Friday, April 4, 2014

A summer to show?

2012 show season, courtesy Stephen Crowers Photography
Riley has been going really well. I'm so proud of him! The canter work difficult for both of us, but we are getting better -- huge improvements over the winter. At almost 8 years, Ri is huge, now 17.1 1/2, and I just think it is a lot of horse to manage for me.

I am thinking about the 2014 show season.

We have all the pieces to do First Level, reliably doing the individual pieces and long stretches of consistent work with all of the elements, if not the actual test.  We're doing little mini-shoulder-ins, ten meter circles, and canter work that is more reliably balanced -- even in the dreaded transitions. I bought a new stock tie in February (more on that later), so I've go an eye toward the show season. But... Here is the show-stopper, literally.

Riding outside
I've been riding him indoors since I fell off back in June 2013. The thought of riding him outside is scary. He's a good boy, but because of his feet he is not getting regular turnout, and over the years he has shown he's capable of that 1% unpredictable behavior.  At every show I've taken him to, he has bucked in the warmup -- not ugly, pretty rideable. It didn't worry me then, but now I know what the ground feels like, and I know that if I fall off, getting up right away is not a given.

I quake a little at the thought of taking him outside on our home property! And away from home? Ugh.

My game plan is to take it in steps -- go outside, go to Bucks County just for a quick ride, and then off the property for  a real show.


  1. What a great picture! I feel for you...I have never came off my mare, but at 47 yrs of age, I know I will not bounce like my 20 yr old when it happens. I hope all goes smoothly with your plan and you get out showing this season!

  2. Just take it one step at a time. Riley has a good head on his shoulders and some exposure and experience is probably all he needs. Chin up, keep smiling, and breathe!!

  3. I've had similar issues with the Wild Thoroughbred. He gets spooky outside and has been known to unpredictably bolt or buck. I fell off of him for the first time this week due to a spook turned in to a buck outside. I am trying to keep from getting in the habit of riding in the indoor all the time, but it's just so easy since he's always great in there. A couple of things I do to make myself feel better out: I put a pelham in my "riding out" bridle, and I ordered an Airowear protective vest. The pelham gives me a little extra security while riding like a snaffle until I need the curb rein, and the vest certainly makes the ground hurt less. I have no bruises from my recent fall (I landed on my butt and the back of the vest) and didn't hurt at all until the sore muscles showed up the next day. Maybe the vest won't protect me from everything, but it makes me feel better, and I ride better when I'm not as worried about hitting the ground. If you have some luck training this out of your guy, you should post about it!

  4. Is there someone you trust to ride him outside and see how he reacts? It might be especially helpful if someone could ride him in warm-up for you. I'm a big advocate for caution over bravery. The horse I ride has spooked and dumped me both inside and outside so I just have to deal with it.

  5. Perhaps the trainer could take him out? or you could have someone walk alongside you/lead him to practice? I really understand your concern, I feel the same. Safe gentle practice will help.
    Good Luck, you CAN do this!

  6. I'd certainly pay the trainer to do the warm-up first. Also, have you consider any of the "calm" feeds. Have a friend who sent a young horse to trainer and he feeds the Calm Ultra, so she has just kept him on it. Doing great. I know what you mean about the fear. Amazing the power...

  7. ...and Stacey--He fits you so well! In that picture, I would never guess that he is that big. Just right for you!

  8. I agree with some of the other posters. If you have a young, brave (and tactful rider), let her be the one to at least start the rides outside. If you have a trainer nearby, it would ideal to have the trainer to work him outside and potentially warm-up for a few minutes at the show. Alternatively, would a few minutes lunging outdoors in sidereins be a viable option?

    I would also consider doing a full ride indoors and then cool out walking outdoors. If he feels reactive, I would be inclined to move him from walk to trot (and possibly put his head a bit low and round for control). Hopefully he will have worked the edge off and it could be an easy success.

  9. Well, any horse will spook 1% of the time. Exposing him to stuff with another rider won't help you deal with your own fear, since it isn't really an issue with him. Just use baby steps. My young horse has a big spook and can be hard to steer out in the open. I just use small steps to get my nerve up. A few circles at the walk after a hard ride in the indoor eventually translate to trot and to canter and then to riding outside the ring. A bit of trail riding with a buddy would be a great thing, too. Make the riding outdoors in the ring the "middle" scary thing. Trail riding might be the scariest for you, and the riding in the indoor the most secure. By working up to riding outside of the ring outdoors, riding IN the ring outdoors will begin to feel like your "safe place."


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