When we last left 14 y/o me, I was high on horse show success from copying a girl from a lesson factory barn and thus winning a yellow ribbon in mare halter – rock on me! This taught me a
valuable terrible lesson early on in my show career – you should change your tactic at the horse show right before or in the middle of your class. New skills and horse training can be done in the middle of the course… I don’t know why it wasn’t so obvious before!
After halter, we had enough time to tack up and do a quick warm up before the over fences classes – the first of which was hunter hack. Hunter hack is a remarkably simple class and pretty impossible to mess up. For those of you who don’t know how it runs: first everyone is called into the ring one at a time to jump one line of two fences, and then they call the best of the jumping riders back in for a flat phase that runs like a normal flat class.
Even though I had no concept of a) leads b) distances or c) striding, I was somehow called back for the flat class. I attribute this to my horse actually being saintly over fences, even though by around this time I had convinced myself that she was practically a fire breathing dragon of galloping speed. You see, because all the other horses looked like they were going slow, I decided that we were going too fast and I should choose this as an appropriate time to hang on my horse’s mouth in an attempt to slow her down.
I was executing this hang on mouth hope for slowness expertly during the flat phase of the hunter hack. We trotted OK, cantered quickly (in my minds a FURIOUS SPEEDY ANGRY GALLOP OF DEATH) and by the time they called for the second direction Lydia had decided that if all I did was hang on her and perch in the saddle, then she’d just canter on as she pleased. Even with all this going on, things were going pretty well until they asked us to walk and line up. I couldn’t get her to walk immediately after they announced for the line up, so I used the rail as a stopping point. I shoved her in the corner, hauled on her face and spun her around to halt.
There was a dust cloud around us.
To this day I feel bad about that downward transition… and needless to say, we did not get a ribbon in Hunter Hack.