Thursday, May 9, 2013

Dreams do Come True, One Jump at a Time

        One of the most important traits we gain as not only horsemen, but competing horsemen, is patience and understanding that time devoted is directly related to the successes you will achieve. I have been working with a special student of mine for quite a while now, and enjoyed watching her develop as a rider and horseman. It is a great pleasure to a trainer and instructor to see a student's hard work paying off. When I met Erin and her horse Joe, they were a pair that enjoyed playing around the farm, but often feuded over a wide variety of training issues. When I say wide variety, I mean anything and everything can set this pony off, whether it was the rattle of the indoor, the wind in the corn, the look of something scary, the look of something not really scary, butterflies, a patch of grass..... well, you get the picture. Joe is spooky, bossy, and in general a bit of a jerk. He is an arabian cross pony, with a bit of a little guy complex, which means a big guy attitude. Erin was not discouraged by his behavior, small stature, and occasional distaste for work, and has stuck with him for years now. When I came upon their partnership, and took an interest in improving them, we learned a few things: this pony can JUMP... AND he can flat fancy. But he will never make either very simple to accomplish. He rides among legends in the area of spin-out refusals, and holds good status in the area of run-outs and big spooks as well. He usually prefers to carry his head as if it is a flag pole rather than a normal horse's neck.

        With a slight background on these two, their recent accomplishments would come as very impressive to anyone who met them a year or two ago. After beginning work with me, Erin set out with the goal of taking Joe to an event at some point. She spent hours in the saddle, as well as a couple spills out of the saddle, worked independently outside of lessons as well as in lessons, and used plenty of watching others to learn as much as possible. Our first goals towards her main goal were to show at some local shows and get out cross country schooling through fall and winter of 2012-2013. We got out cross country schooling a few times, and learned about how Joe would handle the atmosphere. Through the winter, she attended her first jumper shows with him at Breezy Run, winning most of her classes and earning high point award for the season. She also participated in some schooling dressage shows, both on her horse and on another horse from the barn. Come the spring, we felt ready to venture out to their first event, and chose the Fairhill Starter Trials to give it a shot.

        Last Sunday, Erin and Joe completed their first of many exciting events to come. Although dressage is not Joe's or Erin's favorite, they cooperated very well together to earn a 40.6 starting them off 3rd in their division. In the jumping, they made their first outing look easy breezing through the stadium smoothly. Erin took her time with Joe on the cross country, successfully navigating the course to end on her dressage score and hold 3rd place. More importantly than the placing, was the pure happiness and team work that took place that day, where Erin and Joe believed in each other and were both smiling throughout the day. I bet they can't wait to give their second event a try soon!!

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