The Arena Bound Amateur | Lead Changes, Late Nights and a Rainy Saturday Show

Photo: Satin and I smile in victory

I loped Satin off in a left lead, moving in the right direction. I have found in the past if a horse is having trouble anticipating lead changes, by putting them in a counter canter circle, horses have a tendency to change more easily than on a straight line.
She knew what I wanted and her black tail started to swish ferociously behind the saddle. I’m sure her intentions were to use it as a weapon if she could have reached my legs.
Regardless of the lack of love flowing through her veins, I pushed her body to the left as we loped to the right, waiting for her to soften through my hands and legs so I could “scissor” and ask the cue. The first “switch” wasn’t pretty. The second attempt was a dream. I broke her down to a walk, patted her neck, performed a victory dance, and then headed to the barn.
One lead change. One CLEAN lead change.
I’ve been working toward that one moment for over a year.
Satin (Lean On Black Satin) was born on Aitken Acres eleven years ago by my family’s stallion Lean On Fritz (Lean With Me x Miss Fritzie Bug) and a beautiful foundation mare named Skips Satin Barbie.
We sold Satin as a baby and over the years I watched her in the show pen with various owners, all the while wishing I was in the saddle with her.
In the fall of 2016, I finally got to find out firsthand that she was as smooth as she looked from the stands when my family bought her back when her former owner put her up for sale because she was moving to college.
For the past year and a half, Satin and I have spent many days together, figuring out each other at home and in the show pen.
From the moment I swing into the saddle to the time I dismount, her ears are glued to me. She is one of the hardest working, most athletic horses I have had the privilege of riding, but one maneuver eluded us. The lead change. I had noticed through the years that this one maneuver always challenged her, and often times, she would end up cross firing before finally matching her lead.
Last summer I tried every trick in the book I could think of from diagonal lead changes, breaking her down to simple changes, and I even visited the trainer who had her in the barn for years. Although he could do the trick, getting a clean lead change was something that seemed impossible for us as a pair.
I decided in January that 2018 was THE year. Even if getting a clean lead change took us 365 days, it was something we were going to achieve.
On Wednesday night after loping her for a while, mainly working on softening her face and picking her shoulders up in straight line turns, I told my husband, Cody that I was, “just going to give a lead change a try.” And boy am I glad I did.
That ONE CLEAN LEAD CHANGE is just a start to the rest of our journey. We have countless nights ahead of us working two-handed, in a counter canter circle, which will ultimately need to transition into one-handed straight line changes, but I finally know we can get there. And I can’t wait.

Photo: Cody and I riding Satin and Comrade

I haven’t had a chance to try anymore lead changes since that GREAT moment. Cody and I have been putting in some LATE nights after working during the day and riding other horses at night, plus inviting a few ladies to ride with us to get ready for the show we had on Saturday.
Thank goodness Cody and I are both cereal fans because when you get to the house after 10 pm, standing over a stove is not one of my top ten. A cowgirl can only do so much.

Upper Photo: Family friend, Joyce McCartney and Paris

Below Photo: Family friend, Teryl Spencer and Chester

Regardless of the evitable late nights, it was so exciting to see those ladies’ faces when the light bulb moment dawned and even better seeing them succeed at the show on Saturday.
We hauled four horses over two hours to the Westark Horse Show Association show. Sounds fun, and relatively easy, right?
Forecast = Rain
We planned ahead and packed extra clothes and even tied the horses on some railing on the side of the covered arena. However, our little hot engine horses FELT the weather and were revved up and ready to roll. As Cody drove the truck and trailer back home while I was dozing in the passenger seat, we determined the day full of really good moments, and some not so good moments. But that’s okay! We were proud of our Jake, Satin (we did a simple lead change in the Ranch Riding and managed a 1st and 2nd split with Cody and Jake), Miss Shiney and even Comrade who made his debut of the year with Shelby Ridgway in the saddle.
With rainy weather hopefully behind us, and the lead changes and more late nights ahead of us its deadline week for Show Horse Today (check them out and make sure to read my articles) and Arkansas FFA State Convention this week so I’ll be making my workspace at the Hot Springs Convention Center and as a bonus I’m headed to Texas this weekend. Make sure to keep up with my week on Instagram @thearenaboundamateur and on and tune in for next week’s installation.
Until then, keep riding, keep smiling.
Come on, I’ll meet you at the back gate!


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