Show Recap: WEC 9

So we last left off on Monday, when the ponies got the day off and I got some work done. I was in high spirits coming off a really successful first week- not every round was perfect, but I felt like we were learning a TON together and that’s always my goal.

Then we hit week 2.

It turns out that the first week of a horse show is fun. Duh. We already knew that. It turns out that the second week of a horse show is not about having fun. It is about sheer mental and physical endurance to do the damn thing.

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Never get sick of seeing our names up there in lights tho

But I’ll back up to the beginning of the week to walk us through.

Tuesday I hopped on for a short lesson in the jumper ring, where we popped over a few low fences. The windows were all open to let the beautiful breeze in, and we had a great ride practicing getting our forward canter to the base (that will always be a skill I have to practice). We didn’t want to tire him out, so after a few successful efforts we called it a day and I hopped back on my computer to continue working.

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Took regular hand-walking breaks to get outside and let him graze when the weather was nice

Wednesday we signed up for two schooling classes, the Low at 1m, and the Medium at 1.07-1.10m. Course here:

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The Low trip was, as my trainer so eloquently put it, “a little potato-y.” Like, not awful. We went clear for a blue ribbon. Just underpowered. We only went clear because Frankie can walk over 1m. I had gotten him on a bit of a half-step to the combo at 6ab and we lurched through a bit, so I knew I wanted to correct that track from 5. We went back into the warmup and I fired him up a bit before going back in for the Mediums with the same course.

And jumps 1-5 came up a TON better. He was firing harder and I was riding harder to help him out. And I went ahead and corrected my track to 6ab. I corrected it so far, in fact, that I got him to a different half-step. He politely tried and then politely came back down to earth when he realized he couldn’t make it, but I was JUMPING THAT DANG COMBO DAMMIT and went ahead without him.

Womp womp.

On the plus side, I get full points for taking all the poles down with me. Right? That’s how that works? Poor Francis seemed very confused to see me down there- I’ve never popped off him before- but true to his nature, he waited patiently for me to hop to my feet.

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Nice. Hopping.

I got right back on and we popped over a fence in the warmup ring, just so we could both end the day on a positive note. I knew I didn’t have any real damage- just some stiffness from bracing, and a positively glorious bruise on my hip (it’s still developing and shifting colors!).

So on Thursday I went ahead and said I DON’T WANNA JUMP. I was stiff and sore and limping and had zero desire to hang on over a course. AT took Francis in the Low Schooling instead so he could get a pro tuneup, and I hopped on later in the day to flat around- turns out that the movement from riding really did help loosen me up and work out a lot of the kinks. Riding: good for what ails you.

 

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“You are a mystical healer” PC Tracy

You know what else is good for what ails you? The onsite chiro at WEC. Dude is a wizard. I went into his tent for 40 minutes and emerged sans limp and with waaaay less stiffness. I really loved his philosophies on body work (basically he’s a terrible businessman because he doesn’t try to upsell unnecessary sessions but he’s an actual good human) and he knew that the main goal was to get comfortably back in the saddle. I made everyone in the barn go see him and they loved him too.

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We went to the 1.35m Welcome that night as a team and enjoyed our wine. Best barn family a girl could ask for.

 

So then we got to Friday, which was the start of the division! At this point, I was seriously considering dropping down to the Lows for the weekend. We know that language has power, so I’m simply going to say it this way- there is an huge opportunity for me to improve my ride up to and through combos. I worried that I was going to continue making similar mistakes at the bigger height and put Francis in an unfair spot.

But, the show must go on. I hopped on Friday for our power/speed class, and in full honesty: this was the first time I have ever gone into the show ring on Frankie feeling nervous. I’ve had anxious energy before, but this time I was straight up nervous.

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Trainer knows how to break up my tension though. We have a tradition- the last thing she always says as I go in the ring is “go have fun,” and I always respond with “I always do.” Those little routines make me so happy.

Thankfully I have the best big beast in the world, and as soon as we cleared jump 1 I came back to myself and realized we know what we’re doing out there.

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I was actually quite happy with how this rode. The line up 4-5 particularly felt really bouncy and strong, and Frankie rocked back nicely for me.

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And he entered the ring looking like a BAMF

And then I turned a little too early to 8ab because I was freaking out about riding up to another combo, which meant that I sliced 8A left-to-right and Francis continued on a straight line that did not include 8B hahahahahahaha I’m actually still laughing at this. I got confused on the re-approach and just left the ring making faces and giggling at my idiocy.

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Aw bubba so sweet with your anxiety-ridden mother who has hangups about turning left

So sure we didn’t actually officially complete the course, but I felt like I got a lot of my mojo back. Frankie clearly wasn’t holding any grudges, he just expected me to steer. Which apparently was not a realistic expectation for him to have.

On to Saturday! Despite feeling a lot more confident after my round the previous day, I was 110% done with competing. I had zero desire to go in the ring. I was cool with riding, but had NO competitive edge. At all. For the first time ever, I went to my trainer and said, “I don’t want to show today.” And she responded with, “you don’t have a choice.”

I was at the physical, mental, and emotional level of dealing poorly with literally everything at that point, so I called Fiance in tears about how badly I didn’t want to go in the ring. And then I wiped my face, went back to the barn, tacked up, and went in the ring. Because at that point it was about proving to myself and my trainer that I had the grit to go do the job.

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By the time we went in the ring, I had my game face back on.

Here’s our speed round:

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You guys, I cowboyed around this course. I literally one-handed it through 4AB because I had one hand behind my leg with the crop. Our turn from 6 to 7 to 8 actually rode quite nicely, he balanced and turned well for me. 8 to 9AB walked in a fairly direct bending 6, and I shaped HARD for an 8 in there because I wanted us to get super straight in. No more drive-bys for me! As I told my trainer when I came out of the ring, “I didn’t care if we had any problems anywhere else, but I REFUSED to have an issue with any of the combos.” Mission completed.

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Hahahahaha so many faults on the scoreboard

It was an ugly course, and I was really proud of it. I rode the crap outta my horse around there, because he was tired and not really helping me out and I had to pick him up and carry him with me over those jumps. Despite a 12 fault score, other people had an even worse day (I saw at least 4 people fall off at 4A) and we snuck a 7th place in this class. I am glad we got a ribbon, because it did feel like an accomplishment despite the messy bits.

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And there were several rather nice bits like this. 

Saturday night at dinner, we may have all started chanting “ONE MORE DAY” to get us through it. All of us were fried, including the horses. And the dogs.

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Caught him napping every single day, because he knows how to treat himself.

So we finally reached the last day. Sunday. Classic Day. Everything was loaded on the trailer except Francis, because we were the last riders from our barn to go in the ring. It was time to wrap this up. Course here:

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You guys. I could not be prouder of Frankie. He jumped his heart out over this whole course. He was clearly exhausted- and usually when he’s tired like that, he kinda mentally checks out. Not that he’s bad or anything, just that he phones it in and doesn’t want to go play. Not so this time. He was right there with me every step of the way saying “I’m tired but I’ll give it a go for you.” It was such a wonderful show of partnership from him.

The first bending was just a little underpowered, but I woke him up out of the corner and 3 to 4AB came up really nicely. Bending 5 to 6 was a shaped 6 strides to 4 strides out over 7, and I needed to wait with my shoulders a bit to help him fit that 4 in more easily. I continued straight for a few strides after 7 to help us square up the turn to 8, then galloped him up to it. I knew that he would have trouble with the short one given how tired he was, so I tried to get him to a bit of a gap to give him a break. Bending up to 9AB he just needed a quick tap to get his attention, then I let him open up to 10 and galloped him home over 11.

We had a bunch of rails. But I felt like I actually made decisions that were right for the horse I had under me, and he responded by giving me every single thing I asked for. The poor guy was tired, and I can’t fault him for that- I don’t think those rails would have fallen in week 1.

I don’t have any pics from our second classic, but Tracy took some WONDERFUL ones when she came last week!!!

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Frankie. Over there. I’m going to need you to handle that line. 
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Jump 1 was REAL cute
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I don’t know what I love more- my trainer’s look of defeated concern, my look of giddy panic, or Frankie’s halfhearted “why are you doing this to me” face
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I sent this to trainer and she asked what part of the course it was from, to which I responded “judging by your face, it was right before shit hit the fan.”
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IT’S A SHAME HE HAS TO WORK SO HARD OVER THE HEIGHT.

We snapped a few quick pictures, cooled Francis out, stuck him on the trailer, and I got in the car for the 8 hour journey home.

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Francis smiling with his ribbons
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Biggest boy so excited to go home!

The End.

Nah you know I can’t wrap it up that abruptly. I need more closure than that. But I will save my thoughts on WEC as a venue for another post- the good, the bad, the smelly. Let me know if you have any specific questions, and I’ll do my best to answer them as well!

Right now I’m feeling burned out- physically, mentally, emotionally. It was a LOT. But I also feel stronger, more knowledgeable, proud, and like I’m actually learning how to ride. I know that last bit sounds a little silly, but it’s true. Frankie has spent so long taking care of me, and I finally feel like I’m learning how to take care of him more when he needs it. Our partnership keeps growing and growing and I couldn’t be more grateful for that.

Francis got a much-deserved break on Monday and Tuesday, and I’ll be headed out for a light hack after work to stretch those muscles. He’s back to all-day turnout with his buddies, and we’ll be having the vet out soon to give him a full exam. He’s healthy and sound, but we just asked for a lot of hard work from him and we’re going to continue having a busy season- I want us to be extremely proactive in managing his health and fitness as we keep moving and moving up (spoiler alert Homeboy is probs doing the 1.20m with AT next time out WUTTUP).

A few thank yous to wrap us up:

A huge thank you to Tracy and Monica for coming out to see us, and Tracy for snapping pics!! Getting to turn an online friendship into a real-life thing was amazeballs.

Buddy Fianci, for listening to me complain about being at a horse show for too long and not pointing out the obvious that this is literally the dumbest thing to ever complain about. And for being mega supportive in cheering us on from afar. And for being cute. And I just like him a lot is all.

Big big big thank you to my boss and my CEO for giving the thumbs up for me to work remotely while I was competing. I never-in-a-million-years thought that competing for 2 weeks would be a possibility at this point in my career, and their enthusiastic permission to chase my dreams means the world to me.

Hugest thank yous to my trainers and the people who helped us get to the ring every day. They were endlessly supportive and encouraging (even when I was a lumpy crabcake) and none of this would be possible without their tireless devotion to the horses. I’m so grateful that Frankie gets such attentive and knowledgeable care, inside the ring and out.

And as always, Frankie. What can I say? He is the horse of a lifetime. I still don’t know how I got so lucky to have him in my life. From leaping huge obstacles together to taking quiet walks, getting to spend all day every day with him was the greatest gift. He is an incredible creature and I couldn’t love him more.

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PC Tracy
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32 thoughts on “Show Recap: WEC 9

  1. jkberger1006 02/28/2018 / 8:46 am

    Girl! I’m so proud of you! Horse showing is not for the faint of heart, and I can definitely relate to the “I don’t feel like showing today.” So awesome that you came out the other side knowing you rode the horse you had and made decisions. Those sometimes feel like my best rides, even though the scores may not reflect that. It’s all just the start of another amazing year for you and company! So fun!

    Like

    • hellomylivia 02/28/2018 / 9:26 am

      Thank you so much!!! Some of the rounds I’ve been the proudest of have been ones where we don’t even come close to ribboning, and some very meh rounds have gotten us good ribbons. At the end of the day, I just love going out there with the Big Beast!

      Like

  2. Allison @ Pony Reboot 02/28/2018 / 9:30 am

    I was almost cringing with empathy when you got to the part of feeling OVER. IT. the second weekend because that is totally me after day three or so of any H/J show. I have made that tearful exhausted phone call (or just found a friend to sob on) myself and I totally get it. Major props for getting through TWO WEEKS, it sounds like you both learned and grew a lot in that time.

    Like

    • hellomylivia 02/28/2018 / 9:31 am

      So much learning and growing! I told my fiance to kick me if I ever say “I wish this show was longer!” after a long weekend again. 3-4 days is FINE haha

      Like

  3. Joanne O’Flaherty 02/28/2018 / 9:33 am

    Love, love, love the photo of you and Frankie in front of the wall. Sounds like, as always you’ve really learned from the positive and the negative experiences and you’ll both come back even stronger. I really admire how much you focus on doing right by Frankie instead of on medals or ribbons and it’s awesome to see how much that works in your favour when everything comes together.
    Thanks for being so honest about the lows, it’s helpful to know everyone gets a case of nerves occasionally!

    Like

    • hellomylivia 02/28/2018 / 9:44 am

      I figure if I can ride well, the ribbons will take care of themselves- Lord knows Frankie has what it takes when I’m not getting in his way!

      Like

  4. the_everything_pony 02/28/2018 / 9:39 am

    Oh my goodness I’m so pleased and happy and proud for you! 2 weeks showing is LONG, and I can so relate to the “I don’t feel like showing today” sentiment but you got out there and did it! And of course, hats off and heart to Frankie too. You two are looking so good!

    Like

    • hellomylivia 02/28/2018 / 9:44 am

      Thank you!! He was an absolute prince, world’s best show horse, took everything in stride both literally and figuratively. I’m just bursting with pride at how wonderful he was!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. CallyJumps 02/28/2018 / 10:00 am

    Congratulations on a great educational experience! No idea how you made it through two weeks, I’m done horse showing after a three day weekend of it. Combinations are also my nemsis, I think because they require a bit more “bounce” than my horse naturally has, so it’s doubly hard to both actually ride for the step and that bounce. Congrats again on making it through them!

    Like

    • hellomylivia 03/01/2018 / 8:53 am

      We eventually got there! At this point I’ve made life hard for Frankie at so many combos that he flicks an ear back at me to make sure I actually want bad enough haha

      Liked by 1 person

  6. roamingridersite 02/28/2018 / 11:31 am

    Congrats! The end of this post had me get a little ready eyed. It’s awesome to see the gratitude you show everyone. Two weeks of showing sounds like a lot and good for you to pull through and get it done even when you weren’t fully into it any more. Your season is just starting. It is going to be a great year for you guys.

    Like

    • hellomylivia 03/01/2018 / 8:54 am

      I think it’s onwards and upwards from here, I can’t wait to see where we go next!

      Like

  7. Centered in the Saddle 02/28/2018 / 12:19 pm

    Way to go! What an experience. It sounds like you got to practice having grit, which isn’t fun when it happens but makes us better in the long run! Annnnd that said, I wish I could go horse show for two weeks straight!

    Like

  8. Katie 02/28/2018 / 12:52 pm

    I feel you on so many levels in this post LOL. I figured out awhile ago long shows suck all the fun out of showing so 3-4 is really my limit. Great job pushing through though and I am interested to hear your review on WEC. Even though I’m sure I’ll never show there (I’m on the west coast) it seems like a very cool venue.

    Like

    • hellomylivia 03/01/2018 / 8:55 am

      This was the first time I’ve ever done anything past 4 days, and it was exhausting! So fun and amazing and wonderful etc etc etc, but woof. Working on the WEC writeup now!

      Like

  9. Alex 02/28/2018 / 1:09 pm

    Even with the burnout at the end, that sounded like an absolutely wonderful experience. I’m so glad you got to go out there and do all the things. I’m looking forward to your wrapup post to see what you think of everything after having some time to percolate.

    Like

    • hellomylivia 03/01/2018 / 8:56 am

      It was definitely so fun, and even with the burnout there’s the sense of satisfaction of working through it! Working on the WEC writeup now 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Abby F 02/28/2018 / 3:45 pm

    Long horse shows are EXHAUSTING! I don’t do all of WEF, but I do 9 weeks and it’s a MARATHON. I obviously realize that this is a total first world problem, but it doesn’t make it any less true. 9 weeks of intense training and showing can be brutal. It’s amazing, but it’s also hard work. Outside of WEF, almost all of our shows are 2 week shows, so I totally feel ya!

    Like

    • hellomylivia 03/01/2018 / 8:57 am

      Dude, I don’t know how you survive so long at WEF. This was such an eye opener for me about just how grueling it gets! Obvi amazing and wonderful, but yeah. Exhausting.

      Like

  11. Stacie Seidman 02/28/2018 / 5:14 pm

    Going away to a horse show for an extended length of time sounds like all fun and games, but it is a TON OF WORK! Physical and mental. It takes awhile to learn how to juggle it all without burning out. I remember my first few times away for extended periods and it was really hard to adjust. But it is a ton of fun! Just with some hard work and tough lessons thrown in to keep you humble. Congrats on not just surviving but on learning all the lessons along the way. It will get easier each time I promise! I think it’s tough this time of year too, because the fitness just isn’t there. I blame the lack of sunlight.

    Like

    • hellomylivia 03/01/2018 / 8:58 am

      Yes to all of this! And agreed with the lack of sunlight- I think being cooped up inside for so long made us a little stir-crazy. The natives got restless.

      Like

  12. Liz 03/01/2018 / 7:10 am

    The mental fortitude you must have had to get through the last few days is hard to imagine! Well done getting out there and doing the thing. Frankie is such a freaking awesome boy and you two have an amazing partnership. Your writing makes your feelings about him almost tangible! Congratulations on an incredible two weeks!

    Like

    • hellomylivia 03/01/2018 / 8:59 am

      Gahhh thank you!! He’s the best horse in the world, I love him so much!

      Like

  13. Tracy 03/01/2018 / 11:34 am

    You know what? I LOVE how honest and positive you are about everything. You don’t hide when things aren’t going well, but you don’t dwell on them either. It was truly wonderful to meet you and Frankie — you’re partnership together is what I hope to build with Niko ❤

    Like

    • hellomylivia 03/01/2018 / 1:04 pm

      It was the BEST getting to see you!!!! And I’m so glad you got to meet Francis and see his awesomeness in person ❤ Can't wait to see you and Niko grow together 😉

      Like

  14. Genny - A Gift Horse Blog 03/01/2018 / 9:47 pm

    I know there were down moments, but I’m just so excited for you and Frankie and all that you’ve accomplished! 🙂

    Like

    • hellomylivia 03/02/2018 / 9:40 am

      Thank you!! I’m so incredibly proud of him, he keeps astounding me with how amazing he really is ❤

      Like

  15. Rachel - For Want of a Horse 03/08/2018 / 2:03 pm

    Awwwwww! Such a wonderful experience even the bad! Every bit of the good and bad teaches us. I commend you for finishing the show after your fall. I had the exact same fall getting caught on the half stride to a combo and Winifred said “nope I can’t fix that!” You get up thinking you are all good but it does rock your confidence! Great work!

    Like

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