Monday, April 18, 2011


Sunday was a planned schooling show for me and Lilly (although I did take my show clothes just in case). After what happened at the last show, Alex offered to join me in case Lilly decided she wanted to act similarly at this show so she could help me work through some of the issues.

M and I arrived at the show earlier than usual hoping to get a better parking spot this time around. Because of the weather, turnout wasn't what it normally is at this show, so parking didn't turn out to be much of an issue.

Alex arrived shortly after we did and got right to work. Lilly is always in a hurry to get out of the trailer, so she first educated her on how to politely step out of the trailer. It's a little more difficult to practice in my own trailer because it isn't wide like M's trailer so there isn't as much room in there for the two of us. At a show I always have spot number 1 of my 2 horse trailer filled with stuff so I just need to take a day and practice nothing but getting in and out of the trailer.

Once that was settled, we tied Baby on one side of the trailer and Lilly on the other. She didn't waste any time before she started whinnying and pawing, desperately trying to communicate with her BFF. Alex started asking Lilly to move her feet using the motivator stick (crop with a plastic bag tied on the end). She had her move back and forth, back and forth, making sure she was taking nice, big steps rather than shuffling from side to side. After the motivator stick started to loose its 'umph', Alex got her longe whip from the truck. After popping the longe whip for a few minutes, an individual we both know pretty well walked over to the trailer. As soon as I saw him coming over I knew what was up. Someone had apparently complained that we were whipping Lilly with the longe whip and we had to stop or we'd be asked to leave.

On one hand, I'm impressed that someone actually spoke up about something they thought was wrong, even though they had no clue what we were doing. No one was whipping my horse... On the other hand, we saw skinny horses, horses being ridden in leverage bits with draw reins, spurs that looked more like saw blades, and an individual that actually was being abusive to his horse, yet nothing was said or done about those things.

But I digress...

So we had to abandon ship on that issue and decided we'd try to tackle the issue under saddle instead. Alex got on first and started working on all the different things she showed me when she came to the barn a couple weeks ago. I think she was impressed with the work Lilly and I had done because she said she could tell we'd been doing our homework. Lilly was definitely forward, but she was being obedient, and Alex said that was important. She can be full of energy as long as she's doing what she's told.

Still loving those dark spots!
 She rode her for quite a while behind the trailer, out of view of Baby, and Lilly did exceptionally well compared to what I dealt with at the last show. Her energy level was up, but she didn't feel like she could explode at any minute. She would whinny every now and then, and when she did she was worked in little, uncomfortable circles and then as soon as she stopped whinnying, we'd move along like nothing happened. No grudges! After Alex had Lilly going beautifully, it was my turn to hop on.

Being that Lilly was full of energy, we worked on things that require a lot of energy. We worked on jogging slow, being soft in the bridle, and canter transitions. She felt really collected, was definitely being obedient, and was even a lot more relaxed than when we started. The thing about Lilly, though, is that I'm not sure she ever really runs out of energy. She doesn't wear down. I could ride her all day long, even ride her pretty hard, and at the end of the day she'd still have plenty of get up and go to run a barrel pattern. So the challenge with her is to channel that energy in the right ways, using it for good, not evil.

What a good pony!
 Since she was doing so well, we decided to go for a walk around the grounds and into the area where Baby would be. Alex always stresses that we're never just going for a walk, or just going on a trail ride, it's a constant opportunity to work on something. So we weaved in and out of vehicles and horse trailers, making sure she wasn't dropping her shoulder and always making nice rounded corners.

She was a really good girl. We stood and watched the jumping classes for a while and she only whinnied a couple times. The only time she moved those feet was when I told her to. Nice! She wasn't allowed to look around, though, and I think that was the hardest part for her. She LOVES to look around. She has got to be the most nosey critter on the planet. She looks over there, then she looks over here, then back over there... it's constant and never stops. She'll turn her head all the way around behind her to get a good look if she has to. So I had to imagine we were inside a rectangular box and Lilly wasn't allowed to move her nose outside that box...

We went for a another walk over to the grass ring all by ourselves and she wasn't allowed to look at the other horses. She did good on the way over, but on the way back she started to whinny and then stopped, like she remembered once she started that she wasn't supposed to. It was pitiful!

The correction:

Shut your yap, mare!
 The result:

That's better!
 Alex was kind enough to fill up my camera's memory card with wonderful pictures, but in most of them my face looks like that. Someone should remind me next time to put a hat on my head so the sun doesn't shine in my eyes and make me look cranky!

After the jumping classes were over and the show took a break, Lilly and I went into the ring to practice there. It felt like we were starting all over again because she was really, really forward. I was having a tough time getting her to be soft, and she wanted to rush everything. Constantly stopping and backing in an arena full of horses wasn't always an option, so we did the best we could. Again, she was being forward but obedient, so I was definitely happy with what she was giving me.

We had a few lovely canter transitions and she was really cantering nicely. She felt less forward at the canter than she did at the trot or walk, and it felt amazing.

An example of our wonderful canter!
 I did end up showing in two western go-as-you-please classes. Please pay no attention to our mecate reins, full cheek snaffle bit (of course she's under 5 years old...), and fancy show clothes. We're totally western pleasure material! :)

We placed last in the first class and almost last in the second class, but I wasn't showing to show. I was showing to school and that's what we did. She did fairly well until she was the last one still standing in the lineup, and then we had a bit of attitude to deal with. The challenging part of that is finding a way to work on it without actually being in the show ring. I told Lilly if she wins the class she gets to leave first! I'm not sure she cared, though.

Western pleasure, here we come!
 After our classes, we headed back to the trailer where I worked her in a different bridle. She decided to whinny, so I circled her, and she proceeded to step on her shoe, nearly ripping it off. The little bit of hoof we had grown out... gone. Luckily we found some tools and Alex was able to take the shoe the rest of the way off gently so we didn't lose anymore hoof. I have to come up with something else for her hooves or we're never going to get this hoof issue taken care of.

The next show is May 7th and M won't be able to go, so I'll be anxious to see how Lilly does at the show when she's hauled by herself. I never had these kinds of issues with her when we were showing alone so it'll be interesting to see if things are drastically different. I might just have to take a year off and still haul to the shows, but school only until we get past this.

Again, thank you SO much Alex for your time and expertise! It has already made such a huge difference in my horse and I can't thank you enough for helping us out!


  1. Sounds like a really good and productive outing!

  2. I'm glad you were able to attend this one for schooling purposes, its fantastic to put our agenda's aside for our horses. I'm really glad it seemed to help so much!

    I find it interesting how people will speak up for one thing, but not another.

    Now for Milo, I let him look around if we are just "standing around" but he doesnt get to move his feet. But he also doesnt have such herdboundness as Lilly has been demonstrating. Im glad she was doing pretty well in her box!

    Do you turn around in your trailer, or back out? I used to have a very rushed pony when I turned him around, but backing out calmly and by voice seemed to help.

  3. Thanks, Kate! It was definitely productive!

    Milo, it'll definitely take a few schooling shows to get her worked out of this funk she's in lately, but I know we'll be better for it. :)

    Lilly looks constantly... when the farrier was here this morning she kept looking behind her in the cross ties. There's nothing there but the solid wall. What could she be looking at? I wonder if it's just a habit she's developed and she can't help herself. I was making her keep her head still but all she wants to do is look. It's weird.

    I wish I could turn her around in the trailer because that might help at this point, but I only have a two horse trailer and the front stall always has hay. So when we're at a show she has no choice but to back out. M's trailer is about 2' wider so it's easier to work with her there, but in mine I have no choice but to stand at her head outside the trailer and let her fly out backwards. There is literally no other way to get her out, especially if I'm there by myself. That's why it has been such a challenge... I can't even stay at her head and back her out from inside the trailer.

  4. Cool show report!

    How do you put stuff in the first divider? Do you have a stud wall there? I am the queen of worrying and I'd worry that it would slide under a normal divider and end up under the horse's feet.

  5. I used to worry too because I don't have a stud divider. I make sure I don't stack hay more than 2 high so they won't tip over and the mats in my trailer aren't slick at all. Nothing ever moves, so I've quit worrying over the years for the most part.

  6. YAY! You guys did great!

    I wouldn't have let her turn around while the farrier was there either.... lol.

    You're welcome! I'm happy to help.

  7. It sounds like y'all had a really good, productive show. You're super lucky to have had Alex there too - sounds like she's really got Lilly's number and is helping make sure you get it too!

  8. I concur with everyone else, great productive show! Love the pics too! Her color is def gorgeous right now!

  9. After the second or third time of her rubber-necking, I made her keep her face forward. She wasn't happy about it, but by the end of the shoeing session, she was doing pretty well. :)

    Alex definitely has Lilly's number and I'm VERY grateful for her assistance!

    Thanks, Britnie! I hope her color stays dark longer this year!

  10. glad that this outing went much better, and that you all were safe from those scary storms last weekend!