After the accusations of being less than calm at the last show [Report], I spent a lot of time minutely examining the whys and wherefores of keeping myself still when I ride, particularly keeping my head still. I came up with a hatful of theories. I didn’t use a single one.
Bring It On
As I zinged into the ring for the first class, I thought, ‘Eeek, my horse is running away with me.’ With Trump, I have learned that I cannot stop his energy. The best I can do is contain it. I decide to try this with Alvin. To which this veteran show horse responded, ‘Ooooooh, are you ready to party? Let’s rock!’
To the extent that Academy Equitation and Academy Showmanship are judged differently, I was fortunate that Showmanship came first. They are usually the other way around. In the first class, we were jazzin’. On a scale of 1 = lesson horse and 5 = five gaited at Louisville, my instructor says I got it cranked up to a 2, or even a 3 on occasion. In the Equitation class, Alvin was a hair steadier, allowing me time to perform the equitation equivalent of sticking my pinkies out.
At the end of our second victory pass, I finally lost positive control. I was trying for big, expressive trot. I got canter. I didn’t have the heart to haul him back down. I’ve always been a sucker for a victory gallop.
She looked around: the other horses were showing signs of stress as well … Corlath’s Fireheart was standing on his hind legs again; the king could bring him down as he chose, but Harry rather thought the horse was expressing the mood of both of them.
The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley [Greenwillow 1982/Ace 2007 p. 187]
My First Step Into a Larger World
Aside from the above, I have no words about events during my classes. As I came around the top of the ring, my instructor patted the ring wall in front of her, indicating that I should head for that point and do a diamond turn [Begins]. The analytic side of my brain registered, ‘Sharp turn. That means I need to keep my horse on the outside rein.’ To which the operational side of my brain replied, ‘Nope. Too busy riding to listen to you.’ I was assessing too much input too fast for my internal word generator to process the data into sentence form. I was riding instead of thinking about riding. People have been trying to get me to do this since I was 15.
Doug Shiflet Photography
View Proofs button or Horse Show Proofs icon > 2013 Alabama Charity > Saturday Morning > 124 – Aca Showmanship WT Adult, 126 – Aca Equitation WT Adult > black horse, blue vest, (only) helmet. Download rant, per usual [Photo Disclaimer Rant].
Photos of note. In the background of photo 124-022-AC13/first class/Showmanship, you can see a woman in a blue Stepping Stone t-shirt. This is Julie W., owner of Alvin. Clearly she is about to tell me, “Chin up” because in the next photo, 124-023-AC13, I have my head tilted so far back that it looks as if my eyes are closed. In the last photo of my day, 126-037-AC13/second class/Equitation, I have a rather happy if goofy expression, I have fallen backwards, and Alvin’s hindquarters have dropped about a foot. This is probably just before he cantered off. We are clearly go for launch.
Alvin sightings in three other classes: with his owner, Rachel, in 110 – 3 Gaited Country Pleas Novice Rider (pink coat) and with another Academy student in 129A/123A – Aca Equitation/Showmanship WT 9 and 10 – Section A (light green vest). Sam is also in the two 9-10 classes (chestnut horse, blue vest). In this show, all juniors in Academy were required to wear helmets. I heard a fair bit of squeaking on the subject. I took a deep breath and stayed silent. Words will not change minds. All I can do is wear my helmet and represent. Every ride, every time.
Thanks once more to Rachel and Julie Wamble for sharing Alvin.
Next Stop: Nationals.