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.

Image may contain: one or more people, people riding on horses, horse and outdoor

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.

Image may contain: one or more people, people riding on horses, horse and outdoor

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.

Image may contain: horse
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.

Image may contain: one or more people and horse

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.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, horse
Champs!

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.

Flies, Fresh Grass and Opportunities

Thursday was the day I was finally back from Missouri. Don’t get me wrong, I love my sister and going somewhere where it was over 65 for a few days was amazing. But while I was gone, Bently seemed to have forgotten everything.

Unaware of the bootcamp ahead

I guess on Wednesday, he ran himself into a major sweat trying to get away from flies. I was grateful I was smart enough to order flyspray on Tuesday so I had a bottle to bring Thursday. It has already been decided that he will now come in at 10 instead of 12 to save him from the black flies. If he still is going absolutely nuts over flies, he will move up to the green barn with an in-and-out so he can walk away from them. I feel bad for him because he’s not used to flies this early, or this bad. Upstate New York seems like the life for horses, minus being in the middle of nowhere.

Getting back on him on Thursday, he promptly forgot all the long and low work we had been working on for the past 2-3 months. I had a jittery, short stepping, head in the freaking clouds horse for about 10 minutes of our ride. He went above the bit, brought his head back all the way up, and did not want anything to do with my hands. Thankfully as we warmed up, his little brain started to click and he remembered long and low. We had some fantastic canter work and the trot work felt really good.

Uh lady, we did 5 days of none of this, what the heck is this saddle doing here

Friday was my weekly lesson with Trainer C. We decided to start riding him in a pelham, but because it’s been too long since I’ve ridden in one, and we’re in that weird volatile stage where a simple mistake can mess it up so quickly, the pelham is Trainer C Lesson Only. Also, I literally cannot remember how to do double reins, like at all. I spent half my lesson trying to figure out how to ride in double reins again and kept dropping them. He was absolutely fantastic. Both Trainer C and I were worried that once he went in the pelham, he would revert to saddle seat with a curb bit. I had a long and low horse and a horse in a frame the entire ride, with a few moments of head and neck in the air while he got used to it. This kid has come so far already, it will be interesting to see what the next few months bring. We’ve just gotta keep working at canter stamina, traveling straight and not losing his mind. Its only three things, right?

Bently.exe has stopped working due to exhaustion

It’s also been decided that Bently is going to go show in May! It had been a back and forth because of some different reasons, but Trainer C approved it! We were a little worried because he needed maybe another 50 pounds to be perfect, but its to the point where its not a big deal as he’s gaining steady weight.

An Improvement! Bad angle too but fresh grass is too important

Because Bently is now officially showing, the topic of classes came up. Trainer C reminded me of a new group of classes called Opportunity Classes. It’s aimed at riders with school horses to get them into showing and give them a chance to ride in a rated setting without the pressure of some of the other classes. It also is a lower stall fee by almost 75$, and classes are half off, which I am all over. It gives us a chance to let me get used to riding in a large ring in a large setting while also giving Bently a bit more wiggle room to make a mistake. In a sport horse class, they’ll take points away from me if I can’t get the extensions and collections, but in opportunity, I won’t get dinged so hard pointwise if it’s not perfect. It gives us more time to get those perfect extensions for the next show if I want, or just stay in Opportunity for the whole season.

It really seems like the perfect option for us right now, just to get Bently where he needs to be. The only downside is we might have to go in hunter attire. The show manager did say we could go in sport horse, but there is nothing in the official rules, so we’re going to play it safe and bring hunt attire juuuust in case. I had a pretty hunt saddle and matching hunt bridle lying around, currently useless so, not that big of a problem on that front. And we can pull together a dickie, a hunt coat, and tan pants up pretty fast so I think we’re all good.

“I gib you kisses, even though you kick my butt”

Also one week until my first hands-on massage class. I am so nervous because I feel like I don’t know enough, despite constantly studying. I feel like I’ve rambled about it over 100 times, but I just don’t know what to expect. I learn so much via touch and interaction, that just trying to teach myself off words and pictures are so hard. Either way, next week is insane. Massage, Avengers Endgame, Game of Thrones, too much is going on next week. Who decided that anyway?

Mini Schooling Show and an Update

This past Sunday, Trainer C held a small schooling show for the Connecticut River Arabian Association at the farm. We were really not sure how many people were going to come, and in the end, only people on property were showing but it was a really good experience for all.

To start the day, in simple terms, Bently was pissed. He watched everyone else go out and then spent the whole morning screaming his displeasure at being left in. He eventually calmed down, but then Mikhai realized he was not being let out either and started the screaming back up again. I wasn’t too worried about his mental state until I took him out to lunge and he was a lunatic outside. Like spooking, running, snorting like the dragon he pretends to be.

Nicest warm up ever

Thankfully once I was on, he seemed to calm down a bit. Maybe it was all the cars parked around or that someone was walking their horse that got him, I wasn’t sure. We warmed up pretty soft and nice which I was very happy with. We ended up wandering around while waiting for our two classes because Bently is a pacer and he wouldn’t let me stop and breathe so we did laps.

The first class was rough. Bently wasn’t expecting the back door to be wide open with the ranger parked outside of it, and there were a lot more people on the rail then he was used to in that ring, so he spooked twice. Again, it didnt help he was alone either so it was one of those do the best we could.

CORNER IS VERY SCARY ABORT ABORT ABORT!

We had some gorgeous moments when he did finally figure out he should ignore everything, but getting him to ignore it was a battle. And then he was all fired up and wouldn’t let the ring hands pin him. It took a combined effort from me and Trainer C to get the ribbon on his bridle. Once he realized it was victory lap time, he was all up and in a frame and reaching and oh so pretty.

The second class was infinitely better as I knew what to expect and I relaxed a lot more. We did break at the canter but my horse has very little stamina when it comes to cantering, which is a work in progress. He still was a little wary of everyone coming up to him but he relaxed a lot more. Victory lap was more subdued without the ribbon on his bridle. After he managed a short walk down to the pond because Brooks caught a fish and I wanted to see how big it was. Curiosity killed the cat I guess.

Swishy tail to show my anger at being ridden in the other scary corner- Bently

Overall, I am so proud of him. I went in with no expectation and prayers that I would not have a horse that would completely revert into saddle seat mode once he realized he was in a show ring. He had a few saddle seat moments in the second class but they were manageable. Trainer C and I are already planning an upgrade to a Pelham when we go into shows because he does get a bit bigger in the ring and our current snaffle is just too thin to get him to pay attention.

I AM DONE THANK YOU VERY MUCH. WHERE IS MY TREAT

We still have some work to do, and Trainer C has said if he shows improvement in the next week we will sign him up for the May show.

He will be getting almost 5 days off from riding because I leave Saturday afternoon for the lovely state of Missouri (aka Misery) to visit my sister and brother in law. I’m hoping a few days off will do him good.

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.

Operation Fatman Continues

Today is Day 16 in Operation Fatman! He himself is not pleased with this operation, but he’s currently lost all say in the matter.

The Fatman in question

Mikhai is doing really well, to say the least. 16 days in constant work, with only two days off because it was too freakin cold. Thanks Massa-twoshits. Not many updates on his end, besides the usual work work work work. We did swap him to an unbroken kimberwick, which is his usual show bit, but Trainer C is considering changing it again, so this is not a permanent change by the sounds of it. He got seen by the chiropractor too on Tuesday, with good results.

Mikhai is surprising me in the sense of he is a horse who got used to get his hocks injected every year since he was 5, and we are 16 days into without them injected. The breeders decided it was just what they should do, and Trainer C kept up with it, for fear he would go lame without it. Having 11 years of injections to your hocks must do something negative to a horse. But because they took last season off, he never got them done, so the last time he got done was 2017. Hopefully, we can make it through 2019 without them and see what happens.

Bently got seen by the chiro and the vet in the same day. My hope is that being seen by the chiro will help most of the problems and we can avoid the hock injections, but I highly doubt it. There is still a high chance his hocks will have to be done as well.

The chiro said he got really good releases out of Bently’s shoulders, something I had noticed before. The scary thing was, I watched him lift Bently’s back almost 3 full inches, right to where it should sit. He had a tabletop flat back like he should. We also checked saddle fit, thankfully my saddle still fits the best, but he did warn me it might not be forever as the muscles change and he starts to use his back more.

Trainer C is already planning his retraining regiment. Bently’s back is a lot better then one of her horses was when he was at his worst, so she has high hopes it is fully fixable. He’s on a break until Saturday, and then Trainer C is going to spend a few days working with him to get his back up. She has long ass legs and wears big spur to help him pick his barrel up. Once he’s at a place she’s comfortable with, I’ll get on and work with him but I think it will be mostly me and her for the time being. Once we get him to the right place maybe other lessons can ride, but they have to be good.

And I don’t mean that in a bad way, saying some of the lesson kids suck at riding, but it won’t take much to get him to revert back to sinking his back and such so it’s one of those pick and choose kind of lesson kids. One girl who rode him before his injections won’t be allowed to anymore, she keeps her hands so stiff and out, that it would make him revert in a split second. Trainer C isn’t even a fan of how she rides Hamlet, even with a german martingale she can’t get his head down.

On that note, I can’t wait till Bently starts to figure himself out. My goal is to work with him this year, I honestly am so in love with him, and he’s such a good boy who does try so hard. He would make the cutest sport horse/dressage horse ever so I’m hoping we can get him to start using himself.