Summer has arrived…and maybe too, the doldrums already

When summer came, it came fast. The flies are awful, and I’m having a tougher time than usual getting adjusted to the new (summer) reality.

Lately I’ve been riding two horses almost every evening. That means we eat dinner really late, but luckily my husband does not complain!

Faeryn and Faxx are now both qualified at Training level for our USDF/SWDC Regional Championships, to be held in November. Faeryn also has her required 8 scores to compete for the USDF All Breed Awards through the ISR/Oldenburg registry. So she doesn’t really need to go to anymore recognized shows this year. She will go to some more schooling shows to school First level, as will Faxx (who has not made his ‘first level debut’ yet).

Faxx will go the Spindletop Arabian show Memorial Day weekend and will show in the open/all breed division of their dressage show, and will also show in-hand and under-saddle in the sport horse classes held on Sunday. These will (hopefuly) qualify him to show at the Arab/Half Arab Regional Sporthorse Championships held in Waco in July. He is already qualified in dressage on the strength of the scores he got at the HDS show in April. Faxx will also go to one day (Sunday) of the June HDS show, and then he, too, will have the eight scores he needs to compete for USDF awards.

They are both working well and I am happy with how they are progressing. Faeryn is probably a bit further along than Faxx – Faxx had a major ‘mouthiness’ issue at the HDS show which I did not realize until I watched my video tapes — I could not feel it, and NONE of the FOUR judges I showed under mentioned it once! But he was opening his mouth. A lot.  He had never really been that bad at home – but was also opening his mouth after his few days off from the show. I have already played musical chairs with trying every possible bit on him and not much made a difference. In desperation, I dug out a baucher bit that Nanja (who I traded for Faxx) used to wear. It was quite a surprise when Faxx went much better in the baucher than in all the different snaffle permutations I’d already tried on him! I think the baucher, since it puts a bit more pressure on the poll, puts less pressure on the mouth – and that is what Faxx likes.  I also have not ‘pushed’ Faxx since I do not want to ‘upset the apple cart’ before he shows at the Arab/Half Arab Championships in July.  We have been schooling everything in First level, but have not started schooling any of the Second level movements.

Faeryn however, is a quick learner and it seems to come easily for her. We are doing walk/canter transitions and also starting to do canter/walk transitions, some ‘baby’ shoulder in and lots of trot/halt transitions to get her a bit more ‘up’ and collected. Marta also suggested I do halt/reinback to really get her off her front end. The first time I did these on my own it was like pulling teeth (almost literally!) to get Faeryn to back UP.  The second time?  Piece of cake. Faeryn is a very quick study.

And that brings me to Fling. Sigh.

Sometimes I feel like I am going backwards with her rather than forwards. The half pass and flying changes that were going so well a few months ago are a daily struggle. I think we have hit a point where she must be much more submissive than she is used to being – and I must be much more demanding than I have been – or am really comfortable being. See, Fling has always liked her work. And now I am feeling she likes her work  less (or it really does feel like “work” now) than she has in the past. And it really makes me feel bad. She is not overtly rebelling against the work. But the little things she’s been able to do (like leaning against my left leg) that did not matter so much, and I did not address earlier – now have to be addressed and corrected. And, now that those flying changes aren’t NEARLY as exciting and fun as they were a year ago, sometimes she completely ‘blows off’ my request for them. And so I have to insist that she gets off my leg, and insist that she really do the flying change when requested.  And it really makes me feel like the ‘bad guy’ and I am ‘making’ her do something that, up to this point, she offered willingly and cheerfully. She is still cheerful – she is just not quite the ‘overachiever’ (as Pam Grace described one once) as she was a year ago.

And third level feels like it is not getting any closer or easier than it was last year. A big part of the problem is that I have not been able to get lessons more than twice a month – and sometimes even that. And given that this is new territory for both me and Fling, it makes it really, really hard to progress. With Faeryn and Faxx — I’ve trained half a dozen horses to Training/First level. Fling is the first horse I’ve gotten to third level (Assuming we really are “at” Third level at this point.

Some days it goes brilliantly, tho. A few weeks ago, I managed to do a movement from Fourth level – you canter across the short diagonal, do a flying change near centerline, then make a 90-degree turn at the rail at B/E and canter back across the opposite diagonal, and do a flying change near centerline. Fling and I actually managed to do the first change, and stay organized enough to make the sharp turn and execute the second flying change. I was so stunned and happy I almost cried.  And, so, once again, I need to remind myself – this is all about the journey as much as it is the destination.

And in other news, I have another ‘steed’ to ride — Bevo, a bright “chestnut” (ORANGE) much-needed and long-overdue Kubota tractor. Bevo does not have much ‘suspension’ in his gaits – but he is very powerful!

And in case your’e wondering about the name — Bevo is the mascot for the UT Longhorns – whose colors are burnt orange and white.

Hook ’em horns!

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