Saturday, April 3, 2010

More cantering, and questions about showing

I had a riding lesson yesterday, but it was quite windy so I decided to have it indoors. Other than the wind, though, it was a perfect day for it — it was fairly quiet at the barn, and Panama was behaving very nicely. (The sound of wind and dirt hitting the side of the indoor used to scare him, but he hardly reacts at all now.)

He was a bit distracted and excited when I first got on, because a high-strung Arab (appropriately named Spunkie) had just gotten done lunging in the indoor arena. To give him something else to think about, my trainer got out some ground poles. It served to immediately refocus Panama's attention on the work at hand, and my trainer said I was also doing much better with trot poles.

In fact, he was being so good that within 10 minutes, my trainer said, "We're definitely cantering today." I had a little bit of the old sensation of seizing up, so I said, "Let's do it now, before I get too tired." (Read: Before I have a chance to think about it for too long and start worrying.)

We worked in half the arena again, and I cantered the most times (and for the longest times) that I've done yet. (On purpose, that is.) I also had several near-falls, as Panama started shaking his head and pulling on the reins at the canter. The first time he did that, my trainer said I'd been pulling on his face a bit, but she later said that my hands were quiet and I was doing everything right. Perhaps, after the first time, he was shaking his head in anticipation that I might pull. My trainer did say I needed to be sure not to lean forward quite so far in my two-point, though, as he almost pulled me right out of the saddle a few times.

Part of me knows that I haven't done much cantering yet, so it will take some time to learn what my hands, legs, upper body, etc. are all supposed to do at every moment. Part of me is still hung up on the things I did wrong, though. I guess that just leaves us with some stuff to work on next time: improving my position and getting him to stop that head-shaking nonsense.

After my trainer had nearly worn me out with cantering, we went back to working with ground poles. Not thinking, I tried to trot Panama over the poles right after we'd been cantering, and he balked — I think he was still fixated on cantering, and didn't see the pole until the last moment. I fell forward, right onto his neck. My trainer had me do it again, and the same thing happened! Then she had me walk him back and forth over the poles several times (which got some annoyed tail-swishing from him — I think he knew he was in trouble, but he was more interested in cantering than doing stupid ground poles!), which I probably should have done from the very beginning anyway.

Once he was trotting over the poles without hesitation again, my trainer introduced us to a pile of poles — three poles stacked over one another. The first couple of times, it took a lot of leg to convince him to step over the poles, but my trainer said I was handling it well. Once he would walk over it without hesitation, she had me trot him over. She had me grab mane with my right hand in case he jumped them, which he did, but unfortunately I did pull on his mouth with my left. My trainer said not to worry about that — we haven't done any jumping yet, she said, so it was just because I didn't know how to prevent that from happening.

I'm really pleased with our progress since we moved to the new barn, especially the last couple of months. I think that once Panama settled in and stopped acting like a dingbat, both of us were able to improve quite a bit. I think a great deal of that is having a real arena, poles, etc. — it allows us to practice things that we weren't even able to learn when we were just riding in a pasture.

Because of how well we've been doing, I've actually started to think about the possibility of showing. This isn't something I'd ever thought I'd be interested in, but lately I've been wondering if it might be good experience for us both. Then my trainer brought it up yesterday, asking if I'd be interested in doing a walk-trot class in a schooling show this summer. I am definitely thinking about doing it, at least once to see how we both do and introduce Panama to some different sights and sounds. First, though, I told my trainer I'd want to do some more trailer loading practice, and then perhaps load him and take him somewhere to ride once to see how he handles it. I also would like him to see that trailering somewhere doesn't always mean leaving his home — that we can go somewhere, ride, have fun, and come right back again.

Since I don't know anything about showing, I'm interested in what knowledge and experience my readers might be able to offer. Have you ever done a schooling show? What's the difference between a schooling show and another kind of show? Keep in mind that I'm not considering serious showing at this point — I'm thinking about it as possibly being fun and a good experience for both of us.



At April 3, 2010 at 4:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Schooling shows are usually just a show put on at a barn for its own riders - not part of a recognized show circuit, so it can be as informal as the barn wishes. It's a good way to find out if you sort of like the atmosphere/activity of showing, and for those showing regularly, can be a warm-up for the show season. Many people who show started out doing schooling shows. It's also a lot cheaper than doing regular shows, which can quickly run into considerable money.

At April 3, 2010 at 9:12 PM, Blogger Sydney said...

"Schooling" shows are really laid back, low key shows. They are not run by an official organization, horses don't need passports, coggins or breed registrys for points etc.
If you are going walk/trot you should do showmanship. Any horse can do showmanship. Showmanship is judged 80% handler 20% horse meaning it's a test of the handlers skill with the horse and how well the horse responds to you. You don't need a horse with superior conformation to do showmanship.

At April 4, 2010 at 6:58 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

Kate, yep, this show should be super cheap -- my trainer thought $30 at most. It's at her old barn, where she still has a few students, which is probably why she knows of it. I wish my barn would do one!

Sydney, unfortunately I will need to get a current Coggins to bring Panama on the property, so I'll have to get on that. I'll check into the showmanship thing -- thanks for the tip!


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