Sunday, 17 January 2016

Progress Not Perfection

Apollo and I are attending a hunter schooling show on February 27!  

Thanks to a boatload of encouragement from Coach D I’m actually feeling excited instead of terrified.  The atmosphere is apparently extremely relaxed and it’s a very beginner/green horse friendly show.  I’m volunteering for a show in the same series at the end of January.  It will give me a good sense of how things run.

Tried to make Apollo pose next to one of our tiny fences... NOPE

We’ll be doing the following classes in Division One (aka “Bold Beginner”) with fences at a maximum height of 18”:

1.       Hunter Under Saddle
2.       Working Hunter Over Fences
3.       Handy Hunter Over Fences
4.       Hunt Seat Equitation Over Fences

I have only a vague idea of what those classes are actually looking for.  I know the first one is a flat class!  And handy hunters are trickier courses with tight turns.  That’s about it.  Save me google!  If anyone has any tips or suggestions I’d happily welcome them! :)

Majestic creatures


My struggle with showing (and with life in general) is that I don’t really want to do anything until everything is perfect.  Apollo is a bit racy/spicy over fences at this point and my jumping skills are incredibly rusty.  We are working on those things!  Coach D's favorite thing to say is "progress not perfection" and that's something I really need to hear.  We are not looking very hunter-y for sure.  But he’s incredibly honest.  Since we’ve been jumping over tiny things in the last month or so he hasn’t refused once.  Even when I set him up horribly.  I trust him to jump all the tiny things for me.  I’m not exactly expecting to pin in a hunter class (even a fat/fuzzy schooling show) with a blue eyed painted plowhorse flying around at mach 1...but we’re going to have fun and enjoy the learning experience.

Still NOPE.  


I’m happy to report that Henry is really improving these days too.  His ground manners are much better.  There is plenty of room for further improvement but I’m so happy with how he’s been doing.  The farrier trimmed him on Monday and he was almost perfect.  Good boy Henry!  Only 15 days until he goes to school - pretty exciting!

I’ve been trying a bit of a new approach with him.  Instead of constantly nagging him/correcting him when he’s pawing, untying himself or generally fidgeting...I wait until he’s standing politely and then reward him massively (with my voice and/or pets).  I do positive and negative reinforcement with Apollo and Mystic and it works really well for them, so if Mystic was pawing I’d say “hey!” and she would stop and then I’d reward her.  Henry seems to get more worked up with any negative reinforcement.  It’s almost not worth doing it.  The only time I still do it is if he’s being mouthy (trying to lick me etc). 

I had a long chat with his trainer on the phone last Friday.  He sounds like such a nice man.  I wanted to give him a few notes on Henry:

1)      He is dog aggressive when loose. 
2)      He can untie himself.
3)      He’s weird.

He didn’t seem too phased by any of it.  Henry will be living with a buddy (which makes me so happy because if he was living alone he would spend every waking moment trying to escape).  The trainer is also happy to feed him his daily grain.  I’m welcome to watch anytime (I’ll likely be visiting every Saturday morning).

I’m happy to report that Mystic and I are doing really well too!

Our lovely bracelet arrived from Beka of Straight Shot Metal Smashing!  Mystic's show name (means "little fiery one" in Italian)


Thank you everyone who left me suggestions about getting her more on the bit!  I rode with them in mind last Sunday.  I felt her pace was much steadier and she was more respectful.   Still struggling with giraffe-like tendencies but it wasn’t as extreme as at my lesson (hooray for small victories!).  I rode in the DK again (because I forgot to grab the Verhan).  As soon as she started trotting I felt incredibly unbalanced...so I mostly stuck to a walk. But that was just fine as I didn’t want her to get super sweaty because my time was slightly limited.  

 Last Sunday pic! :)

She's been better at the mounting block too.  I’m not sure I mentioned on my previous post that she was horrible at the mounting block and wouldn’t stand still when I got on for my previous lesson... it was pretty bad.  On Sunday she did move three times when I was trying to set her up at the mounting block but once I hopped on she stood like a rock – good pony.  Big improvement from lesson day!  

We did our first canter together at our Thursday lesson last week!  I remembered the Verhan (thank goodness) and I felt a million percent better riding her in it.  She threw a little woohoo buck in at our canter depart and I felt calm and balanced.  I'm pretty sure if she did that while I was riding in the DK I would have hit the dirt. I think we will have a lot more success with me feeling balanced!  :)

Little cantering pony! 


I can't wait to catch up on reading blogs today!!! 


  1. I started giving Nilla a treat once I got on if she stood still. Now she stands still and turns her head to eye me until the treat is given. It's not the best, but she totally stands now. And all methods of running her off/lunging/extra work if she wouldn't stand still did not work.

    1. I will give that a try! Henry is kind of mouthy so I try to avoid hand feeding if possible but I think it will help him stand still :)

  2. She looks so grown up in that last pic!

    1. I know right?! Where's my baby horse?

  3. So excited for your show!! You'll do great :)

    1. Thanks! I'm excited to get some nice photos of me and the big pony all cleaned up and looking fancy :)

  4. If you relax at the show Apollo will too. I think that's the biggest tip I can give you. If you don't put too much emphasis on doing well and winning things will fall into place naturally. In your head tell yourself it's simply a learning experience to see where you are and what you need to work on. Good luck.

    Sounds like your girl is doing very well with her training and you and she are doing some nice riding.

    1. Relaxing is easier said than done, but I'll do my best! :)

      Mystic is doing great. Pretty darn sensible for a youngster!

  5. I love showing! Best of luck! I'm sure you guys will be great!

    1. I'm looking forward to it (which is new for me!). I know my big pony will make me proud :) I just have to remember to breathe and think haha

  6. aw sounds like everyone is doing super well! i love your trainer's attitude about progress not being perfect, it's definitely how i try to think too.

    re: the upcoming show, super exciting!! my biggest goals at schooling shows isn't so much to ride to the specific purpose of each individual class (like equitation vs. hunter), but rather to put in consistent and smooth rides to the best of our ability. good luck!

    1. My trainer is so rad. I'm lucky to have her :)

      I'm so excited about the show. I will keep your thoughts in mind :)

  7. Sounds like everyone is progressing nicely!
    Don't worry about being perfect at the show. That show is for practice! Which is why they call it schooling. You're going to be great! Here's what the classes are looking for:
    1. Hunter Under Saddle: flat class, looking for your horse to move nicely around the ring. He should be soft but forward. Nose slightly poked out, not on the bit like you would like him for real flat work (as in working on leg yields and collection and what not). Judged on Apollo!
    2. Working Hunter Over Fences This is just a standard hunter course. You should try to get the correct numbers in the lines, keep a steady pace. Nothing fancy! Also judged on Apollo
    3. Handy Hunter Over Fences This course will be more like an equitation course, but still judged on Apollo's way of going. You'll want a forward relaxed canter, and try to keep your turns nice and smooth.
    4. Hunt Seat Equitation Over Fences This one is judged on you! It could have a course with roll backs or bending lines like the handy class, but they may go easy on you and just give you a hunter course.

    I can't wait to hear all about it! I also can't wait to keep following Henry and Mystic's training! SO EXCITING!


    1. Thank you so much for this! I know next to nothing about the hunter world so that was incredibly helpful :D