The Gray Wonder, Adventures in
Saddle Hunt Seat
When we last saw our hero, we had hopped our way through our second class and were pondering our next move.
Ground crew went over to ask Coach Courtney’s advice. Should we do the third class? I was out of earshot, but I could see the ‘Oh hell yeah’ from where I was. She suggested that I go down to the secondary warm-up ring and practice our canter. I added that to my plan to trot his fuzzy gray butt.
Originally, the plan called for dismounting to give him a short break between class two and three. Nope. Breaks are for well-behaved horses. Horses who need their worldview reordered go back to work.
Once on the remote warm-up, I picked up a trot. A big trot. If he had that much energy he could do some work. We did circles. We did serpentines. No, you don’t get to look at the pond. Now its not the time for creative self-expression. You have forfeited that right for today. Now is the time to listen and do your job. By the end of our remedial schooling session, ground crew said that Milton looked as if he might be regretting some of his recent life choices.
Since we were alone in a quiet outdoor ring, Milton cantered with no problem. I had minimal hope that this signified any improvement for cantering in the crowded (with horses), busy (with people), indoor arena.
Coach Courtney suggested I keep Milton on the rail for the class. Being off the rail might leave him feeling out to sea. Generally, I think that is more of an ASB thing. Hunter/jumpers are used to wandering all over the ring. Specifically in the first two classes, I kept him/Milton chose to stay off the rail because he was spooking at all the peoples and movement and strollers and whatnot. I politely pointed this out.
She then commented that being 10 feet off the rail made me harder to avoid. ‘If your horse is going to be a jackass, stay out of everybody’s way.’ Yes, Ma’am.
Went in. Took a hard right. Crawled along the rail. We went so deep into the corners, you would have thought we were doing a dressage test. He didn’t flick an ear at being this close to the audience.
The trots were fine, albeit slow. I bagged the class and let him chose the pace he wanted. He didn’t quite achieve peanut roller, i.e. Western Pleasure, but he sure gave it a good try.
Ground crew suggested that I do more trot before asking for the canter. I did this, probably to an exaggerated degree. It had the secondary effect of allowing me to get him alone. At one point, I deliberately did not finish my pass – a saddle seat show ring sin, in order to set up a nice big space by ourselves for the canter transition.
We got both departs! Quietly, gently, followed by pleasant canters. Was he desteamed from working on a hot day? Was he less torqued out by the slower pace. More introductory trot? More personal space? All of the above? Who knows?
I’m proud of myself. (How often do I saw that?) I gave my horse exactly the ride he needed. He went back into a big, exciting space and learned that he can behave.
We learned that Milton finds full show mode to be somewhat alarming.
I want to take a minute to note all the things Milton did right. He is a shipping star. Loads. Travels well. Arrives calm. Between stops and a highway closing, the trip to the show took three hours instead of the two project by Google Maps. Home was 2 hours 15 minutes.
Milton is amenable to work around. Grazes. Stands tied to the trailer. Bathes. Tacking up. Mounting. Quite the chill dude.
With that one exception. As I said yesterday, Milton spooked at a pair of dogs in the underbrush and ran off. Boo, but understandable. Is there a worse sight that seeing your horse lighting out across the fields, headed towards the road? At some point, he stopped. He heard me call his name? Didn’t like being that far from his buddies? He turned and trotted back toward us/the show/away from the road. Good boy.
Once again, no media from us. Photos only happen when the audience has breathing space. I may have been the one in the ring, but the village was riding every step and hop along with me. Professional media has been ordered.
Finally, as always, Rodney gets credit for being a saint about staying home alone [Permanent Gold Star].
Thank you for reading,