Tuesday, July 13, 2010
BIG STEPS FORWARD, SMALL STEPS BACK BY MARGARET RIZZO
Horses are such humbling creatures. My ride for the weekend was Holly Erdely's 7-year-old appaloosa/belgian/thoroughbred gelding Maine Moose Tracks. I started riding Moosetracks regularly when Holly was recovering from surgery this past winter, and continue to help develop this talented big guy as he goes through a bit of the terrible teens. This horse has made huge steps forward in his training over the past few months (with the help of super trainer Kelley Williams), so I had reason to look forward to his first recognized competition this weekend.
Then comes the small step back. Any competitor can tell you that one of the biggest challenges is recreating the brilliance from home in the show environment. For whatever reason, Moosetracks didn't want to play the game yesterday. And let me tell you, when you're 5'2" and your 17.2h draft cross decides he doesn't want to play, there's only so much you can do! Thankfully I avoided taking out a few pony clubbers as I tried to settle my partially rearing and lunging beast. After my somewhat embarrassing dressage test, I came out the ring and continued working until good behavior was re-established.
Stadium was another step forward. Warm up went according to plan and he jumped quite well, although a bit green, with me taking the time to do simple changes to ensure he was balanced to the fences. Cross country started out as planned. A nice easy canter over the first few fences. I knew I needed a little extra encouragement going into the first water and promptly dropped my whip. Argh! Not what I wanted to happen at fence 5! But onto the next challenge. Moosetracks continued to jump well, but I could tell he was getting a little tired. I stayed super strong in my rides to each fence, determined to give him no excuse to do anything but jump the jumps in front of him and then let him cruise at his own speed between fences. Then we get back to the little girl on a big horse syndrome, and Moosetracks quit on me at fence 10, for reasons unknown to me and my friends watching. But he finished the course and cooled out well.
As Holly (aka super owner!) cooled out her spotted pony, I changed into my trusty purple crocs and went fishing for my whip. Some people have lucky socks ... I have my lucky whip. And I've had it since I was a pre-teen, and wasn't so happy at the idea of leaving without it. I think everyone shook their heads as I went off to search. It only took a few minutes, and a few weird looks from jump judges, and VIOLA! My beloved whip lives to see another day!
So onto the next step. More lessons, more schooling shows, more conditioning. See you all at Waredaca!
Photo courtesy of Holly Erdely