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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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?

My Dream Horse

I’ve wanted a horse of my own since I was 13. I always dreamed of buying my first lease horse, Tawny, and making her into the best horse I could. Clearly, those dreams didn’t come true, and I’m actually quite happy that one didn’t come true. Despite being a fantastic horse that took good care of me and was probably the main reason I made it through high school, she would have never been able to do what I want to do now. I’ve always struggled with wanting a horse and I often went through periods of desperation and depression that I would never own a horse of my own.

I remember crying to my mom at 16 years old in the upstairs office at 11pm about a girl I’d known for years had gotten a horse handed to her by a family friend, and how she rubbed it in my face. I was burning for a horse of my own, and my parents just shook their head and said: “let’s keep up with a lease and it will happen one day, and you’ll be the one writing the check for your own perfect unicorn”. That same horse ended got taken away from that girl and given to Trainer S to train so that was the first bit of karma that bit her in the ass. A few years later, after a violent falling out between us, the same girl got another horse, again practically handed to her. I cried again, still not understanding why this girl got two horses practically handed to her and paid for. My mom repeated the same mantra, “it will happen someday Anna, you’ll have a unicorn of your own”.

One of the things that peeved me the whole time is my parents had the money for one. We could have comfortably afforded a low budget horse, but that wouldn’t have taught me anything so my parents never did. I am so thankful they never did. My mom has said the only horse she would ever buy for me is if Tawny ever came up for sale she would buy her for me because she knew how much I loved that mare. On an ending note for the girl who got handed two horses, her current mount last I heard was a year out of work because she is too hooked on pot to work for the animal and hasn’t worked on training him. Karma is a bitch.

My whole plan for my horsey future is to use the last of my college savings to bankroll the first year-ish of owning a horse. Again, I am incredibly lucky my parents saved enough for me to go to the more expensive state school in MA, but I’ve been trying to use the absolute minimum for my college education, but like most colleges, they like to charge ridiculous things and not tell you. With whatever I think will be left over will hopefully help cover the first year of at least board for one horse, and possibly shoes too, while I work full time on a full salary to start saving for the future of having that horse. My goal is to be able to hand a budget to Trainer C and Trainer S in December of 2020 and ask them to help me find something that fits my riding goals.

My ideal horse wishlist consists of this; a young horse, Arabian or half, mature between 15.3 and 17hh, 16hh ideal, has already had a human sit on its back, chestnut, capable of higher level dressage, show in sport horse classes, a gelding, trail ride and is an acceptable beach buddy. (I am extremely determined to have my beach ride before I die).

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Ideal color and markings- would prefer 4 stockings ideally

Again, if it’s not clear by now, I definitely want an Arabian. I am so hooked it’s not funny. There’s just something about how gorgeous and versatile the breed is that got me hooked. I know the color isn’t a massive deciding factor in buying a horse, but I have a major thing for chestnuts. It’s a problem. Maybe its because my favorite color is red, or that chestnuts can pretty much wear any color. If I went for a half arab, I think I’d want either a half saddlebred or a half warmblood. I do want to go for a more dressage type horse so a half warmblood would be ideal, but half saddlebreds are also gorgeous.

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My riding goals feel pretty simple to me. I want to do high-level dressage, maybe not Prix St. George, but at least get to third or fourth level, maybe toss some freestyle dressage in there too. The ability to show in sport horse classes at Arabian shows is also a must because it would be wonderful to keep that up and continue showing sport horse. A trail buddy and beach buddy are secondary wishlist items to all of this. I do want a show horse, and a show horse that can do all that plus trail riding is a tall order. Plus there is the risk factor of injury on trails and beaches, so if that is so, that part of the wishlist can be pushed to the eventual and inevitable horse number 2, which either will be another show horse or a grade quarter horse that I can goof off on. Horse Number 2 wishlist is still under debate.

I also need a tall horse. I don’t have super long legs, but I am 5 foot 6, so I need something between 15.3 and 17 hands. Ideally, I want 16 hands exactly, but having a purebred 16hh horse doesn’t seem to be very common and half Arabs end up around there usually. The gender of the horse is also pretty wishwashy. I have worked with incredibly mareish mares and mares that if you didn’t know any better you would asusme they were geldings. So far only one gelding has mistreated me in my entire horse career, so I am leaning towards a gelding but gender doesnt feel so important in the long run.

Look how cute!!!

Finally, the last part of my wishlist, a young horse that is at least or will mature to somewhere between 15.3 and 17 hands. The young part freaks my mom out the most, but I want to train a horse right, and not have to worry about untraining something else. I definitely want something that has had a human sit on. The idea of a foal is still up in the air because I am someone who lives for riding just as much as I live for the groundwork, so waiting to back the horse would be just another nail in the ‘I’ve wanted a horse for over 7 years” coffin, and possibly waiting another 2 years after would kill me. However a baby would be the perfect solution to bringing a horse along myself and teaching it everything myself, so again, its up in the air.

I also don’t want an older horse, because of the medical costs. A lot of Arabians I know that are older often need injections, and I definitely am not ready for that cost up front. If I found the right horse that needed them, I would definitely be all over it regardless of future medical costs, but its something I don’t want to have to think about for a few years.

It’s so exciting to me to think my dream horse is only a few years away.  Its something I’ve waited for for so long, and I know the perfect horse will come along at the exact right time. How long till I get to that perfect horse and if I go through a few different ones is subjective, but I know that the first horse will be soon.

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.