Along for the Ride – Arizona Show Report finale

by Robyn Schiller

Robyn is the wife of horse (and people) trainer Warwick Schiller. She invites you to join her as she journeys through her life as trainer’s wife, mother, businesswoman and Internationally competitive rider.

Continued from Arizona Show Report

SHOW DAY 1 – Wednesday

I woke up at 4 and thought I could sleep for another hour, but that did not happen.  So, I got up, made coffee, did my Ziva Meditation and was out the trailer door by 5:15 to ride.  I had decided that I’d ride Dale first, then put him away and get Oscar out and ride. Then I’d get Oscar spiffied up and go show him.  Oscar is better if you ride him early, put him away and when you get him out before you show you don’t do anything except walk around.  That is his formula. It works. Every horse is different. Some are good if you ride them, prep them and then show them without a break.  Some need for you to ride them, put them away, ride them again, prep them, show them. This is one of the things you have to learn about your horse.  We were lucky that Chuy had Oscar and told us what his formula was! I was told what Dale’s formula was, but I will find a different formula and that is all I will say about that.

They were both much improved in the early morning riding sessions.  Neither of them were calling out to each other now and I just saddled up and got on without doing anything on the ground.   While I didn’t feel like they were “ready ready” I didn’t feel trepidation either.

Oscar was first to go in the show pen and even though he wasn’t super chilled out before the class, he was  a little “up”, when we went into the show pen, he waited for me and listened to me very well. This made me very happy seeing that the last time we were in a show pen was in Tryon at the World Equestrian Games and we were both going faster than we’d ever gone in a show arena!  I was really happy with him and only had to fix a couple of things. We actually got a decent score of 71.

Dale seemed ok when I took him in, he was a little distracted as I jogged to the center to start my pattern.  The turns went ok. It is when I loped off that I had to go to schooling him. The pattern calls for a small slow circle first and he thought he needed to do a large fast!  So, I went to 2 hands and corrected him and went back to one hand when I thought he was “with me”. The biggest surprise was when I went to run to my stops. At home and in the warm up pen, we have been struggling to get him to go forward enough.  So, I was prepared to have to encourage him. I needn’t have been! About 4 strides into it, he took off! Well, that is what if felt like. It felt like I had totally lost control of him and my neck was snapping back like he hit the turbo boosters.  Watching the video back, it didn’t look that bad (it always feels worse than it looks). I controlled the second run down and stop and by the 3rd, it was actually kind of good! Glad that the maiden voyage on Dale was over – Now I had identified what I had to work on!

I had decided to go to the store and do some Cryotherapy in my downtime, which I did.  When I left the showgrounds, I was still in the lead on Oscar! Upon return, I had slid into a tie for 3rd and that held up for the class.  Not bad to go through and fix some things and still get a paycheck – good ol’ Oscar!

I rode Dale again that afternoon after getting some advice via telephone from Warwick.  I fixed some leaning issues I had encountered in his circles. He didn’t really give me an opportunity to fix the running fast to stops issue, so I just had to focus on straightness.

SHOW DAY 2 – Thursday

The next day we were showing again and I decided that I’d let this be the decision maker on whether I tried to show Dale in the big Derby class on Friday.  It was a big entry fee (which also meant you could win big money) and I wasn’t sure we were going to be ready. Warwick was flying in on Friday and there was another class I could show in that morning if I decided not to show in the big class.

This day, our draws were 30 on Dale and 109 on Oscar and it was in the big coliseum arena.   That meant about 8 hours in between! So, I decided to get up and ride Dale early again and he improved more.  I wanted to go in the show pen and show him without having to fix anything – basically I needed to test out if I could get through a pattern one handed so I could decide if I was going to show the next day.   I did get through it, he did improve in some areas, but I didn’t feel confident enough to justify the high entry fee for the big class. I guess I’m glad that my entire 2019 monetary goal had changed to “experiences” (as explained at the end of my Breaking Old Habits blog).  

I rode Oscar during the day and got him out later before we went in the show pen keeping to his winning formula.  He was good again, we showed at about 8 PM and although he was a little more forward than I wanted him to be in the circles, I did get to fix another couple of things and still got a score – another 71.  He is consistent! It was good enough to tie for 3rd again and get another paycheck! Our big class was Saturday, so I was going to use Friday’s class to really school him and make him be perfect with no intention of getting a score.

We all went to bed a little tired that night!   

SHOW DAY 3 – Friday

I had drawn up 7th on Oscar and later on Dale in Friday’s class.  I got up early again for a ride on Dale but Holden was acting sick.  He and Drover had gotten into the horse’s Camelina oil late Thursday while they were in the tack room.  I guess the lid was not as secure as it should have been. Without knowing how much they had ingested, I had been keeping an eye on them (they have been known to get into it and it sometimes gave them a tummy ache, but usually it’s just a little bit of oil on the ground).  That morning Holden’s tail was down and he was ultra clingy. So, I loaded him up and hit the ER Vet. We called poison control for dogs and got a good prognosis. He said to expect some explosive pooping and maybe some vomiting but that it was not life threatening. Luckily there wasn’t either of the expected things and he improved all day.  Better safe than sorry – I love that little dog more than anything.

I got back in time to get on Oscar and warm him up a bit before taking him in the show pen.  We weren’t able to do the whole formula, but enough that he thought he was going to be shown – which is what we want to do – kind of like the Do The Opposite principle.  Prepare him to be shown, he thinks he’s going to be shown and then don’t show and fix everything. Then next time, he won’t know if he’s going to get shown or fixed so he waits on me 🙂  I got some good corrections in.

Then I immediately got on Dale and got to warming him up since I missed the early morning riding session.  When I got in the show arena I needed to fix him pretty much the minute I went in which made me very happy that I had decided to not spend the money for the big class.  Here is where I will share all my disappointment. I had bought a very cool horse whom we all thought would be ready for me to go show. It was now that I realized I had set my expectations way too high. Maybe I overestimated my showmanship abilities.  Maybe I needed my horses too perfect before I went to show them – Chuy alluded to this and also assured me that he had a buyer for Dale if I wanted to sell him. To be honest, I entertained this thought. In the 4 short months since I bought Dale, I’ve changed.  My priorities have changed, I’ve leaned into some meditation and belief stuff and my goals have shifted. Maybe I should sell him, we have too many horses anyway, etc. etc. I hit a frustration/disappointed level that surprised me. I’ve been on such a high since WEG that this was a bit deflating.  Normal. Life. First World Problems. Yep! Also, totally predicted by the Ziva Meditation chick. ‘Better out than in’ she says. She says that the unstressing process can feel the same as stress feels going in – Wonky! She suggests not making any big decisions in the first month – I’ll take her advice – Dale is not for sale.

Now that the pity party is over…Warwick arrived later and we went out to ride both horses again.  He had me fix a couple things with Oscar that I had missed and he fixed the things I couldn’t on Dale. Couldn’t = beyond my breadth of knowledge in preparing a horse like him.   He made some corrections that I had forgotten and their session ended very well. Warwick was pretty jet lagged and the early mornings & emotions were catching up with me too.  I think we were both asleep by 8PM.

SHOW DAY 4 – Saturday

The big Maturity class for Oscar was first thing.  I had drawn up 13th so I got up at 5 to do my coffee, meditation and ride routine.  Warwick coached from the sidelines.  We put him away to get BEMERed and eat and then got him shined up and ready to roll. In the show pen, the first 2 maneuvers were spins and while he spun very well the first way, I did not get him shut off at exactly the right moment, so there was a penalty.  So, on the scorecards the 3 judges marked me a +1 maneuver/-½ penalty +1 maneuver/-1 penalty and +½ maneuver/-½ penalty (the penalties can look different from where the judge is sitting). Which basically means I didn’t get much credit on that maneuver because I didn’t get him shut down correctly! It’s important!  The rest of the pattern was pretty good until the last stop, which he did well, but when I went to back him up, he resisted which is not like him. Then when I walked him off to leave, he was limping. Not cool – I broke my horse!

We decided to give him some Bute and see how he was in a couple hours.  It seemed to help. We debated whether we have a vet there look at him or wait until we got home for our regular vet, who knows him, to have a look.  Since it wasn’t life threatening and he could be in a stall for the remainder of the time anyway, we decided to have our vet look at him when we got home, I made an appointment for Tuesday.  I used the BEMER on his body and his leg. He improved but was still slightly lame.

As far as the results of the class, we ended up pretty much top 5 in all 4 divisions and won some money.  We could have been higher in the placings if we hadn’t had the oopsie in the turn, but that is the way it goes.  I love that little horse.

Warwick rode Dale again and made more progress.  I wish we had had the time we usually do at a show, because he was almost ready!

SHOW DAY 5 – Sunday

We had the opportunity to do a Paid Warm Up which is paying for time in the arena to do whatever you want to do.  I had Warwick take Dale in so he could feel him under those more show-like circumstances. Dale was great. He really did well – so now we know that we may need more time at the horse show before we show him.

I had already decided to scratch out of the next big show in Houston, Texas.  It is a biggie. It is also a 3 day drive there and 3 day drive home and 2 weeks at the show.  I had decided before we left for Arizona not to go to it – maybe next year!

Driving Home – Monday

Driving home on Monday we left at 3:30 AM.  Pretty uneventful until a tire blowout at hour 9.  It was the best case scenario for a blowout though, as it was inside so there was no damage to the fender.  You might have seen Warwick’s post about it – we were prepared, so it was just a slight inconvenience. I’m really glad he was there though!  I think I could have handled it, but I’m glad I didn’t have to find out!


Vet came and did lameness exam on Oscar.  We could not find anything with x-rays or ultrasound, so the thought is that he just jammed himself pretty good in a stop on his back leg and we will be giving him some time off and reassess.

I’ll be getting Petey out and leg him up – there is a local affiliate show over the first weekend in May.  I think that is my next outing.  We will arrive 4 days early so I can get the best Dale prep possible and see how that goes! 

I’m continuing with my Ziva meditations and I’m dragging Warwick along to see Denise next week – I can’t wait to see what the stars say!

Thanks for letting me share. It sure is a journey!

Along for the Ride – Horse Show Expectations – an Arizona show report

by Robyn Schiller

Robyn is the wife of horse (and people) trainer Warwick Schiller. She invites you to join her as she journeys through her life as trainer’s wife, mother, businesswoman and Internationally competitive rider.

I thought I’d jot down some thoughts from the first show of the year in Arizona last week.  It was a big show, not just a local affiliate show. In the lead up to the show, I had high expectations even in light of my weak preparation due to weather and my lack of experience getting a younger horse ready to show (Warwick was in Australia for 3 weeks leading up to the show).

However, the week before the show, I was having real doubts about going.  I felt that we weren’t ready, I was concerned about driving 13 hours by myself with a new trailer and horse and it’s always hard to leave home and the animals that stay.  For me, no matter how good the people are that help us out, it’s still stressful to drive out the gate and turn it over to someone else.

I told Warwick about my doubts and he supported whatever decision I made.  Please don’t laugh when I tell you how I made my decision. A little backstory first.

I am working with 2 incredible women to host a Women’s confidence retreat later in the year – where people bring their own horses and we get to work on ourselves and go on trail rides, eat great food, and really delve deeply into self improvement.  They are both Theta Healers, amongst other awesome credentials they possess. They referred me to someone locally to go and have “a session” with. I’m pretty open to new things lately, so I thought that if they recommended it, I’d go! I didn’t ask many questions beforehand.  When I made the appointment, Denise (, the lady I was to go see, asked me my birth details. No problemo!

It turns out she is an astrologer/business coach/numerologist type of person (I still can’t really explain what she does).  When I got there she had a print out of how the planets were all aligned when I was born. Then she proceeded to describe me to the very Nth degree just by reading my chart. A few hairs on the back of my neck were standing up.  Then she asked about Tyler and his birth details and described him to the Nth degree. It was crazily accurate. We talked about the future and I left with another appointment scheduled.

So, what did I do when I was having doubts about going to this show?  I texted Denise! I basically asked her to tell me if the stars said I should go or not!  She replied an emphatic YES! She said that the energy for Travel & Competition was high and that if it was going to be FUN then I should go. Go I did!

I think I’ll have to make this a series because to go over everything is going to take awhile.  So, I will cover travel through arrival day and then continue in subsequent posts.

I decided to break up the drive and I found a horse hotel about 8 hours away, in Palm Desert near Palm Springs.  Most of the drive is down the very straight and flat Highway 5 which is pretty boring. Then up the “grapevine” and over through some little towns – which bypasses Los Angeles – which is never any fun to drive in.   I had planned to leave by 9AM so I could get things situated here first and not surprisingly, was out the gate at 9:01AM (I’m very punctual – which was verified by Denise – I think she said “You get shit done” – ummmm, yes, yes I do).

The drive was unremarkable – I listened to The Art of Living by Thich Nhat Hanh.  Highly recommend it. The horses traveled fine, I found good places to fuel up (the trailer is pretty long, so it is a bit tricky to maneuver into fuel up).  

We arrived at the horse hotel around 5 pm, got the boys settled in their outdoor pens, got the trailer parked and had time to turn them both out to let off a little steam after their trailer confinement.  They only had little automatic waterers which neither of the boys liked (I had Dale and Oscar with me), so I just dug out a couple of our buckets and filled them up.

I did a quick Ziva Meditation, ate some dinner, cuddled the dogs, tucked the boys in and went to bed. I wish I could say it was a restful night, but I had more anxiety that night then I’d had in awhile.  I was parked right outside of the facility, in their parking lot. It backed up to the desert basically. Nothing behind us but open land with Joshua trees and scrub. Coyotes were howling and I thought – “Great, just great.  What if there are people wandering around out here. What if there is a serial killer in Desert Hot Springs (seriously, I actually contemplated the serial killer scenario). Yada Yada Yada” I remember waking up, thinking Ok, I’ve just gone through 1 sleep cycle, now I need to cool off, go into another and repeat that a couple more times!  My mind did calm down a bit but sleep was still restless and I woke up pretty early – good time to do my Ziva meditation, make some coffee and because the sun came up earlier there I got on the road by 6:07AM!

It was only a 4-5 hour trip into Scottsdale so not too bad.  I re-listened to the Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton – fascinating stuff!  I felt like I had a bit of an anxiety hangover (I haven’t been drinking so it wasn’t a traditional one).  I think the restlessness during the night really had an effect!

I arrived at the venue and was able to pull up right outside the barns, unload and get everyone situated.  I set up the trailer, put the Air Con on, because it’s Arizona and went off to ride!

This is where it got a little interesting!  Both boys were now calling out to each other!   I started with Dale and my intention was to take the time it takes.  This horse show usually allows us to arrive 4 or 5 days before the actual competition starts, but this year, we were only allowed to arrive the day before!  I was scheduled to show both horses the next day. The plan was to “school” meaning I’d go in with the intention of showing where I could in the pattern and fixing what needed fixing.  This should mean not a whole lot of expectation.

Anyway, I started well with Dale, doing a little focus work but he was definitely not responding like at home.  I decided, well, he is good at it when I ride him so I’ll just get on. He actually did do better once I was on him.  It only took about 10 minutes for him to settle in. I rode him in a couple of the arenas because they were all open and he took that in his stride.

We haven’t been able to do much stopping at home because of the weather and our arena being outside has been too wet to do much of that.  So, I needed to work on this. While we have made progress with some of the “tightness” that Dale exhibits, on this day, Dale held onto it like a pacifier.  When I say tightness, when we run down for a stop, he is tight in his shoulders and he runs downhill and has been known to porpoise a bit (have a hump in his back and his neck down while running, not really bucking, but not really not bucking).  Instead of driving from behind, running free and loose, he can run tight like this. This does not set us up well for stops. After a little while, I thought about it and decided to go back a couple steps! I had to establish more forward period. So, that is what I did.  I got him more forward at lower speeds and then he loosened up on his run downs. A small victory, but I was feeling very smart. I knew I had another ride on him in the morning before the official class and my expectations were still high.

I rode Oscar, who was a little more “up” than usual.  He called out to Dale several times and wasn’t his usual chill self.  As I mentioned, usually this is not anything to cause concern because we have days to figure it out and let them settle in.  I tried to convince myself that this was going to just be a “I guess we’ll see how they are when they aren’t very well prepared” show.  “You need those sometimes”, I told myself. “It can’t always go to plan”, I tried to convince my brain. It was a struggle because I knew I didn’t believe any of those things – I wanted to do well.  I wanted them to show well. I wanted to have fun in the arena without them doing anything wrong. You know what they say – Expectation is the root of all disappointment or something like that…totally!

I took them both down to the washracks and gave them a good bath – something they desperately needed after the winter we’ve had.  The Arizona sun felt good on all of us! I also gave them both a Bemer (PEMF) treatment and they got their yummy grain and dinner.  I went to bed that night excited to get up and ride them again before the show started. I was draw 2 on Oscar and 17 on Dale, so it was to be an early morning and I’d be done by 10:30 AM which gave me all day to play in the desert!

Next blog will be about DAY 1 and 2 of the horse show.

Along for the Ride – Breaking Old Habits/Mindsets

by Robyn Schiller

Robyn is the wife of horse (and people) trainer Warwick Schiller. She invites you to join her as she journeys through her life as trainer’s wife, mother, businesswoman and Internationally competitive rider.

Written in December 2018.

I thought I’d share a little of what’s been happening with my new horse “Dale”.  We purchased Dale a couple weeks ago at the NRHA Futurity show – Chuy shopped for me, as he knows my style and abilities quite well.  We had chosen a mare that he really liked but unfortunately, she had a little issue on her stifle that I was not willing to risk.  When he found out Dale was for sale (his name was Fabio then), he called me straight away.  Dale was an “open” horse, meaning he was high enough caliber for a really top professional to ride, but Chuy felt he’d make a good horse for me.

After exceeding our goals at the World Equestrian Games, I felt the need to set new ones and Jane Pike had encouraged me to aim high.  So, I have.  Currently, my total NRHA earnings are a bit over $56,000 USD.  It has taken me since 2001 to accumulate those earnings (I have only showed consistently about 4 of those years – meaning shown all year vs. one or two shows per year).  In 2016, I doubled my earnings because I showed 2 horses and showed a fair bit.  So I went from $22,000 to $44,000.  Well, the new goals are:

2019 – Get to $100,000 in earnings

2020 – Win the AQHA Select Amateur Reining World Championship (for 50 and over non-professionals)

In order to reach my goal for next year, I needed a younger horse so that I could show in the categories that had more money.  The classes for the oldies like Oscar don’t provide enough money for me to reach my goals in one year. This is why I was searching for a younger horse.  Dale will be 5 on January 1st (like all horses in the Northern Hemisphere).  We will show in the “Derby” classes next year.  These are for 4, 5 & 6 year old horses and have significantly more money than the Maturities (for horses over 7).

Anyway, when we flew back to Oklahoma City to meet Fabio/Dale at the show, I was at first a bit disappointed, honestly.  He was really not very good on the ground.  He had to chew on something the entire time – including us if he could reach. I am going to go out on a limb here and admit that, in my head, I thought he was a bit scary.  He was one I was not going to turn my back on.  This was my first impression of the horse I’d already paid for!  I was able to think more logically about why he acted this way:  1.  Dale/Fabio was a horse in a big trainer’s barn/program – one of probably 30-50 horses the trainer rode.  An assistant had done all the work on the ground with him – saddling, grooming, preparing, etc. The trainer had gotten on, ridden him, gotten off and handed him to someone else for everything else – unsaddling, washing, etc..Usually in programs like this, that person is one of the least experienced  2. I don’t think he had a very high opinion of humans.  and not surprisingly 3. He was anxious.  But even though I knew logically what was going on, my heart was a bit heavy (for many reasons) and I sure hoped that we could help him once we got home.

So, while I was in OKC, I didn’t try to change anything – he was very good under saddle.  “Good” meaning obedient.  He did what I asked for without appearing anxious or defensive or resentful.  Talent was not an issue either – he is a great reining horse.

We got him back to our place last week and today will be session 6 with him.  I just want to talk about session 1 and 5 so that I can talk about breaking old habits.

The first session was in the round pen.  He was turned loose.  I was doing the work under Warwick’s watchful eye (and camera – we are videoing the whole thing).  I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit anxious.  I don’t like when horses bite – it is scary.  In the past, biting was met with an elbow.  Not in a malicious way, but as an “oops you just ran into my elbow” way.  It usually worked, but in hindsight it can also make a horse defensive and just obedient.  You probably have not taken away their desire to bite, but they know there will be a repercussion if they do, so they don’t.

I went to the middle of the round pen and when he finally engaged me and came up to me, he started to chew.  My instinct was to throw the elbow in to protect myself.  Warwick suggested a different idea after my first flaying elbow – he told me to just increase my energy – not AT Dale, just in my space.  Start small and increase until Dale steps back.  At first I did too much, because, as I said, I don’t want to be bitten.  After a while I got the hang of the new response and started more slowly and then intensified until he stepped back.  The most amazing thing happened.  He stopped trying to bite me, he licked and chewed and started to nuzzle me instead.  Instead of pushing into me, he was asking if he could share space with me.

Now, I know I’ve heard and seen the most incredible things from the focus work and Oscar is awesome at it.  But I guess I’d never truly FIXED something that I thought needed fixing with it until this moment.  It freakin works!!!!  In the subsequent sessions – Dale has progressed and while in my presence he has not tried to chew on things or me anymore as long as I can get his focus.

The second day under saddle was another opportunity for me to break a habit.  The habit that I had before was to lead the horse into the arena and get on.  I did some focus work online just to see how that was and after I bridled him, I noticed that when I went to get on, he blocked me out.  In the past, I would not have seen this display and would have just gotten on.  Instead, I did the whole calming signals thing.  When I went to approach his near side and he blocked me, I stepped back, saying to him with my body language, “I saw that.”  It took a couple times and then he let me around to mount.  It’s not fixed yet, but I think we are making progress and I know he is feeling good about the relationship that is developing between us.

I have a long way to go, but they say you get the horse you need – I guess I needed Dale!

FOLLOW UP – I wrote this next blog, forgetting I’d written the one above, so this is an interesting Post Script – Written March 6th, so about 3 months later!

After the World Equestrian Games (WEG) last year, I thought about how I was to top that?  What could possibly be better than the entire experience in Tryon? I wanted to ride the high and I set out to establish some really lofty new goals.   

The biggest one was to double my NRHA earnings in 2019.  I had done it once before, in 2016 when I showed both Petey & Sherlock. Of course it was a smaller number then.  To accomplish it in 2019, it meant I needed a horse that could show in some of the premiere events and my horses were too old for those divisions (even though I will show them in some other classes and plan to show Oscar early in the year and Petey later in the year after Bella has her baby).   This is why I bought Dale (formerly known as Fabio).

My plan was to bring Dale home for a couple weeks, get to know him and then send him to Chuy’s to stay in full time training. (Dale was the last name of his previous owners and the name went well with my other boys Petey & Oscar).  I rationalized that we didn’t have the room (we only have 3 stalls and we needed them for Bella, Petey & Oscar) and I didn’t have the time to ride 2 horses every day. He would just be my show horse, I thought, I won’t get attached.  Then I’ll sell him at the end of the year so that he is still young enough to get what we paid for him and I’ll have reached my goal and YES – that is an awesome plan!

Then I brought him home.

He’s a talented reining horse.  He’s a successful reining horse – he won 2 Reserve World Championships in 2018.  

But man was he anxious.  That chewing – all anxiety/disassociation stuff. 

He didn’t know how to interact with us.  

It took me 3 days of sitting on a bucket in the round pen for him to be curious & confident enough to want much to do with me!  After that, everyday our relationship deepened. Oh boy, I’m in trouble! I think my horse purchasing should be stopped. I cannot keep collecting these horses!!!

So, Bella moved in with Petey (yes, they share a stall and paddock when it’s raining and it’s been raining a lot here) and Dale joined them and Oscar in the barn and took the 3rd stall. I’ve shifted my schedule so that I’m riding more – it’s good to have Oscar be the second horse I have to ride since he just needs to be kept fit and happy.  

The past few months of riding Dale and getting to know him, my opinion of him has only grown better and better.  Warwick loves him, he says, “Well maybe he’s a 2 year horse now.” Translation: maybe he is never leaving!

I think my whole competition mindset has shifted as well.  WEG was such an awesome experience that now when I start thinking about a monetary goal, I’m not sure I want to continue towards it.  You see, WEG was not about money. WEG was about the experience of representing a country and going out and having FUN and of course, doing the best we could in the arena.  It was about spending time with people we love and respect. It was about so much more than winning anything. Hard to explain when all of my life, the showing has been about competing and winning.

I’m pretty sure I won’t ever have another WEG experience.  I’m just as sure that I’ll spend a lot of time chasing that feeling. I don’t think it is attainable if I only focus on the competition instead of the experience. I think I want the experience more now.  I never thought I’d be saying that.

I leave for the first show of the season in 10 days.  I feel like a weight has been lifted after this realization and new focus.  I’m looking forward to spending time in the desert (there is something magical about the desert) with my 2 horses and my dogs and my friends (Warwick arrives on show day).  I plan to keep all the practices that I did at WEG with me and even add some new one’s like meditation into the mix.  I’ll be the one going for a walk amongst the cactus before my class and smiling all the way through my pattern and hoping like HE## that when it comes down to it, I can remain in the moment and grateful for the experience that is presented to me!

Thanks for reading.


Along for the Ride – The Constant Factor is You

by Robyn Schiller

Robyn is the wife of horse (and people) trainer Warwick Schiller. She invites you to join her as she journeys through her life as trainer’s wife, mother, businesswoman and Internationally competitive rider.

I was listening to the Bulletproof podcast a while ago and Dave Asprey was interviewing Esther Perel (whom I’d never heard of but have since looked up).  She was talking about human relationships, but I think we would be well served to consider it for our horses TOO (what I’m suggesting is that you also consider it in the context she was talking about.)

She said:

“We all have relationship issues that we’re going to need to work on.  All of us. It’s just part of human nature. The only question is going to be with whom. You don’t want to work on them in this relationship, you’re going to have to work on them in the next relationship because you’re the constant factor. At some point you’re going to have to look at yourself, my dear.”

It reminds me of a session that Warwick has done at a few of the recent expos called “The One Thing that Will Change the Relationship You Have with Your Horse”.  He starts by telling everyone to take out their phone and point it at him.  Then he tells them to use the button that rotates the phone to take a selfie.  When everyone sees themselves on their phones he pronounces – “You.  You are the 1 thing that will change the relationship with your horse.”

It’s so true.  We look at the bit and change to bitless.  We look at diet and give them a supplement.  We look at the training we are doing and change it to the newest thing or a different trainer.  We get the vet out, or the shoer, or the body worker and we get them to change things.  We change disciplines or EVEN sell the horse! But, all the time, we are not looking in the mirror at the one thing that can make the biggest difference.

Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t examine the things I mention above.  Of course, you should be assessing the well-being of your horse constantly.  But don’t forget to assess the one.constant.factor = YOU.

Just thought I’d share that ah-huh moment with you.

Thanks for reading.

Along for the Ride – Body Betrayal

by Robyn Schiller

Robyn is the wife of horse (and people) trainer Warwick Schiller. She invites you to join her as she journeys through her life as trainer’s wife, mother, businesswoman and Internationally competitive rider.

I get stuck writing these blogs because I feel like I have to have the answer for whatever it is that I’m sharing or a moral to the story or something to leave you with.   This one will be different, in that it’s just pure sharing (and commiserating with those in the same boat).

I’m reading/listening to a book given to me by Angela Koning after I posted on the WSPH Facebook Group announcing my first FB live (thank you Angela!).  The post was a musing on how I could contribute in other ways to this incredible community that we have gathered. The book she sent me is called Light is the New Black by Rebecca Campbell.  Today, while listening (I have hard copy and audible version), she said something that made me sit down at the computer and write about something that I haven’t before.  She said that I should write what I most need to hear.

I am going to write about this because it is top of mind right now and I guess I most need to hear that I’m not alone and that our worth is not determined by the numbers on a scale or the size of our bodies.

The best way to put it out there is to define it as a feeling that my body is betraying me.  Shouldn’t there be a silver bullet by now?  Shouldn’t it be as simple as calories in vs. calories out? Shouldn’t your body do the right thing – haha? This has not been my experience.

I’ve been the chubby kid all my life.  I went on my first diet at The Diet Center when I was 12.  Let me just say right here, that I don’t blame anyone. Thin has always been in.

I had grown out of my mom’s & sister’s size bra and pants when I was 13.  I’ve always thought of myself as overweight and have measured myself by the numbers on the scale and size of pants I wear.  The higher the numbers, the worse I feel.

When I was 19, I discovered exercise!  At that time, in the early 90’s, aerobics were all the rage.  I’d always been active, not athletic – I was a cheerleader in the days where we did standard cheering, not the crazy acrobatics they do now. I’d never really exercised outside of gym class at school. But when I found aerobics, I loved the way that I felt! I loved it so much that I went and got a certification to teach it and teach I did.  I’d also do hours on the stairclimber (even before teaching a class).  I had another measure of my worth now – did I exercise enough today?

It’s no surprise that this happened at the same time that I also had a very controlling boyfriend.  He was the sort of “boy”that was jealous of the time that I spent riding my horse (which I had gotten back into after taking a break in high school) or going to school (I was attending a 2-year college then).  I’m glad we didn’t have cell phones then – that would have been a nightmare.  This is when I began a very unhealthy relationship with food and exercise.  Amongst other things, I cut out ALL FAT – it was the devil (that is what we were told at the time) and if I ate something, I had to make sure that the exercise I did negated whatever it was. I did this because it was really all I felt like I could control.  I guess it was to spite the boyfriend – ‘you can’t control what I put in my mouth’.  But, here’s the kicker –   my body betrayed me! I didn’t lose any weight!  (I know now that, in actuality, my body was actually pretty good at survival – still is!  I wish that realization made me nicer to the image in the mirror.)

I got rid of the boyfriend (and engagement) thankfully before I took on more of his stuff and I sought out the help of a therapist that specialized in eating disorders.  He got me back on track and it was when I was really working on this that I met Warwick.  One of the main reasons we didn’t jump right into a relationship was because I was not ready – I was still sorting stuff out.

Through the years I won’t say that I’ve ever been truly happy with my body – there have been times when I’ve been happier with it. Coincidentally always when I my body was cooperating with my efforts! I’ve had some success dieting, I lost 20 pounds after Tyler was born and then 30 pounds 5 years later on Weight Watchers.  I’ve done the Bullet Proof plan and keto and lost weight and felt better on them.  I’ve even – get this – had my belly fat frozen…haha.  I don’t recommend it – I can’t imagine liposuction hurting any worse.

The last couple of years though, dealing with the changing hormones of menopause, I’m back to feeling betrayed again.  I’ve always taken good care of myself, I don’t smoke or do drugs and I exercise modestly (not obsessively anymore). I’m active outside on most days doing horsey chores and riding. I don’t eat processed food anymore and my sugar intake is minimal.  I do enjoy my drinks, but I’m a lightweight and if I have more than 2 I’m miserable the next day, so I don’t. So, why is my setpoint getting higher and higher? It’s embarrassing – I hate looking at pictures of myself these days (just keeping it real).

I wish that it helped to know that at this point in my life it is hormonal – I do blood work and have it reviewed by my naturopath every 6 months. So, I know, scientifically what we are dealing with and it makes total sense what is going on – it is totally hormonal.  We tweak the supplements I’m taking to try and balance them back out.  The latest results: my testosterone levels are so low that they couldn’t even do one of the tests! It had been low before (not this low) and she had given me some supplements for it.  But I had gone off of them because for one of them, the World Equestrian Games Anti-Doping regulations prohibited it and the other I felt had side effects I didn’t want to live with.

I’ve started back on the one supplement and have just gone back to really cutting out sugar.  If this isn’t successful, I’m considering doing some hormone replacement – something I’ve been dead set against because of all the nightmare stories I’ve heard. However, my naturopath seems to think it may be a good option on some lower doses.

May be a good optionIt might work.  But, in her opinion, our weight setpoint goes up until about a year after menopause and then it comes back down again (which is exactly what happened to my mom).  I’m in that grey area of not really being post-menopausal (although some of my blood tests do indicate it).  I can’t reach that year point, it keeps resetting itself! For me, this equals Body Betrayal of the utmost level!

Yesterday, I thought I’d start trying the deflection technique.  What I mean by that (as there is probably a better name for it, but that is what popped into my head) is that anytime I start thinking about how I feel about carrying around too much weight, I will instead practice gratitude or think about something else.   I’ll let you know how I go! I think between that and getting this written (and out of my head) it may help! I’m open to suggestions to those in the boat with me!

I guess that is where I’ll leave it. As Brene Brown says, “I am on the journey with you trying to get there, but I don’t have it mastered.”

Thanks for letting me share.  Please know that I get that there are people out there who have a whole other level of “body betrayal” (not just my narcissistic one) and I can’t imagine that, this blog is not meant to lessen their situation or anything like that.  It’s like another Brene-ism – I might not be in the same situation, but I may have the same emotional feelings as you.

Along for the ride – the Anxiety Equation

by Robyn Schiller

Robyn is the wife of horse (and people) trainer Warwick Schiller. She invites you to join her as she journeys through her life as trainer’s wife, mother, businesswoman and Internationally competitive rider.

After my first Facebook Live, I have had a lot of people comment about “the Equation” I mentioned.  It’s not mine, it’s something I learned from Jane Pike (Confident Rider).  In case you missed it – here we go:

All states/emotions have 3 variables to them that make them exist.  They are made up of:

  1. Your Focus
  2. Your Self-Talk
  3. Your Physiology

So, the EQUATION part is that all of these things need to all be in existence for that emotion to exist…so 1+1+1 = 3 (the equation).  You could also think of it like a triangle and that all 3 are the legs of the triangle, if that works better for you.

For Anxiety to exist, your focus has to be on something that is giving you the anxious feeling, your self-talk is going to be telling you how anxious you are and your physiology is usually going to come along for the ride and you will have a rapid or strong heartbeat, maybe some sweating, maybe some butterflies in your tummy.

The beauty of the Equation is that if you are able to just control 1 of those variables and change it – the anxiety equation is broken – it no longer exists.  If you change one, then the equation becomes 1+1 so it no longer equals 3 (which is what it has to equal to be Anxiety).  So, if you are envisioning a triangle, if you take away one of those legs, it is no longer a triangle, it’s just lines.

Here are some of the ways that I have been able to break the anxiety equation (I know why these things worked after I heard Jane explain the equation):

  1. Focus – I thought about something else. So, in a horse show situation, every time I thought about my pattern or going into the arena, I shifted my thoughts to something else like what I was going to have for dinner that night or pictured myself sitting on the beach in Kauai. Right before walking into the arena, I’d count the conchos on my headstall and not about going in to show my horse. A couple years ago, in the midst of an anxiety attack at work (ugggg) I had someone tell me to try and look around and look for colors – I see a green tree, a blue bucket, an orange ball.  Just a distraction, but it takes your focus off of “I’m going to die”.  It worked a little bit for me, but I was pretty deeply under the control of the anxiety at that point.
  2. Self-Talk – I told myself it was excitement and not anxiety – they both have the same physiology (Jane told me this recently)!
  3. Physiology – I have used breathwork with the most success – Jane teaches amazing techniques and my favorite has a name I can’t remember, but I call it the “breathe on the mirror” breath. Going for a walk works too and even though it is counter to what you think you should do when your heart is already beating out of your chest, exercise is good.  I had doctors recommend this years ago and it always felt so counter to what I was feeling that I rarely used it.  For me, the breathwork takes care of the other 2 variables as well, so I tend to do this.

After writing this down, I see I have some work to do on #2 because I could not think of many examples and I realize that I usually used either 1 or 3 to break the equation in the past.

I asked Jane afterwards if this works with any emotion and reckons that it does.  So for anger, fear, resentment, etc. it can work as well…just change one of the variables and the equation no longer adds up to whatever it is you are feeling.

I hope that I have done a good enough job explaining this that it may help you if you need it!  If not, head over to Confident Rider/Jane Pike and learn from the master – she is a life changer!

Thanks for reading.





Along for the ride: Actively DO

by Robyn Schiller

Robyn is the wife of horse (and people) trainer Warwick Schiller. She invites you to join her as she journeys through her life as trainer’s wife, mother, businesswoman and Internationally competitive rider.

Warwick got a PM the other day from a friend.  This friend was concerned about another friend that was having trouble with her horse.  The horse was becoming “dangerous” – biting people, kicking, you know, things that aren’t cool!

She complained that she had sought advice from Warwick and he had only told her to “watch the videos”.  Which isn’t exactly what we would have said, but sometimes people don’t want to hear that the answer is going through the steps on the videos that reside in the online video library and would be too hard to answer in an email.

The online video library started as Warwick trying to help as many people as possible.  There are only so many horses you can ride and lessons you can give in a day – limitations if you will as to how many people you can physically help with their horses.  However, virtually, those limits don’t exist.  A person can video how to train a horse from the ground up and make it available to literally millions of people!  A person can show in a video what is possible with horses by capturing the process and the results they get with the horses they’ve owned, trained and helped.  Then they can give you a step by step process to get there – a roadmap!  This is exactly what Warwick has done.

The results that you see are the culmination of a successful process.  They don’t just Happen.  Unfortunately, there isn’t magic fairy dust that we sprinkle over them and POOF – the problem is gone, the horse is trained. The results come about when you “Actively Do” the things you need to do!  I love the explanation of “Actively Doing” that Jane Pike shared with us at the Cultivating Confidence Workshop.  Jane explained what Actively Doing was when she recounted her hypnotherapy training.  She was partnered up with someone and they were practicing processes.  Jane was feeling like it wasn’t quite working and so she took her instructor aside and apologized.  She said, “I don’t feel it’s working.”   The instructor told her that it wasn’t working because she was not Actively DOING the things she was supposed to be.  Perhaps, like a lot of us, she was waiting for the thing to be done to her.  Once she started Actively Doing what she was supposed to (the process), she was successful.

Proven processes work but you have to Actively Do them – pretty much the same whether it’s training your horse, learning a new skill yourself, cooking dinner or tying your shoe. This was a big lightbulb for me when Jane talked about it.  Your success will be dependent on your participation in the process.  If you half ass it, you’ll probably get half assed results.  If you ACTIVELY DO it, then you can achieve anything!

As a tangent to this, a word of caution:  Make sure that any process you follow or advice that you take is coming from a credible source.  When I say credible, I mean make sure you know what the results of their process look like before you jump in and that in your eyes the process is something you want to achieve as well.  You wouldn’t have someone build you a house if you hadn’t seen examples of the houses they’d built before.

Along for the ride: Tips for a successful event!

by Robyn Schiller

Robyn is the wife of horse (and people) trainer Warwick Schiller. She invites you to join her as she journeys through her life as trainer’s wife, mother, businesswoman and nationally competitive rider.

If you would have told me that Warwick & I would both mark our Personal Best scores in reining at the World Equestrian Games (WEG – the “biggest” show we’ve ever gone to), I would never believed it possible!  But we did and more!

I thought I would jot down the most significant things that WE DID AT THE GAMES, not leading up to the games because there was so much in the leadup (from the horse training to the mental preparation).  These things worked for us because we had done a lot of work prior to our arrival in Tryon.

Keep your expectations realistic! Our expectations were to do the best that we could with our horse on the day – truly!  We were showing horses that were kept at home, lived in a pasture together, weren’t clipped and we were showing against the best of the best.  We wanted to do well for the team, but never thought past that.  We figured we would show once – in the team event.  Neither of us thought we would do well enough to qualify for a second run, but we both did.  And after that run we were only ½ point and 1 point, respectively, off of making the individual finals – WAYYYYYY more than we could have dreamed! I think if we had gone in with the expectation to make the individual finals, things would not have gone as well.

We surrounded ourselves with awesome people.  Our dream team was assembled by a combination of us choosing some of the people around us, some of the people chose to come to the games and the remainder were teammates who had earned their place there.   I will mention the one that I got to choose, Jane Pike (Confident Rider).  You would be hard pressed to find a lovlier human being than Jane.  Add in the fact that she has some super mental/mindset skills to share and is also one of the funniest people I’ve ever met, it was an easy choice to invite her along on this journey.  I actually popped the question to her last year while we were in New Zealand and I prefaced it with “If we are lucky enough to qualify for this amazing event…”  I couldn’t be happier with that decision and her acceptance to come.  I know she sacrificed a lot to be there with us and am so grateful for her presence before, during and after the WEG. Surrounding ourselves with people like Jane definitely boosted our game.

We adopted a no complaining/negativity rule complete with a “safeword” when we strayed.  The word doesn’t matter – and our chosen one was part of an inside joke (it was “water”). It was just a trigger to stop the path of our negative thinking.  In our group, if anyone strayed into negative territory, we just called out our safe word and it adjusted our thoughts.  Personally, there were a couple of times that I had to physically removed myself from negative conversations (when I was around other people, not our group).  You couldn’t get me out of there fast enough! I’m not saying that we were always 100% positive, that is unrealistic, however, I reckon we got into the 70-80% range.

Make sure you arrive at the event in the best physical and mental shape possible.   I’ve always done some sort of exercise but we started Crossfit about 6 weeks before we travelled to the games and it made me feel strong and good about myself (and a little sore!).  We also have been practicing Meditation for the last year or so through the help of Jane Pike who made us our own personalized audios.  We also practiced using Headspace and Muse.  Having a clear mind really helps reduce the anxiety and anticipation and gets you back into the moment. Both of us also went “on the wagon” for 3 months prior to the WEG.

Make sure your horse arrives at the event in the best physical and mental shape possible. I won’t share how much our vet/shoeing bills were, but we ensured we had given the horses the VERY best care and probably went a little overboard in the lead up.  They got shockwave, joint injections, Adequan, Legend, bodywork, the best shoeing around to match x-rays of their angles, etc.  We carefully monitored what work we did and when we did it.  Honestly, I didn’t stop my horse until the second day we were at the venue and I only stopped him about 3 times each day.  I think I only worked on the spin 3 of the 6 days we were there. I ensured that he was able to reset himself mentally if he got too “up”.  I did notice that after the first hard run, he changed from being a little forward but chilled to more anxious and less forward.  It was an interesting observation but obviously didn’t impact the semi-final performance!

Get enough sleep.  Luckily we did not have to, nor could we, ride during early AM or late PM hours.  The riding schedule was posted the day before so we were able to plan for bed times, etc.  It is unusual to not be tired at the horse shows and for someone who has a hard time napping, I needed to get my sleep during normal sleeping hours!

Eat as well as you can.  This was probably the biggest challenge.  We were in a catering situation that wasn’t real good until about 2 days before we competed.  I think the adrenaline from just being there helped and I never found myself being “Hangry”.  I did want a lot of veggies by the end of it though.

Listen to music that inspires you.  We had a 30-minute drive to and from the venue each day, so we filled the mornings with songs that we had chosen to inspire us.  My two songs were “Best Day of My Life” by the American Authors and one that I’ve been listening to before every horse show since I was 5 years old, “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys” by Willie Nelson.  Warwick’s choices were “Believer” by Imagine Dragons and “Legend” by The Score.

Make sure what you’ve left at home is in good hands.  Most people I know can’t just go away from home for weeks at a time with nothing to sustain at home.  For us, we still had 5 horses, 2 dogs, a cat and a flock of chickens to be loved while we were gone.  Luckily, we found Bekah Tate who not only took great care of everything and everyone at home, but we got frequent updates from her as well!

In the warmup: 

  • When I would think about what might go wrong, I stopped the thought and instead gave thanks and gratitude for what I’d already accomplished (just being there, being able to show, my horse was sound and happy and prepared are just a few of the things I thought about). This was upon Jane’s suggestion and it worked a treat!
  • I focused on my performance statement – reminders to Focus, Think Slow, Slow your hand down, SMILE!
  • On the gratitude type of vibe, I also kept repeating a couple things in my mind. I pretended that someone was interviewing me after and asking me how it went and my answers were:  We had the best run we’ve ever had and My horse was better than he’s ever been.
  • Employed 2 different breathing techniques that Jane showed us.

In the showpen:

  • Reminded myself of my performance statement (slow down).
  • Reminded myself to SMILE – I was showing at the frigging WEG!!!
  • Employed the breathing technique that didn’t require fingers on my nose.

While some of these things are specific to the actual showpen, I think you could use some of the advice for anything in life.  I’ve certainly used it in other areas, and knowing the combination made for such a successful event at the World Equestrian Games, I’ll be employing these tips on a regular basis!  I’ll also continue doing the other work on myself and my horses that are found in Warwick’s subscription library and on Confident Rider!

Thanks for reading.






Along for the Ride – WEG Prep – August 26th

by Robyn Schiller

Robyn is the wife of horse (and people) trainer Warwick Schiller. She invites you to join her as she journeys through her life as trainer’s wife, mother, businesswoman and nationally competitive rider.

It’s Sunday and we are anticipating the arrival of Bekah from Texas.  She is coming as an “intern” to learn from Warwick while he is here and hold down the fort when we go on 3 trips – WEG in September, New Zealand in October and Massachusetts in November.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit nervous – it’s always a bit of a risk inviting someone into your home when you don’t really know them!  I’m sure it will be fine but the anticipation causes a bit of unrest!

Oscar got another easy day – I just put him on the Eurocizer since I have a lot of work to catch up on after being gone for 4 days.  We are in the middle of a big overhaul to both the main website and video site, so I’ve got to get stuck into that. Petey & Sherlock had a bit of an easy day as well.

I thought I’d mention another hurdle that we encountered on this WEG journey so you don’t think it’s all just roses, unicorns and fairy dust.

Not surprising that it has to do with Bella again (seems to be a theme, hmmmmm).  I mentioned before that she was sore in the front feet when we first got her, so we have played around with her shoeing, injected her and are always cognizant of her movement.  When we were in Arizona, the first week of our big 5 week tour trip, she seemed really good.  I built up her stopping stamina and actually had a high point during one of our early morning schooling sessions:

Casey Deary is one of the best reining trainers that there is out there, he’s earned over a million dollars in winnings and wins the biggest events.  He is a really, really great guy…super funny and can do a pretty good Australian accent to boot!  Well, I was stopping Bella one morning and he happened to be at the end where I had just executed a most awesome slide on Miss Bella, who is a pretty bada$$ stopper!  After watching said stop, Casey asked me “what is that one?” Now, to many, that might not seem like much, but when one of the best trainers asks what horse you are riding after a big time stop, you feel pretty good.  I think I fumbled around with my words a bit because it caught me so off guard.  I usually try to have a good quip ready to fire back at Casey because usually it is a funny thing that he says.  He was not being funny this time and it made my day (maybe my week, honestly).

Anyway, when it was time for the vet inspection (aka “the jog”) for the CRI3* I was most worried about her front feet, because that is all we’ve had issues with.  I got Oscar done and he passed with flying colors, but Miss Bella got pulled aside for further inspection.  I thought they’d come over and start checking her front feet, but they were checking her stifle.  The vet went to touch it and she nearly kicked him!  Oh no!  I’d been so concerned about the front that I hadn’t even thought about the hind end.  They had me do the trot again and told me that we were “provisionally passed” but if when I warmed her up, she felt off in any way, that I should not compete on her.

Because there were only 6 in the class, and I went first on Oscar, my plan was to warm Bella up first and put her away and then get on Oscar, warm him up and show.  Then I would get Bella back out, jog around and show her.  When I warmed Bella up, she seemed fine, the vet and judge gave her the thumbs up (I had put some poultice on her stifle between the jog and the warm up).  I put her away and went about my planned warm up with Oscar and then showed him.   I received a 70.5 on Oscar which was a second qualifying score above 70, so there was exactly ZERO reason to get Bella back out and show her.  I decided to scratch her from the competition and get some Bute into her as soon as I could.

We decided from that point on that we would concentrate on getting Bella in foal to Petey’s daddy.  His name is Dun Gotta Gun and he stands in Texas, right down the road from where we were going to stay before the next show.  We made plans to drop her off there and get ‘er done!   It didn’t exactly work that way, but that is for another time (and she is in foal now).

This week will be a bit frantic, lots of things to organize – truck and trailer services, body worker here, horseshoeing, vet here to shockwave Petey, Aussies arriving from Australia and New Zealand and we have to pack up the truck and trailer and horses and get them on the road.

I’m not sure I’ll post everyday – we’ll see how it goes.  Perhaps if something really out of the ordinary happens I’ll blog about it, but the plan is to keep fitness up rather than train a whole bunch.  Warwick will be working with the other horses with Bekah so she can step in while we are gone – I think he has plans to video a lot so you’ll get to see some new footage on the subscription on Ringer and Murray and he’s going to finish up the sidepassing up to the fence “trick” with Oscar.

Thanks for reading.

Along for the Ride – WEG Prep – August 21-25, 2018

by Robyn Schiller

Robyn is the wife of horse (and people) trainer Warwick Schiller. She invites you to join her as she journeys through her life as trainer’s wife, mother, businesswoman and nationally competitive rider.

A summary of the days since we went to the horse show.

TUESDAY: We ended up getting on the road earlier than we planned, which is always a bonus.   Setting up the stalls, tack room and living quarters trailer take a while and we wanted to ride in the arena, so getting there earlier than anticipated was a good thing!

We were able to ride one that afternoon before going to the Mexican restaurant for dinner.  I rode Oscar,of course, and Warwick rode Sherlock.  Both of the boys were good.  The show arena was open and there weren’t a lot of people riding, so we were able to take our time and put them through a few paces.  Sherlock seemed pretty relaxed and present and Oscar was Oscar – he is usually the same anywhere.   After dinner, Warwick rode Petey.  Now Petey can get the “first day at the horse show” feeling.  This means that he doesn’t respond as well as he does at home and gets a little “flat”.  There was a bit of that, but not like usual.

WEDNESDAY: The first day of the official horse show was dedicated to “paid warm-ups” which is basically paying for 5 minutes in the arena.  You can do whatever you like with the time. For all of our horses, we used it to just chill, kind of lope around, let them know it is no big deal and that not every time we go in the arena are we going to 1. Run a pattern or 2. Run a pattern hard.  This all went well, Warwick got 2 go’s with Sherlock because we originally had planned for Cooper to be there.  I guess we haven’t mentioned what is up with Cooper.

Cooper was purchased for Warwick to show this year – to get back in the arena under some pressure.  Cooper was a “Derby” horse, being 6 years old he could compete in higher money events (there is the pressure, because it pays more to win/place it also costs more to enter). You’ve read about Cooper in some of my other blogs, but what it came down to is that Cooper didn’t have the DESIRE to be a reining horse.  Even after changing how we interacted with him (which did help a great deal), it took more than we wanted to do to have him perform in the reining really well.  Cooper had a great deal of talent, but lacked the work ethic to tap into the talent if that makes sense.  Since the plan had always been to show him through Reining By The Bay and then sell him, we stuck to that plan, kind of.   We didn’t actually “sell” him, we donated him to Fresno State University about 2 hours away.  They have an equestrian team that does reining, horsemanship and English.  They will use him for whatever he is best at – a lot of the reiners they get end up being great horsemanship horses.  He will get a lot of young girls to fawn all over him and love on him and so far it seems to be a great match.

Anyway, Warwick got to go twice on Sherlock.  The first time he was a bit bright eyed about being in the arena alone and the second time he was better.  Warwick took his time and worked on him being present and engaged.

Before Warwick’s paid warm-up on Petey, Petey wasn’t stopping. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t coming to a halt, it means when he did a sliding stop he went into the stop, came out of it then went back in. Warwick worked on it just a few times, and when it wasn’t improving, he thought maybe it was something he was doing with his body (believe me, tightening up a muscle here and there in your body has a huge effect on how well a reiner stops) so he had me get on and try it a couple of times. I had about the same result. So at least we knew it wasn’t Warwick’s body position. As with all problem solving, figuring out what is causing the problem is the first course of action, before trying to correct the issue. By the time Warwick’s paid warm-up came up, the issue wasn’t rectified so Warwick stayed away from the stop, just to ensure Petey had a relaxing time in the arena. Afterwards, the problem fixed itself, it turns out that the surface at the show wasn’t as heavy as our at home, and didn’t require as much effort for the stop. When Petey pushed really hard, he popped out of the stop. As Petey got used to the ground, the stop improved.

THURSDAY:  Show day for Warwick.  He wanted to show both horses under some pressure, so we entered both of them in the 4 divisions that he was eligible for (the divisions run concurrently so you show once in multiple classes).  We did this because sometimes if you are entered in one and it really doesn’t mean much if something goes wrong, we just go to schooling (fix what needs fixing and receive a zero score).  When you enter into everything, that decision to school is further away in your mind!  He drew up early in the draw on Sherlock.  We knew the pattern was not the best one for Sherlock because you have to run in and stop and then turn both ways.  That is a lot to handle versus a “walk-in” pattern where you walk to the middle and then turn (which is the pattern we have at WEG).  So, Sherlock reverted a little bit once he got run down and stopped – he was a little concerned in the center of the arena where the spins go and got a little tight.  His circles were pretty good – usually the tightness causes him to fall out of lead, which he did not do (yeah!!! Victory).  In the rundowns to his stops, one of them was kind of tight and he got to leaning a bit.  Overall, he threw a few things at Warwick and he ended with a score of 70.  A score of 70 is average, it is what you have when you walk in the arena.  So, there were some good maneuvers and some poor maneuvers that evened out to a 70 score.

When it was Petey’s turn, Warwick was able to be confident in what was about to happen because he has shown Petey a lot more than Sherlock (he’s only shown Sherlock once).  He was able to get credit on 5 of the 8 manuevers and end with a score of 72.5.  It was good enough to win 2 divisions and be reserve in the other 2, winning 4 buckles.

We had another class to school in after the show class, basically another paid warm up where you get time in the arena.  This is what I took Oscar in. I put my chaps and hat on so I could make it feel like a show situation to him.  I went in and checked on my turns and my run around the ends (approach to stops).  He was good.

Warwick took his two in as well and chilled them out.  Both were good.  Sherlock actually improved over the class before.

FRIDAY: We had a real class that we were entered into but were planning to school in.  This time there was a judge present which meant that you need to respect what you are doing so you don’t take advantage of the time in the arena.  Usually, this means sticking to the pattern and fixing things along the way.  I chose to skip the spins because I don’t have to worry about those and start with circles.  Little Oscar showed me something he hadn’t before and that was a spook.  Someone had led their horse up to the other end of the arena and the horses head was over the gate.  This had not existed at any time so Oscar decided he didn’t like it.  It was good, I got to see how he would come back from a sideways spook and tightness.  For the most part, he came back to me pretty well, he still had one or two looks at that area once the person had gone and we finished the pattern well after he’d spit all the rabbits out.

Warwick had good schoolings on both Sherlock and Petey.  Sherlock actually was quite good and made big improvements overall.

We loaded up and headed home – just in time for dinner!

The show was confirmation that Petey would be the “chosen one” to go to WEG if we could ensure his injury did not seem to be a problem.  It didn’t seem to bother him at the show and we are doing everything we can to keep it that way (ice, poultice, shockwave, Bemer, compression suits, Adequan, Legend).

Warwick will continue to ride Sherlock this week and we will have the vet come on Friday to watch Petey jog on hard ground with no warm up to see what she thinks the probability is that he will pass a jog.  We have done this every time she comes out, even with Oscar.

The good thing is that if Sherlock ends up having to get on the trailer on Saturday morning, we have AMPLE opportunity to put him in schooling situations so that he can find some more relaxation when he is alone in the show pen.

The boys all had Saturday off, back to it Sunday.  With only 6 days until they get on the trailer, the plan is to keep them fit, sound and happy.  We will test some reining maneuvers on Friday because we are going to Chuy’s to ride in his HUGE arena, but other than that, we will be working on fitness and gymnastics.

More tomorrow – I’ll hit some more of the Hurdles that we encountered since Sunday will likely be a pretty boring riding day.