AHCC Recap

Wow. That’s all I can say. This past weekend was a whirlwind of horses, rain, laughter, and fun. Horse show hangover hit me hard on Monday and then work got so busy, so hence why this is so soooo late.

The show began with a terrifying drive up. Loading up the trailers wasn’t super hard, River probably took the longest to load, only having loaded once before in his entire 2 year lifetime. Everything else went smooth until we hit the road. People were nuts for a Thursday morning. Trainer S and I were in her truck with Bently and Jewel, and Trainer C had the other three guys in her gooseneck, and so far it had been going okay. Then as we were passing an on-ramp, we were in the middle lane and some idiot decided that instead of braking for the truck breaking down in front of him, it would be much wiser to cut in front of the horse trailer. Cue screeching and smoking brakes, and one angry phone call to the company. I was livid, mainly because the smaller truck who cut us off had the time to stop, whereas we didn’t. Trainer C, who was in front of us, later mentioned that the truck breaking down was wobbling like it was about to lose a tire, but it still wasn’t acceptable. After that, our ride up was quiet.

Settling in took about an hour and a half. We set up our tack stalls, got the horses all settled in, set up all the drapes and made sure our stuff was in order. After that, lunch. The Big E showgrounds has a concession stand called Colly Corner with some pretty great food. It’s a bit overpriced, and from what I’ve been told, the price spike was recent, but the decorations were on point and it was really good food.

After all of that, it was schooling for the first time in the Coliseum! Which was terrifying in itself for me, but of course, to Bently, it was pretty much nothing. He was forward enough too that I was able to ditch the whip entirely, but not enough to ditch my spurs. And he also forgot all our practicing of not walking off at the mounting block and decided that racing away would be a better idea. So it was a moving mount up for the rest of the weekend.

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Also after watching all the side saddle people warm up, I think I need to add side saddle to my horse wishlist. The show didn’t actually start until Friday, we were up a day early to settle in and such, but I don’t think I was ready for Friday morning on Thursday night.

Friday morning was all the in-hand classes. Like all of them. So I was helping rush Trainer C and two other clients get ready for main ring and then race over to the sport horse ring to do dressage and hunter type. It was exhausting. I didn’t watch one in hand class other than classes ahead of the client classes while I waited to help. The nice thing about Friday morning is everyone placed and even one woman got high point purebred for the whole day, which she was wired about for the rest of the day. I was calm for most of the morning, mostly because I didn’t have five minutes to stop and worry, until lunchtime when it all hit me like a freight train.

My first class didn’t end up running late afternoon. We were the first ones in the ring, which I later realized was the worst choice ever. Bently was hyped like we knew would happen. However, I didn’t expect him to play a game of ‘the rail is lava’ and circle the gazebo like a freaking shark. Not in the first class, but the second too. He was like, ‘Nope I am a saddle seat horse, you cannot tell me not to be on the rail”. He also got super hyped after the first walk, mainly because they ask for the canter right after the change rein in saddle seat classes and all I wanted was a trot. Somehow, I’m not sure how we got seconds in both classes. Again, not sure how, but we pulled it off.

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Saturday was a quieter day for us, one client had her dressage tests in the morning, and another student client of Trainer C had her last two classes in the afternoon. I ended up dragging my horse out of his stall at lunchtime to school him in the Coliseum to make sure he would stay on the rail for our championship classes. I toyed with the idea all morning if it was worth the race to sneak in before they dragged for him to act normal and then pull the same thing the next day. Trainer C said no matter what it might be a good idea. So I lunged, popped myself on and in I went when they called for lunch. Of course, he was annoyingly perfect, and picked up all the leads immediately, was calm and collected. I was a little pissed that I couldn’t school the anti-rail issues but it was the only thing I could do really and hope he would behave for the champion classes.

Later on, after the student client’s last class, I plopped myself in a seat to watch the last of the days classes. At that point, Trainer C’s husband and oldest son had come by to check in. Trainer C’s husband had taken my little car to deep detail is as he loves detailing cars. I told him he might hate me after he took it. He was horrified at the state of my car, and pretty much joked around with me the whole rest of the night of the state of my car. I can’t say much about it, I’m a college student who pretty much lives in her car. The older son had shown all his life on the circuit and went around visiting his friends. Slowly everyone else ended up in our box in the Coliseum to watch classes, minus the older son who found friends, and oh boy were we loud. Like ridiculously loud, loud enough we got some nasty looks from competitors. We just kept cracking jokes and dying laughing from it. At one point I laughed so hard I couldn’t breathe.

Trainer C voted dinner plans, and because we were too rowdy for a regular restaurant, we picked a place that we knew would not kick us out if we got too loud; Hooters. It was the first time I’d ever been to Hooters, let alone with the barn crew. It was good food, and then we got them to sing Happy Birthday to Trainer C’s oldest, who was expecting the adult version but instead got the kids version and stood on a stool flapping menus like a chicken. We all were dying at that one.

Finally the last day, the one I almost puked on. I’m not sure why I was so rattled Sunday morning, but I was. All the riding in the Coliseum over the weekend apparently did nothing for the fresh batch of tired anxiety that sprouted up that morning. I was also nervous that Bently wouldn’t do as well, mainly because it was freaking 40 degrees and raining, a 30-degree difference from Saturdays sunny and 70. We got on and tacked up for our first class, and he was not happy. Ears pinned, his little angry attempts at bucks and the tightness underneath me did not make me feel warm and fuzzy. I literally looked at Trainer C and went, ‘this is not my horse’ as I went by.

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He’s beauty, he’s grace

I don’t really know how it happened, but we were a lot more consistent in the first class. He also was a lot slower and calmer, and I was a little nervous so I pushed him on in some areas, maybe a little too harsh because we had a few bucking hop things. Bently cannot anatomically buck because of how long his back is, so he does these weird hopping bucks that barely lift off the ground. Either way, we pinned reserve champ in that class! I was a little shocked but excited. Bently was too excited, and we couldn’t even stand for our photo, he just wanted to victory lap and be done. There was such a small amount of classes between that one and my second of the day, so I hopped off and we left him in a cooler while we waited. He even decided to read the class list with Trainer C.

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I will admit, going in last and or second to last really helped because he was a lot more relaxed. We did the same with the second class, though he really wanted to trot down the chute instead of walking. The second class was my eq class, which I thought would be the hardest.

Bently got a bit riled up between the transitions, but once we had the first canter down, I was all smiles because I knew we at least had second in the bag. He didn’t want to halt at the lineup and halted waaay too far back, but I was hoping I wouldn’t get scored on that. Thankfully, I didn’t.

We somehow won the last class. I was in shock like could not stop grinning. Bently again refused to stand for the photo, and we ended up doing our mini victory lap and I almost fell off when he turned on a dime to follow Trainer C out of the ring.

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The best part of the whole morning was one of the previous trainers were there, and came by and watched, and was shocked at how well he was doing and congratulated me on my win. I was so excited and so happy with him, I was over the moon.

Pack up was easy, if hauling 5 horses worth of equipment, supplies and human supplies into two trailers in the pouring rain is easy, then sure it was easy. We loaded all the supplies up, grabbed a bite to eat, then loaded the horses. Everything went smooth, River took a little while longer to load but I think it was more of he just wasn’t sure of the trailer again. It was an easy ride home thankfully, hit a few spots of snow on the Mass Pike which was really weird, but again, it’s New England.

After the whole weekend, I’m very excited for the next show. Unfortunately, none of my wins qualified me for regionals unless they offer my classes. We’ve also already have been looking at the next show, and they don’t offer my class in dressage gear, so we are considering other options for that show. But it’s a whole six weeks away, so I am not worried yet. I’ll just bask in my first place win for the rest of the week and get back to real riding work next week.

50 Days Remaining

As of today, we have 50 days left until our first official show. I’m so nervous for it, but for different reasons other then riding in a big rated show.

Bently is doing well, his back isnt dipping as much as it used to as hes getting used to carrying himself and he’s starting to understand that he needs to move forward.

We schooled some extensions and collections on Monday during my lesson with Trainer S, and while the trot looked good, he had very little stamina to do so at the canter. Canter extensions prompty were added to my homework list. The day before I had worked him in the outdoor for the first time ever. While it was fantastic quality for that footing, it was deeper then he was used to, so he worked harder in that footing which I thought was a good change up for him. I also have plans to work him over the small hill we have in back, but it’s still a little slippy and muddy so I’d rather not die trying to help him build more hind muscles.

Thursday’s lesson with Trainer C also went really well, did a lot of walk canter transitions as thats the most common way they ask for them in Arab classes. He did so well, and at the end she looked at me and went, “this has been one of your better lessons yet with him”, which was a major confidence booster as well as her comments of him coming along a lot faster then she had predicted. I’m trying him with spurs for our ride today, a very rounded pair unlike my pokey ones and hope that he won’t try to kill me like last time.

Forgot a birthday hat so a snapchat filter works!

Thursday was also his foal date! Bently is officially 13. However doing a lesson and having your sheath cleaned on your birthday isn’t how I would want to spend mine, but that’s how he spent his! He was really good for the cleaning, despite major snorting and wide eyes at the puddle, ing until we used a syringe to flush out his sheath, and then he had a mini heart attack and tried to jump forward on the cross ties. Apparently he hates puddles. Need to wok on that.

Speaking of working on things, he no longer walks off once you get on! I am so proud of that little achievement. It pissed me off so much that the moment your foot was in the stirrup off he went walking, leaving me struggling to swing over and sit. It’s a bad habit from when he was broke and no one ever fixed it. So take that bad habits! He still does this weird half step back and to the side thing while moving the block and stepping up on the block, but its already a lot better then before, and it doesn’t take me 5 minutes to mount up anymore.

With 50 days to go, it’s not as scary as before, but I am still very nervous for it. Right now I have a dead to my aid horse who we just barely have all our extension and collections on, but there’s always that chance when we hit the showring I’ll have a completely different horse. Fingers crossed I just have a more forward horse.

Back on Track!

You know how they say when it rains it pours? The last three weeks have been bad weather city here in New England, so it’s been pretty low key on the horse part of my life.

With mixes of snow, rain, sleet, slight flooding and ridiculous amounts of wind, I’m surprised I’ve kept a semi-steady riding schedule. Monday, the wind was so bad, we decided it would be easier and safer to cancel lessons and throw in the towel about riding. By Tuesday we all thought the wind wouldn’t be as bad, but we were wrong. I took my lesson on a different horse to switch it up on Tuesday, and the horse was so freaked out by the coverall barely moving, she spooked dumped me hard on my ass. So Bently got three days off.

“Wait you mean I actually have to work today???”

In other news, I signed the lease for Bently! I’m more excited about that because its a really good deal for what I’m getting. 6 rides a week as well as no farrier or vet payments. Which I got saddled with on my other lease with fewer rides then this one. Either way, I’m very excited for that to start.

If anyone was curious, Bently is doing a lot better! After two lessons in a row, we got our butts kicked and he is traveling a lot better. He’s starting to understand the idea of not sticking his head up in the sky and being a saddle seat horse, but he still has some moments. We even get some tracking up and a very relaxed walk towards the end. He’s been going so well, and I’ve sat two big spooks already this past week, because of snow sliding. The first one I thought I was gonna fall but managed to save it last second. The second, I didn’t have my feet in the stirrups like an idiot but still managed to save it and not fall off. To be fair, almost all the snow had fallen before that point and none had fallen all day.

Also, I invested in pair of new stirrup irons and polo wraps! Or at least new to me in the case of the stirrup irons. Trainer C keeps Herm Sprengers on all her saddles, and I had honestly fallen in love with them. My knees don’t ache in them and I just love the feel of them. My only issue was they cost $250 brand new, around $230 at their current sale price. So off on the internet, I went scouring to find a used pair at a reasonable price. I ended finding a pair on eBay for around $88 USD, that was in really good condition, aside from a decent amount of scratching here and there. So for 16$ shipping, my own set of Herm Sprengers arrived Monday from Poland. Only took two weeks but they are here. Despite their long trip here, they are so worth it.

I also finally bit the bullet and bought a four-set of Back on Track polos. I had been toying with the idea and had been a little nervous with the reviews I had seen online with how long they were and how thick they could be, as well as the fact that they run for about $65. Trainer C did point out that any kind of Back on Track product would help with circulation and be benefical to Bently, so I said “what the heck why not?”. They shipped rather fast, and I will definitely agree with the reviews, they are a little bulky and thick. It’s from one side being fleece, and the other a more stretchy soft fabric with the ceramic fibers woven in. They are a little hard to wrap because you have to go a little tighter then I would like to wrap to make sure they don’t slip. If I went any looser they would fall right off, but I can still get a finger or two between the wraps and his leg.

April is creeping up on me very quickly. I am still kinda behind on my massage classes but I finally decided to skip the one giving me trouble and just move on to the next one. Maybe I’ll go faster now, but I still have some time in March to work on it all. Show season is coming faster as well, so I’ve decided March is the time to get all my show clothes together so I don’t have to worry about it in April.

April will be a shit storm of events. We’re running a schooling show on April 7th, which I think I’m doing a few classes instead of helping run it, I spend the week after in Missouri to visit my sister, one weekend in Worcester, and that’s pretty much all of April. And then May 10th is my first show so I need all my clothes and possible tack by March.

I’ve already kinda planned not to get my hopes up on winning much just with Bently’s current progress and we really only have a month and a half. Any kind of experience will be amazing in my opinion, but again, I don’t want to get my hopes up too high, we’re pretty much starting back at square one with him and trying to retrain everything. I’m still incredibly excited to get out and do more rated shows.

Model status achieved

In other news, I’ve decided to give this blog a different name. After some accidental Instagram stalking, I discovered someone else had the same name as Saddles and Studies. Reining it Back means a little more to me then Saddles and Studies, partially because a rein back is a dressage movement, and I’m trying to slow my life down and manage multiple things at once, like college, becoming a certified massage therapist, anxieties, and work on my dressage skills.

DIY Dye Success!

AKA The Great Dye Job. Back in December, I decided that enough was enough. I had bought a second hand Jaguar dressage saddle, and it was in rough shape. After months of heming and hawing over having someone else dye the saddle, I said f#$% it, and bought the supplies myself, and took the saddle home to redye.

Now the before pictures are rough. Like super rough, “I had no idea how ugly my saddle was”, rough. There was a lot more dye loss on the seat then I originally saw, the skirt was pretty bad, the flaps were miserable, and the only okay spots were really the knee rolls. I mean, it was a used saddle. Shit happens.

the horror show

I ended up following the900facebookpony’s DIY tutorial pretty much to a T. Douse the afflicted leather in acetone, take a swig of your drink of choice, swipe on two to three coats of dye, and then two to three coats of Tan Kote. The only thing I didn’t do was apply Resolene. The Resolene is an acrylic sealant, and once you seal the leather pores, no more conditioning the leather for you.

I honestly am in love with the results. The saddle has gone from looking very second hand to looking directly off a website. The photos I took are right after I conditioned it, so it looks super shiny. However once the layer of conditioner soaked in, it became matte and sooo pretty.

look at that sexy beast

Surprisingly, there hasn’t been tons of dye transfer. The first time I rode in it, I stupidly wore grey full seats, so those got some dye transfer in the crotch and in the knees. I also had a line across the top of my thigh, not sure where that came from. The second ride was a lot better, I wore jeans and saw no dye transfer anywhere. Any dressage saddle gives some dye transfer at some point in its life, so I don’t see a big deal in a bit of transfer here and there. This saved me some major money in doing it myself, and it looks as good as if I had paid someone.

That being said, Trainer S has already told me she wants me to do her treeless over the summer so that will be another redye project to do this year.