Horses, Life, A Touch of Geek

Foto Friday: Red Queen

Nationals Retrospective
Sandra Hall Photography


2013
Trump
Academy Adult Walk Trot
3rd in Pleasure
2nd in Equitation
[Show Report (start), list of 2013 links]


2014
Sam
Academy Adult Walk Trot Canter
3rd in Pleasure
2nd in Equitation
[Show Report, list of 2014 links]


2015
Eddie
Academy Adult Walk Trot Canter
2nd in Pleasure
2nd in Equitation
[Show Report, list of 2015 links]


2016
Iggy
Academy Adult Walk Trot Canter
3rd in Pleasure
Top Ten (4th) in Equitation
The picture is from 2nd in a preliminary round. Photo by Courtney Huguley.
[Show Report, list of 2016 links]

2017

Dottie
Academy Adult Walk Trot Canter
2nd in Pleasure
2nd in Equitation
[Show Report, list of 2017 links (pending)]

Update: When I see it laid out like this, it looks impressive. It didn’t feel impressive at the time. Can you have the Facebook effect with your own life?

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

#bloglikecrazy

Driving Thursday

Mr. Whizbang enters warm-up at National Academy. Coach Courtney has the reins. The purple shadow on the right is me waving them in.
Photo by Diagonals Magazine. Used with permission.

National Academy Championship Horse Show
Tennessee Miller Coliseum
Murfreesboro, TN USA
November 2-4, 2017
[Show Report]

Friday Morning
16. Academy Pleasure Driving–Horse or Pony, 4th of 8
Saturday Morning
45. Academy Pleasure Driving–Horse or Pony Championship, 3rd of 8
With HB Whizbang, courtesy of the Alvis family.

I also drove.

I don’t understand the criteria for Academy Driving. I understand when someone makes a mistake: trotting during the walk, cantering during the trot, or failing to achieve an extended trot. (I’ve done all three.) Absent these obvious errors, the placings seem a bit of a dice roll. Unless, of course, the result is in my favor, then I think the judging is brilliant.

Therefore, I don’t tend to sweat the driving results.

The classes were about learning traffic management as much as anything else. The entries were mixed, from horses to ponies to a VSE. Imagine eight student drivers all going at different speeds. On Friday, I kept trying to get out of the way. On Saturday, I got better at waiting instead of always trying to get ahead of traffic jams.

In the second class, one fellow cut in front of me, to the point that I had to pull Snippy to a halt to avoid a collision. Twice. Did I get points for being aware of my surroundings, or demerits from not being aware enough to avoid the situations all together? Who knows. My ringside advisory panel said that I might possibly have avoided the first, but no one could have predicted the other driver making a sudden right turn directly in front of me. Everyone stayed safe.

When we managed to pay attention to our own driving, Mr. Whizbang and I continued to improve.
~~~
Alabama Winter Tournament 2017-2018
ERA Stables/Elite Riding Academy
Arab, AL USA
Saturday, Nov 11, 2017
[Show Report]

26. Academy Driving with Alvin Ailey – 1st of 2
Thank you to the Wamble family

Alvin loves to show. On Saturday, we stormed into the ring on the edge of who’s-in-control-here. While I had to apply a fair amount of whoa-there-horsie throughout the class, it was great to see the old man is such a good mood.

A grand time was had by all.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

#bloglikecrazy

Saddle Seat Wednesday

tldr: Survived the first. Rode the second. Rocked the third. Almost.

We interrupt this show report [Riding] to bring you a show report. Yes, It’s been horse show central around here.

Alabama Winter Tournament 2017-2018
ERA Stables/Elite Riding Academy
Arab, AL USA
Saturday, Nov 11, 2017

1. Advance Horsemanship WTC Adult – 3th of 4
2. Advanced Equitation WTC Adult (Pattern) – 2nd of 4
7. Pleasure Horse or Pony WTC Adult – 4th of 4
Thank you to Courtney Huguley for the willowy Whiskey. (W is big for an ASB. Shorter than Rodney, but legs everywhere.)

After the intensity of dancing on the big stage, I didn’t fancy taking Dottie for a shuffle around the barn floor at a hoe-down. Instead I rode Whiskey, a five-gaited horse who is rearranging his world view to include being a three-gaited Academy horse.

Apparently, the rack is similar enough to the canter that a) the rider must be very clear about which gait is intended, and b) five-speed horses are allowed to canter faster to prevent confusion. This is a learning curve for me. I do such a good saddle seat canter (Really, it’s stellar. Alas, no one cares. Saddle seat is all about the trot. But I digress.) that I have a habit of asking for too much (too slow) from horses who aren’t up to it.

In warm-up, I was all, ‘Eek, a new horse’, and Whiskey was all, ‘Eek, a new place’. So, the first class was decent, but conservative. Second class, similar. I managed to get my hands up and heels out for equitating.

Whiskey went in the ring with his second rider.

By the time I got back on, the multiple classes had taken some starch out of his bloomers. I felt comfortable pushing him for more flash. The winner of my first two classes was another woman from my barn on Snippy. She was going down. We dazzled the trot. I got the canter lead. I sat his canter. First place was ours! Until he lost count of his legs and fell out of the canter. Right. In front. Of the judge. Quickly repaired, but damage done. Bzzzzzt. Last. Oh well, if one has to have bad horse show karma, Winter Tournament is the place to have it.
~~~

Photo by Olivia Grace Wood. Dramatic back-lit filtering by me.

Policy question. So, how do I label an image after fiddling with it? I want to credit the photographer. OTOH, what if they are appalled at what I hath wrought? Any copyright experts care to weigh in?

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

#bloglikecrazy

tldr: All I’ve ever wanted to do is to ride well. On Sunday, I finally did.

National Academy Championship Horse Show
Tennessee Miller Coliseum
Murfreesboro, TN USA
November 2-4, 2017

Friday Morning
2. Academy WTC Equitation–Adult, 2nd of 10
7. Academy WTC Pleasure–Adult, 3rd of 10
Saturday Morning
31. Academy WTC Equitation–Adult Championship, 4th of 10
36. Academy WTC Pleasure–Adult Championship, 3rd of 10
Sunday Morning
63. Academy WTC Pleasure National Finals–Adult 2nd of 10
71. Academy WTC Equitation National Finals–Adult, 2nd of 8
All classes with Dottie, courtesy of Courtney Huguley.


Photos & video by a friend of Stepping Stone Farm. The soundtrack, Dottie by Danny & the Juniors, was paid for.

Life with La Prima
The ballet metaphor [A Change in Attitude] continued through the show. When we went for our first stroll around the property, I took Dottie up to see the ring. She stood in the gate looking about, a dancer understanding her space.

The saddle was her tutu, which had to be adjusted just so. The show bridle was her pointe shoes; the work bridle, her ballet flats. Impatient to get on stage, she was worse in the warm-up ring than I was. In the ring, she demanded my full attention. I could not fuss, nor over-ride, neither could I phone it in. I must be there with a steady arm in second position to provide guidance and support.

Maybe it’s a silly metaphor, but it’s one that worked for us. We had a few bobbles, but we never had a moment when both of us weren’t trying 100%.

Day-By-Day
Thursday was warm-up rides for riding and driving. Washing tails. Warm-up for the kids who arrived in the evening. Bog standard National Finals T-minus one.

Thursday night, I was a tense mess. My chance of breaking out of my red rut rested entirely on the first class. Historically, the judges at this show have the habit of sitting on their cards. In other words, the placings didn’t change from Friday to Sunday. (More on these statistics below.) My place in the first class would determine my weekend. I was right. Second on Friday, second on Sunday. In the end, I felt different about the reds than I thought I would.

In the first class on Friday, Dottie spooked several times at her shadow on the arena floor. I had the feeling that the lighting was NOT up to La Prima’s standards. The second class went better. They tended to all weekend.

On Friday night, I was over it, the whole Academy experience. What was I doing? Nothing was changing. No matter what I did, I kept coming in second. In the normal course of things, I would move out of Academy and up to suit OR stop this ex-pat life [Nice Horses and Lesson Programs] and figure out a way to jump something. Since neither were an option at the moment, I was stuck in an eternal Academy limbo. I tried to be grateful that at least I had Academy limbo to be stuck in. You can’t – I can’t – force yourself to be grateful, even when you know you should be.

Saturday placing was fourth and third. I had a choice to make. I could struggle along with what I had and probably, possibly place second or third (only three ribbons given). Or I could make a change. In past years (2014, 2015), the change has been sartorial. When I laid out money for custom clothes [New], I announced that I would NOT be changing these.

In three of the last five years, one rider has won all six Adult WTC classes. In the other two years, one rider won four or five out of the six. Of the ten Sunday finals that I watched or rode in, only two have been won by someone other than the winner from Friday. Plus, barn gossip said that the horse who was dominating my division was doing the same in other divisions with other riders. Good on them for having a nice horse. However, it meant that a come-from-behind upset was less unlikely.

It was time to put the pedal down. Hero or zero. I decided that I felt more confident doing this with the work bridle. Dottie was, of course, perfectly fine in her show bridle. That problem was that I was not strong enough to partner her when she was in toe shoes. I would be better if she wore her ballet slippers. It was a risk. It could all have gone wahooni-shaped.

Should I have worn the work bridle from the start? Pointless as the question was, I pondered it. I decided no. All the time learning to finesse the show bride had given me a clear idea of how I wanted to ride with the work bridle. Here’s a over-fences analogy. Let’s say you are comfortable jumping 3′. Then you start jumping 4′. When you drop back down, 3′ feels like a piece of cake. It was like that.

On Sunday morning, I practiced my pattern. It was not our friend: up the long side, trot half circle, halt, canter half circle, finish the line, halt, reverse, trot back. Essentially asking if you could pick up your left canter lead and your left diagonal. These were the two things Dottie and I had trouble with. I had already blown the left canter depart in two classes (8-2-2, thank the stars for 3-judge classes. In the other case, I think they were all looking at their cards.) The left diagonal was a problem unless I made a point of reversing, straightening her out, and getting her onto the new outside rein. This significantly added to the time I took to reverse, which significantly added to the screaming from my spotters to get a move on. By contrast, Sam and I can do a fabulous turn-and-burn.

The Sunday classes both went as well as I hoped they would. I felt more confident in the work bridle. I was less worried about pissing her off and consequently able to stay steadier. My rail work was the best I’ve done in a saddle seat show, particularly the second class. My pattern was accurate and not at the pace of a NASCAR race. I held my halts and got the correct lead/diagonal. As I sat in the final line-up, I looked up at the sign over the ingate, and thought, ‘Okay Nationals, that’s all I got.’ What I got was good enough for National Finals Reserve Champion.

It wasn’t a matter of Whatever I do, I stay in the same place, it was a matter of working my butt off to stay in the same place.

Will I try again next year? Who knows. Clearly, I am unable to predict my own future [Hidden Message].

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

#bloglikecrazy

tldr: Life is looking up. Here’s why.

Right before I left for Nationals, and well after my frustration post for Saturday was written & scheduled [Here I Am], I figured out two things.

Discovery 1: Theory
Dottie has the soul of an artist. Or, at least, what I imagine the soul of an artist to be. She is the aging ballerina who still lives to dance. She may lack the raw power she once had for jetes and pirouettes, but she has arm extensions that make the angels weep.

As a counter-example, Sam has the soul of a technician. If you ride him a certain way, he will canter brilliantly. Doesn’t matter where or when: in the covered ring, in the big ring, at home, at a show, on the rail, off the rail. If you do x, he will do y.

A few days before the Alabama Charity Show, I had a great lesson on Dottie. ‘Ah ha,’ I says to myself, ‘I know how to trot Dottie.’ Went to the show. Did the exact same thing. ‘No! No! No!’ says Dottie, ‘This is a totally different situation. We must dance THIS WAY.’ Which left me sitting in a lump, thinking, ‘Whaaaa?’

Still struggling with the double bridle and still struggling to get my shoulders back. [Show Report]

Dottie is a passionate, spontaneous individual who creates her reality in the immediacy of the moment, instead of relying on a set of rigid formulae that might have no bearing on current conditions. As a person who fell off the left side of the Myers-Briggs personality test, I am far more Sam-like in my outlook.

My narratives for Dottie included elder stateswoman or maternal guardian of her young riders. Not a bit of it. The rider’s role is the male dancer, lending support when the prima ballerina takes center stage. You might need to support her more than you would a younger dancer, but Oh, she is worth it. Once I started thinking about her this way, her whole personality made sense. We got along famously. [The Power of Narrative]

Dottie is not a diva. She doesn’t demand attention and adoration. She’ll take it (won’t we all?), but she doesn’t require it to function. She simply wants to dance.

Discovery 2: Tylenol
Lately, my meltdowns have been accompanied by crying jags. At one point before a lesson, I was crying so hard that I was shaking. I slugged some Pepto for my stomach. As I stood at the bathroom counter, I remembered when pain-relief had turned out to be the answer [Antibiotics as Mood Elevator]. I took two Tylenol.

The tears stopped.

I don’t know why this works. I don’t feel pain before I take pills. I don’t feel less pain after I take pills. I simply stop crying. I don’t know why it has to be Tylenol. I’m not messing with success. I do it. It works. That’s good enough for me.

One possible reason may be the body’s response to chronic pain. Apparently, if the nerves keep sending the same pain message, the body stops listening.
Nor do I see a point in going to the doctor. Modern medicine has a hard enough time with chronic pain. They’d never cope with chronic non-pain.

I am not stoic. I am the farthest thing from stoic. All of this happens on a level below my consciousness. As I have said elsewhere [The Old Grey Mare], I live in my head. I tend to leave my body to get on with it. I may not have been paying sufficient attention.

In a related experiment, I took ibuprofen before bed. Sleep has always been my answer to any problem. Stress? Yawn. Stomachache? Nap. Sick? Go to bed until it passes. So, I was sleeping enough hours, probably too many. It’s possible that my mystery non-aches were keeping me from sleeping well. I’ve been exhausted all summer.

I still stress. I’m still me. Now, when I start spinning out of control, I can console myself that the cause is physical rather than existential.

Sadly, the solution has limits. My system can only tolerate so many meds [Let The Blithering Begin]. All I need to do is invent a chronic OTC analgesic that does not rot my stomach, or worse. My medical advisor tells me if I can could do this, the world would be my oyster.

Onwards!

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

#bloglikecrazy

“On The Art Of Horsemanship”
Xenophon Scripta Minora
Loeb Classical Library
Translated by E. C. Marchant
Harvard University Press 1968
pp 297-363

Xenophon, because what else I’m gonna do for X?
~~~
This Year

[W is for Wodehouse]
[V is for von Tempski]
[U is for USDA]
[T is for Tewson]
[S is for Severin]
[R is for Rubin]
[Q is for Queen]
[P is for Pace]
[O is for O’Connor]
[N is for Newsum]
[M is for McKinley]
[L is for Lewis]
[K is for Krementz]
[ J is for Journal]
[I is for Ipcar]
[H is for Hatch]
[G is for Gray]
[F is for Francis]
[E is for Endicott]
[D is for Doty]
[C is for Cooper]
[B is for Brown]
[A is for Anderson]

Past Years
[2016 Alphabet] [2015 Alphabet]

Project explanation [AlphaBooks 2017]. Open to recommendations for the remaining letters. Which books would you choose?

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

#bloglikecrazy

… where X will be as soon as I finish it.

Horse show ran late.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

#bloglikecrazy