Our first horse show of the year is in the books! I went in without any expectations, and I vowed I would do whatever I wanted — no matter what that was. The show ended up better than I could have ever imagined, thanks in large part to my amazing team and support system. So thanks to all who made this weekend a possibility, and supported me throughout (you know who you are). Your kind words, gentle encouragement and hard work allowed me to succeed this weekend.
Trainer hauled Miles up Friday afternoon. As usual, he practically ran us over to get on the trailer and was happy to settle right into his stall when we arrived. After I unpacked and organized my stuff, I took him out for a lunge. He walked quietly to the ring, but as soon as I let out a little slack, he acted stupid and kicked out. I wasn’t in any danger of being hit, but that is not acceptable. I really got after him, and after that he was good. For us, lunging is really about getting Miles to listen to me; he knows how to walk, trot and canter in a circle off my voice, but when he’s ‘up’ he doesn’t listen and just canters around. So I let him get that out of his system, and after about 15-20 minutes he finally started to listen. The crowning achievement of the session was when I got him to walk himself cool out on the line.
Miles got a short water break, and then Nichole (Trainer’s working student) hopped on. She warmed him up in the schooling ring, and then went into the show ring to school over the jumps. He was a tiny bit distracted at first, but when asked, he went right to work. She jumped him around 2’3″ – 2’6″ and he was great! He did everything she asked, got his lead changes and had no trouble riding up in the lines to make the correct number of strides. After watching him be good, and getting assurances from both Trainer and Nichole that he was mentally in the game, I hopped aboard. Our schooling session was short and sweet. I did a tiny bit of trot and canter to get my sea legs underneath me, and then we jumped around all the jumps, set at about 2′. Nothing was a problem, we got all of the strides and lead changes without even a hint of sass!
On Saturday I did a very short lunge session with Miles, and then he hung out all morning before showing in the late afternoon. Nichole warmed him up, and showed in the warm-up class at 2’6″. She made a few mistakes, but Miles handled them all like a perfect gentleman which was so good for me to see. They came out and I felt confident enough to hop aboard. I think we did two warm-up jumps and I went into the ring to show in the 2’6″ Low Thoroughbred Hunters. I made some mistakes in each of my two rounds, but overall I rode really, really well. We made the strides over 2’6″ fences and Miles was very well behaved. I think out of 6, we snagged a 3rd and 4th for our efforts.
Round I Video:
Round II Video:
I thought long and hard about my plan for Sunday, but in the end, I opted to do the same thing that had worked so well the day before. Miles got a nice long handwalk and some grass (no lunge needed) and then Nichole warmed him up and showed in the warm-up round. She rode really, really well and got a red ribbon for her efforts (this show runs the warm-up round as blue/red, which means anyone who scores 80 or above receives a blue ribbon and scores of 75-79 receive a red ribbon). My rounds weren’t quite as polished as the day before, but I still made smart decisions on course and stuck with them. Miles was well-behaved, and we got a 4th and a 6th!
Round III Video:
Round IV Video:
Considering I wasn’t sure what would happen this past weekend, I’m thrilled with how it all turned out. I showed my horse at 2’6″ (something I haven’t done since July 2015), and we had the correct pace (which I haven’t done since September 2014!) and it wasn’t scary to me or to the spectators, hah. All in all, I had a really fun Memorial Day Weekend with my #TeamBrookside and my family, and I even brought home satin to prove it.