Thursday, March 12, 2009

Preparation is Paramount

     The week long break between Rocking Horse III and Rocking Horse Spring horse trials seemed to come and go with the blink of an eye.  It also turned out to be one of the most informative weeks of lessons I will ever have and never forget.  I had all three ponies entered in the spring horse trials at Rocking Horse and because they had a long relaxation period, I decided that the idea to go XC schooling a few times would be a smart one to get their feet every sense of the phrase.  XC schooling is one of my favorite pastimes as Buck usually takes a large group consisting of all levels, and everyone doing their own course makes for an extremely exciting time.  However, this time was different.  Instead of the large group, it was only my three horses, my amazing groom and friend, Jennifer Curley, and myself.  I should say that it is awesome to get all of Buck's undivided attention, however, with this prize comes the consequences because he was able to find small yet important flaws in my riding.  In just two days, Buck had to teach me how to ride my advanced mount, Anthony Patch, in a much softer way than I had before.  Alex is such a careful and sensitive horse, sometimes my driving and more defensive xc seat becomes more of a hindrance than a helpful one.  In addition, we changed Alex over into a new, slightly easier bit for xc to encourage him to gallop rounder which would allow me to have more connection and control in between the obstacles.  Needless to say, I was a bit nervous before the horseshow that weekend as my style of riding had been drastically changed to suit one horse.  This means that I would have to reformat my riding for Al, and then go back to the defensive riding for my young, more green horses Seajack and Fancy.  
     The two days of practice certainly worked out well for the show on the weekend.  Al took home the blue again with a fantastic run around the intermediate course.  I truly feel that after this run, he is prepared and eager for his progression to Advanced next weekend at Southern Pines.  Seajack jumped superbly in the show jumping and although showed some greenish tendencies around the xc with a stop at the water, I feel that he is more than ready for what Intermediate questions throw at him and just needs some more practice at "diving into" them with more tenacity.  Fancy was a star as she put in a lovely dressage test and had a beautiful double clean xc.  In just three shows and about a month down in Ocala, this little mare is really showing that she is enjoying her job because of her astounding progression in both the dressage and jumping rings.  
     So, although we all learned a ton from the previous week, it was a necessary evil to change my format for Alex in order to improve myself as a horseman and rider.  Not all horses go the same way nor should they have to.  In the past I have been accustomed to riding keen and courageous horses across the country and now I am learning how to ride a careful horse positively without scaring him.  I guess I can say with the more horses I ride, my learning curve will forever endure...which to me is a good thing.  Anyhow, this week I am preparing for our pilgrimage up north to the Carolina Horse Park where all three will be showing off their stuff! In the meantime, I will be playing host as my amazing mother and grandparents are enjoying a week in the sun in addition to competing in a $5,000 Derby held at Overlook Farm with my boys.  Hey, we could all use some of that purse in these tough times!!!  Keep your fingers crossed that everything goes as planned...and if it doesn't, that we have our Plans B, C, and D carefully mapped out!!!  Take care and until next time, heels down, shoulders back, and kick on!!!