To ride dressage is to dance with your horse, equal partners in the delicate and sometimes difficult work of creating harmony and beauty.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

What I did on my summer vacation

In my last post (Eeep – JUNE 25 😳), I mentioned looking forward to starting up lessons with Suzan again and making up for some of my lost training time this year. Well, between weather, scheduling conflicts, and a facility in quarantine lock-down, that didn't happen for months. By September I was so desperate for some instruction that when I got an invitation for an online training challenge with Amelia Newcomb in my inbox, I figured it would be better than nothing and signed up. Wouldn't you know it; the very next day Suzan texted me with a lesson slot! Thus began an intensive five weeks of training, both virtual and in-person . . . but wait; I'm getting ahead of myself.

I have taken plenty of "proof of life and riding" photos since my last post, but haven't posted them because other than "proof," there wasn't much to report. So here they are from early July on:
This may look like "proof of death," but those are relaxed horses

Riding Stella up the hill through the vineyards

messy hair; don't care

Riding up and down Matthews Creek Lane

Riding beyond Matthews Creek to the old logging roads

Snacking on the last cherries of the season
Pretty to look at, but don't touch the poison oak!

In August, I saw an appeal from the Morgan Horse Association of Oregon asking for participants in the Battle Between Breeds class at the State Fair. Even though I said "forget about showing" in my last post, this wasn't really showing; this was just being a breed representative dressed up for dressage doing walk/trot with a group of Morgans. I offered to take part, asked some questions to know how to prepare, and looked forward to a September 1st outing to further Stella's exposure to the world beyond our hill. Little did I know just how much exposure we'd get!

On the day of the class, I hauled my horse and gear to the state fairgrounds, got Stella settled in a stall provided by the MHAO, unloaded our gear, walked Stella around the grounds for a look-see (SO much to see!), saddled her up and rode in the warm-up arena, and gave her a bath (a shout-out out to my DH for lending a hand!). After a short break (it was H.O.T.), I braided Stella's mane, tacked her up, donned my show clothes, and headed back to the now-buzzing warm-up arena. Then the announcer invited – no, requested –the Battle Between Breeds participants to ALL come in and warm up in the show arena so the audience could enjoy the horses before the class. The State Fair Horse Show arena is a notoriously scary place, with a tall, solid wall and the audience perched high above, so I welcomed the chance for Stella to see it before the class. But *wow* were there a lot of horses warming up; I counted five different breed groups – Morgans, Saddlebreds, Mules, Drums, and Gypsy Vanners. I sure hoped my tense, apprehensive horse would be able to relax a bit when we went back in to show with just Team Morgan. Um, except when it was time for the class to start (after we all exited the show arena), the announcer ushered everyone, all SIX breed teams (a final team of Clydesdales rode up just in time to start the class), back into the ring to show as one giant class! What a trial by fire;  I never would have agreed to participate if I'd known what we were in for. But I couldn't back out at that point, so I did my best to keep my mare between me and the ground, and not blow it for the team. And we succeeded! Team Morgan won blues for both the rail portion and the halter portion!!!
in the warm-up arena

alert and tense

a quiet moment posing for the hubby

Team Morgan heading into the show arena

a glimpse of the crowded class

letting her stretch

lining up after the rail portion

too bad the judge didn't ASK for a rein-back!

I declined a neck ribbon; thought it might unnerve Stella (more)

leaving after the rail portion

Team Morgan with their blue ribbons (the palomino was our halter rep)

so proud of my girl in overwhelming circumstances!

I'm still waiting for the official state fair horse show photographer to post his photos; I'll share if any are good enough to do so.

A long-time horse friend who came and watched commented on Stella's often-open mouth, suggesting a flash noseband might help. Stella has always had a busy mouth; I decided to add the flash. Here she is processing the addition:
busy, busy, busy

it's pretty loose; she could eat blackberries on the trail

filter-enhanced; gorgeous girl!

Next up: From zero to sixty!