Mirror Images

We’re in the final stretch until showtime this weekend, people. My first show since I was a wee 15-year-old. Addy’s first ever hunter show. Her first time off property since she’s arrived. A lot of firsts. It’s going to be AWESOME.

Anywho, last night was a very very good lesson, but not the same *click* lesson that we had before. It was simply fantastic, not amazingly fantastic (but, I mean, still fantastic). The paddocks are a total muddy mess because of the snow thawing out and a bunch of rain lately, so she hasn’t gotten a lot of playtime lately- too much potential for injuries in the slippery mud.

Well, Pretty Girl loves her playtime. So I got there early and took her for a walk around the farm, hand grazed her, poked our heads into the other barn, and made sure she got plenty of fresh air. Which I’m sure she appreciated, but it didn’t make a whit of difference under saddle.

Go, pony, go! We usually walk around quite a bit when I first hop on and Addy likes that time to wander about and relax while I do some stretches. Not yesterday. She stood still like a princess for me to hop on, waited for me to settle in my stirrups and gather up the reins, then moved off at a nice little jog. We half-halted back to walk. Three strides later, off again at a jog. I got the message- it was time to move.

We had a good warmup with some no-stirrup work (slowly getting easier) and getting limbered up. Cantering to the left gave us a little headache though, and I’ll explain why: when Addy is relaxed and lazy, she will pick up either with lead no problem. Her left lead is actually her easier one. But for whatever reason, once she gets excited it becomes the sticky lead. So that’s going to be something to remember at the show- in the flat classes, move my outside leg back and ask hard for that left lead.

Warm up over a little cross rail and some ground poles, then on to jumping! We didn’t do any huge courses yesterday but it was wonderfully happily symmetric. Here we go:


Up through the grid, turn at the end to go over the diagonal vertical, bending line to a cavaletti (speedbump), then around and up the diagonal oxer. It was the exact same in both directions, hence the repeat numbers. So it was either: grid, yellow plank, bottom cavaletti, white oxer, or: grid, pink vertical, top cavaletti, green oxer.

This was a pretty nice return to basics. I would jump grids every single lesson if they let me- they’re such a good training tool for both horse and rider! The striding was a little short for Addy in there, but let’s be honest. All striding is a little short for Addy. Once we realized that we should come in at a nice balanced trot she backed off and nailed it. She built a bit going down the vertical towards home in both directions, but balanced super well for the bending to the cavaletti! Then she rocked back and let me call the shots to the oxers.

Things that went really well in this lesson:

  • Pace around the course. Adding leg and packaging her up made her SO much more adjustable- when I saw a distance to the oxer I was able to push her up to it! We weren’t already fully extended, so my options were completely open. Her canter has improved so much now that I’m being stronger about supporting her with my leg and seat- we didn’t miss a single distance all night! (Which is super rare for me, I have a pretty rusty eye)
  • The oxers. They weren’t too big- somewhere between 2’9″ and 3′, but there was no fill. They were just rails set somewhere between 2’9″ and 3′ off the ground. Addy loves fill. Addy hates no fill. Addy jumped this without flinching. Addy is the best pony in the whole wide world.
  • The grid. Just because I love grids and Addy loves grids. We didn’t go up quite as high as we did on Monday, but that was fine. I still got to practice my automatic release and staying straight through the grid.

What we need to work on:

  • Mainly getting her relaxed into the canter. She only tends to get squirrelly about this when she hasn’t gone outside in a few days, which I totally get. If she gets full playtime then her leads are nice and even, she’ll pick them up easily, and she will stay very straight and bend around the turns. On days like yesterday, she REALLY wanted to run around so our canter transitions were messy and crooked. She bowed out through her shoulder around the turns and coming back to a trot was an interesting proposition that she rejected out of hand. I’m learning how to correct these behaviors, so we’ll just need to keep at it. But hopefully she’ll relax a bit once the ground hardens and she can horse around outside (get it??? Horse around??).
  • Canter-trot transitions. Man, these are the worst. We can canter-walk like a boss, and even our canter-halt is improving, even if we do need the length of a runway to accomplish it. But canter-trot transitions are the worst. She just wants to move back up into the canter so out comes the giraffe and we goose-step around the ring. Not particularly cute. Again, I’m learning how to correct this and it just needs time to sink in with her.

Any and all of our sticky spots yesterday came from the fact that Pretty Girl didn’t get to roll around in her favorite mud puddle, and all of those sticky spots manifested while we were warming up on the flat. Of course she was perfect once we started jumping. I think that’s the answer- we need to avoid U/S classes at all costs. The jumpers is looking like a better and better option for us! Because if you’re bad at something, avoid it. Right? No? Fine, we’ll keep working on our flatwork.


Bonus: a creeper picture of the course. Taken through the window while an innocent was trying to school her horse in peace.

Time to talk show prep.

I’m doing a half-day at work on Friday so I can get to the barn and get everything set up the way I want it to. I know, it’s a tiny local show 10 minutes down the road, but it’s been 8 years! If I want to set aside 6 hours to bathe my horse and clean my tack, then by golly I will set aside 6 hours. We’re also fitting in one more small lesson to get her moving and tired for the next day.

The plan on Friday is to get to the barn after lunch, hop on for a lesson, get any last minute pointers, bathe and groom Addy, clean ALL tack, and arrange everything so it’s ready to load in the trailer the next day. Theoretically on Saturday morning all I’ll have to do is load everything up on the trailer (including the squeaky clean horse) and head out. My paperwork is together and my show clothes are ready. We’re almost there!

What is something you never head to a show without? Do you have a certain show-prep routine? Any advice for this re-entry to the ring?

23 thoughts on “Mirror Images

  1. The Exquisite Equine 03/12/2015 / 10:24 am

    I showed last time for the first time in 5 or 6 years, too! It wasn’t too bad. Thankfully I have a good “pit crew” though ;). Can’t wait to hear all about it!


    • hellomylivia 03/12/2015 / 10:40 am

      I have a designated tacker-upper-helper, a designated photographer, and a designated wine-bringer so I think it we will either a) have a really wonderfully smooth time b) drown our sorrows in the wine. Either way, it should be good! Can’t wait to share šŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Amanda Lee 03/12/2015 / 1:24 pm

    Love that mirror grid course! Symmetry makes me happy.

    And GOOD LUCK at the show! It sounds like you’ve got a good plan. I would also definitely take off work – my senior year of high school, I actually had a long study hall-slash-lunch period on Fridays, and I would take my tack to school and clean it the day before a show. I got a lot of questions about what I was doing with a taken-apart bridle… but it became part of a ritual, and I always enjoyed spending those ninety minutes sitting on a bench outside, painstakingly cleaning.

    I don’t usually like to lesson hard the day before a show but from what I know about Addy I think that’ll definitely be a good move. Six hours is a pretty generous prep time, but hey, you have a grey! And because keeping her clean is sure to be an adventure… DOLLAR STORE GROOMING TIPS! 1) Soak her tail in white vinegar after shampooing/conditioning (you can do this multiple times if you need to; just rinse in between) to remove the yellowness and get it nice and shiny white! 2) Scrubbing her legs and tail with baking soda may also help whiten, although you want to be a little more careful with this one since you’re getting it on the skin. (You can also do baking soda and vinegar together on the tail for really deep stains, or if you just feel like replicating your fourth grade science fair šŸ˜‰ ) 3) Baby oil is your friend! Apply to legs and tail as you would Show Sheen to help repel stains – anything that does get on there should brush out easily in the morning. Plus, you can soak a tangled tail in baby oil to help detangle it – and it’s both cheaper and less drying than Show Sheen or Vetrolin shine! Just use it sparingly, since too much can actually attract dust – cut with water if you have to and use a rag.


    • hellomylivia 03/12/2015 / 2:01 pm

      OMG you are a glorious genius warrior goddess. I was looking at her yesterday and just giggling hysterically because of her golden yellow tail, so thank you thank you thank you!!!! I’m definitely going to use those tips and hopefully she’ll be a pretty shiny bright white pony! I’ve always shown bays, so this is new territory for me. Bays hide dirt so much easier. I’m actually really looking forward to taking everything apart to clean it and get it all conditioned, I agree that it’s so soothing.


      • Amanda Lee 03/12/2015 / 2:28 pm

        Let me know how it goes! Hopefully you will be able to get that nice shiny white unicorn tail [: And yes, cleaning tack is so relaxing…

        Liked by 1 person

  3. carey 03/12/2015 / 1:54 pm

    More fun jumping!

    I’m so excited for your show this weekend! Can’t wait to hear how great you two do!


    • hellomylivia 03/12/2015 / 2:02 pm

      Thank you!! I think it’ll be a great learning experience no matter how we do, it’s going to be so fun!


  4. heartofhope10 03/12/2015 / 3:08 pm

    Spring was my first show in 6-7 years too! Biggest thing for me what just realizing that it’s supposed to be fun. Also, bring your phone charger, I always run mine down during shows getting messages, taking pictures whatnot. šŸ™‚ Have so much fun!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • hellomylivia 03/12/2015 / 3:48 pm

      Hooray for getting back into the ring!! Very good call on bringing the charger- I would’ve never remembered that!


  5. Susan Friedland-Smith 03/12/2015 / 5:37 pm

    I think it’s been 9 years since I showed. We in this together! I hope to give it a whirl next month at a local show. And by the way, a relaxed canter is a thing?


    • hellomylivia 03/12/2015 / 7:19 pm

      Something about this spring must be a perfect time to get back in the game šŸ™‚

      And I’ve heard myths of the relaxed canter. I seek it like I seek the holy grail- pretty sure it doesn’t exist but by golly we’re gonna search for it!


  6. Annye / AnAmishWarmblood 03/13/2015 / 12:46 pm

    That grid/course looks really fun. Bouncy!

    I’m SO EXCITED to read about how you do this weekend. I know you’re going to kick butt and learn a ton! Good luuuuuuck!!!


    • hellomylivia 03/13/2015 / 8:12 pm

      Can’t wait to share!! Thanks for the happy thoughts šŸ™‚


  7. Kelsey 03/13/2015 / 1:02 pm

    Good luck this weekend! šŸ™‚

    My advice is that the more you stress about having everything, the more you will pass stress to those around you, especially Addy! If you forgot it, borrow it or learn to do without it!

    My pre-show routine is show up early and feed to make sure pony has plenty of time to digest, then I do stalls because I’m a horse show slave. About two hours before I ride (because I tend to go to big shows), I start grooming and listen to my pre-show playlist, which comprises a lot of pump up and feel good music. I’ll send it to you if you want! Or I can just link the Spotify playlist here. Once my horse is ready minus the bridle, I get myself ready. I’m VERY particular about how my horse and I look when we go into the ring, regardless of which ring it is. I like to ride with music, but this in’t possible in a crowded warm up arena, so I just hum something quietly to keep me breathing and loose so my horse is more likely to relax. Once we’re warmed up, I head to the ring and do my thing.

    Most important things to remember: SMILE. This is supposed to be fun. Even if you screw up, smile through it because life is far too short to sweat one pulled rail or wrong diagonal, right? And keep breathing! That’s something I love to forget to do; I’ve almost passed out in the jumper ring before because I was holding my breath and galloping like a mad woman. It ended up that I jumped ahead and bounced almost off my horse but barely clung to his neck to finish the round.


    • hellomylivia 03/13/2015 / 8:15 pm

      Oh my goodness so many good ideas!! I would loooove to hear your playlist, I’m always looking for good pump-up music. I’m definitely going to have to remember to smile and breathe!


  8. CallyJumps 03/13/2015 / 6:02 pm

    Good luck, I can’t wait to hear about the show!

    Also, I too would do gymnastics every ride. Love them!


    • hellomylivia 03/13/2015 / 8:18 pm

      Thank you!! I can’t wait to share how it goes šŸ™‚ the gymnastic love is real!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. emma 03/13/2015 / 8:01 pm

    the symmetry of that course REALLY appeals to me lol – glad y’all had such a fantastic ride!! good luck at the show and i hope you have soooo much fun!!


    • hellomylivia 03/13/2015 / 8:21 pm

      Symmetry makes everything better! Thank you so much for the happy vibes šŸ™‚


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