Horses, Life, A Touch of Geek

Driving Thursday

Lots of driving lately.

Alabama Charity Championship Horse Show, [Show Report, Riding]
96 Academy Driving with HB Whizbang – 2rd of 3
Thanks to the Alvis family for Mr. Snippy

Snippy deeply objected to the big, soft, rubber, straight bar bit that went with a set of borrowed harness. Go figure [Bits From Hell]. In the lemonade-from-lemons category, I was able to channel his outrage into the best extended trot we’ve gotten to date. We even got a little bit of drift going in one corner. Not Alvin-level drifting [Show Report I, II], but I could feel a slight sideways slide.

Sorry Snippy, we’ll do better by you next time.

The day after the show, Greg had a driven dressage lesson with Mr. E. Yes, the same instructor Rodney and I can’t manage to take lessons from [Leg Yield, Dubious]. At this point, I am so far down the rabbit hole that, come the day, I wasn’t all that upset [Laugh or Cry]. Although, that night I did have a dressage stress dream wherein Milton was tacked up, I still needed to get dressed, but couldn’t find out if my test was right away or delayed until tomorrow because of the large number of barrel racing trips in front of us. Clearly, it’s still on my mind. But I digress.

Mr. E liked a lot of the things Greg was doing, and thought Milton had good conformation for driving. Some of the comments were things Greg has heard before, e.g. Use your voice. The main focus of the lesson was transitions, which is more of a dressage thing than a ASB thing. As I’ve said before, dressage horses wait to hear what comes next; saddlebreds get on with their jobs [Obedience Epiphany].

By the end of 45 minutes, Milton was walking better, trotting off more promptly, and downshifting without giving his ewe-necked cow impression. All with a horse who has been hitched less than three months [Maiden Voyage]. Go Milton!
Also this:

Milton’s first drive with the carriage [New Equipment].

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Saddle Seat Wednesday

tldr: Good show. Not great. Needed to be great.
I’m going to Nationals. I don’t expect to win.

I want to win. I will try to win. I will spend the next three weeks preparing to win.

It seems to me that if one wants to win on the national level, one ought to be hitting it out of the park locally. I had a good show, but out of the park I did not hit it. Last year [Show Report], I got a middle ribbon (3/5), won the second class, and was highest placed adult in the championships. This year, middle (2/3), win, highest adult. Still struggling with the double bridle and still struggling to get my shoulders back.

Winning at Nationals would not require a miracle. Come Sunday, I expect to be in the top 3, per usual (acknowledging that all manner of things can happen and that I might not even get past Friday). Taking the top spot would require everything to come together and require a following wind from the judges and the other competitors.

I don’t usually obsess this badly over results. I know there is more to a horse show than winning. I know that all I can control is my ride. In this case, a) the word “national” is in the title, b) I’ve been often enough that learning from the experience is less of a draw, & c) I’ve come so close. Greg thinks I should go and have just fun. That may be the hardest task of all.

Update: Having gotten all of this out of my system, I am feeling more cheerful.

Show Results

Team Awesome
Photo by Courtney Huguley

Alabama Charity Championship Horse Show
October 14, 2017
Celebration Arena
Priceville AL, USA

100. Academy Showmanship WTC, Adult – 2rd of 3
101. Academy Equitation WTC, Adult – 1st of 3
104. Academy WTC Championship – 3rd of 12. Highest placed of 3 adults.
Thank you to Courtney Huguley for the delightful Dottie.

Show Photographer: Terry Young Photography
[List of previous ACCHS posts]


Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Massage Day

Last week, both horses had massages from Molly Flora, who also works on humans at The Retreat Day Spa, Irondale, AL.

As with Ms. Melnick [Massage Masterclass], Ms. Flora was all about direct muscle manipulation. She rubbed and pressed and lifted. She used her hands and forearms and weight.

I am more about surface and energy work. Are we surprised? I want to work more like these ladies, but two hours of continuous physical labor will never be my gig. OTOH, horses seem to like my approach and appear to benefit from it. So, I am trying to accept that we all have different skill sets.

Rodney was not as happy with this as he is with what I do. He concentrated on what she was doing rather than yawning and chewing and getting fifth-legged. But then, it was different. Rodney doesn’t do different.

The next day, he was fine physically. Mentally, he acted as he does when something is bothering him. Feeling things in new, weird places?

I did not take in as much of Milton’s work as I should have. Molly and I reach on several levels. Therefore, I spent much of Milton’s time talking instead of watching. Plus I held the front end. Rodney has had so much bodywork over the years that I knew he would behave. Milton is more ticklish and more likely to comment on infelicitous handling.

As it turns out, Milton accepted the work and passed with flying colors. She thought he felt fine. Rodney gets a redo in six weeks.

The next day, both horses were kinda grumpy during their morning schooling sessions. They seemed to spend much of the day in the barn, processing. I skipped the evening grooming and left them to their ruminations.

I am very happy with Ms Flora’s work. One definitely gets one’s money’s worth. (I am equally happy with Ms. Melnick’s work, but it’s hard to get her out.)

Ms. Flora gave me her card to post, which I will do as soon as I recover it from the safe place I left it.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

More Heat Therapy

I have been heating Rodney’s neck with a sheepskin fleece under a neck rug. The massage therapist (more on this tomorrow) didn’t find anything specifically amiss, other than the generally weight of a horse’s head and neck assembly. Still, there is a bit of a muscle bump up on the left side that he certainly likes to have warmed. As I’ve said before, Rodney is part lizard [Piling on the Therapy].

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Letter Art: Glitter Pens

Because life needs sparkle.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

In another comment from my return to saddle seat post [And We’re Back, 1st comment post ], buffy bourbon said that I like older Stepping Stone Farm horses because young, nice horses are priced out of lesson programs. (Full quote below.)

I don’t want this to be true.

I will grant the market angle. It was approved of by people who know more of such matters than I. Over my 40 years of horsing, I’ve owned a handful of horses (5 or 6 depending on how one counts Mathilda. She certainly never thought of herself as my horse. But I digress.) I tend to look at horses in a narrow focus, as individuals. I don’t have the wide-angle, market view of someone who buys and sells that many horses in a year.

I will also grant that we all like to ride nice horses. An Olympic aspirant may be more interested in athletic talent than manners, but who wouldn’t take manners AND talent, should such a beast exist?

What I don’t want to be true is that I can only ride forgiving horses. I may be an amateur, but I still want to be the best rider I can be.

One interpretation is that Ms. Bourbon’s comments apply to me and saddle seat horses. I’ve often thought of riding in the saddle seat world as similar to living as a expatriate. You have a good time. You enjoy the people. You might even fantasy shop for an apartment. In your heart, you know you will go home eventually.

I can speak saddle seat, but I am not fluent in it. Not the way I am in whatever bastard combination of eventing/hunter/jumper/dressage is my default riding style. The fact that kids can ride horses I can’t [Show Photo] is on par with children speaking their own language better than an adult can as a second language.

Perhaps cheap, green, and saddle seat is more than I can manage.

May I present an alternate version of your theory? It seems to me that it’s not an “age of horse” that you get along with, but a personality type. You feel comfortable on the more forgiving horses. Most of us do, that’s not a weakness just a fact. The age thing comes in because of price point. A young, talented, forgiving horse just doesn’t make it into the lesson string very often, because an amateur is going to pay more for that horse than a training barn can afford to pay. Eventually, that horse ages up and the amateur wants something else and that’s how the older versions make it into lesson strings. So, I submit that you want to ride the same sort of horse that most of us want to ride… but you’re riding on the Stepping Stone budget which means some older horses.

This is not the first time I have cited a comment by Ms. Bourbon [Patterns, Clean Cups!] Clearly, a friend I have not yet met. Would it be considered stalking if I flew out to a show to cheer on a stranger?

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Foto Theory

At the first Oak Mountain State Park photo class [Spotted], one of the other attendees asked me about my photo experience. I managed to garble a few words and blink. Really, I’m getting terrible at any interaction not mediated by a keyboard. So, I came home and thought about why I photograph.

It’s good to learn new things, right?

Making the blog more visual.

I used to be paid to take photos. Someday someone might do so again. Would be good if I remembered how.

All of these are worthy goals. What they are not is immediate goals. Any of them would be just as valid if I put them off for a day. So I do. Plus, as far as the blog is concerned, I often default to the phone as my best camera, i.e. the one I have with me.

I want to. I intend to. Suddenly it’s Friday and I got nothing.

How do you motivate for valued but nebulous goals?

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott