Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Thinking Out Loud

So finally I am heading to the barn after work today. My motivation level coupled with my work load has been stressed to the max. When I get home I just want to relax and chill. Which means eating and sleeping and hanging out witht he roomie.

"G" came home from his trip to school and I went over there last night. We had a good night and ate leftovers from the past few days for dinner. Watched a little TV, played with the dogs and went to bed. It was relaxing and the AC was on, bonus! Got up in the morning and have been running ever since. Work sucks and is way too busy. I can never seem to feel caught up with cases closing and opening every minute. The documentation is sometimes overwhelming.

SO I have made a promise to myself tonight to atleast groom and visit with Possum and then I'll probably end up riding some. I feel like I've been away from my barn family forever. My next show isn't until the end of August so I'm not riding as much as I probably should be. This weekend I vow to spend more time at the barn, hit the trail and work on some ring stuff. I'm sure Possum is loving his little hiatus.

Wanted to discuss something today that I think about sometimes. I really want a nice show horse that has athletic talent, good conformation for what I want to do and is attractive looking. (no offense Possum). But the more I think about it; how can I afford to show this wonder horse? As it is without sounding like I'm bragging becaise I'm certainly not. Possum and I are currently showing at the highest hunter level and height for this area, meaning Maine and parts of NH. What would I do with a truly great horse that was easy to work with. I would end up paying an arm and a leg trailering to the big shows, paying all of those expensive fees and then I would become one of "those".

"Those" I am referring to are a great majority in the hunter world, show bitches. Ones who never carry a bucket of water. Ones who don't take care of their horse, hire a groom and braider and have someone do everything for them and they just show up the day of the show. Part of showing I like is getting up early, loading my horse, unloading him, getting him settled usually tied to the trailer and then hanging out with him until it's time to warm up and show. Don't get me wrong. I'm always asking for leg ups and for someone to hand me water when I'm about to pass out. But I take a great deal of pride in doing it all myself. I don't have a trainer. I get help sometimes from friends and another pair of eyes on the ground. Sometimes when I tell people this they just look at me sideways and can't believe it. ALL of the work I have done with Possum has been on my own for the most part. We have never taken a formal lesson and in fact the last time I had a formal lesson was in college over 5 years ago!

I learn by watching, reading and studying. I watch tons of lessons. I read tons of books and watch videos and shows. For the most part I know what I need to do and try to translate that to my body and into Possum. SOme of the disadvantages of not having a trainer or taking lessons is the learning scale. I feel that I progress much more slowely than someone who takes regular lessons, but I just can't afford it.

SO if I had this fancy super horse who was push button and won everything, is that really what I want? Where's the challenge? How can I come up with the sum of money? and do I really want to become a member of the exclusive snobby hunter type that most are? (not all are like that but their few and far between)

I remember last year at a hunter show Possum was a little hyper and I didn't get a chance to gallop him the day before. SO we started walking to the side road which the barn was located on. The owner came out and asked what I was doing. I told that that I was taking him down the road to stretch his legs. She told me that they do not trail ride here and the horses are not allowed off the property. She told me that I was just waiting for an accident to happen. I couldn't believe it. My horse who I can take anywhere, through the woods, over stone walls, parades, swimming and she doesn't trust me to canter on the shoulder of a back road, gimmme a break. I politely informed her in my best social worker voice that my horse and I were perfectly safe. That I had signed the liability release so that she was not liable and that I was doing something for my horse that will best suit him in the ring. I then walked off. Ofcourse everything was fine. I galloped Possum on the dirt shoulder, he felt better and I did too and then he was ready to put in a nice hunter round.

Why is trail riding and having fun in my book with your horse so forbidden in the big show world? Are people afraid that their horses will like something else and then sour to showing. Shouldn't the goal to be to have a happy horse? Let's face it, some horses hate showing. SOme horses hate trails. Just like people horses have a preference. I myself prefer to do lots of things with my horse. I trail ride, gallop, do games, jump like a jumper, jump like a hunter, some dressage work and others. I like to believe that my horse also enjoys trying new things. Showing for Possum and I is like eating our vegetables. We may not always think it's the finnest thing in the worls but it's good for us. It makes him and I better as a rider and horse. DOn't get me wrong, lots of times it's really fun when it all clicks together, but sometimes it feels like paddling upstream. It's good for us.

So do I want to lose that challenge and step up to the next show brackett? Again. I'm not bragging what so ever. I'm also not saying that I will ever have this dream horse. But sometimes when I'm tired of working on everything with Possum I ride another horse like Moonshine and it's just so damn easy. I just sit up, make little tiny corrections and it's perfect. I'm just basically talking out loud today/ I love my horse, he's great but he's not exactly the perfect show horse. We work very hard at what we have and he alwasy places respectively and I am very proud of his progress. If I ever get that big show horse, can I still have fun doing other things or will he just be stuck in the ring? These are all questions that I ask myself. Are there big name horses out there that like galloping and trails and games. Are owners too afraid of them hurting themselves and due to insurance reasons lock them in a box stall with one hr of individual turnout a day? Let me know what you think, or your experiences.

I have this label at the barn for being the "crazy girl" who will do anything on a horse (safely) and will try anything. Can I still find a show horse that fits my personality and lifestyle?


20 meter circle of life said...

I think we all think of those things!! I know I have those moments when I dream of a GP horse. But I am starting to understand that its the road and not always the destination. Although let me say when we kick A** against the 25,000 plus horses I am walking on cloud 9. I just remind myself that my 2500.00 junk yard pony is with me for a reason. I may someday have a "real" dressage horse, but not till we have accomplished the goals we have now.
I am a fan of the under dogs.
I think Dale Evans said, "its not the trail you ride, but how you ride the trail that counts"

Denise- LessIsMore17 said...

I think you would be very bored with the "perfect" horse! When I showed dressage I loved everything about it like you said- getting up early (OK, I hated this part :-p) but settling him in, getting the show packet, walking the grounds, braiding and hanging out before and after the classes...
I remember once I paid to have Less' mane braided and Gigi Nutter said it was bad luck not to braid yourself! That always stuck with me.

Anonymous said...

perhaps give this a try...

Mrs Mom said...

Look at it this way, Sidetracked: You have worked your butt off to learn what you have, and get where you are. You have invested blood, sweat, and tears that these other gals will never understand.

Know what? They sure as shooting are not ever going to know the satisfaction that comes with EARNING your way to the top. With providing the best level of care that you can. Or by having an amazing relationship with their horse, like you and Possum do.

Sure- loads of work there, but holy spotted ponies are they missing out on a bunch! ;)

Bet you find, in time, that horse that CAN go top levels. And I bet that YOU teach him/ her and take them there.

Stephanie said...

Hi there (sorry for writing a book),

You know this is similar to what I have struggled with for a while.

Though lately it has come down to that simple question of "so what if Patrick turns out to be fancy horse I've always wanted - I can't afford to take him to the big shows anyway..."

So I am trying real hard to find enjoyment in showing at lower levels of local breed shows and higher levels of open shows. Even though i LOVE big shows, the competition and of course being successfully.

And to respond to your pondering of whether that would take the "fun" out of it - the answer is yes and no. But the hunter jumper world is different so i don't know if my experience applies....

We truly do have a blast at the bigger shows - in different ways but we still have fun with our horses. And we still go out on the trail though not real often as the horses live most of the time with the trainer & when we are there usually its for lessons and practice - but sometimes its for fun.

And you're right some people and some horses like trail rides and others don't. Never heard of an insurance company prohibiting trail riding though I suppose once you get up in the hundreds of thousands of dollar they might...

And it is hard work even at higher levels - I hate to be lumped into "that" group but feel that I am. However the reason why I have my horses banded/braided is almost always because I am getting off work late and driving 4+ hours directly to the show - classes start early in the morning and it just wouldn't get done in time if I didn't pay someone to help out. In fact the only way I can go to breed shows at all with my work schedule and lack of vacation time is with the help of a trainer, because they are never just weekend shows. Plus with a young horse there is not a chance in hell that I could put the riding time in required to show at that level with my work schedule - maybe when he's older and broke I will be able to have him at home.

Anyways its like that for alot of the folks I show with. Its the only way they can do it - they love their horses, love showing, and have the money so they make it happen.

I know this is not the case in all barns but we still get up at the crack of dawn - feed, water, lunge, clean stalls and ride our own horses. My trainer will ride the younger ones, any that are giving their riders trouble but basically he floats from rider to rider verbally helping us prepare for the our classes. We groom our own horses, tack them up, and then get dressed.

By taking on some of this work he doesn't have to hire a groom or assistant and that keeps our fees down. Its not everyone piece of cake, more than one "show diva" has left in a huff because she doesn't want to be charged with all that work, or because she tries to turn Joe into her personal servant and he just doesn't have time for that.

I think there needs to be a balance when showing at that level between work and fun. We have a blast riding around after the show chatting showing off moves, maybe somebody left some barrels up in the arena - watch out!! The pleasure horse girls are all rummy! We may not take off on a trail ride but there is still fun involved.

And there is stress to - which you've heard about from me. Stress you put on yourself - stress you put on your horse. And it mostly revolves around the money, because once your invest all that cash to show at higher levels you want to be successfully gosh dang it!! And that is the worst part I think - that's what takes the fun out it. That's what I am trying to find way out of...

Samphony said...

For my own selfish reasons, I think you should stay with the rest of us at low-life's the barn! :0) Don't underestimate yourself... you're a great resource for these young riders, and they look up to you and Possum. Not sure if that is as rewarding to you as riding the big shows, but your advice sure is appreciated by us show-mom's!

sidetracked said...

Thanks Samphony, that does mean a lot to me. I try to be a good role model despite all the crazy things I may do oh yeah and the smoking part. But other than that I like teaching everyone about horse care and riding with all the kids and just having fun. HAving fun and enjoying life is the main reason that I have a horse.