Saturday, August 06, 2011

Nothing of Note

Hot and Humid and a Bit of a Rant

Again the heat and humidity are building after a day or two of nice weather. It was nice for the County Fair that's been going on this week. I really need to drop over for a quick visit. Walking is worse every day with my knees, but I should be able to manage a hike around the fairgrounds.

Swimming's been good with nice water temperatures and not too many crowds. I guess families are on vacation this month.  There are plenty of people at the pool, but not as many as were there in July.

The Boys are all fine as far as I can tell. When I went out for late feed yesterday, they were all out in the pasture and not at all interested in coming in. So I just put hay in their stalls and no grain. No point in putting hard feed out for free choice feeding. Tucker will find it and eat everyone's portion, and heaven knows, he surely doesn't need it.

I loaned my friends one of my Ansur saddles for a try.  She rides endurance and, while she has a saddle that fits her horse well, she has had some saddle issues in the past. I will be interested to see if the Ansur works for her. She has two lovely Arabs--one for her husband and one for herself. They both completed a 50 mile ride last weekend and have one scheduled in another week or so. I can't quite picture myself lasting that long in the saddle, but I have to admit, every time I see pictures from one of their rides, I keep thinking how wonderful it would be to ride some of those trails.

I realize now that my knees have had more of in impact on my riding than I realized. I was often in pain when I was in the saddle.  Mounting and dismounting were always a tricky deal, and walking afterwards hurt too.  I am hoping that after the surgery, things will be a lot easier for me. I'm not very much interested in competing again, although I might want to take Chance in a dressage test at least once. Competition costs are expensive and all the effort it takes to just get ready for a show doesn't seem worth it, unless you have a horse that's talented enough to show well against the "big boys."

Frustrating, in a way. I used to compete in the hunter circuit and did really well. But as time went on, more and more politics started to move in as more and more money poured into the horses. People began to spend tons of money to buy horses that would win, leaving us "backyard" riders no divisions to compete in on a level playing field. I moved on to eventing, which was a lot of fun--winning again at times but mostly just enjoying the rides. Then, I started finding myself overfaced and I lost my nerve.  At the same time, many of the "rider friendly" events fell to financial issues and the offering of "fun" competitions dried up. The rules changed, heights of jumps elevated, and I realized there was no way I could still compete with a smile on my face instead of a grimace.

So, I moved on to dressage.A moderately new discipline to the riding world around here, there were plenty of schooling shows, and once again, fun competitions to ride in when I started. Sometimes I won, sometimes I lost, but all in all, I always felt that when I went into the arena, I at least had a chance to do well. But dressage grew in popularity too. And now, like the hunter circuit, it's become a "big money" sport. Expensive warmbloods dominate the arenas.  My best test will rarely score as well as a good moving warmblood's test of the same caliber, "just because."  While I have long ago learned not to ride for anyone but myself and to set goals other than pinning in a class, it does take the fun out of it when you know you have little chance at all of earning a ribbon in a show you've spent well over a hundred dollars to compete in. I mean, it's nice to hold up a 60+% score for a class as a mark of achievement, but that darn ribbon makes it even nicer.

I simply do not have the finances to enjoy showing at this point. Spending money to have a judge give me a "0" on a leg yield (It happened and I have a photograph of that movement proving I did do a leg yield) just isn't my idea of good value for a dollar. My horses are interesting to ride, interesting to train, but not that most talented dressage horses on the planet. And if I could afford one of the most talented dressage horses on the planet, I'm not even sure what I'd do with him.

Do you think Totilas or Ravel would make a good trail horse?


  1. Anonymous10:54 AM

    I'm a big fan of the all-around horse - one that can do a little jumping, some dressage (which if done properly is the foundation of all types of riding), some in-hand work, perhaps some clicker for fun, and could even work with cows or go on the trails or work with trail obstacles. Not all horses are suited to all those things, and I no longer jump, but I like variety and I expect the horses do too.

    I used to do a lot of competing in the hunters and did win a lot, but I don't miss showing at all, although if there were lower-level fun shows I would do them. I'm hoping to do some trail obstacle work and maybe some ranch versatility sort of work with my horses, and also lower level dressage, and it would be fun to find show places to take them and show.

    (Took your advice on the bug armor . . . it's ordered for a cost of less than $100.)

  2. My WB is a terrible trail horse. Not so much because of the spooking (which he does, but it's not that bad), but more because his gaits are too big for the other horses to keep up with. It's no fun to go for a leisurely hack if all your friends are huffing and puffing to keep up!

    I show only a few times a year and only for myself. I hate showing, but I need the scores to reach other goals (medals, L program). Luckily, I don't need to get any ribbons to acheive those goals, because we always come in dead last! ;)

  3. "his gaits are too big for the other horses to keep up with. It's no fun to go for a leisurely hack if all your friends are huffing and puffing to keep up!"

    i so know that one!

    you're right, jean, your knees have been a trouble for a good while, and one can't ride effectively if fighting pain!

  4. You're right about your knees. When you have to live with the pain riding causes it's just no fun anymore. I think you'll be surprised by how much this surgery will help you be pain free in the saddle.

    I'm with you on the showing too. Occasionally, I think I might like to do a schooling show but then I come to my senses. The politics were always bad but they are so much worse now.

    I also agree that warmbloods are no fun on the trails. Erik was a big fancy Dutch Warmblood imported from Holland with impeccable blood lines but he was spooky on the trails, spooky at the shows (he competed in hunters) and not much fun to ride. Guess he couldn't read his papers to know what a super star he should have been. The only thing he did really well at was hunting when he got to be around 15. My daughter took him and built up his confidence after years of being with a questionable trainer.

    The horse I won the most on was my daughter's QH paint Lifeguard in the equitation. I wish there were still quality local shows for fun like we had on L.I. There's nothing up where we are now in N.Y. Too bad because we used to have more fun there than we did on the "A" circuit.

  5. I bet Totilas and Ravel would be thrilled to ride trail! They have proven that they can be de-sensitized to the most unexpected of noises and sights. Trail would be a piece of cake.

    I am sure that your knees have influenced your attitude towards riding quite a bit. It's not fair but it's the luck (unlock) of the draw - it could have happened to any of us.

    As for competition, there is always talk about how the dressage world tries to level the playing field but I don't think the people with expensive horses (and those that breed them) are interested. They know they should be though.

    It's hot here right now - 95. Whew, I am staying inside.

  6. I don't go to rated shows anymore. They are too expensive and all I really am looking for is feedback that we are advancing correctly. I can get that from a judge at a schooling show. I like that the judges are helpful and kind and that the atmosphere is friendlier. Like Kate, I love having a horse that can do, and enjoys doing, a variety of things. Dressage is my first and strongest love but I also enjoy trail riding and going to ACTHA competitions.

  7. A great post! I have the same feeling on the horse shows, while I do enjoy them, I feel that they are so darn expensive and many people buy their way in with super fancy horses. I can't do that and frankly am not sure that I would necessarily want to. I am at a cross roads. And unfortunately have to give it time before figuring it out.

    I so feel you on the pain issue. I am hoping and praying that your new knees give you back your riding!!