Monthly Archives: January 2014

Faeth Goes To Her First Show

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I don’t know if I have mentioned Faeth, my new half Arabian filly. She was born in 2012 and is a full sister to Faxx. She became part of our family in July. She had barely been handled, so she had some catching up to do, but she was very eager to learn and is a very sweet girl.

I had entered Faeth in an Arabian/Half show this weekend. They have a sporthorse division now and you can show in hand and under saddle, and all classes are judged by carded dressage or hunter judges. This was her very first outing and I hadn’t had time to work her in hand much (they are shown on triangle just like dressage sport horse breeding shows) plus she hasn’t BEEN anywhere in her life hardly. And never stayed away from home overnight before. It was at Great Southwest Equestrian Center, just over an hour away from home.

 
Anyway, by the time it rolled around this weekend, I was so tempted t just blow it off. With all the stuff with my parents (I have one parent in assisted living and another in a nursing home) completely delusional Friday  it just seemed like even more work – braiding her and packing her stuff and my stuff. But it was beautiful weather and some other friends were going so I went.
 
I was a little concerned when I led her all around the show grounds – she was very good until we got to the busy warm up ring behind the main ring and she saw, for the first time in her life, snorty high stepping English pleasure horses and western horses, some doing spins. She obviously wanted to get out of there, but she listened to me.
 
The next morning when I got her out to walk her around before our class, she was noticeably calmer. Plus she’d drank all her water, eaten all her hay overnight and had laid down in her stall. All good things for a first trip  or even a seasoned campaigner. I felt she was calm enough to practice trotting up and down some empty aisles. Perfect. Trotted right up with me calmly and obediently.
 
I was showing her in two classes – Half Arabian Mares Sport Horse In Hand Amateur to handle and open. Judges have a score sheet and give scores for walk and trot, as well as conformation. I really like it because you get to keep the score sheet. The championship in each division is determined by scores.
 
My first class, she stood up well and walked well. When I asked for trot on the triangle she lept in the air! I was stunned. But brought her back to walk, asked for trot again and she was still very up, and shaking her head, but was able to keep her trotting and straight. As I got back to the judge I was just laughing. I knew the judge and her scribe and there was a crowd watching by the in-gate as I said, “I swear she didn’t do that once in practice!” Everyone laughed. But I also knew she’d shown enough of her good trot that the judge wouldn’t ask me to run again. Thank goodness!
 
I went again for the amateur class about 15 minutes later. I didn’t even check scores because I knew they would not be out. I spent some time trotting her in hand again and trying to get the silliness out of her. Our next round still had a minor air above the ground, but nothing like the first one.
 
She won both her classes and was the Champion Half Arabian Mare which earned her a flowered neck sash (artificial flowers) in addition to a ribbon. She ALSO had the highest score in the entire Half Arabian division, which earned her a ‘rose blanket’ (also artificial) to be mailed to me.
 
I was thrilled with her. Even if she hadn’t won, she handled the show atmosphere very well. Her next show will be in May and in June she may go to compete in the Arabian/Half Arabian Sport Horse Regional Championships.
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A great start to 2014

The weather has warmed up and suddenly I’ve found my energy and motivation! This weekend I had another super lesson on Fling with my trainer, Marie Morgan. We have made a great breakthrough in the past month with getting her to lift her back more and be rounder at the canter and straighter. Actually, the straightness is what came first and allowed the other. Her carriage is much more uphill. Marie told me she is looking more and more like a ‘real’ FEI horse and to keep doing what I am doing. I am proud of this new breakthrough because it was something I figured out on my own, working alone.

Today I got up early and was happy that rain that was predicted for today never showed up. I rode Faeryn first. I need to push her more. I have just let her lag along at first/second and she’s going to be NINE this year. Unbelievable. I need to raise the bar for her and ride her like she is a third level horse. Tons of transitions. Trot to walk and insist on immediate walk and immediate transition to trot..no walk steps. Canter transitions and simple changes to prepare for flying changes. Head to the wall leg yields to build carrying strength in her hind end. She was very good today.

Fling was very quick to warm up. She usually takes a long time because I fight so much to get her straight EVERY time. Marie showed me an exercise that works much better and takes away the ‘fight.’ It is so simple – I would try to get her straight on a circle – she wants to throw her shoulder to the left both directions. Instead, Marie just had me do very shallow leg yields, keeping her PERFECTLY straight – no bend at all. Much easier and more effective way to warm her up and get her straight and ready to really work.

We did some trot work – transitions to walk, rein back and trot forward, and some half pass and turns on haunches. Then I moved to canter and first did transitions from collected to ‘pirouette canter’ and then asked for pirouettes – only doing two or three strides in each one and then cantering forward out of it. Since Marie pointed out I needed to use my KNEE as well as my lower leg to turn her, they have improved…and then today I also realized that I need to move my inside shoulder BACK, which puts me on my inside seatbone much better.

Then I worked on the simple changes….two strides of canter, walk or halt, pick up other lead…lather, rinse, repeat. She’s better so much better at cantering underneath my seat, and ONLY from my seat and shoulder back aid. this will help a lot when I move to phase two of my plan – actual flying changes every 3 and 4 strides.  I just love this horse so much. She is so generous and is so willing to work hard and give me everything I ask. I pray I can ride her for many years to come. She will be 14 this August, but it just seems like yesterday that I welcomed her into this world!