How Do You Like Me Now?

Hank-1st-showA year ago, I had a barely broke 3 year old horse. Hank is an unregistered bay roan quarter horse. I found him on an internet site and traveled 5 1/2 hours to see him. I knew from the moment I saw him that he would be my heart horse. Hank had never had more than a halter put on him, so riding on a trailer for 5 1/2 hours was interesting for the first hour! That was the summer of 2012. I took him to a local person to break him to ride. After two months of riding, the trainer suggested that I sell him because he feared he would hurt me. I ,never felt like he would hurt me and took him home and I began riding him in the round pen.

About a year ago, my husband asked me what I wanted to do with Hank. I had purchased Hank with the hopes to one day use him for Cowboy Mounted Shooting. I wanted him broke to ride western- this much I knew. I began the daunting task of finding just the right trainer for not only Hank, but me as well. I spoke to several prospects but no one seemed to have a passion for taking my lump of clay and turning him into a useful vase. I finally found a young, female trainer very close to my home. Last May, Hank went to work with this talented young lady who was trained primarily classic dressage and eventing. I asked her to ride him western and she agreed.

After the first month of training, she was very impressed with how Hank moved and how quickly he would pick up on cues. So, she suggested that I look into western dressage.

Western dressage??? What is that? I had never heard of such a thing. I spent the next month researching this new and upcoming sport and decided to give it a go!

Hank came home from training the first part of August. I spent the next month watching videos and reading everything I could about western dressage. My husband built me an arena, put in dressage letters, and spent many hours reading into test 1 and 2 to me. We were learning together and had no real clue what we were doing! I live in rural SE Indiana, and there isn’t anyone around who knows a lot about western dressage.

In September 2013, I saw a show bill posted on Facebook and was curious about their classes. I saw they had a “ride a test” class. I contacted them and asked if I could participate in that class and show western dressage intro test 1 and 2. I was very pleased to learn that they had agreed to allow me to ride in their show!

The day of the show, I was so nervous! I was surrounded by large, beautiful warmbloods whose riders looked like a million bucks. I was riding in my 25 year old Crates saddle, my daughters old show pad and chaps, and a purple western shirt I had bought on clearance at the local farm store. To top it off, I had to wear a helmet! I had never wore a helmet and felt like my head looked like a mushroom! I hadn’t been in the show ring for over 30 years and now, here I am, on a very young, newly broke horse, getting ready to enter at “A” at a trot. I got through the first test (not without a few oops! like Hank stopping in the middle of the first 20m circle to “take care of business”). I was able to gather my nerves and go back in after the others were finished to do test two.

Waiting for scores was so hard! I was so excited to see Hank’s name under the first and second place but more excited to see he scored in the mid 60’s since he had only been home for a little over a month.

Hank-ribbonsWe competed in a few more shows last fall and he continued to improve his scores. Last week, we received reserve western dressage champion at the local dressage club. I was so excited to hold those year end awards and think about how far Hank and I have come in such a short time. I am looking forward to continuing my journey with Hank and western dressage. My goal is for us to improve enough to head to the World Show this fall.

I wonder what Hank thought when I brought home those two, huge year end ribbons and showed them to him? I think he would like to say to the trainer who wanted me to sell him “How do you like me now?”

Submitted by Jane Brack on 01/21/2014

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