By Sunday, which was our fourth day at the show, we were all tired… but still riding the high from Friday and Saturday. The only thing better than doing well yourself, is when your entire team does really well — and let me tell you, #TeamBrookside was killing it. In the interest of saving my strength and my horse’s stamina, I scratched our warm-up round on Sunday, but I still planned to do two full divisions: Intermediate Adult Hunter and Handy Hunter Non-Pro, both at 2’6″.
Intermediate Adult Hunter
This was a smaller, although more competitive division of 4. I was the only one doing the add stride, so I knew I wouldn’t be very competitive, but the point was to get in the ring and get around. I repeated this to myself approximately 10,000 times a day: I’m here for the experience. Just get in the ring and ride to the best of my ability. While I wasn’t over the moon with our rounds in this division, they were a good measure of where Miles and I are at. I opted to add a whip for Sunday because we were both tired, and that definitely showed throughout our rounds. Our canter departs were a little grumpy, it took us longer to get moving and we had some chips here and there. Also, this gem:
All things considered, I was happy with our rounds. We ended up with two 4ths over fences and a 3rd on the flat out of 4 entries.
Handy Hunter Non-Pro
I was really excited for this division, because it’s different. Miles and I pretty much only compete in hunters, with the (very) occasional equitation class or derby. While we practice bending lines and such at home, we don’t really do rollbacks or anything because… I don’t do that stuff very often. So this was our fun division for the show — something different at the very end to take the pressure off and have fun with.
The under saddle of this class ran first, which ended up working in my favor BECAUSE this division was back-to-back with my previous division. So I rode the Intermediate Adult Hunter Under Saddle, then had 1 flat class to breathe and relax, and then we went in for the Handy Hunter Under Saddle. This worked great because trainer helped me make some adjustments between classes. Per trainer’s instructions, I floated the reins and focused on forward trot and canter. It was a bigger under saddle, with 10 in it, so when we lined up I wasn’t sure how we’d place. The under saddle is the most subjective class in a very subject discipline… and you just never know what you’re going to get. But… we ended up WINNING THE CLASS. I was so happy, I cried. When I bought Miles, I was told “he’ll never be much to flat,” so now I know every time we do well in an under saddle, it’s because of the work I’ve done. This horse might be teaching me all about jumping, but I’ve taught him some flat work. It’s an incredibly gratifying feeling to see that so well rewarded.
The over fences were just icing on the cake, at this point. I was so happy with how we’d done, I just wanted to go out and have fun. Our first trip was a typical hunter course, and it rode smoothly for us. Actually, it was one of our more consistent trips and I was thrilled with how well I rode. We ended up with a 4th out of 10 for our efforts in this round:
The second trip over fences was the FUN stuff. It had a roll back, trot fence, bending line AND A hand gallop; here’s the course:
I went into the round to just have fun, but let me tell you, it rode fantastic. In fact, our barn had three horses and riders competing in this division, and we placed 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. And before anyone thinks it’s because our trainer was the course designer, her assistant at the show actually made up this course the night before because her original course didn’t work well with the size of the ring. So no, we didn’t practice it 😉
We placed 3rd, and with that got RESERVE CHAMPION of the division… right behind riding bestie and her jumper who won both over fence classes to get Champion. Again, the best feeling in the world is not only doing well yourself, but watching all your best friends do well too.