Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Thoughts about the DAHA Fall Horse Show

Preparing for the Diablo Arabian Horse Association show in Elk Grove this weekend.  Have my lists, have put most everything I’ll need for the show in the camper or brought it down to the ranch and put in the trailer.  Which brings me to last weekend.  Sigh.

Since I’m writing this blog to track my progress I can’t just put good things down, right?  Much as I’d like to think it’s all positive, in reality it truly isn’t.  Of course I can learn from mistakes.  I just have to learn WHAT the mistakes are first.

Saturday I went down to the ranch for the weekend, with Sharon.  Todd was out of town so I wasn’t going to be able to get any lessons in, but I was looking forward to riding Blu.  I hadn’t ridden since the Comstock show on the 10th, and before that I just had the one lesson on the 3rd where Blu was challenging me a bit.

And it continued on Saturday.  Sigh.

Sharon and I decided to get the chores done first.  We went through the trailer and got everything as organized and ready for the show as we could.  Sharon isn’t going to be at this show so it was a bit sad for us doing all this prep knowing she wasn’t going to be there to enjoy the fruits of our labors.  I’m still not sure what it’ll be like without her there.  Heck, I got back into showing because I had so much fun with her at her shows.  Ah well.  I digress.

Once the chores were done it was time to saddle up.  I put the saddle on Blu and went to cinch it up and he pinned his ears, hunched himself and turned to look at me.  Now THAT was odd!  He’s not done anything like that before.  Hmmm.  I loosened the cinch, checked for sores or stickers or what have you and didn’t find anything.  I cinched back up and he looked at me with a testy eye again.  Hmmm.  So I put him on the hot walker like I usually do, and he and Nazz walked around for about 20 minutes.  Loosened up, warmed up a bit, I was able to tighten the cinch without issue. 

Sharon and I mounted up and proceeded to work our horses.  Blu was very good.   We did yielding exercises first and when we were ready we did some jogging and walking and transitions into the lope on the right lead.  (Todd had asked me to focus on the right lead.)  Blu was great.  He had some nice transitions into the lope and got the correct lead each time.  I think we probably got three or four transitions down, both directions, before Blu just stopped.  And when I mean stopped, it was just that.  I squeezed and clucked and asked for the jog from the walk and he kind of hopped to a stop.  Ears pinned.  I tried turning him left, right, whatever, and the most he’d do was go backwards.  This continued in fits and starts for a little while.  Sharon was helping out by giving me pointers and she finally suggested that I just work him at the walk and do leg yields to relax us both down and accomplish something that was working.  So we did and after about 10 minutes of that I decided to stop on the most positive note I could think of.  I talked to Sharon about it, trying to figure out what was wrong.  I told her that each time I’d squeeze or kick him he felt funny in the belly.  I couldn’t put my finger on it, and said I was probably imagining it, but with the cinchy behavior earlier and this, I wondered if something was physically wrong.  I unsaddled him and walked him over to a turnout and let him go to see what he’d do (he did have gut noises so that was good).  He walked 10 steps and peed!  “Ah ha” I thought.  That was it.  I’d not let him stop while we were working so he never had a chance to pee.  Kind of hit myself in the forehead and chalked it up to that, fairly content that I’d found the explanation.

Sunday Todd called to check in on us and I told him  I’d “broken” Blu!  Luckily he laughed.  I told him all about the ride Saturday and he agreed it could be that he had to pee and that he (Blu) wouldn’t associate the behavior with me, just with the fact he had to pee.  So I was in a positive frame of mind when I saddled Blu up and he wasn’t cinchy this time.  Yay.  I mounted up and walked around doing leg yields at the walk for a while.  No problem.  But when I asked him to jog he stopped.  Again.  Huh???  What in the world was going on???  Sharon was watching me and said I was leaning forward (a bad habit of mine from my Hunter Pleasure days) and that I needed to lean back.  I tried.  Really I did.  I tried everything I could think of.  Nothing worked.  I could get him to walk but he wouldn’t walk in a straight line, he’d dive to the inside.  We did endless circles.  I kept wondering if he thought everything was about going into the lope.  Once he actually did take off in the lope (on the correct lead) though I was just trying to get him to jog.  I couldn’t figure it out.  Sharon was standing in the middle of the arena watching me and she came up to me and we were talking and she checked the cinch and looked at me and said “you could drive a truck through that cinch.  At least with all his moves you know you’re well balanced since you’re still on top!”  (or words to that effect.)  Ha.  Looking for the positive.  We decided to have Sharon get on Blu.

Sharon riding Blu for the first time ever – doesn't she look tiny up there?!

He did the same thing to her.  She worked him for a while and was able to get him to walk in a straight line at least.  But it was totally frustrating. 

It makes me wonder about the show this weekend.  I’ve talked to Todd and he has been working Blu all week (and yes he pulled some stuff on Todd too) and I’ll be at the showgrounds early on Thursday so hopefully I can spend a lot of time in the saddle learning what I was doing wrong (I have to figure it was me asking him something he didn’t understand).

Regardless, I've come to terms with the bad weekend, talking to Sharon has made me remember that we (Blu and I) are both new to this, and I'm in this for FUN!  I think I'd forgotten that and was letting the rides get to me.  I was getting a bad case of the nerves.  But, remembering why I'm in this, I'm back to being excited about the show.

My folks will be there, my husband, and dear friends.  What more could I ask for?

I'm going to have fun this weekend.  (Thanks Sharon!)

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