Tides of March

It’s SPRING and that’s what I have in my step.  The Tides of March come rolling in a like a lion and so do I, a young equine athlete.  March rides are raucous events so bundle up and hang on for some roller coaster riding!

blog_article_winter

My mom is out of shape, the air is crisp and I am fresh as daisies!  Out of my Mom’s closet comes the jeans with the leather sewn in the inside, some days full chaps, in the hopes that they help her stick into the saddle leather more snugly.  I love to trot slowly the first few times around, gingerly almost, as she doubles up the reins, sitting taller than normal, waiting for the explosion.  None comes so she relaxes at the exact moment the horse in the pasture finishes his roll, leaps up and gallops bucking to the far end.  My chance, YAHOO and I hear a muffled, whoa, WHOA…

I am careful to scare her into respecting me but not so much to dislodge her, there are carrots involved in the equation.   I am smiling in my bridle.  Ah, such mischief.

I mentioned in a previous post that I heard George Morris say at a clinic in Florida this winter that if your horse isn’t fresh, call the vet!  He was serious.  It might be an exaggeration but the point is, that we are all feeling our alfalfa in the wintertime so just expect it.

Winter also is sometimes accompanied by body-clipping.  I got a trace clip this year which make me much less sweaty after our ride, and boy that arctic air inspires me.  I was bought a new red winter blanket that is high-withered and so snuggly I get drowsy as soon as it is on.

When the rains come, it’s a bummer.  We have to go inside, otherwise my feet will get mushy.  I love the smell but hate being inside.  I can’t be kept inside too long – it reminds me of my days in the racetrack boot camp, and dysfunctional behaviors appear while my sanity goes out the window.

We still need to go out and move around, you probably will not be executing the fine maneuvers we did last fall.  Just get us out and survive.  Let my mane grow out  and hang on, woman!  We’ll have a hoot of a time. Don’t take it too seriously, we have months of warmer weather ahead where we can do the drill.  It’s the off season so come be a bit of a wild child with me!

~ kw

My Valentine

It’s Valentine’s Day month.  Let me count the ways I love my life:

  • My Mom gives me carrots and pats me a lot saying Good boy Handsome over and over.  My heart swells.

blog_article_valentines

  • She likes to give me an extra flake of hay when she puts me to bed, just to make sure my tummy is happy.
  • My Mom LIKES to put me to bed.  One time she had a stupid appointment and so she hastily sponged me off, stuffed a carrot in my mouth, and gave her friend Dana a checklist of tasks (boy, that ‘s the last time Dana will offer).  The list included my various ointments, hoof remedies, flysprays.  The point is that My Mom was pissy all night because she wasn’t able to do it herself.
  • My life includes grass turnout whenever possible.
  • I have friends to talk to across the paddock fences; we hold court in the corner where the paddocks meet.
  • My Mom works me often but not hard… enough to keep me learning.  She likes to change the course often.
  • Our trail walks at the end of our rides with the girth loosened is when my Mom really feels thankful I am around.
  • I tell my Mom when I’m hurting and she listens, even if she doesn’t understand where exactly the pain is.
  • She tells me a Fourth place ribbon is better than blue because it matches my coat, and what green horse wouldn’t want a green ribbon?   My Mom swells as we walk out of the arena… it doesn’t take much to get a 50+ person to swell (in more ways than one).
  • My Mom truly loves spending time with me, and if I am hurt, the number of visits I get does not decrease, it only means she goes into Nurse Mode, cancelling all business trips, certain I cannot mend without her loving TLC.  I can, but don’t tell her that.

~ kw

Winter Ed. 101

It’s THAT time of year. Winter is in full swing and I’m a wonderful snuggly hairy beast, nestled in my blanket, my tummy well fed. The first show isn’t for months and I’m a critter without a care in the world. AND THEN…those enticing notices come in the mail, are pinned up on tack room bulletin boards, in house show offices… CLINIC TIME! Get a head start on the show season, they say. Use your Christmas bonus! Ride with an Olympian!  Uh oh. . .

blog_article_clinics

Clinics make us better…they build confidence, open up our minds – horses and riders – to new perspectives, a different way of saying something, enlightening metaphors. Heels down day and day out can make one wince. Ride like there’s anchors attached to your heels… well now why didn’t you say so?

Oh and by the way, it’s cold outside. Well it’s WINTER, people! I heard George Morris say at a clinic in Florida this winter that if your horse isn’t fresh, call the vet! Expect it and plan accordingly.

From my perspective (and that would be the horse’s) clinics can be fun like jumping new grids, or they can be boring, jumping the same line over and over makes me cranky. Sometimes I get fidgety.

Clinics more likely can be confidence boosters, facilitating us to jump in balance and rhythm with the best form we can. But a clinician also has the power to crush our confidence; it can be very scary if we are overfaced.

Clinics are great venues for low-budget riders like my mom to get instruction and advice from a different perspective of a knowledgeable trainer. Web sites like Equestrian CoachHorse Channel, EventionTV and  Ask The Horse Show Judge  are very helpful for training, riding and showing. But learning takes place experientially – and one has to do it to get it.

Commonly asked questions:

What if the clinician sets up something you know your horse isn’t ready for?
Human: Calmly walk over to the clinician and explain your reservations due to the level of your horse.
Horse: If an adjustment is not made, calmly take the course and fart in the clinician’s face as you trot by and try your best.

What if you can’t hear or don’t understand what the clinician is saying?
Human: Calmly walk over and ask clarifying questions of the clinician. You are paying good money for his/her advice and if you leave the clinic not understanding a point that was made, you’ll be grumpy.
Horse: Exactly as above, because if YOU’RE grumpy, I think you’re mad at me and I’m just a horse trying think up ways to keep you smiling.

Auditors:
Quiet please… not clucking, no side quips. Dress warm, zip it up, write notes, but keep it down to a whisper. And down in front.

Above all, Mom:
Before you sign on the dotted line, research the clinician. Ask people who have attended before or audit one yourself. Make sure you place us in the correct session for our experience and training level.

~ kw