Making Progress, Going Nowhere, Show Report El Gezira, Hunters, July 2019

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El Gezira Jumper Show
Alabama Hunter Jumper Association
El Gezira Riding Academy
Harpersville, AL, USA
Saturday, July 20, 2019

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

Results available at Class descriptions [Show Report].

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.

And yet.

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].

First Class
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.

Second Class
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.

Third Class
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.

Fourth Class
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.

Representing in Hunterland

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

8 thoughts on “Making Progress, Going Nowhere, Show Report El Gezira, Hunters, July 2019

  1. My youngster is working his way up to being able to canter more than halfway around an arena before calling it quits. Been working on this for …. months. (Forever, it seems) Lots of frustration and way more work (on my part) than I’m used to, having come from riding a very forward, very fast, don’t have to ask twice Arabian. He’s oh so ho-hum about it. Finally caved and tried spurs. That’s a first for me in 50+ years of riding. Holy Mother of God: Game-changer. I really don’t have to use them much at all. Just knowing they’re there seems to have made all the difference in the world. To him. To me. I envisioned severe bucking the first time I tentatively tried them. I was a nervous wreck thinking about all sorts of awful outcomes. (No justification for this, just fear of the unknown) Nope, he got it. Totally. And now we’re easily getting around the arena several times in a row. At a certain point he still wants to quit, but because he’s young, unbalanced and I’m not in any hurry, I’m willing to compromise. Today, 2.5 times around, transition down. Next week, 3 times around, transition down. He’s not stupid, he’ll figure it out. He was also being a bit of a lug over the ground poles. Again, a gentle nudge of a spur has fixed that too. Just another tool in my tool box.

    1. Many, many years ago, there was a lesson horse who would go just fine if you showed him that you were holding a crop. You never had to use it, just let him know it was there. If you didn’t have a crop, he was a major pain.

      1. Sadly, many lesson horses fall into the “carry crop” category. I’ve used a crop, but I’ve never been a fan of cluttering up my hands with something that has to tag along for the ride. Spurs are just SO much easier, IMO.

        1. I agree. Spurs are easier. But at that point in my life, even if it had been allowed, I didn’t feel confident enough that I wouldn’t use them accidentally. This was in the late 70s, if I recall correctly.

  2. I prefer a crop. You can use it, not use it, or even drop it. Milton doesn’t seem to care one way or the other. He certainly doesn’t leap forward hysterically when I tap him.

    Several people have recommended spurs. Unfortunately, I have lots of evidence for what Milton will do if he doesn’t like something. Hard to drop them. Having said that, I will probably try spurs at some point.

    1. You have to what is best for you and your horse. That can change with time, or a change of horse, or any number of variables. You know what Milton needs right now. That’s all that matters. As my horses and I grew to know each other better, there became less need for spurs or crop.

  3. I think you have to use the tools you’re comfortable using. Having spent 50 years riding western and having done about 10 English lessons, I’m not particularly adept and holding reins and additional things in my hands. Oh, I’ve tried plenty of times. Even worked on the whole “switching hands” thingie. Quite amusing! (Yes, I hit myself in the head/face several times) It’s funny how some stress about using spurs unintentionally and here I was often flustered because wielding a crop didn’t prove to be one of my more useful skills. (Unless you count tapping the skirt of the saddle helpful) I was equally uncomfortable with the idea of using spurs and avoided trying them for a good nine months or so. I deeply regret the avoidance. They’ve been a game-changer for us and I’m a much happier, more effective rider for it. Many western stock horses have been spur broke and at the lightest touch of a spur they respond beautifully. You don’t have to jab or ask twice and it keeps your hands free for whatever task you are doing. It’s just a different method of communication.

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