Monday, May 20, 2013

Horsie Weekend

What a fun weekend! It was jam packed wire to wire with horsie activities.

On Saturday morning I went up to the fairgrounds to the Pacific Rim Hunter Jumper show going on. I had a couple of friends showing there, and it was fun to hang out in that crowd, and very much made me want to get back into it again!

Yes, we were at a show, not a prison...

Afterwards, I saddled up Ben (in thre treeless) and went out to our track for a long "gallop"...or in his world...ambling canter. I had the intentions of trying to make it around 1 time at the canter in each direction...lets say we made it about 2/3's of the way before breaking. The funny thing is- doesn't matter if you are headed for home, or away from the barn....Ben is the exact same. Zero excitement, same speed. He definitely prefers to hug the outside rail so i did work a lot on moving him laterally from rail to rail. I'm going to miss that track!

What you lookin'at?
So about this treeless. The trial period has ended. It was a lovely experience, and I highly recommend trying before you buy. I am not completely sold on it yet. I have some fitting issues: one is size for me- it just felt too small so I'd be making a leap of faith with the adjustments the company recommends. The other thing, as you can see in this picture- is that it sits cantle low on Ben. Almost everything sits this way on him. I think it has to do with the slope of his shoulders.  Nevertheless, it really has me rocking back, and I don't like concentrating the pressure on his back- let alone the position it puts me in. I'm not sure if it would be safe or okay to try to shim up the back with some kind of padding. More to explore, I guess. But after 4 solid days of hard riding, Ben is just fine. I'm not sure he'd stay that way long term, but it was still fun to try out something new and different.

Once I was finished at the barn, I rushed down to the tack shop to pick up my new boots. Back in February I ordered custom Dehner's. They are lovely, and are going to fit beautifully. Right now I'm in the process of installing the front crease, but they will soon be ready for riding!

So beautiful, yet so painful at first

On Sunday, a barn mate and I decided to go audit a Jan Ebeling clinic held in Woodinville. We spent the entire day there, watching rides. A few different breeds, riders of many levels, and one amazing clinician. I am not sure what I was expecting, maybe a stuck up, self important type- Jan was anything but. Such a nice, relaxed, down to earth guy. Very focused, very sympathetic to the horse. He sat with us quite a bit, answered questions, made small talk, asked his own questions- it was all really neat!

One of the lessons was done on a horse that had a lot of the same issues as Ben with coming through...but much more talented. It was interesting to see how it was dealt with, and done very much the same way my trainer has me work with Ben. It was a great reminder as well that the stuff that plagues Ben and I isn't because he's a Standardbred, or gaited, or not meant for riding. It is because he's a horse. And all horses (and riders) have stuff to work through.

After that ride, I got to talk to Jan about the issue, and what he had the rider to do correct it. He explained his approach, which is very grounded at the bottom of the training scale. In fact, this is something, no matter what level the rider/horse pair, he harped on. He got on people's cases about being too handsy. He really focused on the rhythm, relaxation and connection. He said basically, every level in dressage is training level...and you must be diligent in achieving those 3 things in any given movement, at all levels. To take a short cut or to ignore it is exchanging 1 mistake for another, and compounding it so that by the time you somehow make it to the upper levels, you have not 1 mistake, but 100 of them to correct.

So anyway, we talked through it more, and he explained to me what I must do, and what I must NOT do- which is react with the hand if Ben gets a case of the wiggles. Just stay put and drive on. He said to do on straight lines and circles. And if I'm in a pickle, to do leg yields, but never, ever react with the hand, as tempting as it is.

So all in all it was pretty great. I hope to be able to audit again this summer. Riding is probably out of our site, but you never know, I guess!


  1. I can't wait to start auditing clinics. I love his comments o you. They ring true especially with a green horse. I will have to see if he goes anywhere in Portland.