Well, we started the Winter Series this past weekend. We did the Winter Series last year which is where I won my buckle. I won the Beginner Reining class which meant that I also got kicked up to the next class this year which has a real reining pattern and requires flying lead changes. I'm not really ready for the next class, but oh well. I've started lessons and I'm determined to be competitive in it by the end of the series. We are making progress on our flying lead changes, but they are still rough and very inconsistent. We still do not spin. Midori's head is still up in the air, she is not soft or light right now. We have a LOT of work to do, but we are making progress. I just have to keep reminding myself of that since I am having a hard time not getting discouraged and frustrated.
The boyfriend and Sugar are coming along fabulously with their lessons. Sug was a futurity flunkie and came to us as a 3 year old fairly broke reiner, though slightly neurotic. Sug knew way more then we did and we have since done a fantastic job of totally screwing her up. It isn't taking much for Sug's training to come back to her though. She is already back to doing beautiful flying lead changes, trying to slide when she stops, even though she doesn't have sliders on right now, and loping very nice circles framed up. They are improving in leaps and bounds, while I'm still struggling with flying lead changes and playing tug-o-war with my horse while she goes mach 5 around the arena refusing to change leads. It's hard not to get frustrated. I want a broke horse. I haven't had a broke horse since I was 12 or so and was riding my mom's QH Jingles. I'm pretty sure she was broke, even by my standards today. Every horse that I've had since then I've had to train to do what I wanted. Usually I enjoy it, I think I'd get bored just hopping on a finished horse all the time, but sometimes it just gets frustrating having to be patient and appreciate the baby steps.
After a particularly gruelling and unproductive lead changing attempt last week I was seriously writing up a sale ad for my horse, wondering how much I could get out of her and if it would be enough to buy a more broke reiner. One that at least did flying lead changes. Yes, I do have quite the hang up on flying lead changes. I have struggled with them ever since I've had Midori, they have always been an issue for us and they are the only goal I have repeatedly failed to accomplish with her.
We had another lesson together on Friday (me/Midori and the boyfriend/Sug) and once again I sneered at the boyfriend and Sug the whole time. They are such showoffs! Since it was the night before the show Midori and I didn't even attempt flying lead changes. We didn't want to start that battle and blow our mojo for the show. We still managed to get in a pretty good brawl over sidepassing. Sidepassing!!! She has always been good at that, it's practically second nature to her. She was being pissy and ended up throwing a major tantrum, which I just had to laugh at. Really it was pretty darn comical. When she finally got over it, we went back to work and the rest of the lesson went just fine. She was still a little bent out of shape when I was untacking her though. Mares! lol
The reining was Saturday morning and all I wanted was to complete the pattern correctly and as respectably as I could. I knew I was going into it with 4 penalty points already since we were going to do simple lead changes, but I figured we could at least do the pattern clean. And we did. I had a moment of panic wondering if I did 4 spins or had stopped early at 3, but I had counted right. Yay! They weren't pretty at all, actually they felt absolutely horrific, but we did them. I felt pretty good about the rest of our pattern, it was a respectable pattern for where we are at. That was all I asked of the day so mission accomplished.
There were 8 people in our class and when they announced the placings, usually from 3rd up, they only announced 2nd and a tie for 1st. I was 2nd. The boyfriend tied for 1st. What the heck?!? I couldn't believe I had 2nd place! We ran over to look at the score sheet and found that out of 8 people in the class 5 had gone off pattern and gotten zero's. Oops! My score was not good, I got a 62 1/2, but I was only 1 point behind the first place tie. They both did flying lead changes, so considering I had 4 penalty points for that and was still only 1 point behind them I was very pleased with our pattern!
I made sure our pattern was video'd so that I can (in theory) look back on it down the road and see how much progress I've made. I've decided to post it here, for your viewing displeasure. Feel free to skip the first minute or so, in fact, I highly recommend it. Seriously, our "spins" are worse then watching paint dry. They are baaaaad. And try to ignore the jibberjabbering. I couldn't think of a good song to put over it.
Overall it was a fun day, Midori behaved herself and didn't get pissy. We did turn back for a little bit while the boyfriend was cutting in the afternoon. That was fun! I've never done turn back before and Midori seemed to be totally diggin it. We have our next lesson tonight and a month to the next show so plenty of time for some major schooling without blowing our mojo. I'm still planning to be doing simple lead changes at the shows for probably the rest of this year. Yes, that is how bad we are. I'm going to shoot for having consistent, solid lead changes by the first of the year for the rest of the shows. Wish us luck!