Issue # 9
From the Editor
Greetings, avid riders and/or parents! Now that the winter has mainly passed (yahoo!!!!), we can get back to jumping and riding outdoors!!!!
We've had such a great response for our "Embarrassing Moments" that we can't fit them all on one page, or get them typed up fast enough! So, we'll add a few more in a month or so. Therefore, our deadline has been altered: submit any articles until June 1st.
You will notice many "Thelwell pictures" in this edition. If you have never laughed your way through a Thelwell book, you are missing one of the treasures in horsey books.
Harrogate is having it's annual Open House this year on April 30th. Times are to be the usual, 10:00am to 2:00pm. Invite those you know to come for a free ride, hot dog and drink. Harrogate riders, please come to help out, and remember your Harrogate t-shirts!
One young student at the University of Toronto seemed to lack all courage and conviction so every time the horse approached the fence the student would do nothing and the horse would calmly go around the jump. In the final approach, Buddy (the little horse) just faded to a halt at the base of the fence. It was at this point that I felt Buddy's schooling was not being helped,so I asked the girl to get off right where she was and I got on Buddy who was still standing at the base of the fence.
The students were in a semicircle behind me so I leaned back and around to look them in the eye. I explained to them the importance of being firm and how it was essential to make the horse listen to their leg. At this point Buddy sidestepped a bit, so to underline my point I gave him a little kick.
I did not accompany Buddy over the fence and I'm not even sure where we parted ways. All I know was that as I lay half under, half on the jump, I could hear a high-pitched, feverish giggling --you know-- the kind we all make when something is desperately funny but somehow it seems inappropriate to laugh. I dusted myself off, and explained that one should never ask the horse to do something unless one is prepared for the fact that the horse just might do it. I would have thought I already knew this lesson, but at any rate, I have never forgotten it since. I suspect that none of the students in that lesson have ever forgotten either, which proves, once again, that the horse is ALWAYS the best teacher!
There are a few things that should be pointed out in consideration of the cleanliness of Harrogate. A clean, tidy barn is a sign of respect for the sport and for our partner, the horse.
The Mane Bit is going to go behind the scenes for next month's edition to help you prepare for shows. We hope to talk to Judge Carolyn Clarkson who has judged many of Harrogate's Schooling Hunter Shows. Each edition from now until June we will describe one division and how it will be scored.
As you know, the horse shows at Harrogate are Schooling Shows. This means that all the kids (and people from other stables) get to participate in a horse show without the huge expense and the pressure of the more advanced Trillium Circuit or 'A' Circuit. Five different divisions are offered so there is something for everyone.
The Short Stirrup class is for semi-beginners. There is really no age restriction but most of the riders are 12 and under. There are three classes: Walk, Trot; Walk, Trot, Canter; Equitation over four small cross-rails. In all of these classes, the judge is judging the rider not horse. Riders must have light contact with the reins; heels should be down and the rider should be on the correct diagonal at the trot. In the canter, it is important to get the horse to canter on the correct lead and to stop without running over the judge or any other horses! In the Equitation Over Fences, riding good, straight lines over the fence and communicating kindly to the horse is most important. If this sounds easy, remember, that these are beginners, who are sometimes excited and nervous.
The great thing about the shows at Harrogate is how all the riders encourage, comfort and support each other. We all know the best part is riding! Winning a ribbon just adds to the fun.
Northern Dancer was the first non-human to enter into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame. The second non-human was Big Ben.
Look out! Get out of the way! Here comes George! Actually, this lovable chestnut only spooks when confronted with plastic bags, or the sound of his own toots. (Yes, the gassy kind). Other than the odd take-off, George is the perfect beginner horse! He wouldn't hurt a fly (that's not precisely true, considering that's what he uses his tail for) and he stands absolutely still when necessary. This was proven one time when he was lame, and Pat had to kneel down right by his leg. Even with all the flies around, he stomped every hoof but the one she was working on. What a gentleman!
Pat and George joined forces in 1991, when he was 12 years old. His best friend changes often, since he's happy with anyone who will hang out with him. Now, shhhh, did you know......
(to read the following, hold a mirror in front of the newsletter )
Pat has known Scarlett since 1995, when this sorrel (chestnut with a flaxen mane and tail) was 8 years old. Her breed is Belgian Draft Horse X, but she's not too tall, so we can assume there's a pony or QH breed somewhere in her past. Recently, she was bought by Janice Carroll from Joyce, but is still used by the school. She's not usually ridden by beginners, because of her, er, uh, enthusiastic approach towards anything, but she does have a fun jump (from astride her) and her canter is very smooth. Also, since Dawn left, she's like a new horse. She canters on a relaxed rein, doesn't spook nearly as much (and when she does, she's not hard to stop). And from what we've heard, Dawn is improving, too!
Last year, at a show at Blue Star, a few Harrogate horses went in some hunter and equitation classes. Over the fences, our horses went beautifully, aside from a few run-outs by Scottish Heather. But when it came time for the flat classes, we didn't do so well. Everyone went nuts! Big Chey, Paladin, Omby, Legacy and Heather refused to cooperate and kept plunging and bucking in the middle of the ring. If one got frightened, so did the others. In the end, all the Harrogate Horses were thrown out of the show! Nobody won anything that time, needless to say.
Most of you will probably know who wrote this one! I think I'm the only person to fall off Dan in the last 4 years. Especially the only person to fall off him 3 times!!! Once in each ring: Jumper Ring (where we did the whole course first and then I fell off); Sand Ring- (a little bit of body contact as we swerved around others) and the Indoor Arena (where Scarlett and somebody almost ran over me!)
One day, I was riding Blue in the sand ring. It was late spring, and there were quite a few flies around. My lesson was walking around the track, waiting for Pat. I was calm, after all, Blue was never one to go out of his way to break a sweat. Then, all of a sudden, I was on the ground with a mouthful of sand. I had fallen off Blue from a walk because of a fly! He hadn't even bucked, just a little sidestep!! It sure goes to show that we should always be prepared!
This was about a year ago, when I was riding Jake. I'm sure you know how he always jumps things in his way, even if it's just a pole on the ground. We were supposed to be cantering on a circle, over a pole. As you can guess, I fell forward over his head. I wasn't hurt, and we had to teach Jake a lesson, so I got back on. As I cantered up to it again, he left long and then jerked his head down. Off I went again!!! But I wanted to try one last time. Unfortunately, the next thing I knew, I was sailing over his head a third time and had to mount-up again (fourth time this lesson). Finally, I got it right.
In Sept. '95, I came to Harrogate for an assessment ride. I was placed on Jake in the arena. I walked, trotted and when it came time to canter we didn't have a problem ...... until we came around to the arena door near Jake's stall. Jake decided he had had enough of this assessment and turned out the open door. Everyone in the arena thought I had ducked, but really my helmet got stuck at the top of the door and my upper body got left behind. This resulted in me lying on Jake's back and the two of us standing in the isle. That is why Pat always closes the doors during lessons to this day!
A couple of years ago, I was in the Short Stirrup Division at a Harrogate Show. I was on Keaton, and we had just finished the class. We were lining up so the judge could look at our numbers and make any last second changes, as well as total up the points. As I sat there, concentrating on remaining calm, I felt Keaton's whole body shift, and I yanked my leg up just in time. He had reached around and was scratching his ear with his hind hoof! I just about fell off from surprise and unbalance, and had to keep my leg up, almost on the cantle, while he satisfied his itch.
I don't know if the judge saw us, but we got a 6th place ribbon. I still cringe at the thought of if I'd fallen off from a halt: no buck, no rear. Just a scratch.
And if there was any competition, our most embarrassed winner would be......
Let's just say someone was riding, without a bra, and when she jumped Casey over the fence, her shirt flew over her head. Apparently, it took a few strides for Casey to stop and let his red-faced rider re-organize her wardrobe.
(Strictly Anonymous, if you know who, don't tell!)