The Long Road: Gearing up
Maegan Gossett packs up her horse, Elle, and their AQHA World Championship dreams and heads to boot camp at the trainer’s before their first qualifying show.
This past weekend was a huge turning point for Elle and I. Friday morning, we headed to our trainer’s for a three-day boot camp. I was nervous about the trip for a couple reasons. We had a lot to prove in addition to getting ready for our first show.
Elle stepped off the trailer looking like a million dollars (mainly because I used the wonderful tips from Shhh…Show Groom Secrets!) and acting like she was worth a million dollars. That’s right. The diva is back. In just a month, Elle has made such a wonderful turnaround. Her coat is insanely gorgeous. Her weight is almost back up to normal. Before when she was sick, I could barely lunge for 20 minutes. This weekend I was able to ride her for the length of our lessons while she stayed strong and trying.
Aside from her diva moments on Friday, this weekend I got to see the horse I know Elle to be. I saw the potential, the beauty, and the winning attitude I knew she had in her. I was so proud! Every step of the way, Elle was right there with me, working and trying hard to achieve this new level of training we are reaching towards. I couldn’t have asked for anymore. Except for maybe ignoring the neighbor’s donkey a little more on Friday.
We spent the weekend working on achieving the right cadence and rhythm at the canter without me having to hold Elle in the motion. Oh, self carriage, how you have eluded me. In AQHA, we use a lot of dressage ideals in the way we want our horses to go, but we prefer to have their heads low and stretched out with minimal contact on the bit. In addition to Elle’s frame, I had to fix almost everything about my position: my post (too thrusting), my position in the saddle (not in the middle), sinking down while stretching up, my head (too much bobbing), not hanging on the reins, and keeping my right shoulder back (I have no idea why that is a habit). It was a lot of hard work and I sweated off a few thankful pounds, but we learned so much. There truly isn’t a better feeling than knowing you learned something that will allow you to come out the next day and ride your horse better.
Now, we have six days to get ready for our first show of the season. Six days for me to fit into my hunt jacket… holy cow. And six days to show my trainer that I can make progress on my own. As of right now, I plan to show in the Hunter Under Saddle, which is a flat class judged solely on the horse, and Equitation, which is a pattern flat class judged on how well I do the pattern and my position. Currently, we have decided to wait on jumping Elle until we have her lead change down.
So next time you hear from me, I will have just finished the show. Hopefully all will go well, and our go’s will have made me proud. Fingers crossed! This is a big show for us. I hope to get Elle’s first AQHA point (we are awarded points according to the class size and our placing within the class. It’s a great way to assign value to a horse. Since I bought Elle as a three year old and she had never been shown, I will be the first person to put points on her record, which is pretty cool!). After all the setbacks, drama, and injuries, I think it is finally our time. Hopefully, we are ready!
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