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Show Recap: May 13th LWSC Hunter Schooling Show

Show Recap: May 13th LWSC Hunter Schooling Show

Win #1 of the show day: Raglan got into the horse trailer with just one small flick of a lunge whip. The more places we go, the better he gets about loading into the trailer (as long as the trailer is huge, that is).

The moment we unloaded at Bridle Trails I looped a chain around his noseband for a little extra stopping power and we went for a walk. Bridle Trails is a big park (482 acres!), with three arenas and a 28-mile trail system. We walked down the short bridle path that connects the parking lot to the arena area, then wandered around watching horses canter past in the warmup and cheering on the 2’6″ division from a grassy knoll right outside of the main arena. He was pushy, but not spooky.

We came back to the trailer and he munched from his hay bag while I changed into my tall boots. I ate a tiny breakfast and then we went over to the round pen for a lunge, where he was suspiciously chill.

In the mean time, the rest of the R2R team had found the list of projected start times and started shuffling their classes around so that we wouldn’t be stuck at Bridle Trails until 6:30PM. TrainerM and I walked down to the show office and she kept an eye on Raglan while I switched our flat class up to an earlier division. Raglan was a good boy and stood very patiently while I filled out my add/drop form.

The classes chugged along and I tacked Raglan up (with his breastplate/running, because I didn’t want to get my face smashed LOL). We walked back to the arena area and I got on and walked him down the lane and into the warmup without any troubles. We had one small moment where a horse cantered towards and he got snotty and threatened to kick when they passed, but otherwise he was goodhigh energy, but good!

All of the lateral stuff we’ve been working on was so helpful. Any time he felt like he was getting a little too excited I would slide my leg back and he’d refocus on our haunches in.

I wasn’t certain that we were going to canter, but the moment felt right! The first time he tried to launch us into orbit, but then I quieted my aids down to the softest of whispers and we had a good time cantering around the warmup. He felt SO POWERFUL, it was a huge thrill!

We warmed up way too early, so I hopped off, loosened his girth, and switched back to his halter so that he could graze. At some point I really had to pee, so I tied him near the restroom and left him to his own devices for a couple of minutes. He tried to dig a hole to China (and then nickered so cute when I came out and hollered at him to quit it), but it’s nice that I can trust him to tie without supervision.

Of course, then classes started flying by and suddenly I was rushing to the trailer to put his bridle back on. We hurried back to warmup, but I only got to trot a couple of laps before we were going into the main arena for our class. There was a delay while the judge sorted out the papers for the last class, though, so I got the chance to trot Raglan around the jumps that were set up in the arenahe didn’t even glance at all of the flowers and with a little bit of practice they looked totally jumpable.

The class got underway. He was so amped that I didn’t think we’d canter, but when the announcer called for it I threw caution to the wind. He was perfecta complete giraffe, but a PERFECT giraffe.

We switched directions and… that’s the moment that my allergies kicked in. I kid you not, I did the rest of the class with tears streaming down my face from all of the pollen in the air. I could barely see!

We ended up with a 4th place ribbon (AKA last place LOL), which was just fine in my books. Despite all of the people on Instagram and in person that say that Raglan’s got a hunter-esque trot/canter, I’ve never had any aspirations of winning a HUS class with him. The jumpers are in our future!

I walked him out in the warmup, then we went back to the trailer and I untacked him and dumped a bucket of water over his backIT WAS SO HOT OUT AND MY ALLERGIES WERE KILLING ME.

Sunday was a day filled with success! We lunged alone. We warmed up alone. We went into our class alone. He ate his hay. He drank lots of water. He stood tied up while I ran to the restroom. He got in and out of the trailer without complaint. He was such a star, I was so proud of him! We were completely independentand it felt like we could have easily jumped a couple of courses.

This show was so encouraging, I’m already looking at the calendar to pick our next outing!

Lesson Recap: the Butt Button

Lesson Recap: the Butt Button

Many moon cycles ago, back when our right lead was nonexistent and I didn’t know the soft caress of French leather, we started working on our haunch turns. I wanted our shoulder control to be pristine, so every ride I worked on teaching him to yield to my rein and leg. These days it only takes a slight shift of my hands and he’s turning on a dime at the walk and the trot—and the canter’s developing, too!

But while I’ve been sharpening up our shoulder control, tiny warning bells have been going off in the back of my head. We haven’t spent any time on hip control and I knew it was going to come back to bite me…

spoiler alert: this obnoxious move is spurred on by a lack of hip control

Unsurprisingly, it took TrainerM all of three seconds on my horse during his training ride to find that massive hole in his training. She’d put her leg on to move his haunches and he’d happily fling his shoulders around, only to end up infuriated when she told him that was the wrong answer. She rode through his tantrums and then immediately began planning my demise my next lesson.

totally unprepared for the hell awaiting us 😅

I wasn’t originally scheduled for a lesson last week, but when StevieO and I suddenly found ourselves with coinciding days off it was a no brainer. While StevieO picked up some tips and tricks for riding her green OTTB, TrainerM had Raglan and I tackling our hip control problem. Luckily, at some point in his training I did install a rudimentary (read ugly) version of a turn on the forehand, so he wasn’t completely unaware of how to move his butthe just couldn’t really do it while he was in motion.

Teaching a horse lateral movements is like teaching algebra; there’s a lot of partial credit involved. You ask them a question, they guess wildly, and when they do something even a little bit correct you give them a pat so that they know they’re pointed in the right direction. It didn’t matter if his shoulders squiggled around or if he charged off at Mach 10 or if he flung his head in the air, if his hips so much as twitched in the right direction he got lavish praise and I stopped jamming my spur between his ribs.

So mostly we looked like we were doing a lot of drunken circles and wobbly lines.

WOBBLY LINES? i would nevurr

It was a hard lesson, because it didn’t really feel like we were making any progress and Raglan just kept getting angrier and angrier. We quit early (when his rage became a physically palpable entity threatening to murder me the next time I kicked him). ALSO IT WAS SO HOT OUT.

dying, must drink more water 😖

But the next day I came out to ride and while he still wasn’t thrilled to have another haunches-in-focused ride, he got it. He couldn’t hold it for more than a couple of steps (it felt like a car with a bad transmission clunking into gear and then clunking back out a few seconds later), but it was clear that he’d been mulling over the concept while I was gone. Even the smallest progress is always so thrilling!

All for Naught

All for Naught

At the end of my lesson last Friday I scheduled a training ride for Raglan. My hope was that TrainerM would be able to take Raglan over some jumps and give me some advice on what things we should be working on when it comes to the jumping piece. TrainerM warned me that she wasn’t going to jump if she felt like Raglan wasn’t game for it, so I made it my goal to spend the week preparing him for her!

TrainerM was impressed with how he was doing throughout the week, so while I tacked Rags up for her she set up a couple of jumps. Raglan had been exhausted after our ride the day before, so I didn’t pop him on the lunge line before I handed him over to her. BIG MISTAKE.

It was ridiculously warm all week, but Friday rolled around and the temp dropped 20°. TrainerM got on Raglan and he was just… not paying attention. He wasn’t being naughty and he was technically doing everything that she asked, but he wasn’t really tuned in. He kept gawking at what was happening outside.

She popped him on the lunge and he was certified crazy, like he had one speed and it was GALLOP.

When she got back on, he was slightly more focused but also twice as hot. He chomped on the bit and flung his head around and pranced about like an ostrich refusing to go forward. It took 45 minutes before he started to look even the tiniest bit compliant, at which point he immediately pulled his patented Raglan snap kick and charged off with all the fury of a horse riding to war. TrainerM was not impressed.

Raglan wasn’t impressed either; what a butthead

But even though TrainerM didn’t get a chance to jump my uncooperative steed, it was a really great training ride. It was great to get to watch a professional deal with Rags when he’s in a less than stellar mood.

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