**edit: some photos from show added!
Yankee. He is such a badass. I might be biased, but I honestly believe he is one of the coolest horses I've ever met, and quite the gentleman. I have so much love for that horse, my heart explodes thinking of him. He is sweet beyond comprehension, gorgeous, talented, well-schooled, athletic, seasoned and an all-around badass. He is everything.
Also, from the outside, if you didn't know he had surgery in February you would never know. He's healthy, happy, fit, shiny and fat. I love it. What a crazy recovery!
However, I've discovered that watching him in competition with others is almost unbearable. Not due to jealousy, but in a motherly, overprotective fashion. Add to that, I want my leasers to have fun and succeed, my horse to come away uninjured, and overall go as smoothly as possible. Horse shows where I'm not riding, and just watching Yanks be ridden are a bit much for me.
This weekend was a roller coaster of anxiety and elation. It was almost too much to handle.
Some of you may remember that last year Yanks came to Champagne Run as well, all the way from MO with his leasers. I had only had B about a year and brought him as a NC as well.
|LOL @ Bacardi face. Thats how it stayed the entire weekend.|
This was a pretty cool event for me, as is always been a favorite of mine. Watching Yankee go training with L was fun, but I forgot how anxious I was that weekend because I had my psychopath baby to distract me.
This past weekend wasn't much different. I did everything in my power to not be a helicopter parent, but sometimes I couldn't help myself. Adjust the bridle here. Fix a boot strap there. Braid his mane. Wrap his legs. I just couldn't step allllll the way back, even though I spent most of the weekend sitting in my chair from afar.
|Begging for noms|
I try very hard to relay to his leaser that he knows his job, and he knows it well but you have to ask for it too. Ask for the collection, ask for the push and ask for the movements. He can't be perfect on his own and the test has to be ridden accurately.
I might have been more nervous for dressage than she was, but I just know how lovely he can be and I want that for her too. Its hard to remember that the horse won't carry the team most of the time. Its gotta be together, and this team is new. Its still developing. Regardless, it causes me anxiety, ha.
It was a good thing that Saturday is the busy day with everyone doing dressage and stadium, I was "running" (my back was killing me, so it was more like hobbling or catching golf cart rides) all over the place. I was distracted.
As his time creeped closer, I busied myself with braiding him.
I've always enjoyed braiding and I find it relaxing and ritualistic. Yankee always falls asleep too, which is adorable. This time I used thread on his forelock and I must say, it looked really sharp. I might use thread for the next show that has dressage and stadium on that same day, just to experiment, even though I usually make rubber bands look pretty dang good. Helps when the hors falls asleep.
Before I knew it, we were heading down to the rings. At the KY Horse Park, this involves a long walk to the rings and I lectured myself to stay out of it. Let Supertrainer warm her up and instruct. She always does a great job with them. Stay back, leave it alone, and just watch.
I did not just watch.
Supertrainer was helping another rider who went first and V & Yanks were just walking about taking in the sights. He was a little more up than he usually isat home, but nothing to be concerned about in my opinion. Warm up was PACKED and it was hard to walk around without running in to someone and any horse that wasn't awake I would consider not normal in those conditions.
I saw V getting more and more tense in her elbows though, and of course transferring that to Yankee, and unfortunately he was visibly getting more wound up as they walked around. No good. This was not normal for him.
I couldn't stand it, so I jumped up and went down to the ring where they were dancing about. I tried to advise to relaxxxx and actually let the reins slip, but I don't think I was very convincing.
It is incredibly difficult to instruct someone who has only ridden your horse for a few months on how to make him tick. I can never describe how to do it, since my body just responds to him and does it. I was floundering. Luckily, Supertrainer rescued me and they went to work. She taught, he relaxed, it was better.
The test wasn't awful, but it wasn't great either. Yanks did exactly as he was told, but was rather lackluster in his movements, which wasn't suprising to me. The down transitions especially were rough, since V hasn't quite mastered using her seat to come down, but she will get there. Additionally, 20m circles kind of turned into spheres and squares and the halt wasn't 100% square.... But, Yankee was obedient and his normal calm and collected self. I felt it deserved the 39 that they received. She just needs more practice at asking for MORE and being slightly more accurate.
The videos will not get posted, because I can't control myself and talked through the entire videos. Its a little embarrassing actually, haha. I may or may not have been freaking out internally.
After it was over I felt like I literally pooped out my emotions and my heart went with them, and I could breathe again. GAHH. So weird. I am not good at this.
There was a looooooong break in-between dressage and stadium so Yankee took a pony snooze and I watched some stadium rounds, read more of my book and worked on my equestrian tan.
|Those dapples doh|
Yankee was LIT because thats just how he is with jumping. V has slayed (absolutely slayyyyyed) jumper shows with him, so I never predicted this as being an issue. She knows how to ride the energy and channeled it appropriately into winning jumper rounds previously. However, from those of us watching it really looked like V was just so nervous and tense, creating more tension with a horse that "wakes up" in the jump ring. (after the fact, she said she wasn't as nervous as she looked but it definitely wasn't their best).
Then someone slammed a porta-potty door and that gave him the excuse to spook.
My jaw almost dropped to the floor. I felt sick. I wanted to cry.
Yankee is not a spooking horse. Ever. I think he's spooked twice in 11 years and they were at birds in a bush and a dog running a him. He doesn't spook. And there he was, spooking down the ring, almost at a gallop, with V clinging to him.
He was was admittedly, spooking.
After that, she didn't seem to relax and I wanted to die. This couldn't be happening. My horse doesn't spook. He doesn't get nervous. He doesn't suck at jumping. He isn't un-steerable. She knows this. I know this.
It was like there was this horrible replay of the worst thoughts in my brain running on a continuous loop. I had to walk away. Attributing it to show nerves and atmosphere, I just hoped Supertrainer could get them both on point before their round.
The good news is, they had a double clear round in stadium. Yanks pulled that out of his ass for the first half, then by fence 5 she seemed to get in rhythm and ride like I know she can!
"Bad" news is, they have a LOT to work on. It was not very pretty and I may have cursed inwardly and outwardly, almost peed my pants, and almost met my untimely death through an actual heart attack. The bad-good news is, we all discussed the round and she now knows what to work on!
but I still need to not be at their shows, like ever.
Day 1 ended on a good-ish note. They sat pretty in 8th place in a big division after the first two phases, but I had a sick feeling in my stomach and was incredibly worried about how this partnership would pan out/if she still wanted this/if this was a good idea etc.
Day 2 started with much anxiety from me. Everyone was running XC and XC literally makes me almost vomit, so I couldn't watch anyone. I read my book the whole morning, blaring music in my ears to distract myself, only to look up in hopeful anxiety when they came back.
It was horrible.
V and Yanks were second to last to go, which of course made me a giant, nervous wreck. I tried to stay out of the way, so as not to rub off the nervousness on anyone. I failed miserably though and as V was getting ready I offered to tack and she agreed. I needed some familiarity and routine to calm me down. Luckily, Yankee didn't pick up on me and my crazy pants and they headed out ready to rock and roll.
|Only took me 11 years to discover that red is his color|
Since I refused to go to warm-up or watch the course, here's a pic of him last year on the training XC along with one from the course this year.
|Fav pic from the show of them on XC|
As soon as I saw her smile I pooped out my feelings again and rushed over to congratulate them and get the lowdown.
Double clear, for one, which is AWESOME. Apparently had a bobble at the water which was causing so,many.issues. this weekend for everyone. Uncharacteristic of him, but if everyone else refused it, I wasn't surprised he took a second glance. Must be some horse eating serpents in that water! Otherwise, it was great. He listened, she rode well (according to Supertrainer) and it ended on a really good note.
They ended the weekend in 7th place, which was pretty cool for her second ever event and his re-re-re debut into eventing. I was proud.
Coming away from the weekend though, we need to re-evaluate some things. Super trainer is incredibly concerned about their lack of control in stadium and her suggestion was to bit him up A LOT....or end the lease. I of course immediately put my foot down on a big bit, because more bit power is NOT the answer. He is 14 years old and well trained. When half halts simply aren't delivered, thats not his fault. BUT, perhaps for one show she needs to ride with his XC bit (waterford 2 ring). I guarantee he will have rails, since thats how it goes with bits and Yankee over stadium, but maybe to have little more whoa and instill some confidence in both parties, thats what needs to happen.
Overall, Yankee was a badass, V is still learning the ropes of eventing but did really well, and I need to never come to another one, haha...
Mixed feelings on this.
Regardless, I am happy she was happy with a top 10 finish, since that was her ultimate goal this show, and we are on the the next one in 3 weeks-ish time!