Sunday, December 7, 2014

Schooling Show at RCRA - check out why I'm so proud :)

Today we had a lot of fun at the RCRA schooling show - jumpers! The PHH team each gained some valuable learning experience. Whenever we go to a show we always feel like the odd men out. We are the only bitless riders and we also don't have crops or spurs... and yet our horses and riders are getting better and better.

First up in the 2ft division was Franny, Christina and Maya. Franny had her first time being offsite at a show and her first time showing in 2ft jumpers. - Shania is the perfect calm teacher to do that with It was a very exciting day for her. She started off with a few refusals and a fall in the schooling round. Not the start to the day she was hoping for, but the lesson of keeping your leg on and riding to the base of each and every fence was becoming clear. Her 1st round went much better than schooling but still had 1 refusal. As she headed into her 2nd round the pace and rhythm where starting to show and she picked up a 7th. Then in the 3rd round it all clicked together and you could see her start to fly with Shania. They were clear into the jump off and 4th in the class.

What was fantastic about watching Franny was her happy and positive attitude. Even though she was starting with some refusals and not the clear rounds she hoped for, she kept smiling and trying her best. She was truly a great example to all riders how to keep a good energy about yourself. The other great thing is that Franny didn't blame her horse or take any frustration out on her horse. A lot of riders would just smack their horse when they stop or spur them, but instead Franny focused on her skill and ability to ride the course and jumps. She accepted her role as Shania's partner and leader, and strove to do better... and she did. See Franny's transformation here. 

Maya and Nillina rode into the 2fts and did very well - no refusals. Nillina likes to start with some sass and takes a few jumps to relax and find her groove. In her first round she had 1 rail down, and it was a good lesson in remembering to ride clear in the first round and leave the gutsy turns to the jump off. Despite not getting into the jump off, she still managed a 5th. Maya's next 2 rounds she got the pace going and rode cleanly with 2nd place finishes in both the 2nd and 3rd rounds!

Maya was a great example of 'keep calm and carry on.' Her horse was protesting about starting the rounds but Maya just focused ahead and everything smoothed out and she got going. She didn't resort to smacking or spurring and the result was that Nillina could focus on jumping, leaving the rails in the cups and she made it a positive experience so she's more likely to get going next time. Watch Nillina and Maya here. 

Christina brought Quartz to her first offsite show after only being with us for a couple months and having severe confidence issues and rarely jumping for over a year. We went with the hope to get over all the jumps. Quartz started with a lot of fear and anxiety, she didn't even want to ride the rail and 'squeeze' between the jumps and the rail. Christina did an amazing job keeping Quartz in control and she survived some pretty big pops over fences. We decided it would probably be safer and better for me to take Quartz around and put her only in schooling. We did a fair bit of schooling and the results of patience were amazing.

Quartz went from being incredibly spooky, refusing multiple times, not being able to hold a canter, and startling at pretty much everything to holding a canter, riding the rail, and jumping everything in the ring with ease. It was an incredible transformation to watch the confidence in the horse grow, and grow, and grow.

It was an excellent example of how we need to put our horse's needs first and do what is best for them even when under pressure at a show. It was also a great example of how to handle refusals without causing more fear in your horse - instead of whacking Quartz and getting angry with her... we used patient persistence. The result is a horse that could start jumping smoothly and with an even pace rather than scooting, bolting, rushing, bucking, or rearing which so many horses do if you get too rough with them... especially Quarta'z Right brain introvert horsenality.  Check out some video of Quartz here.

Lastly I rode the 3ft division with Thetis. We had a lot of fun and our 1st round went smoothly and effortlessly placing 1st. Our 2nd round I didn't quite set up Thetis to a box jump and we had a refusal! It was a good reminder that you can't take for granted that your horse is usually awesome and has already done one round - you still need to ride every jump properly. We ended up 3rd in our 2nd round, and then we got back on our game for the 3rd round for another 1st place , taking the champion ribbon in the end.  Check out Thetis & I in video here. 

I was super proud of all of our team at the show. The horses were fantastic partners; our riders were amazing with their horsemanship skills showing us how to put our horses first and use skill & horsemanship to improve our rounds rather than spurs & scary bits with leverage; and last but not least our helpers Tracey & Morgan were fantastic at helping us with the whole day making it so much easier and relaxing!

I'm excited to take the team to the next show in January... and you can bet we'll be there bitless, barefoot (the horses), with no crop and no spurs...putting the focus on getting better with our horsemanship and riding not bullying or manipulating.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Lindsey, for being a great inspiration (and coach!) and for giving us the opportunity to go to the show. It really was wonderful to watch all the transformations of riders and horses throughout the course of the day -- and truly wonderful to see the group work together and support each other as friends and as a team.