today's goal is to take what we learned in the last month or so and apply it. That is: Get a nice canter rhythm and focus on the rhythm (I count 1-2-3-4 the entire way around the course. As I mentioned, I'm five). If I need the lead change, send his hind end forward with my seat and leg, keep the hand soft so he doesn't pull himself through the change and instead reaches under himself from behind. Sit closer to him in the corner as I approach the jump to keep him balanced. Then on the way to the jump, elevate my hands, stretch up tall, stare up at the treeline and try to do absolutely nothing. Nice soft release with my hands, keep my weight down in my heels and my leg forward, and let him jump up to me instead of throwing my body at him.

We have a plan. Now to execute it. And, to find black yarn. To be continued...


  1. Good luck at the show! Your trainer sounds great - focussed on all the right things. Rhythm is so key - to everything we do with our horses. By the way, how's Julie doing?

  2. So, next time I am home in NJ, I want to come out to meet you and Tucker. Not in a creepy blogger-stalker way but in an "I HAVE to meet this girl who thinks EXACTLY like I do about jumping and riding", hahahaha (my parents live in Basking Ridge, I/my sister used to board at High Brass w/Liz Perry). Ok, back to the post...I enjoy reading your blog because I too feel like most 3 foot obstacles look about a foot larger than they really are when I'm on my horse (I always go up to look at the fences after my lesson and shake my head in wonder that I was NERVOUS about jumping them), I also struggle to stay out of the way 3 strides out and for the record, I sing Frosty the Snowman, it has a nice rhythm to it that forces you to stay just cant speed that song up and have it sound right, plus in the middle of summer it makes you smile to be singing something so ridiculous to yourself and you then relax a little, well at least I do :P

  3. Haha! You're not a blogger-stalker! You should definitely come out and meet Tucker and me. Small world, of course I know Liz Perry's place. I will have to try your Frosty the Snowman trick next time, that is really funny!


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