I finally have a minute to post about Lenny’s Derby Debut at the Amwell Valley Hounds Hunter Derby Show held on October 28 at The Ridge at Riverview. It was a beautiful day and after spending the morning watching Anna and Burntwood take home 2nd place in the Low Derby, it was Lenny’s time in the ring in the Medium Derby.
The focus for the day was keeping him calm & focused while maintaining rhythm throughout the rounds to give him confidence in a new and exciting environment. While there is lots of room for improvement, I’m very happy with this horse. He is honest and kind and tries so hard to please. I was pleasantly surprised to be in the ribbons, placing 8th out of a field of 12 that moved to the handy round and extra happy I got to wear my beautiful shadbelly that’s been hanging in a closet for 20 years.
Lenny started his warm up feeling very unsettled by the amount of activity all around him. We took our time and let him soak it in while keeping his feet moving, letting him stand when he wanted and getting out of the warm up before it got too chaotic.
He stood mostly quiet at the ingate area before his first round. I was happy with our first round - it was a lot to look at and take in and while he got a bit strong, it was nothing I couldn’t manage and he was doing his best to listen. As soon as we finished that round, he completely changed. He settled and it was like he realized he wasn’t there to run… he was there to jump. I could feel him start to relax under me. He stood quietly on a loopy rein the rest of the time between our rounds.
For a horse that ran 90 times in his career on the track, it’s understandable that it’s going to take time for him to achieve relaxation at events. While he’s been off the track and with us for three years, he hasn’t been to that many shows. Lenny is a special kind of horse and I'm in no rush. I want him to be the best that he can be and while I may have certain goals I want to achieve, if I have to alter them because he isn't ready, so be it.
I read this post recently on social media, "Takes a full year to get one broke, it takes two years to train one to a discipline, it takes another 3-5 years to season one and it takes 10 years to truly finish one. Training a horse is not a weekend endeavor." I am not sure who said that originally but I saw that quote posted by a few horse folk…You can pay for the young horse and pay for the training… or you can pay more for the finished horse. In the end, it’s all the same, just depends on ‘how’ you want it. Trust the process”. I understand that the process for me may take longer because of our busy life and my many other responsibilities. Because of this, I try to put quality work into the horses each time I'm with them because I often don't have the quantity of rides that many other people can put in during a week.
Being aware of the time that it takes to produce a horse also makes me choosy about what we do with our horses and where we ride them. If I break a horse, I have to start over with a new one, likely one right from the track. I can't afford to go out and buy one that is made or even started in training - even green ones are expensive. I realize horses get hurt. Sometimes you have no control over this but I try to stack the cards in my horse's favor when and where I can.
I try to always remember to trust the process and to stay grounded in a place that puts the needs of each individual horse first. Horses take a lot of time and I'm doing the best I can with the amount of time I can dedicate to the care and training of them. When I got back into riding after a 15 year break, the goal was to have fun. Keeping my horses happy and having fun with them is what matters most.