Equestrian #AlternativeFacts

Ike in double bridle 2

No matter what you call them, equestrians are masters at telling themselves alternativefacts/lies/falsehoods.  We can pretty much rationalize anything if it is related to our precious equines.

  1. “My dearest pony NEEDS this new brush.”  No, your pony does not care that this brush is handmade in England by master brush makers.  Your pony just wants for you to be done with your latest grooming session so he can roll in the new mud hole created after last night’s rainstorm.
  2. “This new saddle pad will make the saddle slip less and improve my score.” Umm, sure.  Just like the 15 others that you have squirreled away in your spare bedroom closet.  You like it because you don’t have that color in your stack.  You like the braided trim that none of your other pads has.  It is okay, admitting the problem is the first step to recovery.
  3. “Ooooh, this mane and tail product smells divine so that must mean it works better than the one (or ten others) that I already have in my tack box.”  Every once in a while, I dive into the depths of my tack box to see what is lurking in the back besides some mouse poop.  I have bottles of shampoo that I bought 10 years ago (bathing the boys is not a priority).  I have conditioner that we got as a prize.  I have about 40 sample sized bottles from competitor bags.  There are $100’s of dollars worth of products…it won’t stop me from buying more.
  4. “Going to the clinic with X will surely mean that we will improve.”  You see it all the time.  A rider will go to any and every clinic with a big name rider.  They love to tell you all the big names that they have ridden with over the years, yet they are still struggling with the basics.  What they lack is a clear system to help them master the basics and see steady progress forward.  Regular training with the one competent person is what they need.
  5. “I will only be at the barn for 30 minutes.”  Bahahahahahahahaaa!  Ask any significant other how long a typical visit to the barn takes.  They will tell you the truth.  They will get a good laugh about this lie.
  6. “I can get my horse tacked and ready for our class in 30 minutes.”  Many years of showing has taught me that when I try to cut preparations that close, something can and will go wrong.  Your horse decides today is the day he won’t stand still for braiding.  Your gloves decide they no longer want to be a pair.  Your horse does his best giraffe impression so getting the bridle on is impossible.  The zipper on your boot breaks.  Mysterious stains appear on your jacket and breeches and they stubbornly resist your attempts to rub them off.
  7. “It won’t be that hot/cold this weekend at the show.”  The sun is searing hot or the frigid winds make you debate the merits of fur-lined boots.  You then begin to question the whole showing concept.  A weekend sipping margaritas by the pool sounds divine.  Why didn’t you just curl up under the covers with a good book instead of braving 20 degree wind chills?
  8. “If I am careful, I can clean the stall without getting anything on my white breeches.”  Perhaps someone else has this expert skill level.  I do not.
  9. “I am going to stop at the tack store and just pick up my horse’s supplement.”  And then somehow a pair of socks, a belt, some treats, a new show shirt (it was on sale!), and a deliciously scented tail detangler appear in your shopping basket.
  10. “The vet bill will only be $100.”  Never have I ever had a vet bill that small except for a supplemental medication that was shipped to me after the visit that cost $300-400.”
  11. “I don’t need to wear a helmet.”  YES YOU DO.  End of discussion.
  12. “That is a great price for that pair of boots/saddle/bridle/bit.”  It is amazing once you are indoctrinated into the equine world how $500 no longer seems like a lot of money.  $800 boots?  What a bargain!  I’m pretty sure that there is a change in your brain chemistry when exposed to the scent of a horse that rewires normal monetary logic.

Bonus “My horse is the best horse/most handsome/most talented.”  This is one alternate fact that I think is okay.  We all certainly cannot have the number 1 horse, but there is certainly nothing wrong with believing that you do.  It shows true affection and love and there is nothing wrong with that.

alison

Advertisements

Reflections

Ike Dec 30 2015

Here we are at the end of one year and on the cusp of a new one.  Wow, another year complete.  I guess that means it is time to reflect on our accomplishments and progress for 2015 and set some goals for the year to come.

Ike and I really became “big kids” this year when we jumped into the Second Level arena.  It is still one of the proudest moments in my riding career when I did my final salute after that first Second Level test.  Seems silly to some, but after taking lessons since 2005, I finally have clawed my way out of Training and First Level purgatory that has been my place of residence for 10 years.

We also finally have a musical freestyle that I cannot wait to try in public.  Yes, I still need that test 3 qualifying score before we can break loose at a licensed show, but there is always the schooling show circuit to invade.  Be thankful that this musical performance does not involve me singing in any way, shape, or form.

And while we did well at First Level and had some respectable scores at Second Level this year, there is room for improvement. It is a double edged sword when your trainer gets a few trips on your horse.  You preen like a peacock when she tells you what she likes, but then, you hold your breath knowing that the next words will be, “But, you have some blocks to work through, you need to be more through in your trot work, and not let him cheat on the flexions.”  Sigh, you knew there was work to do, but this is the nitty gritty stuff that is mind-numbing, tedious, and technically challenging to get right.

And that is exactly what we have worked on during my last two lessons.  Flex left, flex right, left, right, left, right. Now just give Ike a “fin” and he will be ready for the next Jimmy Buffett concert!  But in all seriousness, it is amazing how hard it can be to achieve a proper flexion and then maintain it in motion. Jaw jutting and bracing.  Neck muscles bulging and blocking.  Head diving down and asking you to carry it.  A certain someone sometimes likes to grab the bit and straighten his head and ignore subtle requests.  Well, perhaps if the other someone was quicker at catching things, flexions wouldn’t be such a constant struggle.  So there, goal number one is to be more focused while in the saddle.

Ms. C also pushed us to achieve more consistent throughness with all our trot work- straight lines (“Ask for more power!”), circles (“Your hind end is leading again.”, “Turn your horse!”), small serpentines (“Watch that hind end as you change your bend.”), shoulder in (“Where is your flexion?” “Be more supple.”) and haunches in (“Again, watch your flexion.” ” You look stiff.”) I am so busy worrying about one of Ike’s body parts and what it is doing that I forget about the rest of Ike.  I suppose with time that it will become second nature, but for now Ms. C has to be that broken record. I bet some days she wants to pull her hair out.  Let’s make it our next goal for 2016 to be more proactive to save Ms. C’s hair.

Remarkably, as the show season came to a close, our best scores were for our canter work.  Our simple changes are becoming more consistent and our medium canter is miles ahead of our medium trot.  The next step for our canter is to straighten Ike’s body since he almost always carries his haunches slightly to the inside.  This necessitates me recognizing the problem and then learning to ride canter in a shoulder fore position.  I had better figure it out quickly if I want to achieve my final goal of riding a Third Level test in 2016.  It is my most challenging goal, but why not aim high. 

Thank you for continuing to follow Ike and I as we forge ahead with our centerline adventures!  May your year to come be healthy, happy and exceed your wildest expectations.

alison