The Rollercoaster Show

Alternate title: How Stupid of an Injury Can You Get?

I’ll allay your fears off the bat: no one has any lasting damage, and nothing was even remotely related to Francis. Homeboy was uninvolved in my tomfoolery and continues to be his awesome amazing wonderful self.

This was probably the most relaxed show I’ve done in a long time. The numbers were EXTREMELY low so the showgrounds were crazy quiet, we weren’t trying to qualify or get points or anything, and it seemed super low key.

Friday was just a schooling day for us- we went in to do a ticketed warmup in one of the rings to try and find our eq pace. Which was hard. My trainer kept telling us to slow down, even when it felt like I was going backwards! I needed to get us into a nice rhythm and then leave my horse alone, instead of letting my electric seat take over and build a gallop. No gallop needed. But overall it was a great schooling session where we got to jump some fill (which we haven’t done in a good long time) and get my eye adjusted to the different pace. When we got the right pace, Frankie was able to jump up nice and square every single time.

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How is my horse so handsome all the time? How?

 

Saturday was our first eq day! Due to ring changes and schedule shifts, our very first class was a 3′ Eq Classic in the GP. On the one hand, a nice familiar ring with jumper-style jumps to ease us in. On the other hand, Frankie definitely knows that this ring means zoomies. It was an…interesting round. I came out of the ring and yelled DOUBLE CLEAR to my trainer, which is apparently not what we are supposed to go for in the eq. It was an odd combination of zooming around, yet not really making the striding anywhere. I think for me, it was tough to adjust my eye to the smaller jumps. Overall though Frankie was obedient and wanted to please (as always) and we ended up getting a nice big pretty yellow ribbon for our efforts.

Then we had two trips for the 18-35 Adult Eq division in the big Hunter 1 ring. We hadn’t gotten to school in there and I’ve never shown in there before, so I was excited to give it a try! The courses themselves were a little disappointing- they were the exact same as the hunter rounds, so no opportunity to show off any handiness. The most “exciting” it got was a two-stride across the diagonal.

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Literally no effort went into the eq courses

I was really really happy with Frankie in both trips. Neither trip was beautifully polished, and definitely had a lot of room for improvement, but Frankie was thinking hard and trying to figure out what I was asking. We’ve spent so long telling him that the show ring means GOING NOW MUST RUN and this time I was telling him the opposite. He definitely thought he was supposed to turn and burn around some of those corners and kept checking with me to make sure he was doing the right thing. My big thing to remember was softening at him- when I dropped him a little bit, he responded by relaxing and coming back to a more appropriate pace.

I could also feel him jumping SUPER cute- I didn’t end up buying it, but the photographer got a really adorable one of him over one of the oxers. I know he doesn’t actually need to try at 3′, so I’m proud of him for still putting in some effort! He makes my job so much easier when he jumps like that. His motion is so much easier to follow, the timing is much easier to allow to happen naturally, overall I feel like I’m able to show off my eq a little bit more.

Despite the little bobbles for us to work on, we took first in both classes! Full disclosure: we were the only entry in the second class. I told you the numbers were crazy low. But there were four entries in the first class! I may or may not have hugged the announcer when he told me (I really should stop hugging strangers at horse shows).

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We’ve got the blues!

I couldn’t be prouder of Frankie for going into a new ring, in a new discipline, with new jumps and new courses, and trusting me enough to listen and think so hard. He always has so much try and this was no different- I could really feel him trying to figure out what I wanted. He got lots of pats and scratches as I took out his braids.

Sunday dawned cool and breezy as I loaded my gear into the car for our final day of showing. And stick with me folks, because this is where I get dumb.

A little context: I have a Jeep Liberty. And the trunk of the Liberty opens in two pieces, as such:

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In this picture, the car is nice and clean and not a decrepit old trash heap like mine is. So the top part opens all the way automatically. But in my decrepit old trash heap, it does not actually open all the way. It opens to about forehead height.

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My professional reenactment diagram

I think you can see where I’m going with this.

While swinging my gear into the car, I smashed my head into the glass so. Dang. Hard.

I made it about 45 minutes before the pressure-headache-feels-like-a-hangover-slight-dizziness set in. I chugged water, took some Advil, and waited for it to subside. And it didn’t.

And that is the story of how I slammed my head into my car so hard that I ended up scratching my classes and having my boyfriend and his brother drive 90 minutes to come pick me up and drive me home.

OMG.

Was I being overcautious? Probably. I’m pretty sure I could’ve made it around another couple trips- especially with such a trustworthy steed. But I’m pretty paranoid when it comes to any sort of head injury, no matter how IDIOTICALLY they may have occurred. Part of me is saying that I was being way overly unnecessarily careful about the whole thing, and the other part of me is saying that I made the right call by scratching. Ugh.

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MAHM WUT R U DOIN Y R U SWAYING

Further earning his Sweetest Horse Ever award, Frankie stood calmly with his head down so I could take his braids out without using the step ladder. I swear he always seems to know when I’m feeling unsteady and is extra careful with me at those times. Such a total lovebug.

The dizziness wore off within a few hours and I’m now just nursing a bit of a headache and some wounded pride. If nothing else, it makes a pretty funny story (especially when I act out the field neuro exam Manfriend gave me upon my father’s instructions). Luckily Manfriend had a sense of humor about the whole thing and reassured me that next time I should just ask him to come to the show, there’s no need to bash my head in to convince him. Har har har.

I guess I was overdue for a klutzy moment.

Please make me feel better and share your most ridiculous injuries that kept you from riding/showing. I can’t be alone in this!

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USHJA Zone 3/4 Jumper Team Championships: Part 2

Moving on to the weekend part of the weekend.

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Moar naps.

Saturday was team day. Importantly, the outfit was white pants and the Kastel sunshirt they gave us with Zone 3 printed on the front. I’m in love with this sunshirt.

Let me tell you, Saturday was EVENTFUL. I was slated to go in first for my team as the second anchor (I was just as surprised as you are) so we walked the course as early as possible and then started warming up while they were dragging and watering.

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Walking into the warmup ring

And it was the worst warmup we’ve ever had.

We had the pace. My eye was there. And Frankie was just sticking over the jumps. If I hadn’t had a team depending on me, I would’ve scratched. And then Frankie threw a shoe about 30 seconds before I was due in the ring.

This required a wonderful coordination of effort from the warmup ring steward finding the shoe and radio-ing the in-gate to let them know what was going on, the woman running the in-gate moving me down in the order, the on-site farrier tacking the shoe back on, and Trainer pulling me aside for a kick in the seat.

To paraphrase: “stop riding like crap, you’re better than this. It’s a good thing we get a reset button right now. Get your head in the game.”

And then she told me something that I didn’t realize I needed to hear. She said, “Olivia, you have every right to be here. You qualified just like everyone else. You have just as much of a shot of going in there and laying down a clear round.”

I didn’t realize that I was feeling that Imposter Syndrome until she said that. Somehow she was able to read that in me and knew just what to say to get me motivated. She truly is an incredible coach.

So we went back to the warmup ring and had one of the best warmups we’ve ever had. No joke.

And Frankie threw the shoe again.

But by this point I was the last one to go in the ring, they were waiting on me to close the class, and my team needed me.

So we went in with three shoes.

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At this point all I could do was laugh and say what the hell let’s give it a go.

And proceeded to lay down the fastest trip in the class with zero rails. Double clear.

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It was the same round both trips. Not much to say about it- another tough but fair one that I think played to Frankie’s strengths.

To say that I was ecstatic about this would be a gross understatement. I was shaking with emotion as we left that ring.

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Shortly before I collapsed on his neck from sheer joy

And if you know me at all, you know that I needed a place to channel that emotion. So when one of my teammates (who is a total fixture on my circuit and wins everything and rides SO FREAKIN’ WELL and I love watching her at every show) came up to congratulate me on my round, I went straight in for the hug and literally said these words: “I LOOK UP TO YOU SO MUCH I LOVE WATCHING YOU RIDE YOU’RE SUCH AN INSPIRATION.”

Because I have ZERO chill.

God bless her she patted me on the back and handled the shaking psycho hanging on her neck very graciously. At this point Frankie had been whisked away to the farrier before we had to go back in for our second round.

And to anyone who says that sportsmanship is dead in the horse world, I’d like to invite you to come to Zone Finals. Because when word got around that my horse had lost a shoe, someone FROM ANOTHER TEAM immediately offered us a set of bell boots. The warmup ring steward gave us good juju. The woman running the in-gate gave us good juju. Everyone was helping out and pitching in and I wish every person who complains about poor horsemanship could’ve been there to see all of these people offering a helping hand without hesitation or agenda. I will never forget that sense of community and shared purpose.

But it does turn out that the shoe was unlucky, because we went in for our second round and dropped three rails. Womp womp. This meant that I was the drop score for our team for the second round. But at least I actively contributed in the first round! I actually liked my second round a lot better- it flowed more smoothly and I had a more rideable horse. One of the rails was definitely my fault, but the other two were just Frankie being sloppy with his hind end. I’m sure by this point he was tired.

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Happy Francis!
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I CAN’T EVEN WITH THIS SWEET HORSE

Even so, our team scores left us tied for first with Team 3. Meaning it came down to a jumpoff.

Ho. Lee. Crap. SO EXCITING.

Team 3’s chosen rider went in there and laid down a super crazy fast clear jumpoff. Then our rider went in there and laid down an equally crazy fast jumpoff- she was faster by 0.05 seconds. But then- ever so gently- we heard the faintest *poof* of the last rail hitting the ground. The entire in-gate area erupted in screams and cheers and congratulations. Team 4 took the silver!

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I’m up there losing my mind and Frankie is just waiting for naptime again.
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“Mahm is this ribbon eatable?”

The ribbon ceremony was absolutely incredible. They played the Olympics theme song over the speakers, they took a thousand official pictures, they sent us off for a victory gallop, they put medals around our necks up on the podium, they took a thousand more official pictures. Oh man.

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I had never met any of these women before this day. Didn’t matter. Team hugs.
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Absolutely punch drunk laughing at nothing in total hysterics
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Aw yiss
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As the token tall girl, I always stand in the back
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Cheesin’ HARD

It was a dream come true. And true to form, Francis handled all the hooplah as if he’d been there a million times. Flapping ribbons? Horses running up his butt in the victory gallop? Loudspeakers and music and flags and flashes? Ain’t no thang for the Frankfurter. He very placidly cantered a lap and then happily went back to his stall. What a pro.

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He was very happy to go for a walk later in the afternoon to stretch his legs. We were required to have his number on him every time he left his stall.

I’d like to give a shoutout here to my adopted barn moms- they took a thousand pictures (all the good ones here are from my barn moms) and cheered and supported and one of them literally cried watching me in the victory gallop. I felt so surrounded by love. I’ve got the best barn family in the world.

And it would be remiss of me to not mention the help I got with Frankie- our team made sure that he was shiny and groomed and tacked up whenever I needed him and worked their butts off to coordinate that around 7 other riders. They are rockstars who worked bazillion hour days without complaint the whole time.

I’ll wrap up Sunday quickly, since it was a bit anticlimactic.

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Lot of related distances

I thought this was a fairly straightforward course for the most part, but the triple at 10ABC was the true weed-out spot. A to B was set SUPER long as a one stride. I got nervous when I walked it- Frankie has a big step, but as mentioned previously he does back off in combos. I think this was the big test of those who could go in there and lay it down perfectly, versus those who didn’t quite have it all together.

At this point in our career, we are the latter. It wasn’t a terrible course but it wasn’t our best either, and we did have to mad scramble out of the triple. Overall I’m proud of Frankie’s effort here and he listened really well. It had been a long weekend and I know he was tired, but he was definitely more fit than he has been in the past and was able to give me more powerful efforts. My big mistake in this course was that I rode the plan too strongly. I should’ve adjusted as we went through instead of trying to stick to a plan that clearly wasn’t working for the horse I had under me. My new mantra: ride the horse, not the course.

Between our 6 faults on Friday, 12 faults on Saturday, and then some additional faults on Sunday (I think 8 due to 2 rails?), we were out of the ribbons for the individual final. But one of my teammates from Saturday took home the Individual Gold! And despite squeaking in there with minimum points, we didn’t end up in dead last.

By that point, we were ready to go home.

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Frankie was very happy to snuggle with his mama and relax outside.

What a weekend. I couldn’t be happier with how Frankie performed- we asked him for a lot of hard rounds at bigger heights with more difficult questions, and he took it all in like a total champ. It was certainly a physical stretch for us to have a full weekend of long courses and big jumps, but it was also a mental stretch. We had to deal with some snags and exhaustion and figure out how to keep trucking. It raised the bar for us in a whole bunch of different ways and I think we rose to the occasion.

We aren’t yet at the top of the pack in our division, but every round we go out there and the pieces come together a little bit more. Every round that goes well is due a little more to skill and a little less to luck. We’re making different mistakes. We’re fitter, stronger, faster, tighter than we used to be.

As always, we have a long long way to go, but we’re a lot further than we used to be. My heart is full to bursting with love and gratitude for this horse who so patiently teaches me so much.

USHJA Zone 3/4 Jumper Team Championships: Part 1

This was such a monster of a weekend, I’m not sure how many posts it’ll take to feel like I’m doing it justice. At least 2. But I’m just gonna keep writing until I get everything down that I want to get down, and that’s gonna be a LOT. So strap in.

I’ll start with Thursday- the day before the show. I arrived around 7a to help set stalls up for the 8 horses we had joining for the weekend. Everyone chipped in and got things put away and we were done surprisingly quickly! Frankie naturally plopped down for a nap almost immediately.

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Next time I’ll bring him a snorkel so he doesn’t have to come up for air

We were required to be checked in by 10am- that’s when the USHJA people would be going around to make sure every Championship horse was on the premises where they were supposed to be. We had some excitement trying to find Frankie’s most recent vaccination papers, but luckily my Trainer is WAY more organized than I am and has a legit binder of everyone’s paperwork. We got his number hung on his stall with no further incident.

This was a pretty quiet day since I didn’t have any classes. We just had a brief lesson later in the day where we worked on some one-strides and tight rollback turns, all set fairly low so we wouldn’t tire Frankie out. He felt so awesome, really listening to my cues and slicing jumps like he’s been doing this his whole life.

Then my hotel tried to cancel my reservation because they were overbooked and didn’t even call me about it, so I had to channel my mother to get that sorted out. Long story short, I ended up with the room I booked after a lot of back and forth.

Frankie and I went for a couple walks later in the day to stretch his legs and let him see the show grounds, and you just know he was super spooky and nervous about it. HAH LOL. He mosied around on a loose lead and grazed and leaned in for scratchies. He’s gotten the hang of this whole “horse show” thing by now.

We ended the day with the official Zone 3 rider’s meeting with the Chef d’Equipes to talk about expectations for the weekend and receive our swag. I gotta be honest, it was super motivating to hear them talking about representing our Zone. I mean, I knew that’s what this was. But it kinda hit home to hear them talk about it. They gave us a brief demonstration of how to jog and went through our outfits for the weekend (you know how excited I get about outfits) and then released us.

On to Friday! And ohhhh man what a busy day.

We started with the jog first thing. Outfit for human was tan breeches, shiny shiny boots, navy polo with the USHJA logo on it, number tied around our backs, and hair up in a ponytail under our white Zone 3 hats. Outfit for horse was snaffle bridle and nothing else- no bonnet, boots, etc. Some people braided and they looked really nice. All of us groomed and primped and polished our ponies so they were super clean.

Y’all, jogging is hard. First we had to wait in line- stop/go/stop/go/stop/go as we slowly moved up, which is Frankie’s least favorite thing in the world. He’s happy to stop. He’s happy to go. He is NOT happy to wait around. Combine that with the sight of a gray mare in the distance, and I was flying a kite (Frankie is OBSESSED with gray mares). We were that embarrassing pair standing perpendicular/backwards/sideways to everyone else because he couldn’t take his eyes off that distant horse. Homeboy pooped like 14x in those 10 minutes.

And that was all before we even actually jogged.

Once we got to the front of the line, I had to start over because I asked him to jog too early (in my defense, they way they showed us the night before and they way they asked us to do it day of were slightly different). He may have run me over a bit. But I ran my little heart out to keep up with him and he passed easily. Not that I thought he wouldn’t pass, but having 2 vets and a bunch of USHJA officials staring at you is kinda nerve-wracking. I was very happy to go back and let Frankie cope with the loss of that distant gray mare while I went to the next rider’s meeting.

This was the meeting where they drew the order for the first individual qualifier round that day, and announced our teams for Saturday- which ended up being different from the teams they had announced last week. I ended up on Team 4 with 3 other ladies from Zone 3. Side note- they provided breakfast and coffee for us every day under this tent, which was totally awesome of them.

We had the option of doing a training session on Friday before our Individual round, and Trainer and I decided that it would be a good idea. They gave us a course and 90 seconds in the ring to use however we wanted- some people went in and trotted around for 90 seconds, some jumped the whole course, some just jumped one fence, some did a totally different course. As long as you only jumped the flagged jumps, and in the correct direction, you could do whatever you wanted. I opted to school over the liverpool and go through a one-stride combo to get the gears working.

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Trainer and I discussing strategy ringside. Holding him because this weekend Francis decided that holding still is THE WORST. Check my awesome official polo.

I legged up to that liverpool and Frankie popped over it no problem. We’ve never encountered one in the show ring before, but I wasn’t surprised that he didn’t care. Homeboy never cares. We did circle around and go through to school that one-stride a couple times though. I needed him thinking FORWARD no matter what and he sometimes backs off when he sees all those poles. Not enough to stop, just enough to get kinda stuck. We ended on a good note. I actually bought an 8″x10″ photo of us from this training round- I look kinda like a barnacle clinging to Frankie, but he looks AMAZING. Seriously, like a million bucks. Trainer said that one is going on her gallery wall in the lounge #goalachieved.

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This is not the one where he looks like a million bucks, but he’s awful nonchalant about that liverpool. Good Francis.

After a break, it was time for our first individual qualifier round.

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A very reasonable course that asked challenging but fair questions

Overall- not bad. Two rails, which wasn’t great, but a fantastic time. It was faults converted, so those two rails just added 8 seconds to my time. Then we subtract the winner’s time so that the winner has a score of 0, and that left me with something like 6.15 faults. Meaning I actually went 2 seconds faster than the winner which is kinda cool. And the reason that we got such a great time is because we took every. single. inside. turn. (Funny enough, those turns aren’t where we had rails either).

You guys. We did every inside turn. This was a HUGE risk/stretch for us. We sometimes will pick one or two tighter turns to shave time, but the SS Frankenstein is not known for his turning radius. I was SO FREAKIN’ PROUD. We went inside Fence 9 to get from 4B to 5. We went inside 12 to get to 7. WE WENT INSIDE 4AB IN THE 3′ OF CLEAR SPACE TO GET TO 9. WE SLICED 11 LIKE A BADASS TO GO INSIDE 3 TO GET TO 12. Holy moly I wish I had a picture of 11. We were basically parallel to the jump and I asked Frankie to go for it and that sweet creature was just kinda like “this seems weird but whatever you say” and jumped it on the sharpest angle BY FAR I have ever asked him to jump anything.

Here are some pics of him being so excellent:

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In case you thought I had addressed my crookedness. No. I have not. He’s clearly super stressed about that liverpool down there.
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COULD HE BE ANY CUTER I SWEAR TO GOD

Especially once I heard that first rail go down, I asked Frankie to haul ass like a bat out of hell to get a good time. And that’s exactly what he did. Was it our smoothest, prettiest course ever? Absolutely not. We had to get scrappy in places. But we took risks we’ve never taken, we asked for a faster pace than I’ve ever asked for before, and my horse delivered. It was exactly the round we needed to set the tone for the weekend.

Stay tuned for the rest of the weekend!

HITS Culpeper: Commonwealth National 2017

Our first big show of the season is in the books! Strap in for a BEAST of a post guys, because I’ve got lots to say. Don’t worry, we also have lots of great pics thanks to the best show friends ever.

And holy crap guys, I have to put this out there straight off: Francis. Was. Amazing. Like, I can’t even express the amazing. This horse has come SO far in a year, is SO much more educated, and legit was perfection all weekend. I certainly have plenty to work on, but the horse is totally aces.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way and you know that Francis is a real professional show pony now, we can get into the good stuff.

Francis shipped into the showgrounds on Thursday and got a training ride with a good report card- a storm was blowing in while Trainer was on him and he was apparently a little looky with all the wind and noise, but settled into work once she set the screws to him a bit. She let me know to show up bright and early the next day to kick things off.

On Friday we opted to do a warmup 1m class in the GP ring for a couple reasons: 1) To get us listening to each other before out 1.10m classes and 2) to let us get into the GP ring before our classic on Sunday. Not that Francis cares, but Trainer knows I like to get the lay of the land if at all possible.

Course here:

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Note the dampness because EVERYTHING WAS WET UGH

No hard questions here. The intent was to treat this as a schooling round- I didn’t want to go in there and gallop around. The footing was super soupy from the storms so my plan was to stay balanced and get some adjustability from Francis. I felt like he really delivered! We got a bit of a launcher at fence 5 when I asked too late for the move up, but the rest of the time we managed to get some pretty good, close distances. Especially at that height where Frankie doesn’t need to work too hard, we wanted him listening to the base- I had to wrestle him back a bit through that last line towards home, but he obliged and fit in that last stride. Overall it felt like a very competent schooling round with a few sticky spots but plenty of good spots, and that perfectly met our goal going into the ring. Even with a rail, it was good enough to get us 8th out of 20ish in an open class!

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I love the flags in the background here, we got the Grand Prix look!
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You guys. Francis is picking his knees up. OMG.
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Note the lake right behind us. Srsly so soupy.
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Jumping into the last line towards home. I had to sit down hard after this to ask him to fit the strides in that last line- he could see the in-gate and wanted to gallop home.

We then had quite a while before our first High Adult round went in Jumper 1, and Francis took full advantage of that break.

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“Oh. Hey.”
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You don’t even realize how long he was down there. HOURS. Pretty sure he was snoring.
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We thought he’d try to get up when we came in to bug him… Nope. He was very content to stay where he was and snuggle.

Sadly, we did eventually have to rouse him from his nap and pick the shavings out of his tail. He gave us plenty of sighs to let us know what a bother it was. But he had to go cart his Momma over some colorful sticks!

I was not nervous per say, but a little intimidated. Sure, we went in the Highs at 1.10m back in January, but I’m pretty convinced those jumps were set at a VERY forgiving height. So for me this felt like our first REAL time going out there at a true 1.10m in competition.

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Waiting our turn on the buckle like a true fiery jumper steed
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Slightly less damp by this point in the day.

But as soon as the buzzer rang, that apprehension flew out the window. Was it a perfect course? Absolutely not! But the height didn’t even seem like a factor- the sticky spots were due to my own mistakes and not due to any difficulty making it over that height.

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Oh but he real cute tho

We got a flyer to jump 1, which led to me letting him get a bit strung out and knocking fence 2. That meant that the line from 2 to 3 which had walked a little tight ended up being more of a push ride out. Then I got a bit up on 4a and had to kick out of the two-stride, but that set us up to gallop out of stride over 5. He jumped the snot out of this one, I splurged on the pro pic.

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Knees!
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The pro pic is basically a clearer, more zoomed in, better version of this crappy screenshot I grabbed. Of course I had to get the pic, look how cute he is!!

I needed more left leg to get a better track across 6, but bending out over 7 was nice and 8a-b rode fine. That five strides out over 9 was tough and ended up being an ugly jump honestly. The last line actually felt fantastic though- Frankie gave me this incredible moment of softness about 1 stride out from 10 and it set us up to rock back and fit the stride in over the last fence.

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Jump 10. When we get that softness to the base, wow. Just wow.

They did end up combining the Children and Adult sections so that rail was enough to keep us out of the ribbons in a class of 16. Honestly though, I was thrilled with Frankie and felt like this course was a really good representation of where we are together. (Be prepared to hear that again, it was kinda the theme of our weekend).

Saturday was super fun for me- I got to play owner! We had Assistant Trainer take Francis in the 1.15m class so he could get some confidence building miles at that height before he has to deal with the height AND his mother.

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Pretty hunter-ific in my opinion

It was a blast getting to see Frankie go with such a strong and competent rider. I do the best I can for him, but let’s be real. I’m no pro. Since I wasn’t actually on I don’t have much to say, so just enjoy these pics of Francis being a star:

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Waiting their turn AND LOOKING LIKE SUCH A HUNKY BEEFCAKE OMG
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First oxer on course, and Trainer mentioned he definitely felt a little surprised by the height
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He eventually figured it out
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Sweet back feetsies
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Someday my leg will be this strong and stable. Someday.

Some comments from AT when she came out of the ring: overall, she said Francis was a good boy and listened well to her. The close spot to the base still does not come naturally to him and he has to think hard about it, so she wants to work on his fitness to make that easier for him.

But you know who earned his first blue ribbon?

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Very proud Momma with the star steed and best AT evah. She may be tiny, but the woman has totally inhuman strength. She’s amazing.

I was supposed to have my High class after this, but I ended up scratching. It was freezing and raining and windy and while I would’ve been fine competing because Frankie don’t care ’bout none of that, it would not have been fun. So I played my Ammy card and said “nah not today.”

On to Sunday! We had our classic first thing in the morning, then a speed class to round out our weekend together.

Classic course here:

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Of course my eyes immediately went to 8abc. The elusive triple combo.

I really liked this course. It asked some harder questions than earlier in the weekend but nothing felt tricky or intimidating. There were plenty of options. The footing again was REALLY soupy so I didn’t want to turn-and-burn too much.

We ended up knocking a couple rails because, you know, me. But there were a couple parts to this course that I was thrilled with.

The first was 5ab to 6. We turned inside 13 to get there and only had one straight stride, but we were able to power through and then balance out over 6. It rode nicely.

Then I am just over the moon about the triple combo. 7 to 8a walked in a shaped bending 9 strides, but after watching some rounds Trainer and I decided that I would land and hold him straight and upright for 4 strides, then turn and send him forward for the final 4 to put 8 in there. That worked out PERFECTLY. We were able to come into the triple carrying a good pace to the base and there was no sticky point throughout- he carried us through like he had done it a million times.

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Coming out of the triple

Of course I was so excited about the triple that I stopped thinking and had a ridiculous distance to 9, but we recovered for the last line. Womp womp.

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Last jump was casual

Again- not a perfect course, but very representative of where we are as a team and a huge improvement from just a short while ago. When I have the presence of mind to ask, Frankie delivers every time. I just have to think a bit faster on course so I can time the ask better.

Francis had a 2 hour break before our speed round and obviously he lay down for a nap. And guys. He did NOT want to wake up. I was pushing him, poking him, pulling him, cajoling him, and he basically gave me the horse version of “Moooom 5 more minutes.” He just kept leaning into me for more scratches.

Clearly Homeboy was conserving his energy though, because he then went and gave me the speediest speed round he’s ever done.

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He obligingly stood for pictures before going in the ring

I don’t have any clear pics from this round, but I’ll tell you right now that it was pretty chippy because WOW Francis was galloping around. I have a video that I’ll share with you eventually but you’ll have to promise not to judge me.

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Imagine us jumping over this. We did the inside turn from 8b to 9 which worked great, but other than that pretty straightforward.

But that’s the great part about the jumpers- it doesn’t matter how pretty you are, as long as you get the job done. And Frankie was really excited to get the job done. Ears forward, galloping around, finding the fences. He heard that buzzer and said OK LET’S GO.

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And it paid off!

Not a bad way to round out our weekend.

Some overall thoughts to wrap up this monster post:

Frankie is simply so much more educated than he was last season. While he still likes a very active ride, he didn’t need constant instruction on where to place every foot. He was confident and willing to go forward and listen instead of needing constant reassurance and getting “stuck” in places. He heard the buzzer and moved out. He felt me sit and waited for my cue. He feels like a trained jumper horse now- not just a Very Good Boy who is happy enough to go in the jumpers. The transformation from a year ago is astounding to me. He is a completely different horse than we brought home and is constantly surprising us and delighting us with how trainable, athletic, and willing he is.

Trainer said that we first started out last season in the “hang on and pray” stage. Then we moved on to the less dangerous “find your pace” stage. She said we’ve now moved on past that to a point where we can have some fun with our courses. We can confidently make a plan, because we both have the fitness and knowledge and ability to stick to the plan. We can strategize how to make each course work best for us instead of just trying to make it around in one piece. We have a very long way to go and acres of improvement to make, but we have come such a long way in the past year.

You may notice that Frankie is picking up his knees in most of these pictures. If you’ve followed along with us for any amount of time, you know that Frankie generally jumps like a drunk alpaca. Somehow the combination of increased fitness, increased education, and jacking the jumps enough so he had to put a bit of effort in has led to a horse that actually jumps kinda cute! Go Francis!

In terms of behavior, I was so happy with Frankie. Is he a big dolt who needs a reminder to hold still sometimes? Absolutely. We will be working on that. In terms of his demeanor though, he was relaxed and happy and chill the whole weekend- as evidenced by his constant napping. He stood for baths, walked around quietly on the buckle before and after his rounds, and loaded on the trailer to go home without blinking an eye.

Really our partnership has grown so much. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world to grow and learn with this incredible animal.

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The most accurate representation of the two of us that I’ve ever seen

PS- we should know soon if we have all the points we need to qualify, but we’re adding a 1-day show to the schedule in May just in case 😉

Culpeper Video

Somehow this totally slipped between the cracks, but I have video to share with you guys!

These clips are all from our show back in August (HITS Winston National)- you can catch the show recap here. You can see for yourself what a patient, awesome, honest good boy Frankie is at all times, especially when his mother is flapping around up top like a tarp in a tornado. Literally the best boy.

I wish I had video from our show in September since I think both Frankie and I performed much better and more strongly there, but alas, this is all I have! He still cute tho. Even cuter when you remember that this was his second show ever, and first time at this venue. He is the chillest pony on the planet. UGH OBSESSED.

#teamFrank 4ever.

PS- My super sweet friend has started her own blog! Head on over to The Blonde Equestrian and give her a warm welcome to blogland!

 

Culpeper Finals Candids

Big thank you to Manfriend for using my camera to sneak some super sweet shots of Francis and I at the show! The pro pics are nice and all, but it was awesome having my own paparazzi.

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Course walk with Trainer. That’s right, my trainer is actually a jump standard. You caught me.
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Faces like this are the reason I have no nice pictures
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Dat tail doe
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Tee hee oh I didn’t even know you were taking my picture LOL
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I don’t know what I love most: the porta-potties in the back, Frankie’s total apathy, my distinct lack of eye contact, the list just goes on and on
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UGH WARMING UP STINKS MAHM
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MAHM WASSTHAT OVER THERE
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MAHM THAT STRANGE MAN IS TAKING MY PICTURE MAHM WHY DO NOT WANT UGH
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On cloud nine after a double clear round
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Frankie was more thinking, “Probs just gonna nibble her boot for a bit, feels like the right thing to do”
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Holding together the excitement
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Starting to lose control a little…
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HOLY FRICK DO YOU SEE THIS RIBBON I HAVE

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:

Friday:

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.

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FIVE MORE MINUTES MAHM

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.

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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.

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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:

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Aww he’s actually picking his feet up!
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OK buddy, the jump is down there
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Cutie over the oxer!
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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!!!!

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I was ecstatic
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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:

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

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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:

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

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MAHM STILL CAN’T EAT THIS YOU HAVE TO STOP

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

Sunday:

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:

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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:

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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:

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Sweet little feets!
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Coming in for a landing!
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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.

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Geldings love pink

Side note: you may have noticed that I’m wearing my coat on  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.

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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.

HITS Prep

Francis heads to the showgrounds on Thursday!

I wish I had a fun prep post like I did for Loudoun, but uhhhh…..I don’t.

I honestly forgot that the show is this week until just now. Oops? I guess now is as good a time as ever to figure out what we’re doing for prep:

Oh wait. Nothing. We’re doing nothing to prep.

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Seriously though, I think we’re in good shape! Despite looking like he’s fresh from the slaughterhouse (homeboy is covered in scrapes and cuts from “playing” outside), Francis is shiny, in good muscle, and has been working hard lately. Our tack is clean and neat, my show clothes are ready to go, and my entry has been in for weeks.

Basically I’ll pack my trunk, polish my boots, and off we’ll go.

I’m extremely happy about this- that a big horse show is not some huge intimidating event we have to go out of our way to prepare for. All the work we do on a day-to-day basis is the prep work and we can just ride that wave right to Culpeper. That’s a testament to the training and care Frankie and I get from Trainer and Assistant Trainer.

Here’s the plan: he will show up Thursday and Trainer/Assistant Trainer will likely hop on to let him stretch his legs. Not so much a schooling ride since he’s invariably well-behaved, just a chance to see where he is and get the muscles moving.

moving

 

I will show up Friday morning and we will do our division class: Low Adult Jumper (II.2.b). Saturday we’ll do the same thing (II.2.c), and then Sunday we have two classes to round out the Low division (II.2.c and II.1). Sadly there isn’t a classic for the Lows! There is a 1.10m Adult Classic on Sunday that I’m going to plead with my trainer to let me do, though I have a feeling she’ll tell me to slow my roll and enjoy our season at 1.0m. But I wouldn’t be myself if I didn’t fling myself into situations with minimal preparedness.

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Overall I think we’re going to have a great week! We have riders doing a wide variety of classes- our superstar junior is doing the Big Eq and jumpers, we have a re-rider making her rated show debut in the maiden adults with her hunter, we have an ammy doing the 3′ hunters, and yours truly in the jumper ring. All fantastic show buddies and excellent horsewomen.

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Gonna be another great show!

Chapter 6: Our First Rated Show at HITS Culpeper

Hello beautiful people.

I would apologize deeply for my radio silence (yet again) by exclaiming that I’ve been sick as a dog, crazy busy at work, and just plain lazy, but you don’t need to hear that. (I’m feeling much better despite the lingering cough, work is still busy but I’m learning how to manage it, and I gave myself a kick in the ass to get movin’.)

You’re here to hear about our first rated show! And if you’re not, then too bad because that’s what I’m talking about today. Get with it.

I had my lesson last Wednesday thinking very positive thoughts: it didn’t matter that I was sick and exhausted and couldn’t take a full deep breath! My pony would take care of me! It’s fine that I accidentally took the drowsiness-inducing meds before hopping on! Beastly is a saint!

I’m formally removing my petition to have the Big White Unicorn canonized. Not that she was bad, but she is definitely the type of horse to get her confidence and gumption from her rider. When said rider is flopping around barely conscious and alternately flapping the reins/pulling at her face? Yeah, she’s not going over any of those jumps.

I’m surprised I didn’t fall off, because she ducked out HARD so many times. A couple were dirty stops where she was being lazy, but the majority was me not sticking to me guns. We eventually ended on a good note, but that was probably our worst ride to date.

I was feeling SUPER not ready to show on Friday. All my trainer could tell me was that “you have to have a bad dress rehearsal before the real thing.” Somehow that didn’t seem super comforting.

But Thursday I had a great school where I basically rode Addy in circles til she was sleepy, gave her a nice bath, prepped everything, and went to bed at 9pm.

Friday was show day! Up at 4am and at the barn by 4:45am. Beastly had naturally slept in her poop, so we got to re-do the bath from Thursday. She then got to run around the indoor for a while to get the beans out of her system (thank goodness, she was tearing around in there like crazy). She loaded on the trailer like she does it every day, and we were off! I actually really need to get a video of her loading, she turns herself around and backs right into the narrow slot like one of those self-parking cars. She’s such a champ.

Once there, we got checked in at the show office, used the permanent bathrooms (not porta-potties! So classy!), and went to walk the course. Bonus side of long legs: course walking is my normal stride, not big goofy steps. The course was really cool- none of the turns were that crazy, some cool combos, and nothing was too spooky.

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The power phase started up the diagonal oxer, right turn down the single and continue out the gate, up the two-stride, down the diagonal line in 5, up the one-stride to six out. Then if you were clear the speed phase started, and it continued to the end oxer, rollback over the blue waves, left to go quarter-line bending out over the gold, rollback again over the blue waves, then hard right to end over the same jump as the power phase.

At least in theory. We had a great warmup, but I was still nervous going into our first class. My girl picked up on that, and we had a stop at the third fence and again at the in of the one stride. Not dirty stops, but I was staring at the jumps. So she said “OOH what’re we looking at?!” And stopped so she could see too. Womp womp. Note to self: we are not trying to get to the jump, we are trying to get over the jump. Stop staring at the jump.

So for the second round I grabbed a crop, they put spurs on me, and we changed the way I rode. We’re always holding her back and trying to keep the control, but we threw that out the window this time (to a certain extent…I still wanted control). The goal was to get the momentum going and have her carry me to the jumps so that stopping would just be too difficult. I was to let go of her face, guide with my legs, and let my horse do her goshdarn job.

And wouldn’t you know, when I got out of her way and encouraged her forward, my pony LOVES her job. She was thundering around with her ears pricked and I could feel her hunting down the next jump! We completed the power phase clear and continued straight on to the speed phase- we was one bobble at the first rollback where I didn’t set her up and she didn’t see the jump early enough so we had to circle and come back at it. We then finished off the rest of the course on a big huge step, which was crazy fun. I was beaming when I left the ring!

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Still beaming like an idiot ten minutes later. No, the bay is not a pony. Addy is just a very big girl.

Even with our circle, we got around 48 seconds in the speed phase- the winner was around 41 seconds, so we weren’t that far off! I think if we hadn’t circled we would’ve been in the ribbons for sure.

I had the option to do one more class, but I called it a day after that. I was feeling great, Addy was feeling great, and I want her to associate these shows with getting to have fun doing what she loves best- jumping over colorful sticks. So we only did the 2’ and the 2’7”. Big step back in height, but huge step forward in learning how to communicate.

We then spent several hours hand grazing before she got to take a nap on the trailer, I did some shopping (bought a pair of breeches that I didn’t really need, but I reeeeally wanted them so close enough), and we watched AT totally beast the TB hunter division. I also spent way too much money getting one of the pro pics of us in the 2’ division. It was stupid expensive and the jump was super tiny, but I wanted a memento of our very first big show together. I’ll share it when it comes in!

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Addy liked watching the Grand Prix ring. She told me she wants to do that next show.

All in all, it was an incredible day. The hustle and bustle of the showgrounds, the feeling of being in the big jumper ring, getting to hang out with my pony all day, and every single other thing about it was amazing. Would I have loved a ribbon? Obviously. I don’t pay all this money without some hope of recognition. But I wouldn’t trade a single part of that day because holy moly we learned SO MUCH.

A few takeaways:

  1. Let go of her face! Picking and picking and pulling is never the answer. Have enough feel to guide, but push her up into the bridle instead of pulling.
  2. Forward is good. It’s not what we look for in the hunter ring, but it will save our butts in the jumper ring. Let her turn into that snowplow and beast around the course. She’s naturally careful, stop worrying about that as much.
  3. Carry a stick and use it on the approach. Not necessarily hard, but just as a reminder that yes horse, you do have to go over this obstacle. She likes the reassurance that I’m up there and paying attention too.
  4. Get in the rumble seat. Forget that hunter half-seat. Forget that equitation perch. Get my ass in the saddle, sit up, sit deep, and drive. It’s ok to get left behind a little bit at this height- focus on getting the horse over the jump. This is not a horse that needs some minor steering, this is a horse that needs me to be in the driver’s seat during every stride.
  5. Deep breaths! Every so often I made a point to breathe and smile on course. It made a world of difference keeping me and the beast relaxed and having fun.

So there you have it. We survived our first rated show and LOVED every second of it. Addy didn’t blink an eye at all the craziness going on- loudspeakers, buzzers, 120398 horses up her butt in the warmup ring, tractors across the street, anything. Beast mare don’t care. Time to start saving my pennies so we can go to more!

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Forever kisses

PS- I’m super bummed that I have no videos of either of my rounds. I would’ve loved to look back and review how we did!

Olivia, you ride a strong horse.

Lesson recap time!

Since the Beast has been making a habit of dragging me around over fences in our last couple lessons, I decided to pop the Pelham in for our lesson yesterday. Ain’t no way I was dealing with that crap any more.

We had a nice warmup WTC, lots of no stirrup work (ow) and lots of work on extending and collecting our canters. I focused on sitting deep in my saddle and squeezing her up into the bridle to attempt to get her to soften into the collection. Definitely a work in progress, but being able to engage that curb rein when she got strong helped a lot. I also made a point of making Addy wait until I gave her the cue to canter. Picking up my reins, changing direction, going around a corner: none of these are cues to canter. She’s gotten much better at waiting instead of anticipating, so I’m going to have to stay consistent with that.

On to jumping! We trotted over a crossrail a couple times and this went surprisingly well- she didn’t try to launch over it, just trotted nicely to the base and cantered away. Very civilized. Then we started building up a course:

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Our first was: A-B-C-D-E. Up the stone wall, down the other stone wall/oxer, up the quarter line, and down the oxer. Lots of long approaches!

I was pretty happy with this- Beastly got a little strong in places and took some flyers, but overall was fairly responsive. The quarter line was set to a long 3/short 4, so I just let her open her stride a bit more and carry me for the 3.

We played around with different combos of that for a while, and then gave this course a try: H-F-G-B-C-D-G-B-A. Pink outside vertical towards home, up the outside line in 4, down the stone wall, up the quarter line, down the outside line in 4, up the other stone wall.

Honestly I’m 99% sure we had another course in there somewhere but I already forget so we’ll focus on this. Our first attempt at the first jump was a launcher from downtown because Unicorn got super psyched about it, so we came around and started again. She still got psyched, but we got to a much more reasonable distance. We had to hold a bit going up the outside line because it was set for a short-ish 4, but it wasn’t so bad going away from home. We got nice and close coming down the stone wall, made a nice turn to the quarter line, and recovered our canter nicely around the short end coming to the outside line. This was really tough to fit the 4 in because we were heading towards home, and took a couple tries for me to get it without resorting to the pulley rein, but we got there. Then we got nice and close to the base going up the other stone wall too.

Phew! Overall, I was super happy with this course. It definitely had some sticky moments, but I felt like I was calling the shots instead of climbing up Addy’s neck and hoping she wouldn’t take a flyer. I’ve been really bad about tipping my upper body forward and getting light in the saddle lately. This works in the hunters. This works for lots of horses. This does NOT work on a big ol’ draft cross who gets REALLY excited about jumping. I made a point to sit up, sit deep, keep my leg on, and close my hand to make her wait to the base. Thrusting my hips a little forward and using my core as an anchor made a world of difference in getting Addy’s attention: I finally felt like she was cantering under me and ready to go where I asked instead of carrying me around and occasionally checking to see if I was doin’ OK up there.

My trainer seemed happy with how I rode this too- she liked the quality of our canter between jumps, and was super happy that we waited to the base instead of leaving the stride out. That’s exactly what we want for the jumpers! Pretty Girl has a huge step, so I never want to be that team galloping around trying to make time. We don’t need to do that. If I can get Beastly packaged up under me, we can be efficient with our turns and careful with our jumps. The time will take care of itself if I give my girl a good ride. It was also pretty gratifying because my trainer said to me, “Olivia, you ride a STRONG horse. She will drag you around if you let her. You didn’t let her in that course, and even though it wasn’t perfect, you made the best decisions you could make based on what you had to work with.” I’m still cheesin’ about that one. Addy definitely has been challenging me a lot lately, but I’m so excited that I’ve been able to keep up and continue progressing. I definitely feel like a much stronger rider than I was a couple months ago.

In other exciting news, Beastly and I are going to our first ever rated show!! I’m pretty sure it’ll be her first ever rated show, and my first in roughly 10 years. We’ll be trailering in to HITS Culpeper for one day and doing two jumper classes- level 0 and level 1 (0.8m and 0.9m). I was a little disappointed because I so badly wanted to do the Low Adults (1m) but Trainer made a very good point- this is Addy’s first rated show, and we want to create a good experience for her and not overwhelm her. Does she have the scope for 1m? Absolutely. But there’s going to be so much going on, we’d rather keep the jumps a little lower and have this be a confidence booster for her. We have all the time in the world to move up. I’m glad my trainer reminded me of this, because my tendency is to kinda rush into things. It’s hard to remember that my pretty pony is VERY green when it comes to shows! Anyways, I’d love any advice that y’all have for surviving the jumper ring at HITS.

In even MORE exciting news, I have a brand new pair of Pipers thanks to Allison from Pony’tude!!! They’re in such a cool (discontinued) color and I’m always thrilled to add to my collection. I’ve got a big Smartpak post coming up soon where I talk about all the gear I’ve gotten recently, so keep an eye out for that!

I’ve got another lesson this afternoon, so get pumped for yet another lesson recap tomorrow. Get into it. It’ll be awesome.