Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Lean On

The last few weeks have been the stretch run of summer. It's the quiet lull of the routine between shows, clinics and events that make the days drone on. Every day is a little like Groundhogs Day. I live in the same twenty meter space or out in the same wide open field.  Every day, the same, but a little different.

Mostly the weather hasn't cooperated in our favor. It's rained about 3/4's of the summer, and when it hasn't rained the fields have become utter slop.

Thankfully, the season is over half way done. 

Still on the girls' docket is KWPN Keuring, Devon and maybe Tryon YHS if the calendar leans toward it and if we feel like traveling out again.

The KWPN Keuring has been the first priority in the books.

Both mares are putting the finishing touches on the IBOP test and working in hand. There are some other minor details to take care of but, those can only be taken care of over time or at last minute. The difficulty of Keuring isn't it's just a one and done deal, and if you flop it there's very little chance of a good re-do. It's a lifetime impression. So I'm pretty bent on creating this solid impression for both horses.

Despite my worries for the Keuring, I'm so thoroughly happy with how both girls have developed this year. It positions us really well for for 2016, and focusing us on the young horse things. 

Flair has begun the transition to becoming my main horse. I'm having a blast just starting up with her. Most of the rides have been comprised of just stretching over the topline and getting used to her gaits which aren't together yet. Like every green horse, they loose balance, speed up, slow down or become disconnected over the back. She's no exception.  I enjoy her work ethic, which is outstanding, she gives you 110 percent every time out. 

Haiku has gone through growth spurt after growth spurt. With the Keuring approaching I just have to put blinders on somedays and hope that she doesn't look downhill and like a mule. In her growth, she's put on a full hand and at least 100lbs of topline in the hind end. Her weight looks great. I wish she would gain some width in the chest, but I think that will be given with time.

Still I know I'm being picky, for a three year old she's very much ahead of her group. I'm lucky to get to view other US based three year olds frequently, many of which aren't started or in any shape to be started.

Over the past weekend we went out and trained with Elly Schobel, who came by to teach over two days. Elly, aside from being a good friend,  is an excellent teacher with a very straightforward approach that is rooted in producing good basics. She's very good with not just with the mature horses, but has a really solid view of what young horses are. Plus we jive well.

Having a fresh on the mares was really important to me- simply because I see the same horses day in and out and sometimes the training becomes plateaued or I'm getting stuck in an approach. Despite having the August 30 outing on our calendar, Elly encouraged us to keep focusing in on the smaller details while focusing in on the larger picture at hand. Even in the arena, I forgot that we could change things up with different little gymnastic exercises to focus in on making the bodies more reactive.

Overall, things are cooking and in spite of my personal opinion things are progressing once again. 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Tough skin, Elastic Heart

Bringing out young horses is always an adventure, and much like Forrest Gump's saying, it's much like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get.

Flair has been off the property in an unofficial capacity a few times. She gone to the local parks, went and did opportunity classes at the little show venue, and even has done materiale over at Spy Coast.  For the most part, she's done very well.  Not everyone can say with 30 or so rides that they have a fairly straightforward horse that goes places and scores decently.

I can confidently say, we do.

Sometime around June I felt it was necessary to take her out to her first recognized show to start giving her an official record. I'm always nervous about this because developmentally, she's still on a huge learning curve and not every place is a good place to take a horse like this out.

Venues are really important to me, and I'm known for being particular about where/how I show up.

The Virginia Horse Park isn't too far off from the Kentucky Horse Park in the way of atmosphere- it's large, with active arenas. But unlike Kentucky, it's fairly quiet and the riders who ride there are mostly professionals bringing out their kids or gaining scores for Devon or Young Horse Championships. It runs an active breed show alongside it. The footing is decent and the management does a great job hosting and running the event itself.

It was an ideal match and I wasn't disappointed with the results.

Flair, through torrential rain, deep footing, wind, kamikaze pony riders,  twirling umbrellas of doom and arena switches was unfazed and managed to pull out a solid score at Training one, ending third in a class of 12 experienced horses.

It was good to be back after a hiatus. It was good to see familiar faces and be in the fold again and I'm looking forward to eventually getting back myself.

Back at home the focus has shifted to the Keuring in August. I love inspection and there's a certain amount of pride this year going in. 

First is that Haiku is peaking just right for this. She's fit, and cooking right along in training. She's now regularly going off property, and is doing regular work. 

Flair with now about 45 or so rides is developing her gaits while maintaining her usual rideability. Over the next few weeks, the IBOP test is our biggest focus. Making it smooth and rideable without loosing the quality of the paces. 

Between rounds with Flair, I've begun to take back the ride. I finally got tired of sitting on the sidelines and so we have begun transitioning her over to me. She now rides five to six days per week. Three days is spent on new concept, three days are spent just stretching and the final day is either a lunge or hack day. 

Either way, we're over halfway through season, with one, maybe two more shows left in addition to keuring.