Horses, Life, A Touch of Geek

Archive for the ‘Saddle Seat’ Category

Warning, More Whining

Saddle Seat Wednesday

Why? Because I’m sharing the journey. Because one day we will all look back on this and laugh?

Last week, I left the barn without riding.

I went over to Stepping Stone Farm. I watched Miss Courtney work a horse. Afterwards, she proposed two lovely horses for my lesson. The idea of getting on a horse appalled me. There was no looming horse show to push me forward. I went home.

I don’t understand myself. Riding fills me with dread. Yet, I can’t bring myself to walk away.

I had hoped Dottie would be the horse to help me find my mojo. Not so much. Turns out that whole run up to Nationals was an shining detour rather than a path back. As I sit here typing, thinking about riding Dottie makes me reach for the Pepto – and she is awesome.

Back to the whining drawing board. Onwards. (Not feeling it, but saying it anyway. Words have power. I hope.)

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

#bloglikecrazy

The Weirdness That Is National Academy, A Blogger Non-Meetup

I’ve been to a lot of horse shows. National Academy is the weirdest.

First, the age level. Hundreds of kids and a handful of adults acting like kids. Us grown-up riders were not there in our capacity as mature human beings. We were there as students. Expected to sit down, shut up, and listen to our instructors. It’s hard not to feel 12 years old in that situation.

Second, the experience level. Academy is the beginner level of saddle seat. By definition, none of the riders have developed coping mechanisms for show stress. Even those of us who have been to other types of shows are new to this discipline. A build-up of novice nerves.

Third, the cut-offs. One-quarter to one-third of the entries are done after Friday’s classes. Another wodge are done after Saturday. Surviving to ride another day is a huge concern. This turns the tension level up to eleven.

Finally, the schedule. On Friday, we had five people to go twice (technically, me three times & the leadliner once). That’s ten times of getting ready, cheering on, acting as a spotter, coming back to the barn to congratulate/commiserate, and so on. The Stepping Stone Farm contingent was on the small side. Some barns had many more riders. Either you are riding, or someone from your barn is. There is never enough time.

A case in point. There is another blogger. She rides saddle seat. She shows Academy in the Adult division. Clearly, we are soulmates in the making. This year, her barn was at the other end of the aisle from us. I could see their stalls from ours.

Was I able to track her down to introduce myself? HA!

Either she was busy, or I was. Or both. Yes, we were often both busy because we were in the same classes. I FREAKING STOOD NEXT TO THIS WOMAN IN LINE UP. And yet I left Murfreesboro on Sunday without ever meeting her. That’s how weird Nationals is.

Maybe next year. (Twitch. Shudder.)
~~~
And thus we bring to a close this year’s recap of the National Academy Championship Horse Show. Best of times. Worst of times. It was Nationals.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

#bloglikecrazy

Foto Friday: Red Queen

Nationals Retrospective
Sandra Hall Photography


2013
Trump
Academy Adult Walk Trot
3rd in Pleasure
2nd in Equitation
[Show Report (start), list of 2013 links]


2014
Sam
Academy Adult Walk Trot Canter
3rd in Pleasure
2nd in Equitation
[Show Report, list of 2014 links]


2015
Eddie
Academy Adult Walk Trot Canter
2nd in Pleasure
2nd in Equitation
[Show Report, list of 2015 links]


2016
Iggy
Academy Adult Walk Trot Canter
3rd in Pleasure
Top Ten (4th) in Equitation
The picture is from 2nd in a preliminary round. Photo by Courtney Huguley.
[Show Report, list of 2016 links]

2017

Dottie
Academy Adult Walk Trot Canter
2nd in Pleasure
2nd in Equitation
[Show Report, list of 2017 links (pending)]

Update: When I see it laid out like this, it looks impressive. It didn’t feel impressive at the time. Can you have the Facebook effect with your own life?

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

#bloglikecrazy

Show Report: Winter Tournament 2017-18 #1, Riding

Saddle Seat Wednesday

tldr: Survived the first. Rode the second. Rocked the third. Almost.

We interrupt this show report [Riding] to bring you a show report. Yes, It’s been horse show central around here.

Alabama Winter Tournament 2017-2018
ERA Stables/Elite Riding Academy
Arab, AL USA
Saturday, Nov 11, 2017

1. Advance Horsemanship WTC Adult – 3th of 4
2. Advanced Equitation WTC Adult (Pattern) – 2nd of 4
7. Pleasure Horse or Pony WTC Adult – 4th of 4
Thank you to Courtney Huguley for the willowy Whiskey. (W is big for an ASB. Shorter than Rodney, but legs everywhere.)

After the intensity of dancing on the big stage, I didn’t fancy taking Dottie for a shuffle around the barn floor at a hoe-down. Instead I rode Whiskey, a five-gaited horse who is rearranging his world view to include being a three-gaited Academy horse.

Apparently, the rack is similar enough to the canter that a) the rider must be very clear about which gait is intended, and b) five-speed horses are allowed to canter faster to prevent confusion. This is a learning curve for me. I do such a good saddle seat canter (Really, it’s stellar. Alas, no one cares. Saddle seat is all about the trot. But I digress.) that I have a habit of asking for too much (too slow) from horses who aren’t up to it.

In warm-up, I was all, ‘Eek, a new horse’, and Whiskey was all, ‘Eek, a new place’. So, the first class was decent, but conservative. Second class, similar. I managed to get my hands up and heels out for equitating.

Whiskey went in the ring with his second rider.

By the time I got back on, the multiple classes had taken some starch out of his bloomers. I felt comfortable pushing him for more flash. The winner of my first two classes was another woman from my barn on Snippy. She was going down. We dazzled the trot. I got the canter lead. I sat his canter. First place was ours! Until he lost count of his legs and fell out of the canter. Right. In front. Of the judge. Quickly repaired, but damage done. Bzzzzzt. Last. Oh well, if one has to have bad horse show karma, Winter Tournament is the place to have it.
~~~

Photo by Olivia Grace Wood. Dramatic back-lit filtering by me.

Policy question. So, how do I label an image after fiddling with it? I want to credit the photographer. OTOH, what if they are appalled at what I hath wrought? Any copyright experts care to weigh in?

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

#bloglikecrazy

Show Report: NACHS 2017, Riding

tldr: All I’ve ever wanted to do is to ride well. On Sunday, I finally did.

National Academy Championship Horse Show
Tennessee Miller Coliseum
Murfreesboro, TN USA
November 2-4, 2017

Friday Morning
2. Academy WTC Equitation–Adult, 2nd of 10
7. Academy WTC Pleasure–Adult, 3rd of 10
Saturday Morning
31. Academy WTC Equitation–Adult Championship, 4th of 10
36. Academy WTC Pleasure–Adult Championship, 3rd of 10
Sunday Morning
63. Academy WTC Pleasure National Finals–Adult 2nd of 10
71. Academy WTC Equitation National Finals–Adult, 2nd of 8
All classes with Dottie, courtesy of Courtney Huguley.


Photos & video by a friend of Stepping Stone Farm. The soundtrack, Dottie by Danny & the Juniors, was paid for.

Life with La Prima
The ballet metaphor [A Change in Attitude] continued through the show. When we went for our first stroll around the property, I took Dottie up to see the ring. She stood in the gate looking about, a dancer understanding her space.

The saddle was her tutu, which had to be adjusted just so. The show bridle was her pointe shoes; the work bridle, her ballet flats. Impatient to get on stage, she was worse in the warm-up ring than I was. In the ring, she demanded my full attention. I could not fuss, nor over-ride, neither could I phone it in. I must be there with a steady arm in second position to provide guidance and support.

Maybe it’s a silly metaphor, but it’s one that worked for us. We had a few bobbles, but we never had a moment when both of us weren’t trying 100%.

Day-By-Day
Thursday was warm-up rides for riding and driving. Washing tails. Warm-up for the kids who arrived in the evening. Bog standard National Finals T-minus one.

Thursday night, I was a tense mess. My chance of breaking out of my red rut rested entirely on the first class. Historically, the judges at this show have the habit of sitting on their cards. In other words, the placings didn’t change from Friday to Sunday. (More on these statistics below.) My place in the first class would determine my weekend. I was right. Second on Friday, second on Sunday. In the end, I felt different about the reds than I thought I would.

In the first class on Friday, Dottie spooked several times at her shadow on the arena floor. I had the feeling that the lighting was NOT up to La Prima’s standards. The second class went better. They tended to all weekend.

On Friday night, I was over it, the whole Academy experience. What was I doing? Nothing was changing. No matter what I did, I kept coming in second. In the normal course of things, I would move out of Academy and up to suit OR stop this ex-pat life [Nice Horses and Lesson Programs] and figure out a way to jump something. Since neither were an option at the moment, I was stuck in an eternal Academy limbo. I tried to be grateful that at least I had Academy limbo to be stuck in. You can’t – I can’t – force yourself to be grateful, even when you know you should be.

Saturday placing was fourth and third. I had a choice to make. I could struggle along with what I had and probably, possibly place second or third (only three ribbons given). Or I could make a change. In past years (2014, 2015), the change has been sartorial. When I laid out money for custom clothes [New], I announced that I would NOT be changing these.

In three of the last five years, one rider has won all six Adult WTC classes. In the other two years, one rider won four or five out of the six. Of the ten Sunday finals that I watched or rode in, only two have been won by someone other than the winner from Friday. Plus, barn gossip said that the horse who was dominating my division was doing the same in other divisions with other riders. Good on them for having a nice horse. However, it meant that a come-from-behind upset was less unlikely.

It was time to put the pedal down. Hero or zero. I decided that I felt more confident doing this with the work bridle. Dottie was, of course, perfectly fine in her show bridle. That problem was that I was not strong enough to partner her when she was in toe shoes. I would be better if she wore her ballet slippers. It was a risk. It could all have gone wahooni-shaped.

Should I have worn the work bridle from the start? Pointless as the question was, I pondered it. I decided no. All the time learning to finesse the show bride had given me a clear idea of how I wanted to ride with the work bridle. Here’s a over-fences analogy. Let’s say you are comfortable jumping 3′. Then you start jumping 4′. When you drop back down, 3′ feels like a piece of cake. It was like that.

On Sunday morning, I practiced my pattern. It was not our friend: up the long side, trot half circle, halt, canter half circle, finish the line, halt, reverse, trot back. Essentially asking if you could pick up your left canter lead and your left diagonal. These were the two things Dottie and I had trouble with. I had already blown the left canter depart in two classes (8-2-2, thank the stars for 3-judge classes. In the other case, I think they were all looking at their cards.) The left diagonal was a problem unless I made a point of reversing, straightening her out, and getting her onto the new outside rein. This significantly added to the time I took to reverse, which significantly added to the screaming from my spotters to get a move on. By contrast, Sam and I can do a fabulous turn-and-burn.

The Sunday classes both went as well as I hoped they would. I felt more confident in the work bridle. I was less worried about pissing her off and consequently able to stay steadier. My rail work was the best I’ve done in a saddle seat show, particularly the second class. My pattern was accurate and not at the pace of a NASCAR race. I held my halts and got the correct lead/diagonal. As I sat in the final line-up, I looked up at the sign over the ingate, and thought, ‘Okay Nationals, that’s all I got.’ What I got was good enough for National Finals Reserve Champion.

It wasn’t a matter of Whatever I do, I stay in the same place, it was a matter of working my butt off to stay in the same place.

Will I try again next year? Who knows. Clearly, I am unable to predict my own future [Hidden Message].

Update: 2017 posts
[Show Report: NACHS17 Sneak Peek]
[Show Tweets: NACHS17, A Horse Show in 6 Tweets]
[Show Photos: NACHS17]
[Pre-Show: A Change in Attitude]
Show Report: NACHS 2017, Riding
[Show Reports: NACHS 2017 & Winter Tournament 2017-18 #1, Driving]
[Foto Friday: Red Queen]
[The Weirdness That Is National Academy, A Blogger Non-Meetup]

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

#bloglikecrazy

Show Photos: NACHS17

National Academy Championship Horse Show 2017
Tennessee Miller Coliseum
Murfreesboro, TN USA
November 2-4, 2017
Show Report pending
Sandra Hall Photography


~~~
If you are wondering what actually happened this year, fear not. My thoughts – at great length – start Monday.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

#bloglikecrazy

Show Tweets: NACHS17, A Horse Show in 6 Tweets

National Academy Championship Horse Show 2017
Tennessee Miller Coliseum
Murfreesboro, TN USA
November 2-4, 2017
Show Report pending

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

This was not an inadvertent test of the Twitter effect [Pondering]. I was not in a bad mood. I just had nothing to say. I’d done it all before. I’d said it all before, down to the mint chocolate chip ice cream cone from Baskin-Robbins: [2013] 86 Tweets, [2014] 80 Tweets, [2015] 60 Tweets, [2016] 83 Tweets.

Perhaps my Twitter storms arise from the excitement of being in a new place. Perhaps the fifth year of Indiana [93 Tweets] or Nashoba [48 Tweets] will be less Tweet-intensive as well.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

#bloglikecrazy