Love it when the ride goes well..

I love those rides where the horse is energized and willing! Bern taught me a neat little trick last night that really worked on Ava. Ava had decided that the end of the arena was scary. I had just started fighting with her to get her to re-bend around the inside leg while she tried to shy into it.

This version of scared is the “I’m not thrilled with working so hard, ‘Look Ma, Scary stuff I’ve seen a million times before!!'”.

Bern tells me to push her forward, tell the horse “omg, you’re right! Lets GO!”. I lightly put my calves on and boom, we shot forward with big trot strides. I gave a small half halt to re-balance Ava and immediately she was not only forward, but engaged! It was awesome!

I don’t really know why it worked so well, but by golly, it worked!

The main point being that Ava wasn’t really scared of the end of the arena, and she wasn’t going to bolt off with me. Instead, we used her evasion to create more energy. At that point I was able to use the extra energy we’d created to ask her to bring her hind legs up under her. What resulted was a nicely forward horse that was working well over her back. My initial reaction of pulling back and fighting for the correct bend would have made Ava suck back and disengage even more.

We did a change of direction with change of bend, and it was by far the best one we’ve ever done. It was mostly due to the fact that Ava was forward and moving to the hand.

It was a neat idea to use the evasion to get a positive result, rather than fighting against Ava and losing our engagement and relaxation.

After this, we worked on our canter. Bern and I have determined that we’re just going to have to push Ava well past her comfort zone in order to help her become stronger and better balanced. Instead of staying on our circles, I do some more daring (for us) stuff. Like, we do 10 meter circle on the wall, on the short side we head down the center line where we leg yield back to the wall. Another leg yield on the other side, to a 10 meter circle. After a few minutes, her canter quality improves immensely, and she starts actually listening to my seat and aids. Normally, no matter what I do with my seat or reins she takes it as meaning she can quit. She’ll throw herself on the forehand and jam into a trot, while I flail around off balance on top. If I keep her guessing about what’s coming up next, and ask her to do things where she’s forced to hold herself up instead of relying on me, then she does start to create her own balance (instead of using the reins to balance on).

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I would’ve rather gone riding…

I went to our GMO awards banquet this year simply because I really want to do the newsletter, and I had the bright idea of writing an article about the banquet.

Let me start with this… the banquet started at 10:30 am.

At the time I was thinking “Who starts a banquet at 10:30 in the morning?”. But off I went, bundled up in my heavy winter coat, to endure a couple of hours of interaction with other people. (I’m not a big people person, hence my inevitable drift into IT) I even brought my riding clothes so I could pop over to the barn for an afternoon rider when the banquet finished.

But no, the banquet was loooooooonnnnnngggg. After the door prizes, another drawing for prizes, silent auction (I didn’t partake), the guest speaker (very good), and the general announcements and updates from the board members, I was so ready to get the heck out of there. But…  they hadn’t even started handing out awards yet.  :\

If I had known the plethora of awards and ribbons that would be handed out over the next two hours, I don’t think I would’ve gone at all. Apparently everyone’s a winner. Don’t get me wrong. I like the idea of awarding beginners for their struggles and hard work. It’s great to see a kid with a huge ribbon and big smile.  But 94 ribbons?! Really?  Enter three shows = Come on down for your three foot ribbon!!

It ended up not meaning anything (to me). I walked away with two Grand Championships that I utterly have no attachment to.  I’m nearly 40 years old… I don’t need a “Yay, you stayed on the horse” award.

Anyway… after sitting through 94 ribbons, and 60+ certificates, I’d been there for 3 hours. I got to listen to several people complain about how their horse couldn’t possibly compete against warmbloods and how unfair that was. Which I can’t tolerate (it’s not the horse, it’s you). And I’ll just be blunt, I can’t for the life of me understand why a professional trainer would care about a stupid ribbon for entering a novice horse class at a schooling show. You want your horse to get some show experience… fine. You honestly need to take a ribbon away from a 12 year old who’s never been to a show before? Are you really that heartless? Geesh!

Finally, hours and hours later, the banquet ended. Then….  the board meeting started (Omg, kill me now) . I sat through the board meeting (wasn’t as long as I had feared), and by the time I was able to leave I was so exhausted that I didn’t even want to go ride.

Skip to today:  I wrote the article for the newsletter about the banquet. The board member’s updates held great information about the activities the board has been doing to create educational opportunities for the members.  I felt that most of the substance to the banquet was this is the one time (during the entire year) where members actually heard what the board was doing.  So I wrote about that, with a small blurb about the guest speaker, and brief mention of the awards. When I showed it to the board, it seemed like really what they wanted was a list of the winners names.   *sigh*