As I mentioned in my Simon haiku updates, I decided to take Simon to a last minute one day schooling show at our local show facility. Normally in November we trek up to Waco for the big year end show with our local show circuit, but this year that seemed like a huge expense to undertake when I didn’t feel prepared. Also if I’m being honest, I haven’t felt very much into the jumpers lately. I think it’s due to a combination of being perpetually life tired and not riding very consistently, but I didn’t think I had it in me to get around a course of 2’9″ jumps competitively this year. Not wanting to repeat the walk of shame that I went through in 2014, I decided a local hunter show was right up our alley to end the year.
This show series is run by the same people who do the regular local series we do, but these schooling shows are designed for a less polished competitor. That doesn’t meant there aren’t nice horses and great riders, but it’s a perfect place for greenies or in my case… hunters with sketchy lead changes. I signed up for the 2’6″ Open Hunters and 2’6″ Adult Equitation divisions, and decided to be so relaxed about the show that I didn’t even bother to grab my camera. The goal was to get Simon off the property for a field trip, and give me something fun to look forward to.
We arrived at 7:30am to school since the show started at a lovely 9:30am. He hopped off the trailer with a slightly wild sparkle in his eye, so I threw him on the lunge line. There were no silly antics, just a horse that was alert and happy to be somewhere other than the farm. When I schooled, he was super prancy and happy about everything. Simon is remarkably fun to ride when he’s in that kind of mood, so we cantered over the jumps in the warmup ring at 2′ to get him over everything. Of course he didn’t care, and I asked my trainer to set a line to a solid 2’6″ so I could get a feel. We nailed the four strides at the height, and called schooling a success.
As for our actual classes, they were definitely our best showing ever in the hunters. I did this crazy thing called “sitting up and counting my rhythm” which made my distances to the first two singles of our warm-up course quite nice. Then when we turned for the diagonal line, Simon got really lost for some reason. He zig zagged and we almost had a runout, but at the last minute I was like “Hey friend… we kind of need to jump this oxer,” and he replied “Oh whoops yes mom of course!” and hopped over it. A bobble for sure, but that’s what warm-up courses are for.
Our equitation round went nicely, minus adding in the same diagonal line that he got lost at earlier. We never landed on our left lead, but he did a skip change for me with a medium level of resistance. He listened well in the corners even though we got zoomy from time to time. Simon kind of goes around the hunters sometimes like, “Viva la resistance!” The courtesy circle at the end of my eq round was more a battle of wills than the calm sitting trot I had planned, but I liked the actual course a lot.
First hunter also went well. We didn’t add in any of the lines that time, and got decent distances. One of our skip changes was super late with some expressive faces. He’s gotten used to calling the shots and me hanging on for dear life in the jumper ring, so having a relaxed show in the hunters where I insisted he listened was really good for us.
As I trotted out for my second hunter and final course, my trainer called out to me, “Take your time and make it pretty!” So naturally, we scooted off to the first single and Simon ran through the distance for an ugly chip. I mean, really ugly… right in front of the judge ugly. Fortunately, the rest of the course was pretty good. We got deep into the outside line, but I actually added leg to make up for it and he still made the stride.
I didn’t sign up for the hunter under saddle, because even though Simon is my most favorite horse ever… I hate flatting him. Things I enjoy more than flatting Simon at a show include going to the dentist, three-hour-long work meetings and being stuck in traffic. Because of my tendency to get super frustrated with him in under saddle classes, I decided to scratch my Adult Equitation under saddle before they announced the ribbons. I closed out at the office, and started packing up the trailer to go home.
Turns out I got 2nd in the Adult Eq (out of 4) and 6th in Open Hunter I (out of 10ish?). I also somehow ended up 5th in the TSSA year end awards for Adult Equitation, but didn’t find this out until I left the show… so no big ribbon to swoon over yet. If I had hacked, I probably would have gotten a tri-color in the adult eq and maybe a higher year end award (this must not be a very popular division). So this is a lesson to me to listen to my trainer and don’t scratch the under saddle in small divisions!
My mistake scratching or not, it was great to end the year on a good note. We need to work on some things for sure, but I felt like I wasn’t a failure at the hunters. For once our pace was really good and quite consistent throughout our courses, and I sat in the driver’s seat instead of a scared passenger. It was the perfect confidence boosting show I needed to end the year on a fun and relaxed note!