HITS Culpeper: Winston National

Second show is in the books! And we have ribbons!!! You all know that I love my pony no matter what, but I will admit that coming home with some ribbons feels darn good. Here’s the recap:


Got there bright and early to walk my 0.90m course that would be running in the GP. We decided to use this as a warmup to see what kind of horse I’d have under me- always a well behaved horse, but energy levels do vary. Of course I showed up and Francis was lying down for a nap.


But that must’ve been super restorative, because homeboy was LIT. Between the warmup and then our 0.90m round, I was basically grabbing mane and steering at jumps while he jumped the course like it was 1.20m. I’m actually not joking, he was a full 2′ above the rails. I can tell, you think I’m exaggerating. I’m not.

I know it’s blurry, but I’m sure you can see that top rail. And then if you scroll up about 10′, there’s Francis.

This was definitely the most “up” Frankie has ever been and IT WAS SO MUCH FUN. Holy moly apparently someone told Francis that he’s supposed to be a big fiery jumper and he was like OK SURE SOUNDS GREAT and went for it.

I do think part of that is because the lighting in the GP ring is kinda weird early in the morning and the jumps are harder to see. So he jumped super big juuuust to make sure he cleared them.

Sadly we had one unlucky rail on the very last fence, which put us out of the ribbons (with about 30 people in the class, you really had to go clear for a ribbon). So we went and let Frankie take a break while I learned my next course for the first class of my Low division at 1.0m.

And he promptly decided to take another nap.

Clearly horse shows really stress him out and he can’t relax.

Our Low class was a liiiittle less ON FIRE, but still definitely powering around. Pics:

Aww he’s actually picking his feet up!
OK buddy, the jump is down there
Cutie over the oxer!
But seriously Francis what height do you think you’re supposed to be jumping?

We had one rail in this class, but we were fast enough to earn our very first ribbon together!!!!

I was ecstatic
Frankie was more curious as to why I would hold something up to his face that he couldn’t actually eat

So overall, Friday was a blast. We got to go in the big Grand Prix ring, my horse was ON IT, and we earned our first ribbon as a team in our division.


Saturday we just had a single power and speed class. Course here:


I gotta say, I really liked this course. Very straightforward when you break it down- outside line, diagonal line, bending line, outside line, around the end, rollback, across the middle, around the end. To anyone who wonders how to remember jumper courses- this is how. Your related options will always be an outside line, broken line, diagonal line, or something like that. Your unrelateds will be rollbacks, S-turns, or end jumps. That basic concept is to get from one end of the ring to the other a couple times using these combinations. Becomes a lot easier to remember when you think about it this way.

I digress. I could write a whole post about remembering jumper courses.

This was definitely our best course of the weekend. Frankie had settled down a little bit and was listening better- not that he wasn’t listening on Friday, but he felt much more responsive to my aids on Saturday. We tend to struggle with related distances- life is hard when you have a 14′ stride- but he sat back for me (most of the time) and waited to fit it in.

And for the very first time together, we made it to the speed round!!! We had one single rail in that phase because I let him get a little flat and up on it, but I was literally fist pumping as I left the ring. Because we made it to the jump off. I’m grinning just thinking about it. Here’s some pics:

Bein’ super cute out of the first line. Those ears!
Launching out of the broken and being ADORABLE ABOUT IT
Ugh literally the cutest little donkey that’s ever existed on the planet
Coming out of a one stride LIKE A BOSS

I was really pleased because combos were something we struggled with at Loudoun. Not that he didn’t like them or struggled to get out, but I didn’t support enough with my leg and they were a little messy. So to be able to ride in strongly and then ride out strongly almost every time was a big improvement that I was very happy with. It was something I was focusing on doing better, and we did better. Boom.

This lovely course got us another ribbon! In a different color!


Just the one course on Saturday, then hanging out with the gang and cheering on our superstar junior.


Francis was definitely more tired by the time we reached Sunday. We had a good warmup, but he was taking much more leg than usual and needed more support from me. Our first class was another power and speed:


Nothing crazy here. I really didn’t like where jump 5 was set because it forced you super deep in that corner of the ring and there wasn’t any way to get from 4 to 5 except touring around the whoooole end of the ring. Not the best course design for a jumper class. We did end up having a rail or two because I wasn’t as present with my leg as I needed to be, so I elected to take a wider turn off the combo at 6a-b around to 7- I had originally planned to go inside the end jump and shave some time off. But with two rails down, I decided to play it safe and try for clear the rest of the power phase since I wouldn’t make it to the speed.

I’m glad I made this choice, because it got us another 5th! I’m just glad that I’m finally getting to the point where I can ACTUALLY MAKE DECISIONS ON COURSE INSTEAD OF JUST POINTING MY HORSE AT JUMPS AND HOPING FOR THE BEST.

Even though I still do that a lot.

We had about an hour break before the last class of our division, the speed round:


Another fairly straightforward course. Annnnd we went and read Braille around it. Again, I needed to be much more present and supportive than I was, since Francis was getting tired. I’m used to him kinda pulling me to the jumps, and this time I really had to push him up. It’s a matter of me adjusting more quickly to the horse I’m on in that moment instead of assuming he’s the same day-to-day.

Enough to get us 8th though! There weren’t a lot of clear rounds.

I can’t tell which pics are from which course, so here’s some Sunday pics:

Sweet little feets!
Coming in for a landing!
This is how I know that any rails we have are due to rider error- when I set him up properly, this is how he jumps. NOWHERE NEAR THE RAILS.

So overall we won a ribbon in every class of our division! They may not be primary colors yet, but it was an IMMENSE improvement over our first show at Loudoun.

Geldings love pink

Side note: you may have noticed that I’m wearing my coat onΒ  both Saturday and Sunday. “But Olivia, I thought you loved that you don’t have to dress up as much for the jumpers?!” Why yes, you are correct. But Trainer said that a lot of the serious people tend to dress for their division classes, to which I responded, “I’d like to pretend to be serious.” We always joke that with looks you’re halfway there, but I think there’s a lot of truth to it. I may not be winning my division (yet), but I can go in there looking like I give a damn. Because I do.

Coming out of the ring from my last class, my trainer told me that she wasn’t worried about me anymore. That now she knows I can make it around the ring, and we can focus on fine-tuning and addressing some of the finer points. We’re not just discussing how to get from point A to point B, we’re talking about the inside turns and where we can shave off time. She told me it was “leaps and bounds” from where we were two months ago (no pun intended). And she mentioned that next year the plan is to do the Highs. So clearly she thinks it’s something we’ll be capable of when the time comes.

I also can’t end this post without giving a HUGE shoutout to both of my trainers. They kept us all organized, made sure we were where we needed to be when we needed to be there, and pushed and encouraged us all weekend long. The last thing Trainer said every single time I walked in the ring was, “Go have fun.” They truly worked their tails off to make sure we were equipped to go out there and answer the questions that the courses asked of us.

I couldn’t be happier or prouder of my boy- he was a true gentleman all weekend and gave me everything I asked for. Despite this being only his second show, he was the definition of a packer! He trailered there and back without a fuss, settled into his stall, took naps, got baths, jumped the jumps in several rings, went for walks, grazed, and did everything I asked with zero fuss.

In fact, our whole barn did great!

Soooo I know that I said I can’t afford to show at the end of September. And it’s not so much that I lied. Buuuuut. I gotta. I just gotta. I’ll be talking to Trainer tomorrow about figuring out a way to get there. I’d love to make it out one last time before we go on hiatus for the winter. My bank account is sweating nervously.

This has been a monster post, so congrats for making it to the end! Short version: huge improvement over our first show, Francis continues to be the absolute coolest, and I love horse shows.

36 thoughts on “HITS Culpeper: Winston National

    • hellomylivia 08/23/2016 / 10:46 am

      Thanks!!! He was sooo super awesome all weekend πŸ™‚


  1. Monica V 08/23/2016 / 10:48 am

    Olympics 2020 baby.

    Banks accounts are temporary, memories and ribbons are forever *purple devil emoji*


    • hellomylivia 08/23/2016 / 10:49 am

      Can’t take money with you to the grave, but you CAN take your ribbons. #truth


  2. Stacie Seidman 08/23/2016 / 11:46 am

    Congrats!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sounds like a fantastic day! I think Francis just wants you to feel like you were jumping the highs πŸ˜‰
    I always dress for my classes. If nothing else, you’ll get a great photo! Plus I ride better when I have on the outfit…. Fake it till you make it, right?


    • hellomylivia 08/23/2016 / 12:19 pm

      Totally fake it til you make it! And you’re totally right, we got some great pics πŸ˜‰


  3. Abby F 08/23/2016 / 11:54 am

    Yay! You guys looked awesome! Glad you’re doing September too!


    • hellomylivia 08/23/2016 / 12:20 pm

      It was so awesome to see you and Charlie again! See you again soon πŸ™‚


  4. Abby F 08/23/2016 / 12:06 pm

    By the way, kudos to you for wearing your jacket! I was way too hot and only pulled it out for the classic because I had to!


    • hellomylivia 08/23/2016 / 12:20 pm

      Ughhh so sweaty and gross. I missed my sunshirts haha


  5. Jenn 08/23/2016 / 12:06 pm

    There’s so much YAY in this post, I don’t even know where to begin.

    Also, I second Tokyo 2020 πŸ˜‰


  6. Centered in the Saddle 08/23/2016 / 12:53 pm

    Yay! What a fun post to read. Great job on your improvements AND your ribbons! You’ll be in the primary colors before you know it! I totally relate to wanting to do more shows despite a nervous bank account…it’s worth it in the end, right!?


    • hellomylivia 08/24/2016 / 9:34 am

      Thank you so much! It’s totally worth it, horse shows > money every day of the week πŸ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Heather 08/23/2016 / 1:38 pm

    Super duper jealous right now of your choices in venue and desperately wishing for somewhere to show outside. Wahhh. I’m so glad you guys had a fabulous show though! It sounds like you’re both learning a lot, and it’s so much fun when you get to the point where you can think more about the nitty gritty parts of the course, like where exactly you need to put his feet for this kind of jump, and how you should ride the track for this particular turn.


    • hellomylivia 08/24/2016 / 9:36 am

      Virginia has so many great shows all summer, you should probs just head back this direction πŸ˜‰
      It was definitely a shift from “grab mane and steer” to “let’s make a plan” and I’m feeling way more confident because of it.


  8. Lauren 08/23/2016 / 1:38 pm

    Congrats! I agree with your trainer about wearing a coat even when not necessary. I think it helps with the intimidation factor πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

    • hellomylivia 08/24/2016 / 9:37 am

      Thanks! And I knew you would be on board with the coat haha πŸ˜‰


  9. CallyJumps 08/23/2016 / 1:47 pm

    Congratulations on an awesome Culpeper!! I’m so sorry we missed seeing you guys, you certainly had a fantastic show! And Frankie certainly seems to have very happily settled into the life of a Show Horse.


    • hellomylivia 08/24/2016 / 9:38 am

      Thanks! Frankie is definitely on board with the whole thing, he was a happy camper all weekend long πŸ™‚


  10. emma 08/23/2016 / 3:09 pm

    congratulations!! and way to go Francis!


  11. carey 08/23/2016 / 5:41 pm

    Nice job! Glad to hear you feel so much improvement already! You guys look great…I see that your back is nice and flat…Frankie is having a blast, clearly πŸ™‚ I’m trying to sneak in another show next month, too. The money has to be around here somewhere!?


    • hellomylivia 08/24/2016 / 9:40 am

      Thank you!! He was jumping so big that I definitely got jostled out of the tack a couple times, so I’m glad it isn’t as visible as it felt haha
      YES MORE SHOWS. That’s been my thought too lately- the money has to be around here somewhere……

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Amanda C 08/24/2016 / 7:24 am

    Frankiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiie! And yes, coat.


    • hellomylivia 08/24/2016 / 9:41 am

      Francis coordinates so well with the green coat, who am I to deny him??


  13. Olivia @ DIY Horse Ownership 08/24/2016 / 5:00 pm

    Congrats on all the successful rounds and the ribbons. Those jumper courses looks really fun. I hope you make it to the September show.


    • hellomylivia 08/25/2016 / 7:18 am

      Thanks! I really like the twisty turny courses in the jumper ring, it’s so fun πŸ™‚


  14. Tracy - Fly On Over 08/25/2016 / 7:58 am

    Woohoo! You guys are really becoming such a great team, and it definitely reflected in the quality of your rounds πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ Congrats girl!


    • hellomylivia 08/25/2016 / 9:40 am

      Thank you so much!! I definitely think that as we get to know each other better and better, our rounds are getting smoother πŸ™‚


  15. Micaylah 09/01/2016 / 6:01 pm

    So exciting! You guys make a great pair!!


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