Making Progress, Going Nowhere, Show Report El Gezira, Hunters, July 2019
Return to Hunter/Jumperland
1 Academy Caveletti I, Adult – 3rd of 3
2 Academy Cavaletti II, Adult – 2nd of 4
3 Academy Beginning Hunter I – 6th of 8
4 Academy Beginning Hunter II – no ribbon of 9
Many Ups, One Down
So many things went better at this show. We were able to improve our momentum from one class to the next. We cantered in the open field that we didn’t like last time we were here [A Huntering We Will Go]. I asked for the canter in the ring. Didn’t always get it, but I asked, each time. We cantered jumplets.
We struggle to maintain a canter in a simple pattern once around the ring over four tiny crossrails. I have no idea why I-he-we find this so hard.
Milton takes awhile to loosen up in body and mind. We gave him lots of time. Better to have a happy first class and run low on gas later than a bad first class that we spend the day recovering from.
Milton also does well with the occasional stand break in the middle of work. It’s as if he thinks about things, settles, & then is better when work resumes [Report, Hello Mr. Hyde].
Trotted two sets of poles. He looked at them, but I was ready with moral support. Spooked at a jump waiting at the far end of the ring. Trotted the second line.
I looked at the 2″ jumps in the center of the ring, set up for later classes. Low. Simple. Not happening today. Milton has not demonstrated an ability to handle surprise. If I want to jump 2″ at a show, we had better be larking over 2’3″ in our lessons.
Ground crew said I looked tentative in the first class, especially in the second line. Note to self, if *anything* happens, a circle, a turn, a spook, Milton has probably lost momentum.
Okay. I can fix that. I had not felt tentative. More a matter of setting the cruise control too low. Went in. Thundered around, as much as one thunders in a trot poles class. Remembered to encourage speed around the far end of the ring. He trotted so big into the 3rd set that he had trouble with the pony-strided distances. Trotted out over the last crossrail. Circle. Halt. Reinback. Not so good. Leave.
I had a choice. Trot into the lines and possibly canter out, or pick up a canter at the start. Coach Molly later told me that cantering would place higher. Yes, cantering *well* would place higher than trotting. I knew we would exude more style and grace if we trotted. Oh well, cantering was what we were there to practice. The goal is to move up, not win the trot poles class.
Went in. Picked up canter. Rough, but we got it. Go us. I completely biffed the first crossrail. Boo. Milton landed heading off on the diagonal away from the jump. Swung back. Cantered the second in the line. Better jump. Trot. Ask. No canter. Trot line. Forgot closing circle.
Picked up canter. Better transition. Thought we had it. Milton broke to trot in front of the first jump. Still don’t know why. Can’t recall if we trotted or cantered out of the line. Ask. Nope. Trotted second line. Circle. Halt. Reinback. Still not doing it well. I thought he knew them better that that. Leave.
As I said above, lots of good points, lots of progress. And yet, I feel completely correct in not taking a test run in a bigger class. Physically, before I can ask him to canter around a course, he has to be willing to canter around the ring, right?
Mentally, this was not a horse saying, ‘This is fun. Let’s do more.’ or even, ‘I got this.’ This was a horse say, ‘Pole!’ or ‘Person at the side of the ring where they shouldn’t be!’ (It was a schooling show so we waited until the person was done plugging in a cord and had left.) or ‘What’s that!?’ He is still easily overwhelmed by a show environment. We know how well he handles overwhelm.
Nor does he rise to a challenge. The organizers blocked off the far entrance to the arena with a standards and poles set up as a jump. I thought it would be cool to jump in/out of the ring. Not now. Not with this horse. As a general concept. Milton thought it was the weirdest thing he had ever seen and wanted nothing, I say nothing, to do with it. Not boding well for a future event/CDE horse. OTOH, cross-country is quickly approaching an outside hunter course, so perhaps we will meet in the middle.
But I digress.
Milton does a lots of things right. He ships well. He works hard. Not as hard he he thinks he does, but he puts the effort in. He just needs make progress at his own pace, regardless of how ridiculously slow I think that pace is.
Most importantly, all feet stayed where they belonged. After the last show [Report], some of my concerns from Mid-South [Report] came crawling back. He looked at this or that. He spooked at that or this. But, his brain stayed in his head..
Thank you for reading,