Sunday, October 14, 2012

On the Level

Just a Word or Two

Shannon's comment about Tucker's 90% made me pause a moment. So I figured I'd clarify.

I often finish up a schooling session by riding a test pattern of some sort. This is as much for my own discipline as for my horse. When riding a test, you must cope with whatever happens at the moment and cannot repeat on exercise if it doesn't go well. So, riding a test for practice does, in itself, become a test of what is right or wrong in your training.

Tucker's 90% is my exaggerated evaluation of his overall demeanor and obedience. I am riding pretend training level tests on him because he is not really fit enough to do harder levels at the moment. When I was showing him, he was doing first level and was just about ready for second.

But, my knees and his hocks were sore enough that we retired from competition. I contemplated hock injections if he really needed them, but decided--once I actually stopped showing--that I didn't miss the competition at all. When I do ride, I do not ask for the same quality of engagement and collection he would need for competition, so, at least for now, training level is just fine.

As we go along, I will see just how much work his hocks will bear.  I had initially hoped to take him to FEI, as I had Toby (Intermediare I) but if it's physically too hard for him, I will not press the point.

The same applies to Chance, who seems to have much better conformation to move on. But, as we know, I've been rather lazy about his training.

I've trained two horses, PJ and Toby, to FEI, so my ambitions have been fairly well satisfied, although it would be fun to get at least one horse to piaffe and passage. (PJ did piaffe and Toby will do it in hand, but we never quite got passage.) The tempis?  A little effort would have gotten them easily with Toby and I did ride two sets of ones on PJ.  Toby does twos easily, so that has been conquered as well.

If Tucker stays comfortable, I do want to get his changes. I'd started working on them before the layoff and I suspect a serious effort on my part would get them sorted once he's fit enough to do some serious canter work.

Chance? Who knows. He's fun to ride out on the trails, so that lures me all the time, but I also know he would be even better out there with some more proper schooling. If I worked him seriously for a couple weeks, he'd be well able to hold his own at training level at a show, and once we'd accomplished that, first level would be a snap.

Right now, I just enjoy riding for fun, training what needs to be addressed as time goes on and fantasizing about high scores.


  1. More power to you Jean. You know your horses and you know yourself.

  2. Just read yesterday's post - hooray for you and Chance! Now for today's - I am very impressed by all your equine accomplishments!

  3. I think there comes a time when we all feel riding for fun is enough. You've had a great career showing and training your horses to impressive levels. I say do what you feel like doing and what the horses can do and go from there. If you ever feel like competing again then do it. If not just have fun trail riding.

  4. I was only teasing with that comment. I know you won't move Tucker up until he's ready. I don't have a leg to stand on when it comes to moving up the levels, anyway. I dithered around at First Level forever with Spider. But, it pays off to spend a long time on basics, as he's moving up nicely now. I'm sure it will be the same with Tucker. You can't over school the basics, nor do I think you can be too conservative with their training.

    I like the idea of riding a pretend test. I never ride my real tests at home, because I don't want the horses to learn them. I rode too many "Schoolmasters" who would turn on the autopilot as soon as you entered at A! I frequently ride elements of the tests, but only two or three movements to get the feel for the timing (i.e., the shoulder in, 10m half circle, half pass in 3rd). I think I'll try making up a whole series of movements to practice!

    Completely off-topic, but Smartpak sent me an email this morning about their new line of "indestructible" blankets. They have a 10 Year Indestructible Guarantee. I immediately thought of your boys!