Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The first few days of WEG have past in a blur. Amerika seems to be a hit with the crowds which while sparse by most expo standards are relatively steady by my booth. My head is fairly spinning with the different styles that dressage is taught and practiced. If there is one universal thing that Amerika offers her riders it’s a clear view of what the live horses of these fine folks are experiencing. Of course this information is accepted differently by each individual but at least they have it to ponder if they wish. Not all my riders here are dressage riders of course. I have had my fair share of reiners, trail riders, saddle seat, jumpers and even one gaited horse gent who quipped that Amerikas gaits would never do for extended trail riding as he would spill his beer all over the front of his shirt! Never thought of that.... ;0)
There have been many memorable moments I would like to share but I will limit my self to just a few for now. A young boy who has several ponies at home got to experience a canter on Amerika. A gait that had him really frightened at home. He said to his dad after grinning his way through both canter speeds “ I’m ready to go ride Upsey Daisy now.” A lovely woman was moved to tears by her effortless downward transitions. Accomplished with eyes closed and an expression of pure bliss on her face. A girls school from Chattanooga TN that utilizes adopted mustangs to help reach their at risk youth had their whole group of gals ride. A first time experience for all of them on what I would think is a field trip of a life time.

I hope I actually get to see more of WEG than my little corner of it. By the snippets I overhear it sounds as if its been well worth it for those attending. Across the board the smiles on everyone’s faces tell the story.

Friday, September 10, 2010

"Agendaless" reminder

This morning I planned on running Lacey through her paces in the big field. We have been working on standing still for mounting and tooling around the small paddock working on follow your nose( instead of turn the feet and the nose is the opposite direction) and how fast can you walk/how slow can you walk on a loose rein. All three things where so fab yesterday I was ready to move onward and upward with her. Our pre ride check hit a tiny glitch on the mounting but after three trys she stood admirably. So we sidled up to the gate to the big field and ....that's where we stayed. Working on standing still by the gate and relax. Laceys over achiever tendency is to just get the job done, no matter what the job is or what her understanding of it is , JUST GET IT DONE and at a smart clip! That's her motto! I'm sure its tattooed on her bicep under all that golden fur! Probably in some black script with a pretty butterfly accenting the last letter. So the gate was a serious challenge for her as she had to place her head in a tight spot between a round pen panel and the fence. Clearly she couldn't go forward so the answer in her mind was to back up or turn sharply left away from the gate. We covered the standing still and relaxed away from the gate and then closer to the gate and even along the fence in a corner away from the gate to get the idea that a tight spot is nothing to be anxious about and that movement on my part did not mean "go" unless it was a direct cue. Lacey figures "go" is a good bet when solving problems. It was a quick 10 minute procedure and we where out and seeing the sights in the big field. She was really walking out, which is great, but as we all know speed ads to distraction and her "follow her nose" abruptly went in the toilet, so we spent the next 30 minutes following our nose right to left and back at various speeds of walk. Just like in the small paddock. She caught on very fast but her consistency was about 50 percent. And provided us with our last bit of challenge for the ride where I thought I would be cantering and such. Maintaining the same speed and "bend" (ie following the nose) no matter where we where in relation to the gate that provided all the fodder for the first half of our ride. It was really alot of fun and I had to smile at myself for planning a ride in my imagination before seeing where the horse was today. I have no doubt we will ride my imaginary ride soon. But not before I check out where we are and where we need to be to both enjoy ourselves.

P.S. As a side note, I wanted to remind everyone to check and make sure your horses elbows are not being interfered with by your girths. Even in a horse that does not have a big walk this is a very common problem. And could contribute to the lack of ground covering paces. Check this by having someone lead the horse while you place your fingers on the front edge of your girth in front of the elbow... walk straight and in circles both directions, if your fingers are pinched or knocked, or rubbed really consider changing the rigging on your saddle, the girth or even the whole saddle. A Lacey theory of mine is that her tendency to be hollow and high headed is an effort to not knock her elbows on the girth.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The NEW horse

Lots and lots and lots of questions about Lacey from everyone! So here's the story... about 7 or 8 years ago I "acquired" Lacey in Ca at the boarding facility where I kept my three newly, transplanted, east coast horses. Her owner was an older gentleman who bought her as his retirement horse. What he neglected to consider is that he was a beginner and she was barely broke. So, it went badly. He retired and left her on my door stoop....literally. Its expensive to keep horses in SoCal so when I brought my old Zee home to MD to retire I carted Lacey back east too. She went to live with my friend from horse college, AnnieBannanie. (yes, I called her that!) She became a great gaming pony for Anne's son, a trail mount for her hubby,Mikey, and later a 4H mount for her daughter Kaitlyn. Lacey really blossomed in NJ. Kaitlyn is turning into an eventer extraordinaire, so something a little fancier was needed for this budding equestrian and Anne emailed to see if I knew of anyone who would like to give Lacey a home. Do I know anyone? Why yes, as a matter of fact I do...grin...ME! Having just moved to the middle of NC trail country and not having a sound(Boo) or suitable(Cuervo...yet) trail mount, I had this visceral vision of riding off into the sunset on a beautiful buckskin. So, it was off to Va to meet a good old college buddy and retrieve Lacey. We had a great time in Lexington Va at a uber cool B and B and had a wonderful meal in historic downtown. Lacey stayed over night at a fabulous farm just outside of town. Lacey has become a trooper, she caused very little fuss getting off the trailer in a new place. Walked happily to her stall in the indoor arena after a good turn out and settled in to eat her hay. It was good to see her again, she hadn't changed a bit! Well, OK, she was a bit more mature, but basically she was the same gal I left in NJ years ago. Its great to have her "home" again. I'm grateful that of all the horses I've re homed over the years, this one gets to touch my life a second time. Stay tuned! I anticipate many adverntures to follow.