Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Thewifedoesntknow Training Blog: Week 11, in which Ally-Gator goes to a Horse Show

Part 12 in a weekly series of training blogs about Thewifedoesntknow, a Thoroughbred mare made famous by a viral YouTube video and who is now in training to be a show hunter with New Jersey-based trainer Carole Davison.
I sometimes hear a little sadness in Carole Davison's voice when she talks about her star trainee, Thewifedoesntknow (aka Ally-Gator). She loves every new training milestone that she and Ally reach together, but the mare is now officially offered for sale. That means that as Ally becomes more and more polished, she is closer to finding a new home as a show horse. 

This week, Carole and Ally reached another important step in her training; Carole hauled her to a horse show for a schooling session.  

Adorned in shipping boots and halter fleece, Ally-Gator loaded up onto the trailer like a star. The weather was cool enough to let Ally look around and eat some hay at the show in her trailer before she was unloaded. This time in the trailer allowed Ally to see her surroundings- it is important for horses to learn how to relax and eat at shows.  
 After a smooth unloading from the trailer, Carole walked Ally around the parking area and let her get a feel for the new environment. They hand walked around the schooling area after spending a few minutes in the parking area. In the beginning of the day, Ally looked more like a racehorse than a hunter. She was alert, on the muscle, and ready to go. Carole's challenge as a trainer was to show Ally how to conduct herself at a show. Carole did this by letting her have a pick of grass from time to time, and keeping her engaged. She let her look around, but she also kept her mind occupied. Through this photo series, you can see how Ally's body language changes as she learns about her new surroundings.
 Once Ally was tacked up, Carole walked her around for a while, working on a large circle. Since there was no fence or railing where they schooled, Carole had to work hard to keep the mare on the aids. Ally was a little wiggly out in the open with no rail.
 With all the hustle and bustle of the show, Ally had a lot to take in. Carole worked the mare into their regular schooling routine like they do at home, and Ally settled into her work. The photo above and the photo below are good examples of Ally in the beginning of the session, and then later in the session, when she relaxed her topline and refocused on her work.
 Good girl!
 By the time they began their canter work, Ally was able to step into her usual rhythmic, rolling canter.

 They ventured to the schooling ring just outside the show ring. Horses passed by, trucks hummed down the road, and the announcer blared on the speaker. Ally listened and observed, but was obedient in the hands of her trainer.

While I watched Carole work with Ally, I thought about how the mare gained confidence from her trainer. She took her cues from Carole, and I saw her settle nicely into her work, although she was unsure of her surroundings.
Back at the trailer, Ally was cooled out, untacked, and loaded up to head back home. Carole's daughter Liz helped with tack and preparation, and like Carole, was very pleased with Ally's progress. It was a successful outing, and an important milestone in the mare's training.

No comments: