Monday, October 5, 2015

Weekend Part 2: That Time I Took a Dressage Horse to a Hunter Show

The barn was going to a local hunter schooling show in prep for the state 4H show along with my trainer's baby baby horses (first and second shows). I decided to have Penn tag along. It's another ride in the trailer and more life experience off the farm.

We hauled up on Friday to school in the arena and so the horses would already be there for the 8am start. It was freaking cold. And rainy. Friday and Saturday. Who turned on Winter?!?!

Trainer's Jack Russel was cold. Here she is in her nest, haha.
Penn schooled nicely Friday night. He was a bit quick in every gait- he was nervous but willing to work.

We did 4 classes on Saturday - two U/S classes, then the two U/S classes in the Pleasure division (one w/t, one w/t/c). The division had one jumping class- Hunter Hack and it was over plain cross rails, but with only one jump school under our belt, we had to skip it. Plus Penn has never cantered a jump.

Overall, Penn was quite heavy in my hand. It was my own doing because I was riding him off my hand instead of my seat and core, and I was trying to not be an outright dressage rider. I should have just been an outright dressage rider, haha. However, he paid attention to me and did as I asked. Except the whole canter on the left lead thing. I never got it in my first flat class, I got it on the 4th try in the second flat class, didn't have to canter in the third, and got it on the 3rd try in the 4th flat class. He's crooked, but when I set him straight he's just not strong enough to pick up the left lead, so I have to get him almost shoulder foring to the left to get him to pick it up.

In my last class I finally sat up in my shoulders and asked him to travel properly (see the video below). Yes, he was still very heavy in trot, and I'm holding his head in (I'm going with the leaning on my hand on that one), but I got my half halts across a lot more often and he has steps of not laying on my hand. The tempo in the trot was very quick, but what you'll see in the video below is actually much much slower than what he'd been doing earlier in the day. The canter is a bit of a mess still because he wants to canter in every direction except straight, and then when it's time to just canter straight he wavers and isn't sure what to do, so the movement ends up super inconsistent and sometimes hitchy as I add leg back on to keep him moving. There's a lot of head wag as I attempt to break the heavy hold we've got on each other. I'm attempting to take and then give, and it's just not working that well. But that's ok, because baby horse. We've only been at it for a month and half. It's something we need to fix at home. But like hell if I was going to let him run around with his head between his knees!

I don't have a heavy horse problem when I have him in the hay field working, so I think as the weather turns and the outdoor becomes unrideable, I'm going to add hill work into his routine. It'll make him stronger so he's better to hold himself up.

This is a dressage horse, not a hunter.
It's kind of hard to compare, but I think these two pictures can be used to show how much filling out he's done since I got him
Last place in every class except the 3rd place- in that class one horse stopped cantering and refused to go past the judge. Second to last instead!
Please forgive my gaping coat. I snagged the bottom button on my stall door and ripped it off and didn't have time to sew it back on. If I realized how awful it looked, I would have made an effort to find a sewing kit. Also forgive my way too long stirrups for a jump saddle. I'm not going to be shortening them to flat, sorry!

I think my final thoughts are: My issues (for now) are related to weight. I got off my weight loss bus when Mikey died. I just couldn't handle it all. I'm getting back on the bus this week. I have to. Penn just needs to be stronger so he can better hold himself. He answering my corrections to being heavy in the bridle (for like two steps) but he's not strong enough to hold himself up. His canter will come along as he gets stronger so he can hold it properly. He's shuts down the second I half halt and get him where I want him, so then I kick on and we start over.


  1. There are only so many buses we can be on at one time. Yay for small classes to get satin!

    1. Exactly. There were a bunch of buses I got off of that I've been getting back on. That's the next one. Back to counting macros!

      I don't think I've ever done so poorly in the hunter ring. Mikey cleaned up in the flat classes for years, until we hit 2nd level or so and nothing I did made him look like a hunter anymore! Not Penn's fault. Not picking up the left lead puts you in last place, haha!

  2. he is so cute!! and he's definitely really filled out

    1. Thank you! I stared at the two pictures for ages. At first I was like, yes, absolutely. Not as waspy. Then I stared some more and was like, maybe he's the same? Too much staring at pictures.

  3. He is looking so handsome and I can definitely tell he has filled out some! Poor baby horse looked like he was trying to figure out this whole game, but good for you to give him that experience.

    1. Yea, I keep changing the rules on him! He really has no idea what to make of the jumps, or why on earth I just want him to go around the outside of the ring. We never travel just on the outside at home! Always doing a circle or shallow loop or something to break it up, and I think that's how I ended up with so much horse leaning on me. But I do want to take him to things like this just to have a new experience seeing all kinds of things!