Easter Weekend Show – Sunday


Saturday night I drank one glass of wine, had bread and cheese and about 5 bites of sorbet before I passed out at 10:30pm.  A good night’s sleep helps a lot, and I drove to the show early Sunday morning determined to have a better attitude.

Of course, that better attitude didn’t include being nervous for my first ever medal class.


The 2’6″ Medal runs first thing with no warm-up.  I could have gotten up super early to school the fences before the show started (a lot of people chose to do this), but my trainer didn’t think it was necessary and since she held my hand the entire weekend I pretty much try to do what she says.  We had to switch warm-up rings from the day before, and Simon was really really nervous in the new place.  Add giant puddles on each side of the fence from an over zealous water truck, plus a really  nervous Lauren and we headed to the show ring both on edge.


When Simon’s on edge, he chews his tongue, chomps the bit, stomps, won’t stand still, etc.  When I’m on edge, I get aggravated at Simon.  Waiting by the in-gate he started pawing, and I lost my temper and popped him on the shoulder.  Not hard mind you, but it wasn’t fair to him either.  My trainer quickly jumped on me and said that was no way to calm my horse down.


I sheepishly said she was right, and ignored him instead.  Of course she had him settled down in a few minutes with this magic bit trick she does.  He loves it.  He melts into a puddle when she calms him down that way, so I ignored him and took some deep breaths to calm myself.  Going into the ring for the medal, my goal was to not loose my temper and ride better than the day before.


I started off with the wrong lead.  Deep breath, fix it, don’t panic.

Then I had a close one to the first fence.  Still not the end of the world.

Then I chipped an add in the only line of the course.  Okay, at least there are no more lines right?


Then I turned it around and rocked a tight rollback to a touch bending line.  Okay, so it wasn’t a perfect medal but I started bad and ended better.  I also got to breathe a big sigh of relief and relax because the rest of the day I felt no pressure.  As my trainer and I agreed, we like calm Lauren better than nervous Lauren.


After a break, we warmed up again for the remainder of my classes.  One 2’3″ schooling hunter, and three 2’6″ classes.  Simon warmed up completely relax, my show nerves were totally gone and I felt like a rock star carrying a nice pace through the warmup and getting some really solid jumps from him. Also, please note that while waiting I told my trainer and a barnmate nearby that the jumps looked tiny.  Tiny!  Tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiny!  Who am I?  Where has Lauren gone?


Our first course, 2’3″ Schooling, was probably the best of the day.  I came in a little strong on the five stride coming home by the judge, but the diagonal line was quite pretty.  The big flaw was not getting our lead change in the hind, so we cross-cantered the last fence.  Still I was pretty pleased with my Simon pony and myself.


Green 2’6″ hunter wasn’t nearly as nice. Simon was getting a little more nervous and building in speed, and this course started our Sunday series of lead change issues. We got the outside five very easily, but cross cantered to the diagonal and three legged jumped in and then chipped out. Not pretty.


In the 2’6″ modified equitation he was really started to get anxious, and I have a hard time riding him at this pace/height when he’s not relaxed. When he’s nervous he looks to root his head down, and my tendency is to try to pick him up with my hands instead of just using my core/seat to pick him up. We had more trailing lead changes, not enough in the diagonal, and I got frustrated and see-sawed him a bit too much a bit too close to once fence. It wasn’t a disaster, but it definitely wasn’t a great course.


For our last 2’6″ hunter course, my trainer told me to do my best to ignore his anxiousness and that it didn’t look as bad as it felt. I aimed to do better with sitting up, and less with my hands. By that time Simon had decided he didn’t really need to do lead changes anymore, and cross-cantered and swapped the entire course. I did much better not fighting with him, but by the end I was really frustrated with the whole lead changes thing. When he landed wrong before our final courtesy circle, I sat up and pony kicked my outside leg while looking the direction that my trainer told me to for the lead (so my body would stay up and not look down) and low and behold… beautiful lead change. If you watch nothing else of this video (we lose the diagonal line but it wasn’t pretty so you didn’t miss much) fast forward to 1:10 to see my best lead change ever.

That concluded my Sunday, and though there were no ribbons or loud woots of amazement… it really did go a lot better than Saturday.  The goals that I wrote for the show were:

  • Not be so nervous – With the exception of the 2’6″ medal, my nerves were very much under control!
  • Get at least one course where we get the strides every time – This happened twice if you include the galloping course ;)
  • Complete an equitation class without majorly eating it on a distance — Not so much!
  • Remember to count! – In counting we trust


Overall, it really was a great learning experience and we certainly could have done a lot worse with this new division and way of go.  Yes, I was disappointed that I have no satin pictures to share with y’all… but when I mentioned to my trainer that I was a tad frustrated her reply was basically that we could maybe be frustrated if this was our 10th show doing this, but it was the first!


And you know, she’s right.  I know all the elements are there… I just have to put them together.  It is going to take more than another few lessons or another few shows, but I think it’ll happen.  If it doesn’t?  That jumper ring is looking mighty tempting…

If nothing else, I will have shadbelly pictures to share with you soon because it’s hunter derby time this weekend folks!

Easter Weekend Show – Saturday


I know my instagram was suspiciously quiet over the weekend and I’m sure lots of folks are looking for a show update.  I’ll write one post for each day, but if you are looking for the overall synopsis here goes:

I came into this show with a lot of hope (read: unrealistic expectations) and I’m a very passionate person (read: extremely competitive).  My horse and I stepped up a division and went from doing the adds to doing the strides, and there was some struggling.  With 15-20 horses in each of my classes (19+ was double pinned), this show became a learning curve instead of a ‘yay ribbons’ show and it took me a day to mentally adjust to that.  But let’s start with Saturday.

The previous day schooling, my trainer and I made a game plan to go for broke and do the horse strides with no adding for the first time ever in a show.  When I hesitated and asked her if it would be better to add since I knew I could do it (red flag number one of my unrealistic expectations ribbon wise, ha) she said I would have a better chance of placing if I did the strides.  Plus it’d be better for Simon and our progress showing.  We knew that some of the strides would require a good gallop to get them, and in schooling my trainer said “I want to have to tell you to go slower!” because I just didn’t have enough pace time and again.  Remember this piece of instruction for later… :)


Saturday morning started off with probably the high point of the weekend.  We walked in to the 2’3″ warm-up with the plan of adding to start, but being okay with a very close add/chip.  That way I could feel how much more I needed for my next course.  The first line we chipped, but after that I heard my trainer say “just do the stride!” and it was awesome.  I came out of the ring with a HUGE grin on my face and said, “Simon turned on his inner show horse!”



He really did too – changes, good jumps.  I had this huge burst of excitement for the rest of the show.  The video is a bit far away, but you can see some of the awesomeness after the chip in our 1st line.

After that, things got a little special.  I went into my next round feeling super confident, and determined to not chip in any adds.  The result?


We may or may not have galloped.


I told my trainer coming out that she diiiiiiiiid say she wanted to have to ask us to slow down!  Mission accomplished.  If you watch the video, her comments are kind of hilarious (and true).

After the galloping steeplechase course, we had an hour plus to wait until our 2’6″ class.  Usually waiting is really good for Simon, and when I got back on I had a super relaxed horse… which is great!  We are always trying to find a happy, relaxed mental state for him at shows.  He’s not a dangerous, crazy Thoroughbred… but he does get very anxious and it makes him harder to ride.  When I trotted into the ring for my 2’6″ hunter, there was nothing but calm, lovely horse.


Actually, a little too calm.  See from the mornings “this pace is perfect” and then “this pace is too fast” I was really determined to find the perfect pace for my 2’6″ hunter and re-create that golden feeling from my warm-up round.  But since this was both me and my horse’s first show at 2’6″ and first show doing the strides that didn’t go so well.

I don’t have video, but imagine me going to slow and chipping into every single and adding a bad chip in every line.  Throw in some cross cantering amazingness too, and it was just oh so fugly.


And I came out of the ring oh so disappointed.

Disappointed in myself for not riding better, and honestly disappointed in Simon for not being “there” yet.  The critique of my horse was not fair at all.  I didn’t take it out on him, but usually I shower him with love after every ride and honestly at that moment I just felt a bit jealous of all the 2’6″ packers in my division with years of show experience and fancy breeding.  I’m not proud to say that, but it’s true and it’s exactly how I was feeling.

I spent the rest of the afternoon giving myself a hard time and feeling discouraged.  Looking back, I was so overly hard on myself and my horse.  I understand that now, but on Saturday afternoon I wasn’t mature adult Lauren but instead 14 y/o child Lauren who just spent a lot of time and money for an exciting weekend only to feel quite let down.


Won’t dwell on my gloom and doom any longer, because I’m putting it past me now… but in the interest of honesty and chronicling our journey it’s written here.  I spent the rest of my Saturday afternoon eating my feelings (grilled cheese with bacon, yes please) and photographing our jumper riders who did awesome.

Spoiler alert for Sunday – there are no amazing ribbons or redemption awards, but I did have a much better attitude and continued to learn a lot.  More pictures and video tomorrow!