Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Horse World Expo in PA

One of the aspects of education that Delaware Valley College promotes is experiencing as many different training techniques as possible. DVC encourages us to take lessons and/or participate in clinics outside of school. So any time I am able to ride outside of class I am able to write a paper about my experiences and recieve extra credit in some of my classes :-)!! Sooo tomorrow (Friday) I will be riding with Michael Richardson at Horse World Expo from 5:00-6:00. The clinic is on gymnastics, so it should be fun. I am riding my own horse, Dee Dee, a thoroughbred who I have been riding for six years. If you are going to be there be sure to take the time to watch, I rode with Micheal Richardson in Maryland, he puts on a great show! If you are not able to attend the clinics in PA I will write about my experience so be sure to tune in to hear about the ride!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Western Placements

After the Hunt Seat placements were all said and done, we were invited to join the Western team. I was trained with the "Balanced Seat" technique so I can go back and forth from English to Western fairly easily but my training has been in a Hunt Seat saddle. I can count the number of times that I have ridden Western on one hand. But since I am at college I figure that I could use all of the riding time I can possibly get and I have always admired western riders.

The equestrian center here at Del Val has horses trained for Hunters and Dressage, so in order to ride Western we drive to a barn off campus called Saddle Brook farm. I am really excited to ride Western but it is definitely a hike to get to the farm as it takes an hour when traffic is good. I don't usually mind driving but ever since I became a college student I realize how expensive gas prices are!

When we arrived at Saddle Brook there were a few horses tacked up to ride for placements. I drew a horse named Lux. I really lucked out. Lux is the Western coach's personal horse, so obviously he is very well trained. I felt that I had a very good ride. I don't remember ever being able to ride a truly Western trained horse so it was very cool to feel a real Western jog. I walk faster than Lux jogs! I think I am going to really like this Western stuff!!

After all of the placement rides we met to discuss what classes each of us will compete in. I was put in class 13, which is equivalent to novice in Hunt Seat. I am definitely happy with this placement. I guess we will see what happens at the first show!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

It's Show Time! Cont.

Where are we? Oh yes, at my first IHSA show!I am looking forward to this show more than I realized because in recent years I have been training young and green horses and did not have the success in the ring that I really wanted. This show is my first chance to be judged solely on my riding and not on my horse. I suppose part of the reason I am so nervous is that if I do not do well I have no one to blame but myself.

The jumps are set at about 2'6" and the course is fairly simple, with a roll back turn at the end. The round feels fairly steady but I am a little tense so I take a deep breath and do my best. The ride is over and the judge announces that I am in fourth place in a class of seven. I am really excited to hear my name called but I can't lie- I wanted to WIN! But the day wasn't over yet, I still have a flat class to ride.For each class you draw a different horse and this time I draw a dark bay named Missile. I am a little calmer for this class and a lot more confident. The class feels really good and Missile is excellent. When it is time to canter, I am nervous because I am having trouble keeping keep him off my inside leg. So I am not sure if I will be able to get the lead-but Missile knows his job. All I have to do is sit and breath in and off he goes, he is so GOOD! The judge calls us to line up in the middle of the ring and I find my heart pounding again, my fingers crossed and hoping I did well. Sure enough my name is called for FIRST PLACE. I am so excited, I fall on Missile's neck and give him a huge hug. I am in such shock I have trouble believing it is real. The team is so excited and it feels great to contribute to our team. It is a long day but it sure is fun. At the end of every show coaches and captains meet and figure out which team has the most points. Cory and Emily report back to the team and tell us that we tied for first for the show with University of Delaware. That means that we are still lead the region by five points-but it’s just the beginning of the season. Who knows how it will all work out?!

Needless to say I do not think I will remember the ride home because I am going to sleep all the way back to the school. What a day!!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

It's Show Time!

The alarm goes off at 4:30 am and surprisingly I am able to wake up easily. I am excited for the day ahead of me and I certainly do not want to be late. We are all told to meet by the bus by 5:30 sharp, and since this is my first show I am sure to be there by 5:15. I have been showing my entire life so it takes a lot to get me real psyched but I am really excited for my first IHSA show.There are only a few freshmen on the bus so most of the riders had been to a few shows and know what to expect. They tell a lot of stories but I cannot wait to get on a horse!
When we arrive there are a couple other schools already there so it is a bit crowded in the indoor. Our entire team crowded around our coach by the chain fence. Before the show starts all of the horses are ridden and warmed up, so this gives us all a chance to get an idea about what each horse is like. If you are unfamiliar with the way IHSA shows operate, all of the horses are warmed up by riders who are not showing. By random the captains and coaches pick horses for each student so you have no idea what horse you will be riding until the show actually starts. Most horse shows allow competitors to school before it is their turn to go into the ring, but not IHSA as they do their best to by keep the playing field level. Most of the riders study the horse description list which usually says something like "Brownie 13'2 chestnut, tends to be slow over fences, crop optional". These kinds of descriptions can help you figure out what the horse you may be riding is all about and an idea of what you are getting yourself into but you don't really know what you have until you ride.The horse draws are posted and EVERYONE runs to the board to see if they got the horse they want. I do not have a preference because I do not really know any of the horses.I overhear a few students hoping for a pinto named Skittles. I do not know which horse this is but I found myself hoping for her too because hey, if someone wants her she MUST be good! Well I guess it is just beginner's luck but I draw Skittles! Ha ha, I was happy even though I had never even seen her.Luckily our team captain, Emily, drew the same horse for a previous class (over fences), so I ask her about Skittles to try and learn her tricks before I jump. While Emily legs me up on Skittles I can barely hear what she has to say because my heart is pounding so loud. I did not think I would get this nervous but I guess my competitive side really is getting to me. In my next blog find out how I do.