Thursday, April 26, 2007

Decisions, Decisions!

The weather today was...well, typical Rolex weather, which went from glorious and sunny to pouring down rain. It simply couldn't make up its mind what it wanted to do--and I had the same problem.

The day started out a bit overcast, but the birds were singing and the grass was green, and we were thrilled to be in Kentucky. We started the day by going just a mile down the road to Quillin's Leather and Tack where we bought some beautiful, handmade leather foal halters for our new babies. They have some very nice halters and other leather material--I'll certainly be back.

As we pulled into the horse park, I remembered again that, while volunteers get free parking, it's in another county. We trudged up to the covered arena to check out the new venue for the trade fair, which, according to the Talking Equine Network report is a new experiment. We liked it, since it was inside and DRY--because it started to sprinkle as we headed uphill.

Oh, the deals! We really enjoyed going from tent to tent in DRY surroundings. So much so, that, I'm afraid, we ended up spending the bulk of the day at the trade fair! Great deals on Charles Owen helmets at Wise Horse, super deals on seconds at Tropical Rider, many super deals at Equus Now! and Stubben, and of COURSE, there are always super deals at Bit of Britain. It was there I saw and eventually met the hardest working man in the horse biz (Rose at Equus Now is the hardest working woman, btw): none other than John Nunn of Nunn Finer products, and co-podcaster with Glenn the Geek. As I watched him flitter from customer to customer, attentively attending to each person's every need (including helping Donna with some new Treadstep half-chaps), I knew he had to be John I tentatively asked him who he was. I guess that's a question that he doesn't get very often, but he recovered nicely and told me, and I introduced myself. I asked if Glen the Geek were around, but alas, he's podcasting from home--so I guess he's the techno geek who has to stick around making sure the podcasts make it online. So sorry I didn't get to meet him, but it was downright inspiring to meet John Nunn.

So many were the spoils of our conquests that we opted to drop off the heavy packages at the car before our course walk with Amy Tryon and Jan Byrny. The skies were clearning, and it was getting hot, so I opted to leave my rain gear in the car as well--after all, the weather report did suggest it would clear out by the afternoon. The coursewalk was great....untill the heavens opened and the rain began to torrent. I realized that I am the wimpiest of eventers (a TRUE eventer is ready for all weather--the poor dressage riders had to ride in this after all), but though we were only 1/2 way through, my lack of rain gear made it necessary for me to turn back early. We watched a few dressage riders--more on that later--but decided we were getting cold as well as wet, so we flitted into various trade fair tents, talking to Purina about feed, Well Pride about Omega 3, and so forth.

BUT--even though we only watched a few riders in person (we watched more from various tents that carried live feed, too), I still learned a few things. Here they are, in no particular order:

Transitions are VITALLY important, and preparation is the key, not just the "front end," either. The best riders I saw were deep in the saddle for both upward and downward transitions.

The outside rein can be incredibly helpful when a horse falls on the inside shoulder--BUT it cannot do it all; the rider needs to help by sitting tall and NOT leaning in.

Leaning forward in upward transitions cheapens them.

Sitting still in the halt helps the horse be still.

From the course walk, I learned that trying to "fix" your horse before a series of bounces is the "kiss of death" (this from Amy Tryon). Instead, push him forward. I also learned that, if your horse is threatening to bound up instead of bounce you do the opposite of what you WANT to do (take up the reins)--you give him his head, and he's more likely to come through and to use himself in the bounce.

The rain has let up, and I'm taking my brother to dinner, so until tomorrow, adios!

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