Monday, December 28, 2009

Ponderings on 2009

My Horses and I

As I sit back and evaluate 2009, I realize a year of not much accomplished, but much enjoyed.

Ever since I bought my first horse in 1971, Russell R., I had been an intense trainer. By then, I had been riding for at least seven years and had a fair background in the hunter/jumper world. Determined to succees in the show arena, on the average, I rode six days a week and took lessons at least once a week. I constantly traveled to clinic opportunities with dozens of international trainers, learning, practicing, and working towards competitive goals.

I also showed nearly every weekend during the Spring, Summer, and Fall and often weather permitting, even braved Winter's weather to show indoors. Russell and I earned over 150 show championships in our career and he was a well known competitor in the area. Gradually, I moved on to eventing, and then finally, dressage once I realized my eventing courage was limited.

When I got PJ's Folly, Russell soon retired from active competition, and the cycle continued. When Russell passed away, I brought Toby into my life and again followed the training routine. I adopted Tucker when Toby was around 10 or so and once more trained.

But somewhere along the way, something happened. Part of it was my frustrations with Tucker, well documented in this blog. He was and still is, a difficult horse to train and with his size and tendancy to solve problems by bucking, an intimidating ride for me at times. While I have now pretty much worked out all his training issues, in the process, I simply stopped competing.

I would have thought I would have missed it, but to be honest, I have not. I still enjoy an occasional riding lesson and, if a good clinic came along, I would probably pack up and go--provided I and my horse were both fit enough. (Not now, of course as it's going to take a good long time for us to get back to work.) But if all my riding is here in my arena at home and on the trails behind the house, I will be content.

I may decide to show Chance in the future, but that will only be if I feel he would be an easy ride. So far, he looks to be a solid fellow about that kind of thing, unlike Tucker.

As for Tuck, we'll see. If I manage to train him to third or fourth level, I might go back to the show grounds, just to play. The upper level tests are actually fun to ride--as Caroline is now discovering--so that is a plus. But there's no pressure.

Showing has become a very expensive pursuit around here. I have to ask myself if it's really worth the money. Meantime, if my trainer comes, I will ride with him and I'll still keep my eyes open for any interesting clinics.

Otherwise, it's a nice ride in the woods on a bugfree day that will bring a smile to my face. Maybe that's all I really need anyhow.


  1. I think for many of us, what we want to do with horses may very well change over time - I know it certainly has for me. And as a result, what we expect from ourselves and our horses changes too. Even though I no longer compete, I feel that my horse life is richer now than it has ever been.

  2. I shelved a lot of my Parelli aspirations...they raised the cost of assessments from $50 to $200 per level and I got frustrated with that so just didn't submit. So we opted for a lot of that "ride out into the woods" attitude. We had a great summer and put on lots of miles. My goals can wait, right now I am just enjoying the ride.

  3. I think we all have the same thoughts on this one. After so many years on the show circuit it actually got to be less and less fun and more and more work and frustration. We haven't competed seriously in maybe 5 years or so. Two of our best horses died and the rest were just too young and untrained and we simply don't feel like doing it anymore.

    I've got to say I'm having a good time getting back into stress free riding on the trails and in the fields with Dusty and Blue. Also the training is much less intense than it used to be because even though we have goals we have no time line to achieve them.

    All in all it's a much more peaceful existence for all of us.

  4. Photogchic - Jean can tell you that I have stopped doing Parelli. I have discovered CLINTON ANDERSON! I was stuck half-way to my second level, I got unstuck by watching only ONE of CA's show. Since I have joined his club, I have access to over 200 shows! He covers everything. He is MAINSTREAM. He competes in reining, which is now my discipline. I am mainly interested in NH. It works, I use it everyday with the barn horses. Now from watching CA I realise how Parelli makes his programme very difficult to follow. No wonder his students get stuck. The only thing I like from Parelli is the DVDs about horse behaviour and liberty. That is the only worthy DVDs to watch. I was also very upset when Parelli changed AGAIN his levels. CA has not changed a thing for 7 yrs!!!

    Jean - I think competition is very much a way of life, it is okay if you do not have a family. Competing is out of my agenda, I would have to ride 6 days/week and be away on weekend, the only moment when my family is together. So really it is a big NO-NO.
    I think in your case, you ought to look for new venue to train your horses. Clicker training, circus training. Tucker is a clever horse, he will relish the challenge to use his brain to solve any puzzle you ask him.

    If I were near you, I would definetely come to have Dressage lesson. This is something you ought to think to do. You are a natural gifted teacher. Why not teach Dressage?

  5. I've never been a serious competitor, as such. I showed a lot more when my parents footed the bill, but to me, just doing the best that my horse and I could do was the ultimate achievement. I could care less about ribbons.

    I'll start showing Izzy this spring, I think, but we're sticking with the informal, inexpensive stuff. It's partly because of my budget, but it has a lot more to do with the fact that I just don't care to pay hundreds of dollars to do the same test I can do at home. If you like to compete, go for it, but if you just enjoy horses, it doesn't have to cost a fortune... most of the time...

  6. I know how time consuming and expensive it is just showing the dogs never mind horses.I do enjoy getting out with the dogs but it is safer and a lot less preparation involved.
    Polo helped cure me of any expectations re competing with horses as he was just horrible to take anywhere. Although he has breathtaking paces the behavior has always got in the way and im secretly too competative to go places for the experience,I want to do well haha.
    Im sure Ali will get more show and some dressage outings as he's been fabulous with every new challenge up to now.

  7. I am observing serenity throughout your post. One of life's achievements and very useful.