Along for the Ride – WEG Preparation – August 19, 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.

As I was falling asleep last night, I heard a commotion in the barn.  It sounded like someone was cast.  Of course, when we got there, all 3 of the horses were looking at us like we were crazy people. I’m glad it was a false alarm!

Starting to do a daily digest this late in the game means that I haven’t shared some of our earlier hurdles.  Maybe I’ll throw those in when I think of them.

The first hurdle we had was from Bella.  When we decided to go for this WEG thing last fall, I had a younger horse Tom.  Our marketing department (Victoria Westphal) was here taking photos at our Labor Day Clinic last year and mentioned she was getting bored with her consistent and beautiful mare, Bella.  Victoria is pretty competitive so she wanted something a bit more challenging.  I half-heartedly said, “Well, we could trade”.  And then that flippant remark became serious and that is how we came to own Bella, a beautiful 8-year-old chestnut mare, royally reining bred, with mane to her knees.  I have to watch what I say around Victoria ;)

Bella arrived mid-October 2017 in the middle of our trip to New Zealand so I had the housesitter keep her in the barn with a small paddock.  She was barefoot in the front as she had been for ages.  The closest horse to her was Petey, who was living outside, within sight, but about 500 feet away from her.

We had already started the FEI Passporting process with Bella while she was at her old home in Washington.  The first thing is a microchip and a series of Flu shots.  So, she got her microchip and first flu shot there. Our vet came to our place while we were gone to complete the passport and second shot.  We were in a time crunch because the first qualifying show I wanted to go to was November 3, in Oklahoma City.

When we got home on October 24th, Bella looked lame.  Upon questioning the housesitter, she said that she had been pacing in the paddock.  So, we had the vet out to xray and do some injections and we put front shoes on her with pads.  We had a week before we would have to get her on a trailer to OKC because it’s a 3 day drive.  We were a bit limited to what we could and couldn’t do per FEI drug regulations so we just did what we could to stay within the confines of their rules.   As the days passed, Bella improved but the consensus was that she would not be ready in time to go to this first qualifying show.

It was a disappointment and a relief at the same time.  Because of the way that the qualification worked, we had to show 3 times and mark above a 70 twice.  Because I hadn’t even ridden her yet and Petey would have only had a week back on him after our trip, we were thinking that this qualifier would be our “free” one where we just needed a score.  But, neither Warwick and I liked this strategy – we both like to be more prepared – especially when you are travelling half way across the country to show.  This is the first time the universe stepped in for us.

We finally got Bellas feet sorted and she got used to being turned out in a paddock and the arena (it was winter so that is their winter turn out).  She even got to be turned out with Petey and Oscar.  They were fast friends.  We were told that Bella was a show horse who had been in a stall most of her life, so this was a big change for her.  She went to our first qualifier in January – more on that later.

So, that was our first course correction or switching to a Plan B.  It was the first but not the last.  I’ll mention those as we proceed.

Today is Sunday, August 19th and we both got to riding early.  Warwick has worked the arena up good enough to stop in it (as you saw by Petey’s picture yesterday).  I decided that I’d start getting Oscar to do some stopping since we are going to the show later this week and his muscles need to get back to that.  Because of his new shoes, we have to be careful that he doesn’t pull them off, so we use Duct and Electrical tape on his front hooves so that there is nothing to catch the back feet on the front feet.  I try not to use bell boots if I don’t have to.  None of our horses have a habit of overreaching so much that they hurt themselves and I’ve found that using them can sometimes cause scratches (I think some places it’s called greasy heal?), so I just try and stay away from them if I can help it.

We did lots of rectangles at the ends and got him anticipating a turn and not a run to the other fence.  I practiced getting him to stop from my 3 stop cues, individually, at the walk first.  The first is to say WHOA.  The second is to take my legs away from his sides and the third is to pick up on my reins.  Once I had those good at the walk, I progressed to the lope (he just needed a reminder and he was good so I skipped doing it from the jog).  I stopped him twice and he was good both times.  I got called a horse trainer again because his stop is different (better) than it used to be, according to Warwick.

Warwick worked on circles with Sherlock, including the slow down.  He looked very good today.  He also worked on spins and standing.  Also looked good.  They ended the day with a good ole lay down and roll.

Petey got a bit of a mental health day – Warwick had a migraine that was threatening so he just did some fun stuff with him today.

I did some shopping today – getting ready for the upcoming show and photo shoot for Horse & Rider.  Warwick got some new Ariat shirts from the Ariat outlet and I got a new pair of shoes. The horses got some grain J

Back home I did some home organizing.  I don’t know about you, but most of my house cleaning/organizing gets done right before people arrive!  Things I’ve been putting off like organizing the Linen cupboard or the kitchen cabinets.  Knowing that our housesitter will have to find stuff has me doing some last minute cleaning!

Warwick is ironing his shirts for tomorrow – I thank his mom Betty for this.  She irons everything – including sheets and undies and she does an excellent job.  I’ve never been able to iron as well as she does so Warwick does it himself – SCORE!!!!

Thanks for reading, more later.