Wednesday, August 19, 2015

show prep: wherein everyone schools the horse but me

Our show prep for this weekend's fun show may have been, um, a little unconventional. I mean, yes the horse got schooled. Just... a little differently than normal lol. Oh, and entirely by people not named Emma.

this is not isabel's best angle
Friday night Austen came down to meet the princess and see what all the fuss was about. This was obvi super exciting for me bc I wanted to see if there are any dressage buttons lurking below the surface that I hadn't found yet.

'i think there's been a terrible mistake' - isabel
I hopped on first to just plod around for a couple laps before handing over the reins. They got off to what I deemed a very promising start. Isabel's expression rapidly changed to one of concern when it became immediately apparent that Austen would actually, ya know, RIDE the horse and expect the horse to participate.

'oh god no.... no no NO!! anything but *work*!!!' - isabel
It was really cool to watch tho. Isabel wasn't really resistant, per se, just maybe a bit confused about how the tables had turned. You could tell she was trying to understand and trying to do what Austen asked - but was simultaneously a bit perplexed and actually honest-to-god green to the aids.

mare is thinking very very hard
Austen spent a lot of time explaining what she felt to me - including isolating the RH as the weakest link. But she was also able to pick up on some of my own habits just by riding herself - like how I constantly nag with my legs and am now maybe sitting too heavily to the inside (very likely a new development that is overcompensating for my previous habit of sitting too far to the outside...).

perhaps even thinking that this might not be so bad, even tho it's kinda hard
She also recommended a few exercises to focus on - in particular, riding shoulders in to the left to help get that RH more engaged and working. Plus, she was very adamant that I WON'T ruin the horse by trying out more difficult stuff - that it can only help us. Always good to hear haha!

best friends forever?
Then Austen got to jump around a little bit - bc nobody can ride a mare as fun as Isabel and NOT try jumping! They even got over a nice 2'9" vertical a few times, tho Izzy was not really giving anything away and made it clear that the chip stride is *always* hidden just under the surface waiting for the unsuspecting rider to take her leg off. Good times haha.

'I AM NOT AMUSED' - isabel
Lol. This mare. She is just so stinkin expressive! Ha... Seriously tho it was really cool to see her actually working with Austen - her ab muscles were engaged and clearly visible the whole time, and her entire balance was shifting and improving throughout the ride. Definitely good for me to get that visual and see that I'm really not asking for much (or enough) in our rides and Isabel is clearly capable of more.

let's go O's!
So as a thank you to Austen for putting what might be considered a training ride on my horse, we headed downtown to meet up with friends and catch the end of a baseball game. 'Twas a great game too - we got there around the 7th inning and they went into extra innings before ultimately winning. Yay team!

panorama ftw
Then over to Fells Point for drinks (and pizza) on the water bc a visit to Baltimore isn't complete without that experience. Good times all round!

this mare is just too cute
Then Saturday morning, Isabel was in for quite the treat. Her first owner S (who actually bred her) was in town and asked to visit. She and Isabel's current owner C met up at the farm and both got on for a rides. It was really interesting seeing S riding and I picked her brain about how Isabel might be the same or different from when S sold her as a 5 yr old.

S said that she used to have kids ride the mare all the time, and that Izzy was always awesome through grids. She did mention that the horse used to be a little more reactive to the leg -- which echoed Austen's sense too. Perhaps I need to work a little harder at saying less with my legs!!

They also jumped around for a bit, which was super fun to watch. S has a penchant for the long spot (whereas I like getting to the base) but she made it look smooth and easy with Isabel.

wheeee!! she loves the lattice
S also came to the show the next morning to spectate and see old friends, and I got to learn more about Izzy's background. She used to clean up at local schooling h/j shows with both S and kids in the tack, and S had taken her to a couple baby events too - including one at OF.

She also introduced me to the woman, a local trainer, who owned Isabel's dam, a mare named Lady (an anglo arab, not actually full like I previously thought) that S leased for breeding.

So I've managed to put together a fairly complete history for Isabel - from baby to present day. And according to S, the mare in her present attitude and work ethic and general personality is exactly the same mare she sold all those years ago (to another owner before C found her).

The disaster of a mare that I met 3 years ago who couldn't stand still and had no rhythm and was generally not very pleasant to ride.... well, it's hard to say where that mare came from. She was diagnosed and eventually treated for Lyme, so perhaps that was part of it. Or maybe it was a function of not working for close to 5 years that had made her forget some training? Idk. Regardless, S seemed pretty happy with the life Isabel is leading now.

surrounded by her whole family
Izzy's current owner C also popped on for a ride - her first in nearly a year after a traumatic foot injury that took multiple surgeries and PT sessions to heal. I think it was therapeutic for her to get on and ride (and jump!) around like nbd after so much time out of the saddle. And I was super happy that they had an easy time doing it. Part of me is a little sad bc this likely spells the end of my de facto full lease... but we've shared the horse quite successfully in the past and I don't see that being a hindrance going forward.

So yea, if all my gushing about Isabel being so much fun and generally an uncomplicated and pleasant horse to ride hasn't made an impact on you - then consider she had three different riders (none of whom jump regularly) take her over fences in the two days before our debut in the 3' ring and she was totally fine. This mare, she is just so game!

21 comments:

  1. Bahaha! What no video of me totally biffing every distance through the line on the "magic neck disappearing horse"?! And, dear god, my chair seat. It returns when I shorten my stirrups. Nooooo!! ;)

    Honestly, though. The mare is pretty awesome, and has some legitimate talent for toddling around in the sandbox.

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    1. Haha! I did giggle seeing you in jump tack.

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    2. lol i'm so glad you enjoyed her and got to see all the fun stuff that makes her so lovable! one of these days i will do her dressage talent justice haha :D

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  2. What fun!!! Isabel is such a great mare. I wish I lived closer and could come hang out with you and Austen. Sounds like a great time.

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    1. seriously!!! you'll have to come visit :)

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  3. That's so cool that you know so much of Isabel's background.

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    1. it's been really eye opening to learn more about her - turns out she's always been pretty cool

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  4. Love all the pics! She is one fancy mare!

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    1. thanks!! i'm finally starting to figure that out haha

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  5. So cool that you know all of Isabel's people!! She looks like she's being great for every single person on her back. What a good mare.

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    1. she really is the best. like i'm pretty sure anybody could rider her and have fun at it

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  6. =) How nice to have a horse so loved by many. And so game for lots of riders!

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    1. i definitely feel lucky - and even more so that she's got the energy to spare haha

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  7. Even though you didn't get to do much riding it still sounds like a fun weekend. So cool that you got to chat with her other people.

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    1. oh definitely a fun weekend. i could have ridden if i wanted to, really, but she schooled so well with everyone else i figured she'd appreciate a little extra time off

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  8. having others ride your horse: almost as valuable as eyes on the ground!

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    1. seriously!! it was super interesting to see which different tics showed up with each rider, and why

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  9. Looks like so much fun! There's an Isabel lookalike at my barn who gives such similar facial expressions when being asked to work. Like he does want to be good but at what cost?!

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    1. haha 'at what cost!?!' perfectly sums up her mindset lol. i think she'll be a little happier about it when i start cleaning up my act a bit more

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