Tuesday, January 01, 2008

The Breakup - Part 7

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

I was at my first open dressage show, hanging around the board where they posted the scores, waiting for them to put up the scores from my Training Level test 4 class. The runner came up with a clipboard and wrote in the scores. My jaw dropped. Not only had I gotten a qualifying score of 62.8%, but I won the class! He was the only Arabian horse in the class, and beat some very nice horses. I was stunned, but elated with my blue ribbon.

I picked up my test, which was all 6's and 7's, and one 5. He got a 7 on gaits in the collective marks, which I was thrilled with. The comments were "Continue to work this horse consistently through his back - balancing more from the legs and being very patient and elastic with your contact." Apparently she approved of my ride. I tried not to let Paula see that I knew that I had been right, but I think she knew.

I continued going to shows that summer, and got another qualifying score. I was really excited to go to Regionals that year, even though my trainer would not be coming with me. I wanted her to come, but Regionals was five and a half hours away in Lexington, Kentucky. She didn't want to go that far from home, having both elderly parents and horses at home to look after. I understood, and did my best without her.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get into the Top 5 that year. I had some nice rides and some shaky rides, but overall I was pleased that I went. Over the next year I continued to train, go to schooling and open shows, and take lessons. Both Kaswyn and I worked really hard, and we moved up to First Level. I went to Regionals the next year to show both Training and First Level, and I dragged Paula with me. We got two Top 5's and a Reserve Championship, proof to me that we had made progress over the past year.

I'd also made a friend that year who also rode dressage. Zoey had an older horse whom she evented, but she also had a young dressage horse that she had in training with a young up-and-coming trainer. She began to sing the praises of this trainer to me, and suggested that I call her for a lesson. Zoey didn't care for Paula, and thought she was holding Kaswyn and I back. I told Zoey I was happy with my trainer, and I wasn't going to switch trainers.

This was mostly true, but it didn't mean that things were perfect in my training relationship with Paula. While she was very slow, methodical, patient, and non-confrontational with her training, she continued to chide me about correcting Kaswyn in the show ring. She didn't seem to believe me when I said that he would over-react and the test would be blown, despite seeing it for herself first-hand. I finally told her one day that she should show him at a schooling show, and then she would see that the horse she had at home and in the warm-up was not the same horse she'd be riding in the show ring.

Paula had ridden Kaswyn at home a few times, but besides that I was the only one riding him. At the schooling show he was nervous that I was there but was not riding him. Paula was able to warm him up, and, although he looked tense, she looked prepared to go into the ring. The test wasn't horrible, but it certainly wasn't anything great. She exited the ring, looked at me and said "Now I see what you mean. Honestly, I don't know how you EVER get through a test with this horse!" Smiling, I resisted the urge to tell her "I told you so!".

After that show Paula had a better understanding of what I was dealing with in the ring. Although Kaswyn was getting better, I still had to be extremely tactful in the show ring. However we started to have other issues. We began schooling Second Level, and Kaswyn became uneven in front. We called the vet out, who performed a lameness exam. Not being able to pinpoint any real lameness, he referred us to Dr. G., who was unable to find anything significant. He suggested a regimen of bute every other day, suspecting perhaps some arthritis or some discomfort that was not apparent on either flex test or x-ray.

The bute seemed to help, but the uneven strides showed in our scores. I tried different farriers, different shoes, and at one point was buying hand-made shoes from West Virginia and having another blacksmith put them on. Nothing seemed to help and the judges kept making comments and giving lowered scores for uneven strides. Zoey started making noise about how it was the training, and maybe I should consider a change. I told her no, I'm not getting a new trainer, and to drop it already.

Then Paula had a heart to heart with me. She said she thought that Kaswyn had gone as far as he could go, and that he'd never make it past Second Level. She said she thought I was a talented enough rider that I deserved a horse that could take me to the upper levels, and that I should consider selling him and buying a new horse. Conveniently, she had another student who was a lower level rider that was looking for a horse. She would be perfect for Kaswyn, so maybe I should at least let her ride him and consider it.

My heart sank. Just thinking of selling my horse made me want to cry. I didn't want to sell him. I did want to continue my training and ride at the upper levels, but I didn't want to get a new horse in order to do it. I loved Kaswyn. Paula loved him too, but she started to push a little harder as the weeks went by. She asked if this other gal could have a lesson on Kaswyn, and I agreed. She called me after the lesson and told me that they got along really really well, and this might just be the perfect match. Paula then convinced me to let this other gal ride Kaswyn two days a week as a trial.

I was full of misgivings. I was letting someone else ride Kaswyn but I wasn't even sure that I wanted to sell him. But this gal was supposedly in love with Kaswyn, and got along with him really well. I trusted Paula, and she was telling me that selling him was the right thing to do. But was it? On the other hand, was it right to keep trying to train a horse beyond his abilities? Lastly, how could I possibly part with this fantastic animal?

Something happened the next week that made me realize that, for one thing, this other gal was not right for Kaswyn.

To be continued...

Part 8


Rising Rainbow said...

Boy, I know this scenario, not trusting myself enough and letting others tell me what to do with my animals. No one knows Kaswyn like you do.

Anonymous said...

Wow! That's a bit of a cliff hanger! K-

Rising Rainbow said...

OK, OK, we're still waiting for part 8. I may leave lots of cliff hangers but I never make you wait this long!!!! LOL

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