It has been a spell since my last post. Life has again decided that I should divert my attention elsewhere. Work, family, chores, dogs, and yard work fill my waking hours. We squeeze in barn time, so time for creative writing falls to the wayside. Ike and Cigar are getting curtailed visits, but they don’t seem to mind as long as breakfast and dinner show up every day.
Ike and I did have our final prep show at Rose Mount two weeks ago. While our scores were not where I would like them to be, we did glean some valuable insight to use as we close in on the CBLM Championship Show in a couple of weeks in the scenic city of Lexington, Virginia.
While the double bridle has its benefits, it is not always a friend or the right answer. Perhaps it is that I have a comfort level with the good old snaffle. I seem to clutch that curb rein like Linus clutches his security blanket. That death grip causes Ike to end up behind vertical inhibiting our better forward motion. Our rides on Sunday were much less tense with me using the snaffle. So our schooling work in these weeks leading up to Lexington will be with me utilizing one set of reins.
You can’t blame me for wanting the double bridle given that Ike bolted like a bat out of hell the day before the show. Sadly, the double bridle did nothing to check his rather robust gallop. Me yelling “WHOA” just make Ike ask, “Puny human yelling loudly wants what?!” And then he ran faster. I had visions of my crumpled body partially wedged in the stone dust when Ms. C found me later that day. The visions grew more vivid after I lost a stirrup. Thankfully Ike does not have the stamina of his brother and he decided to stop and catch his breath. Unfortunately, I felt I had to reestablish leadership, so I made him trot and canter in both directions before sliding off and kissing the non-moving ground.
We learned that judges do have a sense of humor. Ike decided that turn on the haunches was the ideal time for a potty break in both our tests on Saturday. Not good for the scores…”stuck” and “hind end stopped” were really not necessary comments. I knew I was getting a 4 as we walked on to the next movement. Heard the judge told her scribe that “that is unfortunate timing.” At least we can keep things interesting. Thankfully Ike decided to not show off his extended gallop any of my tests over the weekend. I learned on Sunday that when we aren’t pooping, we are capable at earning 7’s for our turns.
Ms. C also extracted some “things needing improvement” from our tests. She is better at reading between the lines/comments. I see a 5 and the comment “tense;” she sees that we need more bend and suppleness. Basically our scores and comments boiled down to the following: more bending, more suppleness, more bending, better engagement, more suppleness, and more bending. Sure thing, easy enough to supple 86 inches of horse plus 3 feet of neck, plus 50 pounds of thick skull.
So our lessons and schooling involve countless small circles, frequent changing of the direction (“you were not fast enough – you lost his shoulder!”), and no double bridle. We throw in some shoulder in, renvers, haunches in, and half pass, but we always go back to the circle. No ovals, not squares, circles. Will our work be enough to secure a placement in the finals? Only time will tell, but it won’t be for lack of trying.