Well it is now almost show time! Funny thing is I have been feeling less nervous the closer it gets. I have decided that at this point I need to just treat it like any other show and go in and do my best and let the chips fall where they may. Of course I always get a bit nervous about any show and a small amount of nerves are a good thing. One thing that is making me nervous though is that I have been assigned an early ride time for my championship class. I really like riding in the late morning or early afternoon best if I have a choice. But on the plus side I will be done early since either way I probably won’t be able to sleep very well the night before anyway!
Tiara has been doing very well at home. We had a clinic last weekend with Brendan and worked on fine tuning our right lead canter departures which have gotten a bit rough lately. She was actually a bit lazy starting out. She can be like the energizer bunny that keeps going and going so sometimes it is better if she starts out a bit on the lazy side.
I have been told that it gets more difficult to teach flying lead changes to horses after they turn 8. Tiara is 7 so I have had this on my mind, but haven’t felt like we were anywhere near ready to tackle this issue just yet. We have barely begun working counter canter so planned to try and work on flying changes MAYBE by spring. I sure wasn’t planning on working on these before the championships as we have plenty of stuff we need to polish up for our training and first level tests. So of course we had one of those training moments my friend Kathy likes to call a “happy accident”. We were cantering on the right lead and Brendan asked me to come across the diagonal and trot at X and then pick up the left lead. Well I came across the diagonal, half halted before X, changed her to a slight left bend, half halted again and then put my left leg on to push her over a bit and get a better left bend, and next thing I knew she gave this little grunt and did a beautiful clean flying change. I was laughing so hard and it was so smooth I just let her canter on the new lead for a few minutes. I sure wasn’t going to punish her for it as on hindsight I gave her all the cues for a lead change even if unintentionally. Even though that wasn’t my intent, it gives me hope that learning the lead changes won’t be as difficult as I was anticipating. Of course going from left to right will probably be harder as she much prefers the left lead when given a choice. Hopefully she doesn’t decide this is so much fun that she throws them in during my training and first level tests!
She did that when she first got the idea of trot lengthening. She decided they were so much fun she was offering them to me all over the place.
Last week we had a big discussion on not breaking at the canter. I have usually given her the benefit of the doubt when she breaks but decided that it is time to put a stop to this behavior when there doesn’t appear to be a good reason. So one day I really got after her for breaking, after first ensuring that she wasn’t unbalanced or that anything seemed to be giving her a good reason to break. After that she got really strong at the canter and wouldn’t come back to trot at all. She is very smart and does try really hard to please most of the time, so I guess she decided that if I wanted to canter, then by golly canter we would! I finally put her on a smaller circle and kept her going until I gave her a very definite cue to come back to trot. For a couple of days we had to work really hard at getting good downward transitions again but now I feel they are even better than before. Sometimes you just have to push something to polish it up in the long run. Those are the times I just hope I’m doing the right thing.
This weekend we are going to work with Anne Aloi. It is supposed to be quite cold but so far the weather report for the show week is looking pretty good. At this point I feel we are as ready as we can be and we are showing at a level we are thoroughly proficient in, so we will see. The main thing I am telling myself is to remember something I learned during my Marine Corps days. Attention to detail. Everything, no matter how small, can have a huge affect on the outcome.
Tiara is so much fun and has taught me so much in the three years I have owned her. Although the first year she wasn’t so much fun to ride as she was very green and was very easily distracted by anything she perceived as a threat to her safety. We spent a lot of time that first year just trying to get her to listen to me and trust me. When she isn’t distracted she is the easiest horse to ride that I have probably ever owned in my whole life. By that I mean that she has a great work ethic and catches onto things very quickly. That coupled with the fact that for the first time since I was very young and single, I have been able to really devote a lot of time and energy to furthering my riding and it has really been paying off in so many ways. The first year I showed her at Intro I didn’t think I would ever be able to get her to settle down in the show atmosphere. The second year we ventured into training level at some small schooling shows and finally took the plunge into showing in a recognized show in Pinehurst in the fall. This year we have done training and started First level. Labor of Love in Raleigh reminded me of just how far we have come and reminded me that she still has the ability to become very distracted and worried about her surroundings at times. Riding and showing horses is full of small victories and sometimes small to major setbacks, but overall it is a very rewarding and fun endeavor. And now my journey with her has brought us to the USDF Region 1 championships which is something I never would of dreamed we would be able to enter and show in just a short year ago. So we’re going to give it our best shot and hope it is one of those days she isn’t worried or distracted about something in the area and we are able to put in our best effort and hope for a great outcome! But win or lose it will be a great show with all of my show friends. I am just hoping for a great ride on my awesome little mare and let the outcome be whatever it will be.