The show this past Sunday was one of my last chances to qualify for the regionals in October. It feels like the test right before spring break with the regionals being our final exam. So doing what every good college student does, we crammed for our test at the last minute hoping for all the knowledge to transfer from Ms. C’s lessons and carry us to a qualifying score on Sunday. We did two lessons in two days.
Thursday we worked the basics. Can Alison find a good rhythm and tempo at the walk, trot and canter? Answer: sometimes. I still have the tendency to overuse my reins and Ike ends up behind vertical. Maybe it is his long neck, maybe it is me just having a hard time trusting that I can send my hands forward to get Ike to open up at the throatlatch. We can thank Cigar for that tendency; you just never knew what might happen if you gave Cigar an inch. Give him an inch and you could end up in the next ring in record time.
Our canter is still a work in progress. How we handle the canter depends on what canter Ike gives me. If we are careening around in freight train mode, I just try to be heard and pray that our down transition is close to where it is supposed to be. If Ike decides to show off his rocking horse, moving up to First Level canter, then I can finesse a bit more and position shoulders and even get the correct flexion.
Friday we practiced our tests. We have rediscovered our centerlines and square halts. We need those points and why not start and end with an 8 on your score sheet? Would love to get another 9.5 on a final halt…that is one test that I will save since that score might not ever be seen again. Overall Ms. C was pleased with our tests. I still need to keep my upper body back in the canter (shhh, don’t tell anyone, but it feels like I’m sitting tall when I’m astride, but unfortunately pictures give that secret away). Ike canter work was a mixed bag. His right lead was a bit strong. To counteract what was happening, I would ask for canter, but then ask for a halt just after we started our circle, then at another place on the circle, and then right after we returned to the long side of the arena. Ike handled the exercise quite well and without ending up on his face during the canter-to-halt transition. Yes, Ike, you must listen to Mom and wait for her to tell you what to do. Hard lesson for big boy to swallow, but the peppermints when we were done did help.
Saturday was trailer loading, beauty school, and some begging and pleading with Mother Nature to postpone the imminent rain until after 3:00 Sunday afternoon when the show was over. Headed to bed early to try to get some rest…
A 3:00 a.m. alarm is rude. It doesn’t matter if it is one of the dogs waking me, the radio, or the alarm. It just is inhuman to wake at that hour, but that is what we horse people do when your show is 1.5 hours away from your barn and you get stuck with one of the earliest ride times. So I let the dogs out to find that the forecasted rain did indeed arrive in the wee hours of the morning. Great, my Polish luck strikes again (for those of you wondering, Polish luck is the polar opposite of Irish luck. I have Polish and Irish ancestors, but sadly, no Irish luck.)
We forge ahead to the local Wawa for extra-large cups of coffee. As we get back on the road towards the barn, it starts to rain harder and even harder still. Ugh. I check the radar on my phone. The entire region is covered in a large green blob. Super-duper. Do I chance loading Ike and head to the show? Will he even leave the barn in the pouring down rain; he is a bit of a fair weather fairy after all. Do we drive 1.5 hours to ride in the rain, wait in the rain, and ride again in the rain? Is the ribbon and the score worth it? I envision a score of 55% with comments reading, “erratic trot around puddle,” “this is not a prix caprilli class, horse should not be jumping.”
One last traffic light before we head down the road towards the barn. The rain comes down harder and the wipers are barely keeping the windshield clear. I pulled the plug then. No sense stirring up the horses when we aren’t going anywhere. I’m sure my disappointment was evident. I send an email to the show secretary. I hear a flushing noise as my show fees float away.
When daylight finally came, I headed out to the barn to visit with the boys. They were peacefully grazing in the rain. Ah, Ike will leave the barn if the rain isn’t too heavy. Felt like a wimp for not going, but given the information available in the dead of night, I made the decision that made sense at that time. Hindsight is a pesky bitch. She nags at you and pokes holes in your logic. I sent her down the drain with the show fees.
Was I disappointed? Yes. But really, it is just a score and maybe just a ribbon if it had been a decent score. So what? I have an acquaintance whose horse was just released from the vet hospital after battling an infection and a stifle injury. My friend who bolstered my mood last night is still grieving from the unexpected loss of her talented young mare (Thanks S! We will uncork a few bottles soon!).
Two days ago, a gentle draft cross at my barn was rushed to the surgical clinic for his second severe colic in three months. Yesterday, we learned that he had lost the battle. So sad. For as large and as strong as our horses are, they are also amazingly fragile creatures. We take them for granted when things are going well. They can be gone before we have a chance to say goodbye. Remember it isn’t about the ribbons, it is about the journey and having these amazing creatures as part of your life.
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