A quick life update

While browsing through the site the other day, I realized it’s been awhile since I gave an update on life with my husband and Jim. I have to say things have been going well.

Recently I discovered a new fun thing to do: virtual dressage shows. I compete through Dressage Show Online. They post open shows and you video your ride and enter it. They have USEF and WDAA carded judges who then view the video, score it and place you. Jim and I recently took High Point Adult Amateur Western Dressage in this year’s August Championship show! We won both of our classes in WDAA Intro 3 AA and WDAA Intro 4 AA.

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This year, Jim, my husband and I have been taking a step back from showing at every open show. On a tight budget (yup, adulting is terrible sometimes), we have been focusing on certain shows – particularly my dressage shows. Luckily my husband isn’t as competitive as I am and although he did a few traditional dressage tests, he isn’t really pushing to do many more. He would rather jump – I say he’s crazy.

Our show year is quickly coming to a close. With one schooling show and one dressage show left to compete in, my scores for AWSSR year-end awards are already in. I’m a bit sad to see this year end, but I am very happy with how far Jim and I have come.

Settling into western dressage as our discipline was the best decision I have made. Both my husband and I are back to working on Jim’s canter. (He gets a bit excited.) He’s very responsive and he has been working through his body and balancing much better than he did this time last year.

This year has definitely called for my husband and my teamwork to shine through as a married couple. We have made sacrifices because of budget reasons and we have come to those decisions together. One of the benefits of both being riders is that when tough decisions come up, we can make informed decisions. It’s not just “Your horse costs too much. It’s “OUR horse is costing us a lot!” I am thankful every day that I have a significant other who understands how important Jim is in my life and can work things out.

But now, it’s time to break out our fall and winter muck boots, get ready for weekend chores in the cold and start bundling Jim up in his wardrobe. Goodbye summer and hello fall!

 

A winter of work

It’s been a long, dreary winter. In New England, we have had the strangest few months – with small storms bringing freezing cold and ice amid mild temperatures. I think I have become a pro on the “penguin walk” across sheets of ice both at home and at the barn. We haven’t had tons of snow this year, mostly just ice and freezing rain. Where we board Jim we very fortunately have an indoor arena. I know a lot of equestrians are not blessed with an indoor, but it is definitely worth it when it comes to New England weather.

At the start of the winter back in November, we placed Jim in training 2 days a week with our barn owner. We had a few specific short-term goals along with some long-term goals for our 2019 show season and beyond. Our short-term goals included a complete rework of how we lunge Jim. A year ago, our lunging consisted of a horse who liked to tear around like an idiot, burst out from you when you sent him out, and a horse that tried to break away from you when you went to change the chain set up while changing directions.

Another goal was to teach Jim how to balance himself both while lunging and under saddle. Although very broke, he liked to throw his nose up in the air and go way above the vertical. He rode very hollow and was very heavy on the forehand. He didn’t have much of a concept of engaging his hindquarters and stepping through.

Traffic was another key that Jim needed some work. He can work very nicely around other horses, but sometimes, oh sometimes, those ears went back and the attitude came out. With show season quickly approaching again, that wasn’t going to cut it – especially when it comes to warm up arenas.

Another smaller goal was to put some showmanship and ground handling buttons on him. He actually knows quite a lot in this department, but there’s some finishing work to be done.

And we have our long-term goals which include expanding our dressage knowledge, putting a flying change on him and working on more lateral work.

It’s been four months of training. We have had our setbacks and we have had some amazing progress. I actually love watching Jim learn. He sometimes takes a week or so and has a setback, but once it’s over, comes back even stronger.

One of our main goals – lunging – has come a long way. While it’s not perfect and probably will never be since some of it is just him, we can handle him much better and lunging has turned into teaching moments and not just “go run around like an idiot.” He’s actually not allowed to canter on the lunge line. Lunging work is for paying attention and working his brain. He’s taken to the new lunging rules very well.

Another goal that is coming along nicely is Jim learning how to balance himself. He has actually started to consistently round (when I use my legs!) He’s begun to understand what we are asking of him. He has also muscled up a lot. I can’t wait to take some new conformation photos in the spring!

While we still have some goals in the works, I’m very happy about our winter progress. But the most important part is how much fun we have been having with him. He lights up our life. From letting us put gloves on his ears and take funny photos to how much enjoyment we get riding and pampering and loving him, he has become part of the family. Having fun is what our sport is all about. If you’re not having fun, your passion will die. Every time you go to the barn and every time you put a foot in the stirrup, you should enjoy what you’re doing. The confidence we have been gaining (especially me) working with Jim has been fantastic. And I have my village to thank who are there for us all along the way.