Friday, March 20, 2015

Arabian Hunter Hack ATR

I was going to enter the open, too, but I had no idea what the judge would think of us.  I didn't want to wear out my pony. And this class looks to be pretty darn competitive by the time we get to the National level...

I should have entered the open for a practice shot at the jumps!

In the warm up, we had a gate to jump.  I'm learning quickly that Fancy Pony doesn't trust gates right off the bat...
We trotted it, and she went very deep as I held her together in her wiggly approach...  I don't know if she was just checking to make sure I was there to support her 360 degrees, or what.

When I ride, it's as if I set up a box around my pony, and I direct her by changing the shape and position of the box.  If she wants to drift right, I put the right wall of my box against her.  If I want her to collect, I shorten the box front to back.  Well, it felt like she wiggled just enough to ensure the box was in place all the way around.

After the first jump, she was solid and consistent.  I wanted to pop over the jump just once to the left before entering the ring, but it was not in the stars.  Another rider was commited, and it was time to enter the ring!

We headed in for out flat work, and Fancy Pony was more consistent than she had been in this ring, but we had a couple bobbles in our connection.

Canter felt great, and hand-gallop felt even better!  She saw the jumps and she was ready!
While our hand-gallop covered more ground than the horse in front of us, we couldn't pass because they moved in front of us to cut the corner.  No problem.  We just hand-galloped deep into the corner to maintain our own space.  OMG, this horse!  Can you ask your horse to hand-gallop deep into a corner?  What won't this mare do for me??

Walk and reverse.
More trot, and again, we had connection bobbles.  I asked her to really trot on and into my hands, but she remained a tad bit fussy.
Canter - YES!
Again, she started looking for the jumps!
Hand-Gallop!  If I didn't keep my inside leg on, she would try to aim for one of those jumps!  Silly pony!

Back to the canter, then trot and line up.  Well, our flat work wasn't as consistent as I would have liked, but I know it will get there as the season progresses and our conditioning improves.

Our Hack course was 2 jumps set on a half-circle.  I was up first.  I decided to start with a spiral-out circle rather than just head to the first fence.  I trotted 1/3 of the circle, picked up my left lead canter, and headed into the first jump.
I felt like we were tiny bit deep, but she jumped right out of her stride.  I was happy with that.
I set us on a perfect, large half-circle to the next fence.  Again, a nice quiet jump right out of her stride, but she landed on the right lead.  She came quietly down to the trot, lined up, and halted square.

you might have to look closely...

We came into the center for the placings, and I thought we were going to get feedback from the judge, but I guess they were just eager to get us moving on along.

We won!  We took first place!!

Fancy Pony - rocking out all weekend!

I couldn't resist taking a victory lap!  We even took the jump again just for the heck of it!!
That Fancy Pony knew she had done well, and she was feeling good about it, too!
Folks, we are now qualified for Nationals in Hunter Hack ATR, as well!
Can I express my excitement and glee??  Words are not enough!  Sometimes, I'm just screaming inside because I am just that ecstatic!!
typical truck dash after a show, right?  ;)

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Sport Horse Under Saddle ATR -and- 14.2 and Under

These classes happened almost back to back.
It had already been a really long day.
The Fancy Pony was tired.
I was tired.
It was already after 9:00 pm...

Finally they called us in for Sport Horse Under Saddle ATR!
We charged into the ring with our fanciest trot!
We all (all 12 of us) finally got into the ring and we trotted round and round and round and tried not to run into each other.

That Fancy Pony seemed to notice the dressage ring boundaries and got SUPER consistent in the bridle, seeking my contact and following my lead!  How long were we going to trot??
Ah, now we can canter!  Take our time...  Set up the bend with my inside leg and make sure she feels soft all the way through...  Pick her up with my inside leg, and what a soft, quiet transition!!
Now, the challenge of the day...  Don't break at the canter...
I was not thinking "don't break".  Instead, I was thinking, "Just like this!  Keep this going!"
I put more energy into the canter at every corner.  It felt so wonderful, I was grinning from ear to ear!
After a few laps, I felt Whisper waning.  She was really getting tired already.  I lifted my pelvis and tried to support her with my core.  Non-interference was my goal.  She continued to play along.  How are we still cantering?

I insisted on our best cross-country canter.  Whisper obliged, but she kept asking me, "Where are the jumps?"
Sorry no jumps.
A horse explodes next to us!!
She maintains as if nothing happened.
Another horse explodes right in front of us!
We leave that one behind us as she pushed up into my hands, lifting her back to dance with me...
Yet another horse is acting up, and we don't have a hole to go though!
Outside leg to push the shoulders over, and we leg-yield to the inside of the dressage boundaries, where I decide we're going to park it for the rest of the class.
We're still hand-galloping??  What has it been - half an hour???

Now, I'm no longer smiling.  I have my gane face on.  I'm power-breathing in order to keep my core engaged and help this Fancy Pony show off everything she's got!

Finally, we walk and reverse.  Then, we're trotting again!  For D.A.Y.S.......
More canter.  I've caught my breath, but now I have to breathe my legs with every stride just to help Whisper maintain.
Hand-gallop one last time, and I push that mare for everything she's got!  THIS is the class I came here for!
I get up into half-seat and continue to breathe my legs.  Anything to help her out.  Talk about a marathon class!!!
Back to the canter!
I sit, but I don't ask for the distinct transition.  I bring her back slowly to avoid any break in gait.
Another lap or 2 and they finally have us trot into the line up.  We were both ready...

1st Place...
2nd Place...
3rd Place...
All I need is to be in the ribbons, and I'll have my qualifications for this class.  I'll be thrilled with 6th place.

4th Place is number 416 - RSA Talk ofthe Street...
OMG!  Did they really just call my number?

I didn't hear anything else!  I walked over to get my ribbon in a daze.
I exit the ring and Heather is at the out gate to meet me and she screams!!  "You did it!!"

I suddenly found myself fanning my face with my white ribbon.  I was going to cry.
I just walked out of the class with the points I wanted.

Heather brought me back to reality quickly.
"Get off your horse! She needs to rest!"
Oh, yes.
Yes, she does.
Because we still have one more class!

And I walked the steaming beast around while we both caught our breath for round 2...

Allow me to break up this talk sandwich...

Thank goodness the Sport Horse Under Saddle 14.2 and Under class was not nearly the marathon of our previous class!!
It was the same game by another name with just a few less players.
Whisper was *just* as consistent in this class and gave me the loveliest transitions we had all day!  I was as proud as could be as we lined up and waited for the placings.

This time, when they announced 2nd place, I was looking around to see who that was (I really like to get a mental image of the first 2 placing horses) before I realized they had called our number again!
I think I was ready to faint.  I walked out of there, hopped of my pony, and immediately loosened everything I could lay hands on.
What a showing!
The rest of the weekend was just for fun and games at this point!

Day 1 satin - couldn't be happier!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Hunter Pleasure - Main Ring Adventures

Arabian shows now seem to be 'divided' into 2 camps:
Main Ring (western, hunter, english, park, costume, halter, etc)
Sport Horse (sport horse in hand/under saddle, working hunter, jumper, dressage, etc)

Since the Fancy Pont and I have been training in the world of Sport, we had mainly focused on preparing for the sport horse classes.  However, THIS show offered BOTH classes!

So, we ventured into the main ring hunter pleasre classes and rode like an open hunter horse:
Hunter Pleasure ATR
Hunter Pleasure AATR

I'm lumping both classes rogether because both rides went about the same, and we were competing against mostly the same horses.

Fancy Pony was feeling stiff to the left.  She was having a difficult time maintaining her left lead canter, and she was struggling to carry herself.
These were our first 2 classes of the show on Friday...
You're not *really* going to make me get up, are you?

We made a reasonable presentation at the trot, but our canter was nothing special and was somewhat inconsistent.  Then, they asked for the hand-gallop....
Oh, hand-gallop, how fun you are!  And how satisfying when the transition is distinct!

My strategy for the hand-gallop was to find my cross-country attack mode, and Whisper was game to play along!

The first direction, they called the walk from the hand gallop, but I took my time to downward transition through the canter and a few steps of trot.
Back to the canter.  Oh, yeah?
Heck, yeah!  Pony came back to the canter and rebalanced herself quite amiably.

Back to the trot, and line up!
We walked out of there with a 4th place in both classes!
That means we have enough point now to go to Regional Championships in Hunter Pleasure ATR!
What a GREAT feeling!!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Arabian Mounted Native Costume

We show in this class just for fun!

Are you ready to try to pass your horse off as an Arabian?
I wasn't real happy with the way the blanket on my dad's costume stretched and slid down over her butt.  I was planning modifications and strategic safety-pinning.

However, Kindred-spirit and Partner-in-crime let me borrow her costume, instead...
I have to admit, I was a little worried about hurting my dad's feelings over the last-minute change...
fitting session

This class is judged at the walk, canter, and hand-gallop. No trotting.
The judges seem to really like the upright necks and high knee action of english pleasure type horses.
Again, we took last place (likely due to head-tossing from the tasseled brow band), but we had a blast charging around the ring in splendid regalia!  Helmet included, of course...
This is when she wore it on her 16.2hh gelding!

We took home a 6th place ribbon, and we did't mind one bit!

After the class, my dad came to me and said, "I'm glad you decided to go with the other costume.  That was an excellent choice!"
Thanks, Dad!!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Man, I Feel Like A Woman - or - Arabian Liberty Class with the Fancy Pony

The game goes like this:
You lead your Arabian horse into the arena to a predetermined marker.
Time and music starts when you remove the halter.
Your Arabian acts like an Arabian, running loose around the arena for 2 minutes.
At the end of the 2 minutes, the music stops, and you have 2 minutes to catch your Arabian.
If you do not catch your Arabian within 2 minutes, you are disqualified.
This class in not placed.  Only a winner is chosen.
Two handlers are allowed in the ring.

First, I had to pick some music.
After lots of listening (and comparing to video), I played the finalists while actually practicing Liberty with the Fancy Pony.

Ultimately, it was determined that she "feels like a woman" (Shania Twain), but that if she ever *didn't* feel like a woman, she was ready to "Wipeout" (Beach Boys).
When Shania was singing, that mare rocked around the arena in a trot so lofty that I thought she must be almost 16hh!  Her tail went straight up so you could see the silver banner created by that white spot on the tip of her dock...  She looked exquisite!
That was in practice...

The actual performance went like this:
My Liberty parter-in-crime and I decided to play on the music a little.  This is how we dressed:
feelin' like a woman

I turned the Fancy Pont loose in the ring, where she promptly turned into... a fancy hunter??
There was no more upright neck and tail curled over the back.  No.
She was all about long and low stretchy trot and looooong canter strides!

When the music stopped, the mare took one more canter circle, then stopped and looked around as if she was confused.  When she saw me, I stood still and raised my hand with a quiet "whoa" and she turned to look at me head on and didn't move except for a few steps toward me to be haltered.  She was so beautifully easy to catch!

We took 7th place (they don't usually place the liberty class beyond 1st), and brought home a purple ribbon!  Well, if we can't have blue, we do love purple!
This class was a ton of fun and became a great opportunity for the pony to stretch out in the middle of the show!
Video to come...  as soon as I lay hands on it!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Dress Rehersal! ...always a good idea...

In preparation for our first show of the season, (and a breed show, at that), I decided a dress rehersal was in order for the Mounted Arabian Native Costume class...

Step 1: dress the horse...

Does it get any more fun than this??
Step 2: dress yourself...
Step 3: figure out a way to disguise your helmet when you do it for real...
I'm thinking pseudo-turban?

Thursday, March 5, 2015

First Competition of 2015

I'm dreaming big, folks!

Sometimes, it scares the hell out of me...

My first show of the year is an Arabian show where I will debut with the Fancy Pony is some Sport Horse classes along with some "main ring" classes...

On the docket for next weekend are the following classes:
Arabian Hunter Pleasure
Liberty (oh, the fun - I can't wait!!)
Hunter Hack (whatexactly are they judging in Hunter Hack, anyway?)
Sport Horse Under Saddle

We're hoping to gather some of our first points on the road to Arabian Sport Horse Nationals 2015!
Wish us luck, and if you're in the St Louis area, stop by the National Equestrian Center and say HI!

In the meantime...  we have some extra-intense catching-training to do.....


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