Tuesday, September 3, 2013


Rideability.  I don't think it's a real word...spell check says ride-ability or ride ability.  But we hear our coaches and fellow riders use that word constantly.  It is what we all wish our horses had, or that they do have and are happy about it - it is the key to being able to negotiate whatever pattern, test, or course we ride properly, quietly, and efficiently.  Without rideability, we have.....hmmmm....what Toga and I have had for a while.  The equine part of the team takes over more than his/her share of the decision making.

At the end of 2012, I was more than ready (I thought) to try to move up to Advanced in the spring.  I was confident in all three phases, even though the dressage was never stellar, and show jumping was not my strong suit.  Cross country was a blast, and after two years of Intermediate, I felt like I wanted to give it a try.  But at the beginning of this year, things fell apart.  As you have read in my last few blogs, the show jumping has begun to intimidate me to the point where I felt I had to step back and start again.

Turns out, part - a BIG part - of my problem was that I was letting Toga run the show when it came to show jumping.  He is very careful and rateable cross country, but in stadium he (thinks he) knows better than me.  Well, if I am to move up successfully, that has to change.  I have to learn to count strides in combinations ACCURATELY.  I have to have a plan, and RIDE THAT PLAN.  To be honest, I really had no idea how much of what went on in the show jumping ring has been Toga's plan, and how little I had to do with how it all went on.  And when I can't even remember the course, you know it's not going to end well.  This summer has been all about riding a plan, riding quietly, and making my horse listen.  Virginia HT was a good run as far as rideability, as was Seneca, but this past weekend at Loudon it just didn't work.

I'm not going to blame Toga entirely, and I'm not going to blame myself entirely either.  It was a very difficult show jumping course in a lot of ways and I won't say more.  Toga put in a nice dressage test, scoring better than Ari (? how is that possible??) but not feeling quite right behind going to the left.  He seemed quite willing to move and do what I asked, but on the left lead canter he seemed stuck.  He's been a bit that way lately, so he's had acupuncture and massages, etc.  Even galloping on the left lead on a straight line isn't the same as on the right lead.  But he hadn't seemed unwilling to do anything.  Until Saturday, when he said NOPE I'm not jumping today.  He flipped me off in warmup (what a drag to get that stupid air vest off before I went into the ring) and then again at the second stop on course.  I got him to a crappy distance at the third fence (not ALL my fault) but he could have jumped the fourth.  I dunno.  I really felt like he didn't want to do it from the minute we got into the ring.  Will have to have him checked out it's possible he's having a Lyme's relapse, hope its not something worse.  OR it could be me overdoing the rideability issue.  Hope I can figure it out quickly.

Ari was great at Loudon.  His dressage was awesome and I really thought we would be in the 20s.  But he scored a 35 with some comments that just didn't seem to make sense.  But it always goes that way - when you think you were great, you weren't....when you think eh-that was just OK, you win the dressage.  Oh well.  But I was very very happy with it.  Stadium was a wake up call for him...we hadn't jumped a real course all summer so he was a bit slow and lazy over the fences and smacked a few really hard.  But the last one he hit made a good impression and the rest of the course he jumped great.  Cross country was sooooo good.  Since I already blew my score in stadium,  I worked the whole course to make sure his rhythm stayed steady, and that we got the distances in the combinations correct.  Rideability.  He lengthened and shortened his strides when I asked him to.  Good good boy.  I won't make the mistake I did with T and let him take charge without me noticing.  

As long as we get Toga figured out, both horses are headed to Seneca, and then Ari on to the AECs.  I think he'll be very competitive and we will work to win it.  Toga is qualified for the Area II championships, so as long as he is sound, we will compete there.  I would love to do the CCI* with him at VHT, so Morven would be a good warm up.  Keep your fingers crossed that my most amazing, talented jumping horse doesn't have something really wrong with him!  Maybe we need to work out a happy medium between who is in charge - if that's what it is, I am very happy to keep working on it :))