Today was the first show of the season. It was a very small, local show but it was a great confidence booster and start. Jolie finished out last season only competing through the 2'3" hunters, so I decided to start today in the 2' hunters to see where we were at, she had not been alone in an arena in quite some time and had not been showing at least since last July. She was wonderful, and I am more than pleased with her progress. She completed both jumping rounds with a 1st and 2nd place. We decided to skip out on the hack class - I really didn't think she could contain herself and I wanted to keep the first show of the year light, easy, and successful!
I also have been wanting to touch on the jumper aspect of things and see what Jolie's forte might be. We entered in the 2'6" jumpers, and once we got rolling, she was super. We finished our jumper class with a 2nd place, I was so proud.
I do want to mention a couple of things (conversation points! SO TALK, PEOPLE!) Number 1, the new USHJA rule that playing is allowed in hunter classes. The reasoning behind this sort of thing is, #1 most obviously for the welfare of the horse. It's too often you see the poor guys on lunge lines for hours and hours and hours and go into the arena dead. To me, it's not attractive and its super boring, so props for that. #2 (and I wish I could quote) is that Thoroughbreds are becoming more popular and they need to have a chance at winning too, but they are so "high strung" it's hard for them to keep their cool. This sortof miffed me - My TB's KNOW how to go around quiet, and not always "play" - on occasion, this "play" is because of temper (get off my mouth, I don't want to half halt today!) or just on occasion blatant disobedience. Why should something like that be excused? Anyway videos of today will show that this rule played in my favor for course #2, I am glad because Jolie was really super except for two of our corners where I half halted and she said "no damnit, I wanna be forward and fall in" - regardless, thoughts on this would make an excellent topic. Where do you stand on the whole thing??
The last thing I will leave you all with is thoughts on horsemanship. Today, it was really hard for me to decide what classes to do....and why not do them all? Well, because you have to keep the horses well being in mind. Oz didn't get to show today, he didn't school well yesterday, he is weak behind without any hills or long stretches for his gallops, so why MAKE him show, for a stinkin' ribbon...? Anyway, just a friendly reminder to keep your horse in mind, do whats best, make appropriate decisions to have a successful day and
In case this is a surprise to you, I like Thoroughbreds. I am a huge fan of going to the races and watching, learning, talking to the people, grooms, etc. The Finger Lakes track is very close to school so I frequent the backside, go make small talk with some trainers and grooms, and watch the races from the trackside, even though they aren't the best of the best it's still a lot of fun....Obviously most people are counting down to that first Saturday in May to see the run for the Roses. This year as a graduation present to myself, I will be driving down to watch the Derby...very exciting and only a little over a week to go. I am extremely excited as a baby I worked with will be running, not sure if he's got a shot to win but that would be really fantastic...my theory is one has to win it, if your in the race, you have a chance!!!
I will actually also be making a trip to Finger Lakes tomorrow to go and watch some races. I have some babies that I worked with racing, so that will be a lot of fun. I highly encourage anyone that has not gone to the track to go. I think there are a lot of misconceptions, although the mood in the air most certainly changes an hour before a horse goes in a race, I think you'll find that the backside of a track is really a laid back and comfortable place to be, and that the horses are really treated well. There is never a horse without hay in front of it, and it's few and far between that you find the nasty horse with the cone in front of it's stall that will undoubtedly rip your head of for blinking wrong at it, most are always blanketed accordingly, water buckets full, aisles raked neatly and wraps done up properly. Most are personable and also enjoy a good scratch as you walk by. Tracks always had a bad rep, at least around where I grew up and now the more I see, the more I wonder how and why that ever came about.
Anyway, if you're ever looking for something to do on your day off, to to the track! It's an experience for sure, and you might get hooked. OR you just might get to see your next big show horse lose it's last race (that's my plans!!!)
Buy American. Buy an OTTB.
I think that for some horse people, that "pat on the back" moment is few and far between. I think especially for those that are "superiors" to admit a job well done on a younger, less experienced hand, whatever can be tough. Mostly, I think it's funny how the horses get to take the cake on whatever the outcome. A quick sale of a nice horse, or the prospect that comes along quickly has the reasoning of "luck" or "the prodigy horse/pony/prospect" it's rarely "you did a good job," "you put in the effort," "you worked really hard."
However, it turns into the rider problem when things don't go well...for example, the horse takes awhile to get to a certain point, or the horse doesn't sell right away, or things just don't go as planned...it's never the case that the horse might be difficult, stubborn, or even perhaps just not the right match for the rider doing the work. The reasoning becomes, "the rider is doing it wrong," "they are not putting in enough time," or "they're working too much on one thing."
I think it's the most important thing to let go of whatever ego is there and admit when a job is well done and to look at the entire picture. I have seen many horse and rider pairs and the rider is really putting forth their best effort, yet the horse is just stubborn or ignorant and perhaps has plateaued, maybe it's just like oil and water, but whatever reason it doesn't work, to noone else's fault but whatever superpower controls what happens.
I think for the sake of upcoming horsemen/horsewomen, and to keep our sport alive, we need to instill a hair of confidence in the younger riders and allow them to take pride from small accomplishments. If all the time people are looking to the elders, what happens when that is gone? What happens when all we're told is that we are lucky? How do we know to keep up with the "good work" that's being overlooked? Maybe it's just the walk of horse people I tend to be involved with, but I've looked around and that "big pat" that my horses get rarely gets passed to the rider. Regardless, I try and at least instill that into my students, I look at the bigger picture, see the small accomplishments, and PRAISE for that.....
Today the ponies had a day off and us riders went on a shopping spree. Around school, there are less than ZERO tack shops around so we have to travel all the way two hours away to Stagecoach West and shop 'til we can't stand....
Obviously we go with our lists of needs slash wants if the price is right and as always we leave with much more than intended. This weeks spree added to the accumulation of bits in my possession (I'm at +3 to my collection I refuse to count, +2 if you count the chewed happy mouth I tossed to make myself feel better....only one of which I will be able to use anytime, or at all in the near future on my current fleet of horses). Anyway, retail therapy always does you good, and as many know I'm very much a supporter of what my dad used to call "single handed-ly recovering the US economy" haha...and I can justify any good buy, just ask....but don't ask if you want me to tell you why you shouldn't leave the store with something in your hand :)
Anyway, we don't need to linger on my purchases or obsessions...so I will leave you with a tid-bit from last Winter....
It has finally been dry enough and warm enough to get some enjoyment out of riding outside. We were spoiled not too long ago with summer time weather, but alas, welcome to NY and we are back to a typical (but slightly warmer) Alfred spring.
This past weekend, both Oz and Jolie go to have some fun hacking out on our limited trails around the barn. It's not much in comparison to the Millbrook Hunt trails I am absolutely SPOILED with at home and the endless open fields, pastures, creeks, state parks, etc. within the close vicinity to almost any barn in Dutchess County, but all the same it's a change from the normal.
Jolie has been great, and even assisting my friend on her first "hack" out complete with small logs and bushwacking. Ozzy, as always, turned our first trot sets of the season into his first gallop sets of the season, and surprised me at the end with hardly sweating and cooling off faster than he probably should of for his age and what I thought his fitness level should be. I am still debating whether or not to show him at our schools open show, I am not fully convinced that he's ready but I know if I got him out there he would step it up. I just don't want to push too hard.
My project for school, Pogo (as seen on my sale page) also had a visit from a potential buyer and he leaves tomorrow to start his trial period. IT's super exciting and the little girl is SO cute! They are a great pair from what I have witnessed and I hope it works out for them. She has some things to learn, but Pogo does as well, but I do think that Pogo is willing and safe enough for them to work together and create a really good thing. It reminds me a lot of when I got Ozzy, only I really had zero business owning a horse like him (he was a bit nuts!!!) but I credit all that I know now to that horse.
I am sure those of you that stalk my page some have seen that King is on trial. He is doing an extended trial period as he has not been in much work (if any work) for some while now. They are allowing him some time to get fit, settle in and get into a program before any decision is made. I am 110% encouraging this as I really want what is best for the horse and if it can be a long term home, that would be super. The only way to tell is to KNOW what the horse is like when he's in a program, not just when he's unfit and living the feral life :) I haven't had any updates on that front from King's owner but I hope to find out in the near future what's up with that. Hopefully it's good news!!!!!
One might be surprised to know, but outside of horses I do have another passion...that would be my dogs :)
So, as nothing very much equine related is going on, and I am anxiously anticipating my graduation (thus the sudden influx of blog posts, and neglect of school work, haha) I thought I would write about my wonderful puppies today.
I think there is a pretty big controversy out there over adoption vs. buying, to breed or not to breed, etc. I do not find any qualms with a pure bred animal, I do not support puppy mills, but an animal from a reputable breeder with good lines, not inbred, etc. should be a great animal to have. It's like going to Iron Spring Farm to buy your next sport horse...probably a huge investment, but well worth it. I think "backyard breeders" can be a little dangerous, who knows what sorts of precautions, if any, they choose to take, and who knows if this puppy's father is really its half brother, uncle, etc....much the same as getting your next horse from "that guy down the road" - get them cheap but as we all know, how cheap are animals anyway?
And then there is the influx of these dogs in rescues....not being independently wealthy and getting most of my animals against my mothers will, I turn to pet finder. My first dog I got was a "12 week old Beagle Puppy" from a Collie rescue. I grew up with collies, and having one recently pass, I thought it was perfect and an omen, she was supposed to be mine. I wish I could find the photos, Baylee was precious and stood no taller than a baseboard heater....and then she just kept on growing. At her heaviest, (thanks to lack of exercise and a mother that feeds those poor, sad, hound eyes whatever she wants) she was about 60lbs...much too fat but is now about 40-45, long, lean and can kiss your face easily when she jumps up...yeah, not a beagle.....and although not, she has proven to be a great barn dog, barking and letting me know when horses are running in the pasture, pawing for food, etc. biting heels when horses won't move (hate that!!) and being a great trail buddy to hack out with...especially for a hound, she's extremely obedient.
It was clear during the summer Baylee needed a friend. As always, I turned to petfinder. A few puppies came up, and this introduced me to the breed of Catahoulas...pretty cool looking animals. I narrowed the search to Catahoula only and one caught my eye in particular, her name was Brooklyn. It was getting close to the start of school, so I opted out...until October, Brookie was still available....so I inquired...It took a lot of string pulling, coordination, and people to get Brookie from where she was rescued (georgia?) to Petco in Poughkeepsie where my sister picked her up, brought her to my grandmothers, who brought her to me in Alfred. Brooklyn was not a puppy, in fact some of her papers said 2 or 3 or 4...I knew there were strings to any older dog, but I was hopeful.
Upon Brooklyn coming to me, I was actually really saddened. She was SO sweet and SO willing to please, how could anyone give her up (she was an owner surrender and had two failed adoptions....). She just needed a permanent home. There have been some slight "issues", (establishing who's boss with Baylee, and the occasional rummage through my closet to find lord knows what....) but now that I have known Brooklyn for as long as I have, it's clear that she was never allowed to just be a puppy, or a dog for that matter. She knew how to "sit" and "lay down" but things like paw, walking on a leash, coming when called, being asked to jump up on the bed, or even playing fetch were all completely foreign. For a long time you could throw a ball or piece of knotted twine and she would cower from it. It was so sad. It slowly became clear that no one ever spent the time with her, it took maybe a day or two to learn each of the things mentioned, she just wants to be good but no one ever told her how!
Anyway, I got lucky, she's a good girl and I am glad that she wound up with me and Baylee. However, it makes me sad to think there are others like her out there....the itch is terrible to get another one :)