This post may be kind of boring, because it will most likely contain less of the usual flair or introspection. I want to be detailed so I can look back and remember just how these classes went at the show, so I can track our improvement and progress in the future! That being said, let’s go through the classes we entered – the 2’0″ Beginner Hunter and 2’0″ Beginner Equitation division.
In the morning, I lunged Simon for maybe 20 minutes tops. He was his normal self for the most part – a bit looky but by the end of the lunging session he was trotting long and low. Looking back, I think I need to get him a bit more tired with lunging. More cantering and closer to 30 minutes overall instead of 15-20. He tends to fool me on the lunge line, because he is not the kind of horse that will play on the lunge line or run around like a moron… even if he is feeling up.
That being said, he was pretty amped when I got on to school. I think part of this is due to his really nice level of fitness, but I definitely had a lot more horse than I am used to – even at horse shows. We did some WTC in the ring that we would be showing in, and my trainer came to school us over fences. Trotted some first, with one big over jump that surprised me but otherwise nothing to write home about. He jumped everything without batting an eye, and listened to me when I asked for the whoa and the go – so she said to be done on that and we went back to the trailer.
Hosed him off and got him settled, and went to register for my classes. There were 14 in my division, which I was a little bummed about – a few more and I think they would have split it. Oh well!
A few hours later it was time to get back on. They were running the hacks first, which I worry about because a) Simon is not great in hack classes and b) it’s a tiny ring and they don’t take the jumps down. With a rapid walk/trot warm-up and popping over a small crossrail at the canter – we headed into the ring for the under saddle.
Beginner Hunter Under Saddle
It was special. Let me elaborate – it was super special. 14 horses (half ponies) in a small ring without taking the jumps down on the rail makes for a special flat class. My trainer said it best, “He is so confused as to why he is not allowed to win this race!” Very true. So he was hot/amped/anxious the whole time, and I had to ride with super short reins and a lot more hands than I normally would. To be fair to him, usually when he’s up like this I like to let him trot it out and use more seat/body to slow him down, but I wasn’t able to do that with so many horses in the class (all of which he was going faster than) and without him breaking into the canter. So yes, we did walk/trot/canter on correct leads and do our transitions when we were told, but it was not pretty. It was also a million degrees. After the class, I walked out of my ring and told my trainer that I wanted to scratch the Eq Under Saddle because I didn’t feel like it was productive or had a chance for any kind of ribbon.
Beginner Equitation Under Saddle
Scratched so I could drink water and re-group, because we were first to go in the rotation for jumping.
It wasn’t pretty. We had made the plan to add in all the lines, and Simon was having some disagreements to that plan. He did listen, but he listened with some head shaking and interesting distances. On the last line coming home, we got about one stride out from the 2nd fence and he just skirted off to the side and did a fly by. I was shocked. He has never stopped at a show, and it hurt my pride that he did. I blame the run-out to me assuming that he was going to jump everything (I didn’t ride all the way to the base of the fence), and the fact that he was still really amped/anxious from the flat class. We circled around, jumped it again with no issues and then finished our courtesy circle.
Hunter Round I
So now I had it in my head to ride to every fence, and that’s what we did. Even though I felt like we were flying, we did the ads on shortish lines… so really we weren’t. Simon wasn’t the ideal relaxed hunter, but he did listen to me. He either landed on his leads or we did simple changes, just like the plan. I was pleased with my riding because I didn’t really get any FUGLY distances – just a couple that were a little short. We unfortunately had a rail down, and in my nervousness I gave him way too strong of a whoa right in front of the judge, which wasn’t deserved and I believe he made quite the ugly face to.
Hunter Round II
I was relaxing some by this point, and stopped over reacting to my horse with too strong of aids. In turn, we had a much better round. He landed on all of his leads, and the one time he didn’t he flipped the front for me and I was able to get him to catch up behind by trotting a half step. Not an ideal change, but best we have managed in a show before. My big goof for this round, was letting him do the stride on the last line coming home. We had been adding for the entire course, and he just felt there for a slightly long one instead of a really short ad… so I let him take it. My trainer told me no no no, keep it consistent so I went out for the next course making a point to add on all the lines.
Beginner Equitation O/F
With this being an equitation course, it had two rollbacks. When I talked the course over with my trainer, she suggested I try to do a few tricky things since he was listening to me and we were just here for learning and for fun. I agreed, plus I like a challenge with equitation and my nerves had pretty much gone away at this point. We decided to not do a courtesy circle, but walk in and pick up my right lead canter to immediately canter down the diagonal line. For the rollbacks, we decided on both inside turns which were pretty sharp but not unreasonable. Well he walked in and picked up the canter immediately and marched down the inside line with a really pretty jump on the 2nd oxer. Then I asked for the inside turn to the 1st rollback, and asked too early – as in in mid-air before he even landed. He did it, but was like ‘hey lady I can’t turn yet I’m still jumping!’ My trainer called to me and said to look for the turn but not ask until he landed, which was what we did in the next rollback. All my spots were really good, but my big whoops was that the one time he landed on the wrong lead I could not get him down into the trot to do the simple change. Horse had his rhythm and he wasn’t down transitioning for anything, so my trainer called for me to go on and jump the line anyway. I did, and when I came out of the ring she said that it was a shame about the lead because otherwise it was a winning eq course. Oh well! I was hot and tired and me and my horse finished on a good note, so I was happy!
Much more to tell about the show in a later post, but there’s the class by class rundown. Oh yeah, I know you’re wondering about where that 6th place ribbon came from? Well I was offering him water at the very end of the day when they started announcing my classes. The very last ribbon of my very last class and I heard 154… hey that was my number! Turns out those inside turns on the equitation class was enough to merit me 6th place, even with a blown lead!