We left very early this past Friday morning for a fun weekend away. Since this is a super isolated town, we like to escape now and again :) We got to Vancouver around noon and both decided since we had tickets for a football game later in the day, it would be too much to try to fit in a couple of hours at the horse expo, especially when it's about an hours drive outside the city. Besides, our hotel room ended up being pretty awesome and it seemed a waste not to spend some time there! So, a completely horse free day - how crazy is that! I admit to being a little disappointed, but I was so tired it was nice to not have to rush around the whole day.
Saturday was all about the horses. First off, we watched a couple of the Trainer's Challenge sessions. They have three trainers with 4 one hour sessions over the three days to get their horse ready for an evaluation consisting of W/T/C and some obstacles under saddle. G always finds them super interesting - I usually seem to get annoyed by them.
Trainer #1 was a younger guy from Australia and it was immediately apparent he knew what he was doing. There was a whole lot happening with his body language and timing and he was getting things done while apparently standing around telling jokes to the crowd. I liked how his first 'ride' consisted of just hopping on bareback with a halter and lead and immediately sliding back off even when the horse seemed super accepting. He called that good and ended a bit early. I still hated how rushed the whole thing felt, and how little he explained what he was doing. He made it look so easy on the surface and didn't explain or even acknowledge all the more subtle stuff going on, instead wanting you to believe that you need to buy into his 'program' to learn.. The horse seemed very sweet, but I got the feeling it was really overwhelmed, which I found a bit unfair and upsetting.
Trainer #2 was a female trainer from California and she seemed to be a bit nervous about being in front of so many people. The announcer mentioned her session on Friday went super well - she was riding her horse around all tacked up by the end. This time, her horse was saying loud and clear that he'd had enough! He was rearing, not wanting to go forward, as well as biting and threatening to kick and strike. I found it odd she didn't try to address any of that - she said he was just anxious and would get over it with some saddle time. Meanwhile, I got the feeling he was turning into a big bully.I didn't see how he'd behave any different under saddle. She got him saddled and bridled and he got her in the leg with a front hoof once, then almost had a big wreck trying to climb out of the pen with her in the saddle. Ouch.
I'd had enough, so we went and explored the trade stands for a bit. I'm sad to report I bought nothing. There were a few good sales, but not on anything I needed badly enough to want to tote around the rest of the day. I was hoping to find Ginger a rainsheet. but I didn't see many on sale and her size had sold out the day before. We spent some time checking out trailers. I'm glad we did, because the one I had my eye on looks a tiny bit too small for Ginger in person. We found another one that is absolutely beautiful, but sadly a little over budget. We got the guys card though, because they do clear out the previous years models from time to time. G bought me a giant chunk of chocolate fudge as a consolation gift ;) The place was a zoo, and the food lineups were about an hour long, so we elected to pop out for a nice lunch. After a year and a half of living in different cities, I'm still finding it a bit of a novelty to just be able to have a spur of the moment lunch date with my sweetie.
When we returned, they had a welsh pony and cob demo! There was only one Sec D there, and he was a bit unruly and just being led around, but it was still neat to see another one in person. He was absolutely gorgeous - much more traditional conformation than Ginger so it was interesting for me to see the difference in person. He was impeccably groomed too - I wish I could get Ginger looking like that. I kind of wanted to take him home, even though I think he was scaring the audience a bit.
Following that, we saw a dressage demo which was fun and interesting, although very very basic since the audience seemed to be mostly new to dressage and just there to see what it's about. The clinician was Cesar Parra and I thought he did a good job keeping it simple for the newbies, but still adding a bit of useful advice for those who are a little more advanced. I sat and watched a hunter jumper clinic as well which was loads of fun - I just want to know how they make it look so EASY?
Following that, we popped back over to the Trainers Challenge since G was interested to see how the female trainer was going to make out in her second session. I was impressed with her because the first thing she talked about was how she was nervous about being in front of so many people and how she really played it wrong in the session before because she didn't want to get after her horse and have people think she was being mean to him. I have to respect that because I think we've all been there a bit at some point. She had a much better session with her horse, although there were still a few scary moments since he wasn't going to give up testing her quite that easily! I have to admire her toughness and 'just get it done' attitude, but it seemed like things didn't ever need to be so hard or confrontational. Mostly, I felt for the horse, who had really just had enough and needed a day or three to think things over a bit.
We stayed later for the little show they put on Saturday night, so we got to see some drill teams, liberty demos, breed demos, and even some trick riding. G saw some tricks he wants to teach Ginny :
Once again, we ended up with the worlds best hotel room - this one was more of an apartment and even had a big picture of a welsh pony on the living room wall! Come Sunday G wanted to head back to watch the finals of the trainers challenge but I was sort of burnt out on behalf of those poor horses. Its tough because he's genuinely interested and I want to encourage that and not be too negative - on the other hand I really feel those 3 day training things are unfair to the horses. I did want to see a clinic 'All About the Canter" with a local guy who is excellent. Canter is what Ginny and I need the most help with. We were still facing an 8 hour trip home, so in the end, we decided to call it a good weekend and head home a bit early so G could get to bed at a reasonable hour for work the next day.
I'm off now to check in on Ginny. The sun is shining and it looks to be a beautiful day for a ride.