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.