Monday, January 28, 2013

An Update and a Quick Reflection on the Eventer Stereotype

Well, things have been quite busy around Team Riley lately. I'll get to the title/heart of this post in a bit, after an update. The boys had a quiet vacation at the farm while I also took a quiet vacation in Louisville over Christmas break. Well, actually, it was quiet until two days before I was supposed to come home, Cole bullied Riley into destroying a round pen panel. I have no idea what happened, but the gate panel doesn't look so hot. Riley survived the encounter with nothing but a few scratches.

Cole looking innocent in his baby paddock. We all know the truth about him.

After their vacation, Riley got a big haircut and started back in work. Mostly he's been doing flatwork with me, but he's also been giving John the occasional jump lesson on weekends to get ready for John's show jumping debut.

Riley was pretty excited about his bath.

But he did get a pretty sweet butt design! The idea was courtesy of my dad.

Cole still had a little bit of time off from his surgery after break, so he was enjoying his half day turnout.  I think he could sense that his 2 month vacation was coming to an end, so one week before I could ride him again, he ripped his left front leg open. When I found out it was the same leg where he had surgery I about had a heart attack, but somewhat thankfully it was further up his leg. Also thankfully, while he did a good job slicing it up, he managed to miss important structures, including going into his knee joint. Not so thankfully, he had a little bit of initial infection (calling for strong antibiotics), I still can't figure out how he did it, it was super swollen, and it required about a bazillion stitches and even more vet appointments. Back to being thankful, Dr. Beyer did a beautiful job sewing it up and other than some gross fibrous swelling over the front of his knee (that Dr. Beyer assures me is normal, despite my freak-outs about it), Cole has been healing pretty well. He even gets the stitches out tomorrow!

Believe it or not, the top cut is over Cole's knee- you'd never know there was a joint there because of all the swelling.

The first of many comically large bandages for Cole.

The stitches (coated in Aluspray) after being in 4 days. 

So thanks to his klutziness, Cole has been back in solitary confinement for the past 2+ weeks. We've been hand walking together for the past week and while some days he acts like a 1300 lb yearling, he's been pretty well behaved overall. He's also been a bit more sulky about his stall rest this time, but he perks up when he gets attention and he's even gotten two Uncle Jimmy's Hangin' Balls out of his additional stall rest. Hopefully the vet will have good news tomorrow about turnout and riding, since I think both of us are going stir crazy over all this stall rest.

Back to Riley, he's been nothing but awesome since coming back to work. Shortly into the year I had a big face-palm moment when I realized I wasn't happy with his flatwork practically all fall because he was popping his shoulder to the outside when we went to the left. So after a week spent doing way too many shoulder-ins, his shoulder has been more or less staying where it ought to and the quality of his flatwork to the left has increased drastically. It's been super-awesome to have access to an indoor this winter because even with my days ending later than I'd like and the weather being crummy, I've been able to keep riding. And the best side effect of the indoor is that while it's very small, suddenly Riley is much more balanced and neither of us feel so claustrophobic in a dressage ring. I think spending the winter riding inside more than I'd like is actually going to be good for us because if I can get him to move forward well in the indoor, I ought to be able to do just as well in a dressage ring.

Finally to the title of my post. Before Cole had his surgery and before she left for Florida, I took Cole off the farm for a lesson with a local pure dressage trainer. She was highly recommended and when we started the lesson, I told her a little bit about me and my horse. First, she was very surprised that Cole was an OTTB because he's so big and he's pretty balanced for a green horse. Second, she complimented me on my riding because I'd admitted that I was an eventer. I was scared about what she would think of my riding because there's a stereotype of a "dressage queen"- a prissy dressage purist. I was happy to find out that a) she was down to earth and NOT a dressage queen and b) she didn't think too poorly of my riding. As a side note, the lesson was AMAZING and I definitely plan on taking more with her when she gets back from Florida.

This past weekend I took another lesson off the farm, this time on Riley with a local hunter/jumper trainer. Once again, I admitted that I was an eventer, but that I wanted my show jumping rounds to be a little less get-er-done and a little more pretty. Once again, I got a comment along the lines that I ride much better than she thought I would, being an eventer and all. Hunter/jumpers have the stereotype of the "hunter princess," who cares not only about being pretty over the fences, but also about whether everything from her boots to her helmet to the breed of her horse is in fashion. This trainer had once again come highly recommended, so the lesson went well (she was very down to earth, too) and I think our show jumping rounds with be smoother and more polished if I keep at it.

So to bring it all home, while these prissy, somewhat stuck-up stereotypes of dressage riders and hunter riders exist, apparently when you take the two disciplines and shove them into one weekend along with some cross country, you get a stereotype of a scary backyard get-er-done type of rider. I know my riding is rough around the edges, and I know I've seen some scary riding at events, but I didn't know we had our own stereotypes! (Other than, of course, having terrible fashion sense and loving our colors a bit too much.) And of course I'm happy my riding isn't so awful as to fit into said stereotype, even if my fashion sense is (see my awesome purple trailer). Judging from my first two lessons I think my 2013 adventures in pure dressage and pure jumpers will be both highly educational and entertaining at the same time!

Oh, and a few more pictures that didn't fit in elsewhere:

Poor Riley had to get up from his nap to go to his jumping lesson.

No comments:

Post a Comment