Show number two is under our belts!! Those of you who I’ve connected with on Instagram already know how it went, but don’t spoil it for the rest of the gang. Suspense is always fun.
Anywho, I had a really bad feeling about this show. Addy has been stocked up in her left hind for a couple days, and even though she’s been perfectly sound, I’m a paranoid horse mom (or aunt or nanny or whatever). I rode her yesterday briefly and she felt A-OK and both Trainer and Assistant Trainer gave the thumbs up, so when my alarm went off at 5:45am on Sunday, I figured we may as well give it a try.
Well, that lasted until I got to the barn. After eating her breakfast I noticed that her leg was still pretty puffy, but she still didn’t mind me poking and prodding around it. Trainer said we should toss her on the lunge line for a bit and see how she was moving and if the swelling would go down.
OH THANK GOODNESS WE DID THAT. Oh my word. Pretty Girl just ran in circles, threw bucks, snorted, pranced, and was generally full of beans. So glad we got her moving around like that BEFORE anyone got on.
Once she had tired herself out a little we checked and saw the swelling had already started to go down. She hadn’t taken a single ouchie step, so it was time to load onto the trailer! At this point I was feeling SO nervous- the stress of worrying about her leg for the past couple days, wondering if today was the day she became a bucking bronco pony, worrying about the fact that I didn’t have any buddies with me so who was going to hold my horse if I had to pee?! and just general show nerves. But I’ve been a weenie in the past, and I was determined to at least make it to the show and put in an effort.
We made it there, and Beastly over here came off the trailer with nostrils flared and tail pricked. Showoff. I asked Trainer to hop on her first to take her around, which turned out to be unneeded. It was like Addy remembered her job and instantly relaxed once someone was on her back. She went around the warmup ring with absolutely no problems, both with Trainer and with myself.
She went back on the trailer just long enough for me to get my number and sign up for my classes, then it was back on! My first round at 2’9″ was, um, interesting. I’d like to think of it as a warmup round. We chipped, we took fliers, we had one memorable oxer where we stuck a 5 in a bending line where a lot of horses were putting 7. Ah well. Such is life. We needed to box it in a lot harder- I thought that because she was relaxed in the warmup she would be relaxed on course, but that was not the case. She seems to know when it’s showtime and transforms into the racehorse half of her heritage.
Second round was a little bit better- still not one of our best rides, but a definite improvement. Nothing too noticeable here, except for the fact that we did manage the comfortable 6 in the bending line.
We won both classes! I think we were the only person in one class and there was only one other person in the other…but hey. A win is a win. I’ll take it.
Then it was flat class time. Note to self: we do not do well in flat classes. Addy gets very confused why we’re not jumping any of the pretty jumps and wants to run and be freeee and feel the wind in her mane and is having none of my “please trot you beastly little dragon.” She was an absolute fire-breathing dragon. Manfriend was giggling at the video I showed him- and that was the direction that she was behaving decently in. We cantered when they said walk. We cantered when they said trot. We hand-galloped when they said canter. I ran her into a wall when they said walk and line up. It was all very exciting. I think if they could’ve given me lower than second place they would have, but alas there were only two of us in the class. Bright side: my trainer saw me struggling and called out that I should forget about trying to make her hunter-y and just make her listen. So this flat class ended up being a very useful schooling session where she ended up listening, even if she was framed up like a dressage horse instead of on the buckle.
This did end up being enough for me to get champion in my division out of two people, but like I said- a win is a win! And now we have a big pretty champion ribbon hanging on her door!
Our 3′ division was canceled since no one else signed up, but my trainer convinced them to offer a 3′ option in the Child/Adult Hunters (which was listed at 2’6″). Warmup for that was uneventful, but she was definitely charging around with me a bit. We bumped her up to a slow twist recently, but I think she may need something stronger for shows because she was blowing right through my hand.
But we went in for our first 3′ round!!!! And it felt amazing. We got packaged up, got nice distances, she jumped sooo cute, and it flowed smoothly. I walked out of the ring with the absolute biggest grin on my face. I wasn’t surprised when we won that class, and I don’t mean to sound cocky there. But you know that feeling when you just click with your horse and it feels so good and you just know that you rocked it? It was that feeling.
Second round was ehhhhhh not great. We didn’t package up nearly as well, and it was a bit of a hot mess. By this point Addy was a little tired and less inclined to collect when asked. Also for some reason, I did not see a single distance in this round. For the life of me, I could not see anything. It was like my eye had gone out the window. All I could do was close my leg and hope for the best. Addy, of course, is the best pony to exist in the whole wide world and carried my butt through the whole course very good-naturedly. This was enough to get us 3rd!
Second flat class- we went into this one with a schooling mentality so it was less eventful. I literally said the words to her: “Do not be a dragon. You are not a unicorn. You are a horse. Please act like a horse. This is a horse show for horses.” I think some rando got that on the video they were recording of their buddy in the class and I’d love to get a copy of me giving Pretty Girl a pep talk. We were still much too “up” and had some breaking-into-canter moments because oh man trotting is boring IS THAT A JUMP CAN I DO IT PLEASE. But overall it was less fire-breathing. We still got 5th out of 5, but that’s as expected. Seriously. Flat classes are not our friend (though I think we could do well in eq flat classes where there’s a little more to distract her with, she loves dressage-y movements and going in a frame).
For your viewing pleasure, a selection of our trips! I’m trying to figure out how to edit together all the funny parts from our flat class, so hopefully I can share that later in the week.
- First 2’9″ trip at 0:00 (obviously)
- Second 2’9″ trip at 1:13 (this is truncated for some reason, and a little fuzzy)
- First 3′ trip at 1:34- if you’re going to watch anything, just watch this one. It’s the good one.
- Second 3′ trip at 2:45. You can ignore this one (please).
We did the 3′!!! And we even managed to win one of our classes at that height!! I am so so so unbelievably proud of my girl, who has handled this transition to being a show pony with her usual sweetness and dependability. She gets Monday off to play outside with her friends all day, and then it will be business as usual in our lesson on Wednesday. Can’t wait to keep progressing with her!
PS- regarding Addy’s leg, we think the stocking up is probably due to some crazy weather changes, inconsistent turnout, and a changing riding schedule. By the end of the show, the swelling was almost completely gone and she was still completely sound. We’re tracking it closely and taking some steps to make sure she’s not ouchie in any way, but so far she’s been perfectly fine. I’ll keep you posted!
Hey folks! This is going to be a very short post, just wanted to let y’all know something:
I want to comment on your posts. I want so badly to chime in with encouragement or sympathy or what-have-you. But if your commenting system looks like this:
then I am not able to. I do most of my blogging and commenting during my lunch break at work (after work is usually taken up with barn stuff or laundry or adulting stuffs), and for some reason the firewall/internet gnomes block that type of commenting system.
I’m pretty much limited to WordPress and self-hosted blogs. So to all of you guys on Blogger or Blogspot, I’m sending you warm fuzzies! Hopefully the internet gnomes will let this happen eventually, or I’ll give in and log in from home at some point.
The horse show bug has bitten me, hard. So much so that when my trainer asked if I was interested in joining for a local show on Sunday, I only hesitated long enough to get the thumbs-up from Owner Lady before enthusiastically saying yes!
The plan is to do the 2’9″ Benefit Hunter division as our warmup (apparently 2’9″ is the magical “benefit” height around here), and then do the 3′ Working Hunters! Just two weeks ago, 2’9″ was the highest I’d ever jumped at a show, and now it’s going to be my warmup (internal squeal). I know that 3′ is still baby stuff for Addy, but I’m definitely nervous-excited to finally get to show at that height. It’ll be one step closer to our goals! If someone had told me in September that I’d be gearing up to show at 3′ in March, I wouldn’t have believed them. #blessed
But because of the fairly late notice (I got the text asking about the show Wednesday afternoon), it means that I have no prep time. I had already packed my show breeches and tall boots to lesson in, so I tried to keep those as clean as possible (no dice, I still have to do laundry). Owner Lady is lessoning on Saturday, so she’ll get nice and schooled then. We’re not worrying about bathtime this time- they can judge me for poop stains when they have their own gray to keep clean (insert disgruntled muttering here).
Anyways, I keep telling myself to just roll with it, and not to get all crazy about getting ready for such a small local show (EVEN THOUGH IT’S OUTSIDE AND ADDY HASN’T DONE AN OUTSIDE SHOW AND OH GOD WE’RE GOING TO DIE AND MY TACK IS SO DIRTY). It’s a work in progress.
On to my lesson. You may remember that last week Addy was a little off behind, so she’s been in very light work this week- she’s still a little stocked up but it doesn’t seem to be tender. I had Trainer watch us move for a while and Pretty Girl seemed to be 100% sound, so we decided to keep an eye on it throughout the lesson and pay attention to what she was telling us.
We were worried for nothing, Miss Priss was absolutely fine. My prancing pony was very happy to have serious work to do. Our flatwork focused on getting the horses nice and stretchy with big circles, lots of changes in direction, no-stirrup work, and canter-trot transitions. I’m learning that I absolutely can not be gentle with those transitions, because she will blow right through them back up to canter. This is not a balance or pain issue, this is her wanting to run around and be freeeeee. So those half-halts getting her to slow down are much more assertive than in the past, and we’re slowly transforming from a giraffe back into a horse.
Then our favorite part: jumping! I’ve labelled with letters instead of numbers because we switched the course up a couple times and I’d like to share the good ones with you.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Olivia, that looks like a simple hunter course. That’s not the usual for you guys.” And you’d be absolutely right! Compared to twisty turny courses of lessons past, this was very straightforward (my lesson buddy and I joked that for once we weren’t scared of flying off the side around turns!). This was a chance to practice going as a hunter.
We warmed up over A as a small trot jump going both away and home, and once we had done that a couple times, we added the diagonal line (B-C). Nothing to report here except that our trot jumps are getting much straighter and more civilized- even though we had a long way to the end of the ring after A, we managed to stay nice and straight before bending through the turn.
Our next exercise was quite interesting: H-F. We trotted over H, bent left around G to jump the stone wall towards home. I had to remember to hold my outside leg hard so she didn’t bulge out here.
Then for our first hunter trip at 2’6″ish: A-B-C-F-E-D. So that’s away on the red outside, down the diagonal line in three, up the stone wall, then down the outside line in three. This was the course that really drove it home to me: I need to keep my leg on. When I forgot to keep my leg on, we missed our distances. When I remembered to keep a strong supportive leg, we got them. There was a 100% correlation here! If Addy feels that strong support, she’s very willing to sit back and let me find the distance for her, but if I don’t then she doesn’t have any confidence in me. No confidence in me = pony taking a flier or chipping in. Both of the lines were three strides, but the outside was just a hair tighter and we didn’t box up enough for it- because I didn’t hold enough leg.
Then we put the jumps up! Our next trip was a very similar hunter course: A-B-C-D-E-F. Away on the red, down the diagonal in three, up the outside line in three, then home over the stone wall.
Oh. Em. Gee. That course felt like butter. I focused hard on (a) keeping my leg ON and (b) releasing generously over the fences. We nailed our spot to A and flowed over, then legged up out of the corner to get a good spot heading into the diagonal line. We sat back a little to fit the three in nicely, and she literally hit herself in the jaw jumping over the pink oxer out. No joke. She jumped that so hard she smacked herself (all the horses jumped that oxer super huge, it was adorable). Coming around the turn to the outside line, you can bet I giddy-upped to that. This was the short approach out of the corner that gave us such headaches last time we tried it- she ducked out a bunch until I could finally get her over it. I was not about to let that happen this time, so I pressed hard to keep her straight and she jumped right in! In this direction the three was a little more of a push, but of course Addy always opens up. We stayed nice and straight and kept my outside leg through the approach down to the stone wall, and finished out.
This was when my trainer informed me that the jumps were, in fact, set to 3′. Wait, whaaaat? I just jumped a 3′ course without freaking out and we did it without meeting distaster? I’m still absolutely giddy about this! This was the confidence boost I needed to feel completely ready for the show on Sunday- we got this!
Like a paranoid horse mom I felt her legs all over for any sign of injury after hopping off, but it looks like moving around did the trick because any swelling was gone. No heat in her legs and no ouchy spots, even after poking and prodding hard. Which is about as expected, because she didn’t take a single tender step the entire lesson, but you guys know how it is. You hafta check to be sure.
I’ve got a happy sound horse and we are going to absolutely nail it on Sunday. Wish us luck! I’ll come back with a full report on how it goes.
PS- Sorry about the lack of pictures 😦 Sadly manfriend is not always able to come and be my photographer. If you’d like to get your horse-pic fix, find me on Instagram @hellomylivia! I post pics of Addy there almost every day, and they’re super cute. I’m biased. But seriously she’s the cutest horse to ever exist. In the world. Ever.
Any tips for showing at 3′? Any big differences once the height goes up? Any more horse show advice in general? I absolutely loved your tips last time!
I’ve talked a ton about Addy and our journey together under saddle. It’s by no means linear improvement, but we’ve been working hard to click together and achieve our goals. She can be a little complicated at times but she throws her whole heart into it, and our training journey has been fun every single step of the way.
But training under saddle is only part of it. A horse that goes beautifully under saddle is useless if he’s unsafe to handle on the ground! Lot’s of you fellow bloggers out there have discussed groundwork, and I’m going to chime in here.
I’m not going to mention Addy in the rest of this post for one simple reason: she has absolutely perfect ground manners. Seriously, I’ve never met a horse who so completely epitomizes the phrase “no vices.” She even keeps her ears pricked up and gives kisses as I’m tightening the girth. Who does that?!
So she came pre-trained on groundwork. Lucky lucky me- she’s a total puppy dog on the ground and I would trust a 4-year-old with her without hesitation. Gentle giant.
You know who did not come pre-trained? My boy Star. Here’s our story:
My trainer at the time brought him to the barn for every client of his to try- he absolutely loved this horse and wanted him in his barn SO badly. I, however, did not go near him. I had my 20-year-old free-lease that I was doing the short stirrup on, and Star was a big medal horse. No need for that. He also tried to bite me while I was blanketing him one day, three girls fell off him in one week, and he needed a chain over his nose to go outside for turnout. I was terrified of him.
Flash forward a few months- I had won a Short Stirrup finals and realized it was time to move up. My parents had realized how serious I was about riding and agreed that we would look at horses to potentially buy so I could keep progressing.
Of course, the first horse I tried was the horse my trainer wanted all along: Star. My stomach dropped when he revealed that I’d be trying him that day. But once I was on we clicked PERFECTLY. I hopped on one other horse briefly, but hopped right back off. Star was my boy and I had to have him. Riding him just made sense to me.
So we took him home for a trial. He was a bit snotty, but we chalked that up to limited turnout and the stress of a new barn. He even got loose as my mom was signing the sale papers. He just went sailing right past her as his previous owner snickered and said, “he’s yours now.”
An auspicious start.
We did go on to do the mini-medals and win all over the place. On good days it felt like we were one creature. He was my best friend in the whole entire world, certainly more so than the teenagers I went to high school with. I also fell off him more times than I can count, but goshdarnit I learned how to sit deep in the saddle. That type of shenanigan hasn’t been able to unseat me since.
But like I said before: he did not come with nice ground manners. He did not lead well, he bit often, and was- as my Dad likes to say- a juvenile delinquent. He wasn’t gelded ’til he was 4, so he also had a studdish love for the ladies. Such a handsome flirt.
Pair up a 16.2 studdish beefcake of a horse with a 110 lb scrawny 13-year-old, and you’re going to run into trouble. At least, at first.
I made it my mission to make this horse LOVE me as much as I loved him, but I knew that for a horse respect needed to come first.
So we started with the biting. Those bruises were getting real old. So every single time he bit, he got bit. Right on his soft pink nose. With teeth. Hard. Call me a weirdo all you want, but he stopped biting within the week and the behavior never came back. He would nip at clothes when he wanted scratches, but would be so so so careful not to get skin.
Then we worked on leading. We kept the chain over his nose, and we spiraled. Every time he wanted to trot, we did the tiniest possible circle. Because he always wanted to trot, we always circled- our tracks were one long spiral. But he figured out that he was supposed to walk, and later would actually turn himself in a circle on occasion.
We tackled each one of his vices like that, and by the end of my time with him we had the sweetest moose who would give kisses on demand (best trick ever!). His ground manners finally matched his manners under saddle (though he never lost his mischievous streak).
If you’re wondering, we sold him when my schoolwork and nerves made showing too much of a commitment for me. He took another kid up to 2’6″-3′, and then another, and at last check is destroying the college circuit as a dressage horse at Dartmouth.
That’s my ground manners journey, and I’m just as proud of that as I am of moving up from 18″ to 2’6″ with him. It brought us so much closer than we would be if I hadn’t spent the time and effort to bring out his sweet side. But I certainly don’t mind that Addy shows no inclination to nip at me. Traveling that journey once is fine for now.
How were your horse’s ground manners when they came into your life? What “odd” techniques have you used to make a horse behave?
Sadly, Addy is a little off in her right hind, so we did not have a lesson yesterday. We think it was a combination of pulling a shoe, getting said shoe put back on, showing the new mares in the herd who’s boss, and playing in the mud with her best buddy. She’s getting some bute and some time off and she’ll be right as rain in no time! In the meantime, here’s another angle of what went down last weekend.
He didn’t see this coming. He had absolutely no idea.
He was just trying to be supportive and encourage me to pursue my passion. It was all so innocent. When we met, I wasn’t even riding- he just knew that I had in the past and that I liked ponies. But what girl doesn’t?
He had no idea.
He even encouraged me to find a trainer, came for lessons once I found a barn, and listened to me gush about my “homework” rides. He patiently nodded along as I avowed that Addy has to be the cutest horse in the world, and let me explain in excruciating detail exactly why she was better than every single other horse in the country. All of this was endured with good cheer and understanding (he has his own encompassing hobby, so he gets it).
But then he came to a horse show, and he saw me in all my glory: 11 full hours of non-stop horse talk.
He saw me sweet-talk my girl onto the trailer at 7am. He heard me baby-talk at her after she was SO good in the warmup ring at 8am. He was strong-armed into kissing her nose because don’t you even realize how soft it is?! at 9am. He watched with wide eyes as I cooed and babbled and adored my pretty pony all day long. And then he dragged his feet into the barn when we returned home so I could wipe down tack and groom Addy with special attention to her itchy spots. Was he done? Nope. I spent the remaining hours until bedtime repeating just how proud of my girl I was and dissecting every step of our courses that day.
That’s when he turned to me in the car and revealed to me: he knew that horse-crazy girls existed, but never thought that he would be romantically involved with someone that clearly insane. He had absolutely no idea that he would end up with The Crazy Horse Girl.
You know the one- there’s one in every high school class. If you’re reading this, take a good hard look at yourself, because it was probably you. We were the ones covered in horse hair no matter how clean we tried to get our clothes. The ones who could never hang out after school because we were going to work at the barn/ride our horse/watch someone else ride/stand next to a pony/can I please give him a treat? Who protested every weekend family trip because Mooooom I have a horse show that weekend!
I am The Crazy Horse Girl, but all grown up (The Crazy Horse Lady?). And manfriend has just figured this out after a solid year together.
There will be more that he’ll figure out: he’s going to figure out that so many weekends will be spent with him acting as a saddle rack, hitching post, videographer, cheerleader, bucket-fetcher, mounting block, and boot-wiper. That yes, we have to be at the barn before the sun, and no, we will not be taking a break until my classes are over. That not only is all this hoopla and expense voluntary, but it gives me such immense joy that it bubbles over into the rest of my life.
So when he turned to me in the car and so solemnly pronounced me The Crazy Horse Girl and announced that he did not see foresee this, I had a moment of worry. He has just been blindsided into being The Horse Show Boyfriend- no easy task.
I sheepishly looked up at him and asked, “If you had known that encouraging me to start riding again would lead to this, would you still have done it?” I was genuinely curious- he thought he was giving me a little push back to a hobby I enjoyed, not tipping me back into this consuming passion.
But he looked back over at me with an incredulous face, and replied with a tender, “Of course, idiot.”
He didn’t even flinch much when I mentioned how excited I am for the next show.
- Sheer white curtains are up
- Christmas decorations are down
- Bookshelf is set up
- Nice throw pillows are on the couch
- Mirrors hung over the couch
- Baskets holding the crud on the TV stand
As soon as the weather stays consistently warm, my coffee table is going to be painted and put into place! Then I’ll tackle painting the TV stand, and might also paint the dark bookshelf. After that, I’d ideally like to get a nice bright throw blanket for the couch and arrange my mantle a little nicer, but I’m super pumped at how it’s all coming together!
Any input? Think I should move something around, swap something out, or make any other big changes? You all gave such great advice a few weeks ago!
I’m not talking about the football team here.
I’m talking about the horses who cart your butt around despite everything you do to get in the way.
The ones who never refuse a jump even though you’re climbing up their necks and not releasing.
The ones who stand still while waiting and move forward as soon as they are asked, even though your aids are about as decisive as a limp noodle.
The horses who make you look good because they know what they’re doing better than you do.
These are not unicorns, folks. They exist, and they are called packers. And I think they are massively under appreciated. Because of things like this:
Let me just clarify: I agree with this 100%. I will be first in line to say that difficult horses teach us how to ride effectively. Learning to encourage a horse to accept the bit when they’re resisting, to sit a buck, to stop a gallop, to anticipate and counteract a refusal, and how to handle a horse just being a horse are all so necessary. Figuring out the quirks and difficulties of the horse you’re on is true equestrianism, not just keeping heels down and legs still. Learning all of these things is an education for you and for your horse as a team.
But sometimes there are horses who have gotten their education. They’ve not only gotten their education, but they’ve graduated with a Bachelor’s in Sensitivity to Aids, Masters in Finding Their Own Distance, and a PhD in Auto Changes. There are no quirks to figure out- this horse has been there, done that, bought the t-shirt, then sold the t-shirt on e-Bay for a profit. Because this horse is savvy like that.
This horse goes around on a looped rein without trying to run away with you, but he accepts the bit when it’s time to work that frame. Heck, he’ll pop into a frame without any contact at all because he has the know-how to carry himself. He’s not going to refuse that jump because he’s seen every type of obstacle there is, and he’s been taught to jump with confidence. Don’t worry, he’s got enough confidence for both of you.
He might not be a 10 mover, and he might not jump higher than 18′, and he might need 15 minutes of lunging to get the bucks out before you hop on. But when you are on his back, he will take you where you want to go without a fuss, and he will enjoy it.
He’s had his education, and he lets you focus on yours. He teaches you how to sit still and be deliberate, because he will respond to even unintentional aids. He teaches you to perfect your position, because he allows you to stop focusing on being effective and just think about being technical. He teaches you how a horse should respond to correctly given aids. He lets you relax and (re)discover the exuberant pleasure of nailing that course or test or pattern, and he gives you the confidence that yeah, you can absolutely do this.
He gives you back the education that he received. He is the teacher. And when you learn from him, you can go back to your non-packer and teach in turn. Packers are what drive the cycle of correct training, both for horse and rider.
Difficult horses are so interesting and rewarding to ride, and they are what make us equestrians. Keep riding those tough horses so they can push you to be your best and you can push them in turn. But be grateful for the packers in your life, because they have taught you more than you realize.
What have you learned from your packers? Your “difficult” horses?
We did it!!! Not only did we live through our first show, but we had a blast doing it! It was even more fun than I had hoped, and Addy was absolute perfection with everything we threw at her.
Manfriend and I got up at 5:20 so I could triple check all my gear before heading to the barn. I was very keyed up and energetic, manfriend less so. Poor guy was up before 6am on a weekend to go stand in the rain, I don’t blame him.
But we got to the barn around 6:30, and proceeded to wait for the teens to show up- apparently telling some 16 year olds to be somewhere at 6:30 means they’ll probs show up around 7am. But we got Addy brushed and gave her breakfast and put her saddle on to save us some time at the show. All my gear was already in the car, so we loaded the horses up and headed out.
[Side note: I’ve never seen a trailer like this; I had to walk Addy on and then back her into the very narrow slot. Poor girl was very confused and convinced she wouldn’t be able to fit, but was so sweet about trying to figure it out. After the first time, she was an old pro and backed herself in like a Tonka truck. Perfect trailering manners.]
We got there in the pouring rain just as the warmup was starting, so the assistant trainer hopped on to take Addy around a couple times for me. This was just simple caution on my part; it was Addy’s first time off property and I wanted to make sure she had a super confident rider on her in case she needed some reassuring. After taking her around and over a couple jumps, Addy was pronounced lazy and safe, so I hopped on.
I had forgotten how chaotic warmup rings can be! Ten riders all trying to jump, calling things out and passing each other. We actually did get into a minor collision (entirely my fault and I feel so awful about it, the other rider absolutely had right-of-way and I wasn’t paying enough attention), and while the other horse kicked out and got fussy, Addy just kept plowing and said I DON’T EVEN CARE GET AT ME. At least that’s what I imagine she was saying.
This was a brand new indoor, big bulky jumps, lots of horses, lots of noise, pounding rain on the roof, and all sorts of new sights and smells. And Addy certainly was looking around at all this with her ears pricked, but not once did she act up. She was perfect.
After going around a couple times we put her back on the trailer so she could munch on some hay, and we waited for our first division of the day- the 2’6″ Unrestricted Hunters. Manfriend, my lesson buddy, and myself enjoyed some wine while we waited, which may just be my favorite part of showing as an adult. We did end up missing our flat class since they moved it without announcing (oh well), but got warmed up outside over a couple crossrails before heading in for our trips.
[Another side note: this was Addy’s first time being ridden outside since about October. The ring was full of puddles, it was raining on her, the jump standards were big and spooky, and she. did. not. care. Like I said, perfect.]
I was really pleased with our trips! The lines were set a little short for us, but that’s nothing new. We did end up chipping out a couple times, and I got a couple flyers, but she covered my butt and kept trekking around the course. We did get a bit snowplow-ish and I didn’t sit back enough to correct that, but that was entirely on me. Our first round got 5th out of 12, and the second got 4th!!
Then it was time for her to go back on the trailer while we waited for our next division- the 2’9″ Charity Hunters. Originally we planned on doing another 2’6″ division but we decided to scratch since she was being so good. I felt fine going straight to the 2’9″ with her.
After a little more wine, we took her back out and got her warmed up again. Our trainer had me pop over a vertical a couple times, and then raised it up a bit. I asked if it was 2’9″ since it looked awful big, and she reassured me that it was- so we popped over it a couple times and figured out our pace. As we headed to the ring, Trainer admitted that it was actually closer to 3’3″, and gleefully announced that the 2’9″ would feel like baby stuff! The little liar! She was right though, 2’9″ felt like nothing after warming up over the bigger jump.
Our 2’9″ rounds went great! She was more tired by this point in the day, so our pace was a little more controlled down the lines. I still didn’t sit back and woah enough around the corners, but overall I was quite happy with my rounds- both earned me second place out of three or four (or maybe five? I wasn’t sure how many were actually in the class).
Honestly, she seemed pretty bored with the height, even at 2’9″.
Manfriend was awesome enough to video all of my rounds, so here they are all smushed together. The first two are my 2’6″ Unrestricted Hunter rounds, and the second two are my 2’9″ Charity Hunter rounds!
She even gave me perfectly clean lead changes without being asked! I almost never get those from her at home.
Then it was time for our flat class! There were only three of us in there for that, including a junior rider from my barn on her gorgeous junior hunter. It went about as expected- we do not have the nice long loopy rein that they’re looking for in the hunters. She behaved wonderfully, responded well, and even our downwards transitions were fairly smooth, but compared to the other horses in the ring we didn’t have the “look.” Also, we were lapping everyone at the canter, so that may have made us look less hunter-y. We took third out of three for that, but who cares! It was her first ever under saddle class and I was so proud of her for being such a good girl.
Then it was time to cool her down, make sure she had plenty of hay and water, settle the bill, and watch the juniors go in their 3′ divisions! We headed home, got everything cleaned up and put away, then gave Addy lots and lots of love.
A couple really cool things: this was our assistant trainer’s first time running a show solo as the main trainer (our main trainer was on her way to Florida for a judge’s clinic) and she did an incredible job. She made sure everyone was ready and warmed up when they needed to be, and was there at the ring for every single round to give encouragement, give tips as we passed by, and cheer for us at the end of our rounds. Everything went super smoothly and I got the attention I wanted, and it was entirely thanks to her organization and talent!
Also, a quick note on ground manners: I have a whole post on this waiting in my drafts folder. I just want to say that I have never had a horse that was easier to trailer than Addy was- she walked right on, stood happily, and walked right off without hesitation. She also stood for me to hop on, let herself be led by cars and trucks and strange horses, and generally was an absolute lady.
There were so many things going on this weekend that could’ve really thrown Addy off: pouring rain, first time in an outdoor for months, lots of splashy puddles, a new ring, new jumps, tons of strange horses running up her butt, a loud megaphone, and any number of other things. But she kept a level head the entire time. She’s the best!!
I couldn’t be prouder of my girl- this could’ve been her 200th time out instead of her 1st and I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. We had so much fun together doing what we love and hanging out with other horsey folk! A couple little girls came up and told me how pretty my girl is and how she looks like so much fun, and it put such a big smile on my face that other people could see it too.
I’m now so sore I can barely move, and I’m still exhausted from such a long day. But now I can’t wait for the next one! We’re ready for the 3′ and we’re ready for anything they throw at us. Because we felt like total rockstars this weekend.