Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Schooling Adventures

(from Graduate Riding School Blog)

Pics coming soon :)

So Sat night I had a very relaxed very nice ride as the sun set. Perfect summery temperature. Hung out @ the barn for a while afterwards cleaning tack, pulling Si's mane, disassembling windows (you'd be amazed the random things you can find to do at the barn :) n other fun and games before going home to sleep. Wonderful sleep :)

Sunday I was very disappointed to not be going to GV to play -- one of my favs, but I knew Si just wasn't ready. So decided to go to a random schooling show instead. I don't want to passport her this year, so seriously limits us as to the quality of h/j/d shows we can do (don't need to passport till T for eventing :). Look around and find one not too far away, super-cheap. Both engl and western divisions. hmmmmm tricky. In my experience shows that try to run both generally do neither well, but sobeit. Jumpers start at 2, so plan to be there at 1. Load @ 11:30. How very civilized is that? hahaha and my amazing supergroom Nicole agreed to come yet again (even before knowing of the impressive load time) so met us at the barn shortly before it was time to load.

Pony loads herself. Just strolls right on, no issue, no hesitation. Ok good start :) Pull in and find parking waaaaaayyyyy at the end of the field, but right next to K who's there to play in the western division. woohoo! And of course our two horses know each other well, so Sienna comes off the trailer, sees him and figures "oh good, we're going hacking" and chills right out. Sweet.

Go to register and get "how fast can you tack up?" ummm very fast, but not about to panic over this. Why? "Well they're on the last hunter class, jumpers will be starting right away. You have probably 15 minutes." uh ok. So they're way ahead of schedule. Np. Skip the first class and register to start in the 2nd. 15 people in the class so that should buy me extra time (esp as it's a solid 10 min walk back to the trailer).

Get back to trailer and tack up; pony's still super-quiet. I was expecting a slight personality change once I got on, but no. Go to w/u ring and she's lazy enough that I was starting to worry about her. Jumped her a little bit and she was good, just lazy. Thing is, Si doesn't very often do lazy. As I'm contemplating this I hear "jumpers will start in one hour." Excuse me??? Yeah was not amused at that. Dismount. Let pony graze while I watch K clean up in the western ring. hahaha No interpretive horsemanship today -- she actually chose to follow the prescribed pattern. How boring is that? >;-P Head back to the trailers for a bit. I'm sure Sienna was thinking it was the easiest day ever!

Since we had some time to kill, somebody (K maybe?) had the brilliant idea that N should ride Iroc since she's never ridden western before. hahaha so in borrowed gear of all types -- including western chaps -- they're off! hahaha All sorts of new experiences here -- from mounting from the ground (how do you ride for *that* long w/o ever mounting from the ground?!?!?!) to the western jog and lope. Although if I had to guess, I'd say she'll be sticking with English :) But now at least she can say she's ridden western. Next - sidesaddle! And as lazy as Si was being I was awfully close to letting her jump her around too -- except I know my pony well enough not to trust it to last...

Fast forward a couple hours and they're finally getting ready for the jumpers. Go re-warm-up my pony who's still remarkably apathetic about the whole thing. Except one horse who she absolutely despised for some reason I could never figure out. Any time she came remotely near us Si'd have pinned ears and be making witchy-mare-faces. No idea what that was about, but she couldn't care less about the other horses; even when the western gamers were over running around in all their bright sparkles. Hopped her over the w/u fence a couple times, but she just wasn't involved in the whole thing. So I asked Nicole to put my jacket over the fence to give her something to look at -- and that helped. Got a nice bascule w/ her knees up around her ears :) hahaha that woke her up a bit. And got a "is she an eventer?" from one of the coaches standing near Nicole. hahaha gotta love it. Remove the jacket so as not to scare anybody else.

ugh - but speaking of scary. This was a *low* level schooling show. Very low level. So while I was amused, I wasn't entirely surprised to hear several of the riders gathered around the course map trying to figure out what the differences between the three different jumper classes (Table A, Table C, and Power & Speed) were. Was debating whether I should explain it to them, but my opinion hadn't been asked AND the definition of each was written on the course map (like I said, low level) so I was just staying quiet. But what really got me was when their coach came up and they asked her and she clearly didn't have a clue. Was trying hard to make up an educated answer but was so far off it wasn't even funny. That really gets me. For one thing, if you're coaching students who are competing, you should know what you're sending them out to do. And for two, if your student actually manages to stump you on something (and it happens to the best of us :) the correct answer is "that's an interesting question, let me find out the answer and get back to you." Just making something up not only doesn't help, it actually makes things worse. Blah. Ok end of rant.

Back to our regularly scheduled story :) Turns out I'm not even on the class list, so N gets me stuck in at the end. Lots of time to kill. Finally our turn. Not much in the way of interesting jumps. 1 gate (a good thing, Si needs gate practice). A couple bright colours. But nothing terribly exciting. Except one fence. It's a wall on one side (typical painted red brick) but on the other side it's an ugly grey panel, slightly sloped so it should theoretically ride well, but with the way the light was hitting it, blindingly bright. And this was the first fence. *sigh*. Enter the ring just as there's static and whathaveyou on the loudspeakers -- right beside us. So suddenly we're dancing sideways. Not new to riding a green horse so took as long as possible to get around and salute the judge, letting Si see as much as possible. But she only got to see the scary grey wall sideways...

Turn towards our first fence and the battle begins. "Don't think we should go there." "Comeon Si, it's fine, just jump it" "Nope, it's gonna eat me." "It's really not." "I don't want to go that way." "Well you're not allowed to go around it or backwards." "How do you feel about up?"

Seriously - that was the conversation. Now I know this particular horse reasonably well, and usually when she sees something that scares her like that I can't get her w/in four strides of it. I got her to the last one here, so I was happy about that. She knows she has to hold her line, so doesn't even try to run out. Prob is, if you can't go backwards or sideways and don't want to go forwards what's left? *sigh* Apparently the standing on the hindlegs got a reasonable reaction from the crowd. But again, it wasn't malicious (with this horse it has never been malicious) -- just very very concerned about what was in front of her. So I let her see it and tried again. Took a ride and a half and it wasn't pretty, but we got over it. She jumped everything else, but frantic. Very concerned, very upset. Not so good :( Poor pony.

On the plus side, she chilled the second we left the ring. Ok so she's not tooooooo stressed then (when she's really stressed there is no off). So the next course is set and I pushed my way in to be about the third one in. Everybody standing around, nobody going, I'm going! hahaha didn't want her to wait too long before going back in the ring. Same first fence, still hesitant, but went over it on the first try and less panicked. Jumped clear. Still frantic (brought her back to trot a few times in an attempt to get her to chill :) but much better. Apparently the comments on the sidelines were along the lines of "guess she's not going for speed?" hahaha lets see would the "woah" every other stride be your first clue? I want her to have speed when we get to the 1.2m classes -- don't need or want it yet! Right now I want calm and confident. So much better but still not good. Closer to ridable though.

So by now I'm hot and tired and would really much rather just go home. H/J shows are my least favourite of all the options. But I knew she really needed another round. So fine. One more. This time I slide my way into the very front "can I go in?" "ummm you're not on my list." "that's ok, can I go anyways?" "sure." hahaha love it. In I go. The numbers weren't even moved around yet which was momentarily disconcerting but ok. Jumped around clear and while not quiet, certainly calmer. Didn't feel any of the franticness (how did that pass my spell check - is it really a word?) from her as I did in the first rounds. Definitely more confident too -- still required a fairly strong ride, but nowhere near the determination of the first two. So I deemed that that was good. Significantly better. And we could go home on that one :) Si was all happy and proud of herself.

So in the end a positive experience. And was a good thing we went, even if it wasn't anywhere near as much fun as GV would've been. And *sigh* I realize I have to do a lot more of this to get her to realize new places are not scary and you don't need an hour to decide a ring is ok to ride in. Was impressed she loaded herself to go home too. Wasn't expecting that. Usually the lure of wonderful green grass way outweighs the idea of going home :) So @ least that was good *g*

Now... What's next? :)

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