Horses, Life, A Touch of Geek

Apres show: third & first with Alvin Ailey in Academy Adult Walk/Trot.

Apres show: third & first with Alvin Ailey in Academy Adult Walk/Trot.

What did I learn?

1) The difference between show riding and lesson riding. I did marvelous job in my first class. A BNR used to tell us that first you have to get it at home, then you get it in warm-up, then you get it in the show ring. In my case, lessons were going well. Warm-up went well. In the ring, I could feel that I was executing about 80% of my lesson capacity. I exhibited zen-like stillness and kept my weight organized to ride the back end of the horse rather than fall over the front end. I was stellar.

Or not.

We got third out of five. I was all over the place. Every body part was wandering off in its own orbit. Seriously? Color me stumped. I truly thought I had nailed it. I asked if lesson riding and show riding were different beasts. Perhaps one worked and trained at home with effort but then came to the show to glide seamlessly through one’s class? Nope, Instructor said lesson riding and show riding are the same. In theory. In practice, when I ride the same way at a show as I do at a lesson, it comes out all wrong. If I tell myself that I need to “show ride” then I end up with the results that I get at home. The mind is a vast and mysterious place.

2) The usefulness of a second language. Another chronic problem I have is looking down at the horse. As I was warming up, Been There, Done That tapped the bottom of her chin to remind me to lift mine. I returned the hand-to-chin gesture but with an Italian flare. Lightbulb moment. Instead of reminding myself to look up, I trotted around the ring thinking, Vaffanculo, I’m Awesome – and up went the chin. I just need these things explained in a way that I can understand. (I had been listening to Jenny Lawson’s book on audio CD during the drive up. Can you tell?)

3) The importance of having a good partner. Instructor decided to have me execute National-Academy-style maneuvers in the second class. I was flying around the ring, changing lanes, and “diamonding” on command [Boot Camp Begins]. It was spectacular to having a horse who was more than up for the challenge. When I wheeled him into the first sharp turn, he responded with, ‘Oh are we turning up the volume? Party on!’ The other thing the BNR used to say, It’s better to be a bad rider on a good horse than a good rider on a bad horse. Go Alvin!

While we were waiting for the first class. Alvin was in standby mode. Not asleep, just conserving energy until it was time for the ring. I started to fidget. He turned his head to say, ‘Relax, will you? I got this.’

During a victory pass, the horse’s handler stands at the end of the straightaway waving various objects to get the horse’s ears up. When I cranked Alvin up and let him loose, I had time to think, ‘I hope Instructor gets out of our way, because I can’t stop this train.’

What a marvelous horse. Thanks to Julie and Rachel Wamble for letting me ride and show Alvin.

4) The need to listen carefully. I had a trouble doing what I was told. Not the obeying, not the riding, but the hearing. When I came past in the second class, Instructor said, “Guide him. Guide him.” I thought, ‘Huh? This is Alvin. He doesn’t need guiding. Trump, maybe, but not Alvin. Still, I’m sure she knows what she is doing. I’ll try to guide … oh, diamond. Right away, boss.’ This happened in both directions. Then, after a trot, every Saddlebred is sure that the canter comes next. To keep Alvin at the walk, Instructor told me to sit heavy and wiggle my right hand, at that point my inside hand. Saddlebreds canter off outside aids. Unfortunately, I wiggled my other right, also know as my left or outside hand. This asked Alvin to canter. I was in a walk-trot class. I need to get the hay out of my ears.

Sandra Hall Photography
During the victory photo, the photographer congratulated me by name. I thought that either she heard the announcer or I have spent way too much money on show pictures. Back in my eventing days, the photographers all knew my name from my many orders.

UPHA Chapter 8 Horse Show > Saturday Afternoon > 055 – AC Equit WT 13 and Over & 056 – AC Showmanship WT 13 and Over > black horse, blue vest, helmet. I’m not happy with this set. My mental pictures look WAY better.

Photo theft rant

Final Note
I had fun! Particularly in the second class. It was a blast to DO rather than to sit and be a girl who tries to look pretty.

First into the ring. Photo by Rachel Womble.

First into the ring.
Photo by Rachel Wamble.


Update. It was not my intention to offer a homophobic insult. At the time, I was thinking this in English and mentally adding the Italian chin tilt. When it came time to write the post, using the Italian word struck me as the best way to convey what I was doing without the cumbersome explanation herein. Plus, this was mostly in the first class. In the second class, I was too busy. So, perhaps the whole thing was a bad idea. Sigh. Language can be so confusing, see postscript in Eeny, Meeny … oh you know the rest.

Comments on: "Show Report: UPHA Chapter 8, Cleveland, TN" (2)

  1. Seems like a lot of work! But I like the smile.

  2. To clarify, I wasn’t upset because of my placing. I was mystified that my idea of how I was riding was so at odds with reality. Now I’m not sure what to believe. If I think I’m doing well, am I? Or do I just think I am? Of course, winning the second class eased the shock.

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