Along for the Ride: WEG Prep – the start of a daily journal – Aug 15-16, 2018

by Robyn Schiller

Robyn is the wife of horse (and people) trainer Warwick Schiller. She invites you to join her as she journeys through her life as trainer’s wife, mother, businesswoman and nationally competitive rider.

T-minus 16 days until the horses leave on the trailer for Kentucky and then North Carolina. I thought I’d start recording our activity leading up to the World Equestrian Games – if you haven’t already heard, Warwick and I are part of the 2018 Australian Reining Team.  Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi

It is August 15th (a month until the individual finals – which we hope we make and 27 days until we show in the team event).  I’ll give some background and then the daily stuff will follow.

Warwick has been riding both Petey and Sherlock.  If you haven’t already heard, at the beginning of July, Petey had a bit of a strain in his medial collateral ligament in his front foot.  He had most of July off and we treated him with Shockwave, new shoes and rest.  We have been bringing him back slowly to see if he will be ready to go.  But in the meantime, we needed a back up plan – enter Sherlock.

Warwick called a few different people to see about borrowing horses, in the case that Petey didn’t heal.  They were all taken, so I suggested that we had a perfectly good horse in the pasture and maybe it was time to see if all his work on Sherlock’s mental state had paid off.  I thought it was a bit of a stretch, but I did show him all of 2016 and ended up 3rd in the world in one division, so if his mental state was better, then why not?  Important to note that when Warwick started riding him in mid-July, he hadn’t been ridden since December 3, 2016.

Background on Oscar – who is a pretty cool dude.  He was trained by a non-pro, showed by her daughter and then purchased by another youth who kept him in training with Chuy Chavez (who used to work for Warwick and took over when Warwick stopped training for the public.)  When we first got him, the plan was just to use him to qualify on, not actually take to WEG.  But after going through the process, showing him some and figuring him out, we decided that he was going to be my horse for WEG.  There is something to be said for taking a horse that you know and that you have care and control of.  The regulations of competing at this event are insane and I can’t imagine trying to liaison with 2 different owners if we had borrowed horses.

Anyway, we had not really tried to change anything with Oscar because we figured he was good enough the way he was.  However, with the new decision that we were going to take him to North Carolina, we did start doing some work on his body parts – trying to get them more supple and get him to use himself a little better.  It has been working great and Warwick even called me a Horse Trainer at one point because he has changed so much.

Anyway, in the past, Oscar has been known to do a few things in the show pen that concern me (all horses have SOMETHING or THINGS that aren’t exactly what we want in the show pen).  The first is that he has been known to turn the corner (kind of like a barrel racer) and bolt to his stop.  He does this in anticipation of the stop – Oscar is easy to train because he wants to be good (hence the Horse Trainer title I was given).  Anticipation is pretty much his only problem, it just shows up in different ways.

I have fixed the bolt, but have created the opposite problem – now he doesn’t want to run to the stop.  He also doesn’t want to steer good around the corner to get running to the stop (it’s the same problem we had – barrel racing corners).

So, Last week, we were able to ride with NRHA Million Dollar rider Mike McEntire for 2 days at Chuy’s and we both learned some valuable exercises to incorporate into our preparation.

Mike had me doing some rectangles at the end of the arena to work on the steering and create anticipation – so when I turn the corner, Oscar thinks he is going to turn again, so we will be able to make the turn easier.  Then I can work on the run.

Warwick only took Sherlock to the clinic with Mike, leaving Petey at home (we know Petey pretty well and are confident in how to prepare him).  As I said earlier, all horses have SOMETHING that we have to work on or that is “their thing” in the show arena that we prepare harder for.  Sherlock was always my “box of chocolates” horse though.  I called him that after the line in Forrest Gump – “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get.”  I never knew what would come out in the show pen but I’m pretty sure he’s thrown just about everything at me in the show pen that he would throw at Warwick, so we can prepare for those.

The first thing is that he had a hard time standing still between spins.  The rabbits would jump out of his worry cup and cause him to move around which would take away from our score.  The other thing was that he would get tight when running circles and to his stops.  Another manifestation of rabbit build up.  In circles, this caused him to sometimes come “out of lead” which is a penalty and in stops it would cause him to lean on his way to the stop which messed the stop up – this reduced our score.

Mike had Warwick really work on the “standing still” bit.  Warwick has done a lot of it, but maybe not quite enough.  Mike had Warwick stick with it and it worked!  He got a lot weirder than ever but then came out the other side of it.  We could do the standing still Olympics now with Sherlock even in between turns!

Mike also identified the tightness in the running as a problem with his shoulder.  Warwick has been working on this and he has been improving every day.

Ok, now I’ll catch you up on the last 2 days and start fresh tomorrow.

August 15th –  We rode early because Hidez West was going to come and fit the boys with their compression suits. They are sponsoring the suits for us to use from now until WEG (and thereafter – they are designing personalized suits for us).

Oscar and I did a lot of rectangles and steering exercises.

Warwick and Petey did a lot of addressing one sticky spot in his go forward.  Same with Sherlock.    I don’t think anyone would know we were reiners if they watched us today – not a lot of actual reining going on in the arena.

Pam Rosen came and showed us how to put the Hidez compression suits on – they make the horses look like superheroes.  The compression in these suits enhances blood flow, promotes oxygen availability to muscles, speeds up removal of waste products from the bloodstream, reduces delayed onset muscle soreness, and speeds up recovery time.  There is a body/leg combo, a neck and hood as well as ice boots.

We kept Oscar and Sherlock in them overnight.  I’d be lying if I said I didn’t worry that we’d wake up to bits and pieces of suits all over the place, but they were in tact and just a little dirty – so I’m glad they laid down with them.   We keep the 3 horses in at night under lights and they get to go outside during the day.

August 16th – Warwick and I have been doing Crossfit for a month and we got up early to go to class.  As usual, what looked like it would be easy, was so not easy!  Kicked our booties.

We came home and rode before it got too hot.  Today I worked a lot on left to right lead changes because Oscar has a bit of a problem with this (although never in the show pen).  I think I might have drilled a little too long on this today and needed Warwick to help out.  Oscar had a few rabbits today – which normally doesn’t happen.  We’ll see how he is tomorrow.

Warwick did some stopping on Sherlock today – his running is getting more loose and free.  He had me jump on so he could watch and I did one stop – it was about 40 feet long – good boy Sherlock.

Warwick also rode Petey and said he was good.  The decision on who to take is not going to be easy.

We are now awaiting the shoer for Oscar.  In lead up to the games, we have to ensure they are the most comfortable and sound that they can be (not that we don’t always, but when you have to pass a vet inspection before you show it is more important).  Oscar has one front foot that, upon xray, show the joint spaces as being a little tight so we are going to raise his angles up a bit more so he is even more comfortable.  He is not off or lame in any way, but we want to make sure it stays that way.

Today is also Adequan injection day.  We are doing Adequan every 4 days and Legend every week.  The combination of these two ensure that the horses joints stay as lubricated as possible.

They are all getting a Bemer treatment and Sherlock got some ice today because he did some stopping which he hasn’t been doing much of lately.

More tomorrow!