dancing horses

dancing horses

Monday, September 2, 2019

The No Goal Show Recap

I was going to write this post tomorrow but it turns out that I cannot sleep (thanks menopause) so I thought that it might settle my whirling brain if I put some of these thoughts out of my head and onto my blog.
Good Lord Woman, do you ever stop? 
Friday:
The trip was easy and I settled Carmen into her stall. Her neighbour, Suzi was instantly in love. Unfortunately Carmen did not have the same thoughts.

Suzi: but I'm lovable, everyone says so
Carmen: no. you are not. GO AWAY

I had arranged a lesson with Shanea in the show ring (you can pay for 30 minute intervals). Carmen was really really good. She settled into work and it was a great lesson. A couple bobbles (let's face it- it is us after all) but nothing major and we had some really solid work. 

Saturday:
I didn't ride until mid afternoon which gives lots of time to fret. 

Except I didn't fret at all. Instead I walked Carmen around to let her move, watched some beautiful horses and their riders do some tests and chatted with friends. It felt a lot like camping. About an hour before my ride I took Carmen into the warm up ring and she kind of lost her mind. There were a couple spots she was freaking out about. One was a partially open door, except it wasn't the door. There was a gatorade bottle on the ledge by the door shining in the light. Another spot was this small window that was open on the side of the indoor ring. Carmen was so freaked out by this window that I asked someone to close it for me. Someone also moved the water bottle. Things were better but not great. 

Still I felt pretty ready going into to do my test. And in the show ring Carmen was way better and we laid down a pretty solid test (for us). A couple errors but still, the most consistent we've been. 


I do not recall my score and I'm too lazy to get it out of the truck right now but it was in the low 60's (I think around 64). I thought it felt a bit like a train wreck but other people assured me that it looked good and after watching the video I see a lot that I like. (however, stay tuned for the train wreck). 

I let her have a small break in her stall and then took her back out the warm up. There were still a few freaky spots for her but we worked through them and put in our next test that felt more consistent to me. We scored about the same. 



I will likely review the tests in detail later on this blog (or maybe not) but the judges comments were positive and very encouraging. My favourite was 'tactfully ridden' for one of my 10 m circles. 

That night a bunch of us from the show went out to dinner and had a grand time talking about horses, the show, more horses, cats, horses etc. There may have even been a bit of dancing to a local band. Carmen's antics in the warm up ring were bugging me though so I asked Shanea if she could give me a  lesson the next morning in the warm up ring. I wanted Carmen to realize that she needed to work there and then just let her rest until it was time for the test. 

Sunday:
The next morning was much like the one before except that I had a lesson booked in the morning. I'm so glad I did that because it was so good. Shanea really helped me to figure out how to keep Carmen on task and not kill any other riders. Which was the thing really getting me tense- I didn't care about her antics. I'm used to them. But I didn't want to careen into another rider or freak out their horse when they are trying to get ready for their show. This time there was a coffee cup on the ledge (the horror!) that had her freaked out. Someone moved it but honestly, it could have been anything. Sometimes she's tense and looking for something to fixate on. AT the start of the lesson she was for sale for about $10. At the end she had raised in value to about $40. After about 40 minutes I put Carmen away feeling satisfied that we had worked through her things. 

Shanea and I agreed that a 30 minute warm up before my first test in the morning should be fine given the work she did in the morning. That turned out to be a mistake. Carmen came into the warm up ring and had, apparently, forgotten all the work of the morning. She was spooky in the same spots and doing her spontaneous canter pirouettes. Before I knew it they were calling us to the ring. 

I went in hoping for the best and fearing the worst. 

IWhen we came in she was tense and looking around. She saw spectators in the blue bleachers and kind of lost her mind over them. The judge gave me a little time to show her that they were fine and then rang the bell. 

t was a total and utter train wreck. 

The fun starts at about the 2:25 mark. There's a table she's looking at just outside the ring. It had been there every other time she went in but either she saw it or decided that it was now acting suspiciously.  Then at about 2:59 she spiralled in an and tried to run away from the people in the bleachers. I circled her back and we dealt with that. I am proud that I stayed sitting up and then got her back to canter to carry on. We survived the rest of the test but I knew that it was basically about getting to the end. We scored in the low 50's.

I thought about scratching the next test.

Instead I took her back to the warm up ring and spent the 45 minutes before my next test riding my horse. And I mean riding. I was taking no guff from her at this point. Jane was also in riding her warm up (you may recall that Jane is my Yoda, often appearing when I need her the most to give some words of wisdom). This time Jane say Carmen sucking back behind the contact and getting tighter and tighter. 'make her heavy' she said. What she meant was to push Carmen into the contact so I had something to work with. It really helped. Every time Carmen sucked back I booted her forward.

Honestly, letting her suck back seems to be the root of a lot of my problems. I don't mind letting her hesitate if there there is something worrying her, but at some point we need to move forward.

I went in determined to school the crap of out my final test. I didn't care if I fell off. I do not think that there is video (if I find some I will share it). But I did exactly what I intended. I kept a short rein and my legs on. They never came off. She tried one deke but I took a firmer hold of the outside rein and booted her back. For our last canter lengthen I sat up through the corner and put my leg on. let's go I said, we'll worry about the corner when we get there. Carmen pinned her ears but went.  It felt like we did a hand gallop down the side.

She was a hot mess and tense and broke a few times but our score was a 60. Again the judges comments were encouraging and she wrote to not get discouraged, just keep working away.

My friends and fellow competitors were so encouraging to me that they kept me going. By now a few things are clear to me:


  • Carmen is consistently difficult on the third day of a show or clinic. I think it's because of not being turned out and an excess of energy. 
  • Carmen needs an hour warm up. There's no point in trying to 'conserve' her at this point in her training. I need to work her and, hopefully, with time she'll understand the job better. 
  • Things can go to crap and I am still sitting up. This is huge for me. 
  • Carmen still believes that submission is a thing to be negotiated. And I don't mind being tactful but she doesn't get to say no. Can someone explain that to her please? Thanks. 

Despite how it all ended, I did have a lot of fun at the show. I think it would have been worse had I set goals because I wouldn't have met them. Instead, I dealt with what I had.

keep calm and canter on
 (photo from saturday, PC J. Scrimger)


27 comments:

  1. You definitely had your sticky butt breeches on!
    Oh Carmen. She just can't make it easy for you, can she? Good job on going back in for the last test and getting a better score.

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    1. I love my Fits breeches. :D
      Thank you for that. I am glad that I went as well.

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  2. It’s so hard to feel all that energy under you and still keep leg on and push for forward. It goes against all instincts. My own trainer has been working on me doing this and it has made all the difference. Good on you for going back in and getting it done. Carmen will learn.

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    1. It is really hard to do that! Especially when I worry that she's going to boing around like a ping pong ball. But I am trying. And yes she will learn. It's her turn, I've learned enough, lol!

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  3. She looks like she was pretty tough to deal with but you did it! I'd be proud of myself just for that. The more she gets out to shows the better she'll probably be. She's a little stubborn but sooner or later she'll figure out it's easier on everyone if she just listens and behaves and does her job. It will come, hang in there, you did a good job with her.

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    1. I've bene waiting for her to figure out that it's easier to listen. I know that we will get there.

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  4. Good for you for sticking with it and making keen observations about Carmen! You are in a totally different space than you were last year. <3

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    1. I think that we are in a new space too. I'm glad that it's not just me.

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  5. I'm glad you had fun despite the issues. Good job getting after her and hopefully she'll figure out not fighting you all the time.

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    1. I suspect that she will always be dramatic. I just keep chipping away at things.

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  6. First of all, I am LOVING how you handled all of that. You look so tall, stable, and ooze Zen-Ninja vibes! It's like, no matter what the horse beneath you is doing, you're calm and collected and sitting tall and proud <3 Despite it not going the way you intended, there is so much good stuff here.

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    1. I wasn't feeling very zen like inside, I can tell you that! Thank you for that!

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  7. You did awesome with Carmen, and really got her mind back in the game and kept her working. When they decide to be scared about something, they can continue it on forever, but that didn't happen in your case.

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  8. Oh Carmen... so many feelings. Good for you for being a great rider and pushing her through all of the antics. I think they expect us to let them get away with stuff in the show ring, and sometimes you have to be willing to sacrifice a class to let them know that you are still in charge. Great job!

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  9. I think you took a lot of great positive steps and did some good reframing of your situation and took charge. Really great takeaways

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    1. Thank you. I’m learning to reframe things to seek a positive outcome.

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  10. Oh man I know the feeling! But still you had 3 quite good tests, and another one that was a learning experience. And sounds like a fun and productive weekend!

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  11. I love your gritty determination in light of a difficult situation. It's so admirable! Your takeaways from everything are so spot-on. And that sitting up! Damn, lady. Well done!

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  12. I think you guys are doing so well! You had one bad test out of four if my math is correct. Even professionals with eons of practice have bad days. Horses are horses and they have generations of prey animal instincts trying to keep them alive.

    I absolutely love that near the end of the test, Carmen trots right by the people in the bleachers that she spooked away from over and over. What a win!

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    1. That is a good observation about the trotting by. Thank you.

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  13. congrats for some awesome consistent scores!! and hey, getting that insight on why day 3 might be so much harder than the rest is useful too - esp as it helps set expectations. i gotta be honest tho, even her "moments" in that last test are light and day compared to how she used to be - you've definitely made huge progress with her!! glad everyone is so encouraging about it too ;)

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    1. I’m hoping that this insight on the third day can lead to a useful plan.

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  14. It is like riding the horse you have that day. Same thing. The goal should be to stay safe and have fun...and see the world from her point of view. <3

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