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I Take It Back: Casey & Alvie

“That’s how we end up with new projects. I think we forget the challenges and just remember the good times…”

If you guys have read any of my previous blog posts, I always talk about how my Alive makes me think outside the box. Well you’ll be happy to know he is still living up to his name!

Up until this horse, I really thought that I had a game plan for training barrel horses. I feel as though the method that I was taught and have used has been quite effective for a variety of horses for several years… up until Alvie. Of course, I’m not surprised. We are only in the beginning stages of barrel training (at an extremely slow pace), but he’s quickly showing me that my tried-and-true methods are, yet again, not as reliable as I thought. So, as we are riding, I literally stop and scratch my helmet and say, “Hang on a second. Let’s think about this for a moment.”

Back before barrel racing had its own bloodlines like it does today, prospects for the sport were typically Quarter Horses that had been racehorses or ranch horses. Where did we get our racing Quarter Horses from? Anyone know where I’m going with this yet? I’ll give you a hint – they have a very strong Thoroughbred lineage! It occurred to me in an epiphany that I am riding today’s prototypical version of our modern-day barrel racing bloodline. I think this is extremely fascinating!

Keeping that in mind, I started to think about what training techniques were popular as these bloodlines were being developed. Now during our rides I’ve started to channel my inner 1990’s trainer, and that approach seems to be more along the lines of what works for him. All that really consists of is doing things in a much simpler fashion. I’m letting him choose his route and go through the motions, rather than focusing so much on form and correctness. I let him figure some things out instead of doing it for him.

Photo by Casey French

This is my first year to apply as a trainer for the TB Makeover. I am so proud of myself for doing so!  Not only have I found a horse that seems to be a great match, but also I’ve met some knowledgeable people, and stepped completely outside my comfort zone. Awesome Choice, aka “Alvie,” is a horse that my husband and I have been able to work on as a team in many aspects. I will be forever grateful for the help he has given me during this process. It’s been difficult at times because you want and need to take things slow. You keep telling yourself you have plenty of time, everyone else keeps telling you that there’s plenty of time… but in reality, there is never enough time! Even when there is, there isn’t. We are now in June and to me this is getting down to crunch time. The weather is warm, and there are shows all around. Time to get the party started and let the hauling begin!

A couple weeks ago we started making it a habit to take Alvie with us no matter what. Even if that meant he didn’t get ridden that day, he still was loaded and went to see the sights. There are parts that he handles like a seasoned veteran and parts where I really feel like we are both on the front row seat of the struggle bus. I have found that he seems quite calm and confident outdoors, whereas indoors it seems as though he may never have been ridden in his life! (Mainly at shows when the lights and music are on). So now that we ride well at home, it seems that we will be starting over and learning to ride well at the show. I really had forgotten this part of training and seasoning young horses. I feel like I am in the area where you remember why it was that you hadn’t had a young horse in a while That’s how we end up with new projects. I think we forget the challenges and just remember the good times, and you get sucked back in to starting over again! Haha!

Photo by Casey French

The Makeover is something that is so new and pure to me. It’s my maiden voyage on uncharted waters. I have no expectations – I am just a fresh-faced newbie that dove in hoping that I’ll have the underdog story of a lifetime to tell. Because who doesn’t love a good underdog story? Who doesn’t love a story that ends with the popular opinion being proven wrong? I have been told many times that “a Thoroughbred can’t compete with the barrel racing horses of today. They are too big and lanky to turn quickly, not enough quick speed.” The list goes on. But when I hear those things, I know in my mind that could be any horse. Not “just a Thoroughbred.”  I didn’t buy this horse just because I wanted to compete on him at this year’s Makeover; I bought him because he really fits the bill of what a barrel horse should look like in my opinion. It was a long term decision for me. It may take us some time to get to the desired goal, but this guy is made to do the job. So here’s to breaking the mold, that really was broken years ago and went virtually unrecognized!

Photo by Casey French

 

 

 

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