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2014 Equus Now Classic: Limit Equitation

I have so much to tell from the show this weekend; it was certainly a roller coaster of emotions but I had a great time and I learned so much. In an effort to stay organized I’m going to break up my show report a little bit differently this time and focus on each division, rather than go day by day. Hopefully it all makes sense, but if it doesn’t, I trust ya’ll to let me know 🙂

After not being able to school on Friday, and scratching our plan of riding in the Hunter Derby, I decided I still wanted to challenge myself and show in something other than just our regular hunter division. I’d already shown in Equitation Over Fences at the previous show, so I opted to add Equitation on the Flat and show in the entire Limit 2′ Equitation division.

But me being me, a flat class wasn’t nearly exciting enough (mostly because my equitation on the flat sucks because I never, ever practice it) so I also opted to add a 2′ Medal class. For those that aren’t in the hunter/jumper world, a Medal class is the same as an Equitation class, but it typically has two phases: an over fences portion and a flat portion, which are combined to determine overall placings.

All of the Equitation classes were held on Saturday, which meant in order to be successful, I really had to get my shit together. Our warm-up round was a bit tough, and it turned out despite his lackadaisical attitude on the lunge line that morning, he was still bright-eyed and bushy tailed. He celebrated hard after one fence and I almost came off… but I held on and finished my course. I had two hunter rounds after that (which is a story for tomorrow) and then my Limit Equitation Over Fences. It was a simple course, no rollbacks or bending lines or anything… which was kind of disappointing. But nonetheless, I went out and rode and focused on stretching up and looking ahead, just like we’ve been practicing in lessons.

And the round was beautiful! Definitely our best trip of the day, even with a few short spots coming out of the lines. I did an great job of making decisions and sticking to them, especially on the approaches to the singles; that far outside single was tough, and I kept seeing just a slightly longer distance to it, but I stayed with Miles well, and balanced back afterwards each and every time. Overall, our effort was good enough to get us first place out of seven! And in case you’re keeping track, Miles and I have now won TWO equitation over fences classes so far this year. I guess we can equitate after all!

After the fence round, we had our flat. It went fine; Miles was a bit up and not quite as relaxed as I would have liked, so I focused more on him than I did thinking about my equitation, since it kind of sucks anyways. By the end of the class, Miles was a bit more soft and his head wasn’t quite reaching for the sky anymore, so I called it a win. And we ended up placing fourth — which was not last! Go team! Overall, our placings were good enough to garner our very first Champion tricolor, which came complete with a baggie of treats for Miles and a snazzy saddle cover. GO team!

Unfortunately our 2′ Opportunity Medal class didn’t fill, so everyone scratched and I was left as the only one in the class. It was the same course as our Equitation Over Fences, so I just jumped around again and got myself a (hardly deserved) first place ribbon. The judge asked me (jokingly) if I wanted to drop my stirrups and go in for the flat. I laughed and said “No way, I’m too old for that!” I think he just wanted to see if he could get me to fall in the mud, especially after my near-acrobatics in the warm-up earlier that day.

Not As Planned, Part Deux

It’s the second show of the season for Miles and I, and again schooling day went not as planned. Last time it was Miles’s fault (although with such a cute face, it’s hard to ever stay mad at him for long), but this time it was Mother Nature who got in the way. As soon as we pulled onto the show grounds, the skies opened up and let out a torrential downpour.

It rained for a good hour straight, and by that time the rest of the classes scheduled for Friday were cancelled and moved to Saturday morning. The best part? All schooling was cancelled too — no horses were allowed in the show rings at all. So that meant no lunging, no practicing in our Limit division ring, and definitely not trying out the jumps in the Big Ring for the Hunter Derby Saturday night. Too bad I forgot Miles’s floaties at home, I joked with my trainer. But really, I was devastated inside.

I wanted to show in the Big Ring so, so badly. I looked at those jumps yesterday and thought “well, they look a bit wide, but Miles and I could totally do it.”

But I’m sticking to my beliefs: if it’s not right, we’re not doing it. Could we show in that ring without any practice? Probably. But that’s just not how I roll; I’m a nervous adult amateur who needs to practice. And my number priority is giving Miles every opportunity to succeed. And going in cold isn’t setting ourselves up for success.

So that means, most likely, no Hunter Derby for us, and we’ll have to wait until next time to show in the Big Ring. Here’s hoping we can make it through our division without any practice tomorrow!

My Dream Barn

One of the things I like to do in my spare time is look at pictures of massive, eye-poppingly gorgeous barns. You know the ones I’m talking about: perfect white fences, lush green grass and so clean on the inside you’d eat off the floor. I find it fascinating to compare different styles of stall fronts, and I love analyzing tack room layouts. Maybe I’m a freak… or maybe you enjoy taking a peek into how the other half lives too.

First things first: the outside. If I’m talking dream barn, I want massive, impressive and drop-dead gorgeous. I don’t want a run-of-the-mill stable that looks just like every other equestrian facility… I want unique. I think this one fits the bill quite nicely:

Who wouldn’t want to drive up to that everyday?! 

Of course, acres upon acres of rolling pastures are a forgone conclusion. And they’d probably look like the ones above: perfectly manicured and mowed, with big water troughs and run-in shelters for those pesky summer pop-up storms. I could go either way on the fence color, but they’d of course be in perfect repair. There’s nothing worse than broken boards and peeling paint on a fence line.

While we’re still outside, let’s talk arenas. ‘Cause my dream barn has arenas all over the damn place. I want a big ass outdoor sand ring (with that super cool footing they have at the Kentucky Horse Park), a grass arena, a jumping field and whole bunch of connected trails. With hills.

And of course a few indoor arenas wouldn’t hurt either — a bigger one for jumping and a smaller one for flatwork (and winter turnout) would do just fine. Bonus points for sweet architecture and really high ceilings. And I’ll take more of the KHP footing in those rings too.


Since we’ve moved inside, let’s discuss stalls. Now this is where things get tricky for me. I’ve seen so many pretty stall fronts, I don’t know how I’d ever choose just one style. So I guess as long as the stalls are big and airy, I’m happy. My architect can decide on the design — I mean, that is what I’m paying him for, right?

Automatic waterers (heated in the winter), fly spray system and fans in the summer would all be there too… cause ponykins needs to be comfortable! I’d also really like runs off the back with awnings, I think. Miles hates to be cooped up, so maybe some mini-paddock time would help him out. And since the biggest pain about runs is keeping them neat and tidy, with all of my wonderful staff I wouldn’t have a thing to worry about.

Finally… the tack room. There are so many options for greatness here, I’d really have to spend some quality time with the architect again. Although, something like this would do quite nicely:

What do you dream of in your barn? 

Mixing it Up

It seems the key to Miles’s happiness (and avoiding Mr. GrumpyPants) is keeping things interesting, and mixing up our exercises. When we’re outside the ring, Miles is great: perky ears, willing to go forward and generally a total peach. Even if we work in the ring for a bit, take a walk on the grass and then come back into the ring for more work, he’s always happier to do his job.

Keeping this little revelation in mind, my trainer set a very… interesting pattern of jumps for our private lesson last night. It was four jumps in the very center of the ring, set in the shape of a plus sign; the instructions were to go over a fence, turn 270 degrees and go over another fence. If you did all four fences in a row, you would make a sort of cloverleaf path. Clear as mud? Here’s a video of our best round to help you out:

I was apprehensive about the exercise at first. It was unlike anything I’d ever done before, and it looked kind of complicated. But I put on my game face and went at it; and once I got the hang of it, it was actually kind of fun! The complicated pattern made me plan my path and kept me focused on looking forward, while the tighter turns forced me to stretch up, and keep Miles even between my hands and legs.

Overall, Miles really enjoyed showing off his handy side, and I liked how much I was challenged mentally and physically. We got to work on some of the things we’ve been focusing on in lessons and flat rides (making decisions, looking ahead and stretching up), so it was a great lesson to have right before a show. Plus, since we nailed the exercise, I got a nice little confidence boost!

We ended the lesson by jumping a few small crossrails in the grass outside the ring. Yes, you did read that correctly: the ring baby jumped outside of an enclosed space! The jumps were small, not even 18″, and they were in a grassy space right next to the ring, so it’s not like we went very far. But it was crazy how both my nerves shot up and how EXCITED Miles was to JUMP IN THE GRASS! He was so cute, moving forward, ears perked, jumping great. Unfortunately there’s no photographic evidence… so I guess we’ll just have to do it again soon!