We’re just past halfway through the show season, I’m pretty pleased with the results so far. Things didn’t start out the way I’d hoped, and I’m still battling my way back from all the issues we had over the winter. The good news is that while my progress hasn’t been linear, there has been progress… tremendous progress. This horse show was a good marker for where I’m at riding wise: while things didn’t quite go as planned, I made the best of it and rode through it regardless.
Our routine for these shows has stayed pretty consistent: the horses hauled up early afternoon on Friday, and we spent some time setting up stalls and preparing to school. Then a wrench got thrown into our plan (because horse show). The show was so huge that they moved all the equitation classes from Ring I to Ring II, and asked my Trainer to judge last minute. So instead of schooling fences at 3pm like we planned, my Trainer started judging the ring we needed to practice in at 3pm. Trainer said to watch the time, and if it got too late, we’d just need to ride without her. The two jumpers in our barn decided to school themselves at 5pm and it went really, really well.
The three of us in the hunters waited until 7pm, when I started to fade fast. We decided to just get on and ride in Ring III — and it went pretty well. This ring was a new addition since the previous show in June, and is built right next to a pond… and there was a line of jumps set right on that rail. Miles was really looky down that line, and actually refused the second jump a few times. It wasn’t dirty, and after two attempts we trotted over just fine. Since I wasn’t showing in that ring, I didn’t worry about it, or school through it. Once we got over, I ignored that line. We practiced going forward and getting down the lines in the correct strides. Overall, schooling went really, really well.
Of course, Trainer finished judging just as after we untacked, so we could have waited a bit longer and gotten in Ring II after all… but such is hindsight.
Saturday was awesome because they moved classes around, so I got to show at around 10:30am, and was done by noon. It was really, really nice, especially with temperatures already soaring. Of course I forgot my show clothes at home and freaked out on my Husband (sorry Sam!), but he’s the best and brought them up for me. Compared to the show in June, Ring II was completely rearranged, and Miles was a bit spooky and sucked back in our warm-up round. We planned to do the add-stride, but I wanted to really keep him in front of my leg and make the adds tight. I was fairly successful, and Miles settled in as soon we started jumping.
After our warm-up round, Trainer and I decided to step up the pace and go for the correct strides in both of our judged rounds. Things were a little bit sticky, as I didn’t have quite enough pace sometimes, and wasn’t quite sure where I was in the lines (did I have enough? Should I whoa for the add?), but Miles was amazing and completely took care of me. We had some big spots out over the oxers, but Miles took care of it and didn’t punish me on the other side — such a good boy! In a big, competitive class of 13 we got 6th and 8th, which I was ELATED over. I honestly went into this show not expecting to place at all, so it was a great bonus.
In the evening on Saturday they announced that the schedule for Sunday would change, and my division would be pushed back to the afternoon. And then Sunday late morning they cancelled the warm-up class because the show was moving so slowly. I was super disappointed on both accounts, and honestly I think I let that get to me a little bit. We waiting around for what seemed like forever to show, and of course as soon as we were warmed up and ready, it started to look like rain. Not too long after that, we heard thunder and things got a little hectic. Trainer was really pushing the two of us in the division to get in the ring and show ASAP before the rain. In my first judged round Miles was really spooky… which is extremely unlike him, and I still don’t know what he was looking at.
I didn’t add enough leg to keep him going, so we ended up doing the add stride again on Sunday for both rounds. The first round was… ugly, and I’m glad I don’t have video to show you. Between Miles being slightly more difficult than usual and me just not riding well, it was pretty much trash. Our second round was better, but still not great, and I opted to stay on the adds where I’m more comfortable rather than risk a spook that might unseat me. Right after both of us finished our rounds, they put the show on a rain delay, so I was glad we got our rounds in… but I was not happy with how I performed.
Looking back, I’m still not happy about how I rode, but I’m trying to cut myself some slack. We all have off days, and Sunday was my first truly off day all season. It sucks that it happened at a horse show, but it’s going to happen. So I’m not dwelling on it, and instead I’m moving forward and focusing on the fact that I rode through Miles’ spookiness, AND the day before we DID THE STRIDES. Progress, people. It’s happening!