Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Lesson one, Sprieser Sporthorse Adult Camp

430 am came way too early on Saturday, but we needed to get the barn chores done and horses fed before loading up Roscoe. We managed to make it on the road by 730 and arrived by 830. I drove my car since we were leaving the truck and trailer overnight, so I got to the barn first. I walked in and looked for Roscoe's stall. I passed grooming areas with heater lights, a big tack room, a wash stall, a feed room and lots of stalls marked with Adult Camp, but no Roscoe. I turned back and walked toward the other end of the barn and of course there was his stall.
My first thought was that Roscoe was going to think he was at the ERC (collection center) since the stall was all barred and that he would not be happy at the lack of sawdust. They use the pelleted stuff that barely has any fluff to it and everyone seems to use sparingly. Probably because of the dust factor. Anyway they also put a flake of hay inside all ready for him. I went to the trailer and we unloaded him. He turned tourist, but was still respecting my space. Roscoe was not thrilled that there were no horses at that end of the barn. Plus since these stalls were built for giant warmbloods, he could not stick his head out the back window. All he could do was poke his nose out. I hoped he would figure out the automatic waterer since that definitely was a new thing.
Soon people came to check on us and the "OMG he is so small" and "He is so cute" comments began. We found out he was the smallest one to come to either weekend. Not too surprising when dressage people consider 14.3 to be a pony and that was the next closest size that came this weekend. Roscoe had a few hours to deal with the environment before lesson one. We went to watch the other lessons and freeze our butts off. The other horses were a wide variety, 2 OTTBs (one with no tail), 3 paints (one a welsh cross), 1 Irish Draught, 1 Quarab, 1 Arab, and 1 Oldenburg. The riders ranged from just started riding in October to looking toward Second Level. There were Hunters, Eventers and DQ's. It was fun to watch the lessons over the whole weekend.
Growing up is hard to do
When the time came to get ready for my lesson, I was nervous. Roscoe had been calling and when Mom put him in the cross ties he was antsy. He really just wanted to look around. Going to other barns is still too new for him. I ended up looping the chain through his bit and doing a lunge session in the outdoor to get him more focused. Once he was listening, I took a deep breath and mounted. He was full of it, no question. I had to do some tight circles before being able to walk into the outdoor dressage ring. Fortunately since we rode all the time in an open field at the old barn this unfenced arena was not an issue for me. As I worked through his distractions, I just told myself "I am just riding my pony, ignore the rest." Each time I ride through his drama, it gets easier to believe I can. A little trot with lots of circles and we were ready to brave the indoor lesson.
I had to deal with a bit of stallion/baby drama when he saw a horse in a turn out right by the arena and the one in the indoor, who was a mare. Luckily, his drama is minor and movement helps. Roscoe handled the indoor with very little issue. The horse that kept popping up at points in the arena (mirrors) got him every time. More on that later. So lesson one was with Natasha Sprengers-Levine, the trainer who seems to deal well with the young horses. She got to deal with the super distracted Roscoe and his drift toward the exit. And you all get to see basically the whole lesson. It is a bit of a blur for me.

Oh look he tried a rightward dodge too

I took awhile to settle and just ride. At least Roscoe did not need a bomb to get moving at first. He did gradually get lazier as he realized what work was involved. It was tough to deal with his popping left shoulder. My circles sucked and my tight hips kept causing me to lose my stirrup. But Roscoe and I worked on through it all. I got better about anticipating his leftward dodge towards the exit and the slide away from the mirrors at E and B. We ended with one last resistence before finally finishing the exercise she asked us to do.

The take aways from this lesson:
Persistence and Consistency are key
I can deal with Roscoe's drama
It is time to show Roscoe the boundaries
Time to slow down to move forward
His fancy can come out later
I must remember to shorten my stirrups when I have not ridden often
and the most important... We survived

After the lesson I had a serious question about whether or not to do the group cavaletti. Could I handle his hard drift with other horses in the ring? I thought about it during lunch and watching the first group. I decided to trust in myself. My skills are rusty, but they are there. Bring on the group.
Stay tuned for Lesson two.


  1. My horse has that Tokyo drift move down too and it's extremely frustrating! Sounds like you got a lot out of the ride tho, and even better to gain so much confidence that you CAN handle whatever he throws at you!! Also that ring is gorgeous!!!!'

    1. Definitely Emma! You are close enough you could come see the ring in person. 3 of the people were from Maryland. I was a bit cold though.

  2. I'm glad you had a good first ride! I watched a bit of the video, and I love the coach - she's so positive and encouraging :)

    1. She and the other trainer were great and very adaptable to the student/horse pair needs.