Later, I hope to do a full write up, but let's just say - this weekend was epic! For nearly a year I have been planning a girls weekend with one of my best friends, Hannah. She and I have loved horses, along with Liz, as long as we can remember. Literally, our plan since were about 10 was to own a B&B / Trail ride farm co-op. As we get older, that is looking like a better and better retirement plan.
As you can see from above, the Equine Affair (in its 25th season this year) is chalk full of things to see and do. The event itself boasts, "North America’s premiere equine exposition and equestrian gathering . . . a unique celebration of the horse offering unparalleled educational, entertainment, and shopping opportunities." (link)
We had a great time participating in Educational Programs, Breed Demonstrations, Horse and Farm Exhibits, the largest horse-related trade show in North-America, a trade and market place where people could place their unwanted equestrian items on consignment for cash, and the Versatile Horse and Rider Competition - a six minuet competition through seemingly impossible obstacles you never imagined.
Each day you could gain entry into all of that for just $15! To me, the ability to get to speak 1:1 with the clinicians was more than worth the $15. I personally was about to speak to my hero Larry Whitesell and his partner Jennifer Bauer. I was able to ask them anything, and even laid the groundwork to bringing them to West Virginia for a Gaited horse clinic of our own! Just check out all the amazing things you could do here.
In general, here's Larry's Philosophy and why I like her so much: Gaited horses are genetically bred to gait and if this is true we shouldn’t need special bits, shoes, etc, to get them to do what their genes tell them. Trueness of movement and relaxation are closely linked. To maintain the softness of relaxation, the horse must stay within his realm of true movement. The training process should result in an enhanced gait, not one whose fundamental structure has been changed.
Over the years the concept that relaxation be paramount in all training has been obscured by a more mechanical style of training. Riders are often in a rush to make horses gait and neglect basic foundation work. Many riders attempt to obtain gait by driving the horse forcefully into the hand. Riding in lightness challenges the rider to train without creating false movement.
We must train our horse not only physically, but mentally and emotionally. Horses express their emotions often by tensing up physically against outside stimuli, including any form of contact with the handler. Getting relaxation so we can teach a correct response, instead of putting a piece of equipment on the horse to persuade him. Depending on the severity of the equipment and the riders hands or temperament, the horse reacts or responds. Horses that react are not as reliable or consistent as those that learn to respond to subtle cues. Crisis management is not management. It leaves many victims in its path.
The ability to sit and watch instructors work with others similar to you or riders that may be experiencing something you never thought of is incredibly valuable!
Other clinicians I really enjoyed were Ken McNabb and my favorite Australian educator Warwick Schiller. These guys were perfect for where Jean-Luc and I are in our training. However, there were instructors there to work with people on all levels. I truly believe if you are interested in the equestrian arts at all this show is worth going to. I was simply amazing at how well rounded the options where for people. There were presentations in everything from Dressage to carriage driving!
Again, I hope to do a few deep dives soon, but all that to say, I have never been surrounded by that many "horse people" in one place AND I LOVED IT!
This weekend I am loving life with amazing horse people! I have actually never been surrounded by so many horse people all at once. I’m at EQUINE AFFAIRE.
Just today, Best purchase of the morning was definitely my #HandsOnGloves. I also got to see Warwick Schiller (trainer I love teaching all around horsemanship through dressage and video game analogies) and a some Ken McNabb discuss getting over your fears.
Here’s just a few shots from the day so far.
I believe I'm "paying" for having all the time off a few weeks ago. I have been tons more writing than riding, but nothing fun (like for blogs). Starting several weeks back, my husband and I took a rather traumatic weekend jaunt to his parents' house where our old, protective mother dog nearly tore apart their tiny little white Maltese for trying to mess with our new puppy Teddy - it was awful. I don't care to relive it. The event was just the beginning of what would come to be 3 exasperatingly busy weeks, and there's little relief in sight.
He's the light of the family for sure. This guy is my constant companion and would honestly follow me anywhere. At just over 8-months-old he is really coming into his own.
Starting with the second weekend, of craziness, I had to leave mid-week to head off on a 3-hour jaunt to a very unorganized event known as the State Thespian Competition. Let just say, as one who used to work with actors professionally for a living, both live stage, film, dancers, and musical acts - this was not a very good showing of who people behave in the real world. Truly, for the 3 days, I was captured at the historic Blennerhassett Hotel, all I could think was, "I'd rather be with my horse."
We did not actually stay in the hotel, we just spent 3 very long days competing and going to education classes in the ballrooms, conference rooms etc. Though obnoxiously unorganized, the event did put on a worthy leadership class of note. It made use of Harry Potter to explain effective leadership skills by splitting students into the Hogwarts Houses and allowing them opportunities to work through challenges. Also, for the nerds like myself, there was a great cosplay class taught by an associate professor from WVU. She presently has costumes on Broadway's Anastasia. She brought several fun items for the students play around with and explained to the students that cosplay is a costumer's dream. One
That said, my students performed extremely well, were far more well behaved that I remember being at their age, and managed to receive a few superior ratings which also means they will represent our school at the coming National competition in June.
The week was basically shot because I threw two dinner parties (which I adored as they were much-needed girls nights in!) and then took my pops out for his 65th birthday dinner. Then, the weekend involved shopping in Pittsburgh with my cousin for our bridesmaid dresses. I have been super lucky in that I usually don't require many alternations. My gut was telling me to just order the size I needed and forego the whole entire trip for some much-needed barn time, but my head said that would end poorly - my head won. I was right, though, I tried on my normal size, and sure enough - fit like a glove. I asked the woman at the store how long it would take to order the right color. She explained that it would be weeks and cost an extra $15 in shipping if I wanted it sent to my house.
Now, I am not going to say I acted like a proper lady here, but this store clerk was talking crazy talk if she thought I'd wait that long for a dress that required no alterations, and spend $15 to have it mailed to my house when I saw the store was offering free shipping online.
"No big deal," I told her. "I will order it myself and thank you for your service." So, right in the store, I hopped online, typed in my credit card info, and placed the order myself. Saved a whopping $45 when all was said and done. I swear. Sometimes technology astounds me.
This week is Easter Vacation (and one more reason I am so thankful I took the job I have teaching!) I figured I would have the chance to ride daily. I figured wrong. Though it is only Wednesday, I missed Tuesday altogether because I became enamored with writing the rest of my student IEPs (Student Individual Education Plans - for students with special education services). This is not something I wanted to do, but a necessary evil. Thing is, I had no idea how long they would take.
I have no real issue with student IEPs other than the fact that they're very bureaucratic and while there is absolutely a right way to do them, most of the paperwork I inherited for students on my caseload has been done in a lazy manner that means I have dig for information from years past, fix them, and only then can I begin writing the current year's. It is beyond frustrating, to say the least. Each one that worked on yesterday took no less than two hours- a "reasonable amount of time" from what others tell me.
The rest of the week has been spent trying to complete paperwork for the classes I am being forced to take to prove I can actually handle being a special education teacher. Again, the modules are something I thought I come hammer out in a few hours, but as I get towards the end of the courses, the assignments are becoming more and more time-consuming. They aren't really meant to be completed in a day, but I that seems to be my style.
I did make it out to the barn on Monday, though. Jean-Luc has surprised me the past few times I was out. He still tries to tell me what we're going to do, but he fights my leadership less and less (maybe it was that Harry Potter leadership class! Ha!). He definitely has created "our routine", but I don't think that's all bad. He knows what is expected of him, and I appreciate that - changing what is expected can cause a minor headache now, so we're working on being "flexible" in more than just the literal sense these days.
As you can see, we have a few things to work on. Shame the "Side-eye" competition from http://poorwomanshowing.blogspot.com/ isn't still going on. I feel like we really would have stood a chance with this one.
One thing I learned from Monday, is just how much more confident I am on Jean-Luc. Bouncing around the field we listen to each other, and I just didn't have the feeling of utter terror living in my gut. I knew when he was going to break to try and haul off back to the barn, I knew what it meant to sit his pace, and more importantly, I felt like I knew how to bring him back under control. Don't get me wrong we still have so much work to do, but now, it is more about "me" and what I can do to cue better, sit better, and just ride better overall. He's basically doing most of what he's being asked, and that is a really cool thing.
My name is Chelsey.
Generator's Cuevo Gold, or as he's known around this barn, "Jean-Luc Ponycard", was foaled in 2004 from Generator's Hurricane & Cheyenne's Little Bit.
Top 10 Blog Favs.