Hang On A Second..It Is Just About Time

Ike - May 2015 - Photo by K. Childers

Ike – May 2015 – Photo by K. Childers

Well, it is just about here…our Second Level debut.  To say that I am excited about it would be an understatement.  It has only taken me 10 years to finally get to this point in my dressage journey.  Yes, that is not a typo – 10 years.  Go ahead and make fun if you must, but I believe that all things and events come into our lives when we are ready for them.

My first years of dressage training were a challenge since 1) I had no clue what a half halt was, and then 2) once I did, I had a horse who thumbed his nose at the concept.  God bless Ms. C for her patience with the two of us.  How challenging it must be to try to teach a concept to a student with a horse that fought every step of the way.  No wonder progress moved slower than a snail’s pace.  Cigar and I were at odds for 6 years before his knee fracture forced his retirement.

If I wanted to get to Second Level sooner, an experienced mount would have been a wise option when shopping for Cigar’s replacement…but those experienced horses were well outside my budget and unfortunately, no one was offering to syndicate a horse for me.  Buying a green horse was my best and only option.  All I could do was hope that my two test rides on Ike were a good indication that we could form a partnership.

Thus far, I have been very fortunate with my green horse gamble.  Ike has very few foibles under saddle and truly does try his best to understand what we ask him to do.  I still clearly recall that steering was optional at the canter and that I nearly lost a knee cap on more than one occasion.  There was no half halting of the outside rein to stop the outward spiral towards the fence.  The inside rein and a prayer were all I had some days.  Poor Ike also had to finish growing before he could finally operate all body parts in a synchronous way.  Truth be told, I didn’t think he was ever going to stop growing!  Thankfully, it appears that he has finally reached maximum height and length.

And, if I am being completely honest, I needed to learn some new skills before we were ready to move beyond First Level.  Moving to Second is like jumping from elementary school to graduate school in one leap.  You can muddle through Training and First Levels with a basic knowledge  of dressage, but you had better put on your big kid boots after that.  Yikes!  The sh#% gets real…real collection, real medium gaits, real transitions in and out of those medium gaits, 10 meter canter circles, simple changes…there is no way you can fake your way through a Second Level test.  I think I can finally identify a collected trot versus a short, choppy trot.  I can finally ask for a simple change and get it most of the time.  I can finally position my horse in a correct shoulder in rather than a “neck in.”  It just took me a little longer since we were also teaching Ike at the same time.  Again, I think I got very lucky when I picked Ike.  Not every horse is so tolerant of learning new skills from a green rider.

So here we are, just a few months shy of our 4 year “gotcha day” and we are preparing for our first centerline at collected trot.  Hoping for the best and trying to remember to breathe.

Alison

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Horse Seeking Rider or Free Ride to Florida

"Um, Mom, why are you crouching down in the snow?"

“Um, Mom, why are you crouching down in the snow?”

Hi Everyone!  Mom has not been inspired to write much these past few weeks, nor has she been inspired to ride, so I am taking over the blog to fill you in and to find someone who will come ride me or drive me to Florida where they don’t have this cold, white stuff all over the ground.

I think it is the white stuff that keeps Mom from riding.  I’m not sure what the big deal is.  Rumor has it that some people actually do ride their horses with this stuff on the ground.  Mom fusses about me injuring myself, but I’ve been out in it for a few weeks now and I’m still moving.  Truth be told, I think Mom is a snow-weenie, but don’t tell her that.  Now Mom does still come visit us most days and hand out snacks, but that is about it.  She did hack away at the ice balls in my hooves the other day.  She is a wuss – took her over 20 minutes of poking and prodding with the hoof pick to get the job done AND she ruined the hoof pick in the process.  Silly woman, if you had demonstrated some patience, they warm up and fall out on their own…

My brother likes to make snow angels and suggested that I give it a try to alleviate my boredom.  You fluff up the snow with your hoof and then flop down and wiggle around as much as you can.  Cigar flops from side to side so his snow angels have a pretty big wingspan.  I didn’t flop over like Cigar, but I did my best to make some wings.  The hard part is getting up out of the snow when you are done.  My front hooves kept slipping out from under me (those darn shoes that Mom insists that I wear), so I had to take a break and sit like a dog.  I then gave one big push and was released from the snowy angel I’d made.  One angel was enough for me; I now just watch my brother make his angels.  I do try to steal his water bucket while he is down and he can’t bite me.

One really delicious treat that we get when the weather is cold is a warm bran mash.  It is a delightful snack we get late in the afternoon.  Mom happened to be around one afternoon and doled out our portions.  She then insisted upon taking my photo.  Seriously, she is not right in the head.

Ike after bran mash

As you can see in the photo, I was not pleased at the photo-op, but since she was out of neck range, I could not reach out and make her drop the phone.  I’m plotting my revenge.

Mom is very worried about show season and how this break will affect our Second Level debut.  I try to reassure her that it will all be okay.  So what if we don’t do Second Level until May or June?!  If she could just get her act together and learn to sit my trot, we might still be able to do it in April.  She still pounds on my back like a jack hammer when I really get my trot on.  Perhaps she needs to eat a cheeseburger or two and get some padding on that bony ass of hers.  Maybe then it wouldn’t be so hard.

I never did grow a really thick winter coat, so I should be okay when I get to Florida.  Just remember I need a roomy trailer and plenty of hay.  We can send word to Mom once we are on the road.

Ike