I know you’ve all been anxiously awaiting the recap of my first horse show of the year (okay, well at least my mom is), and I’m sorry to have kept you waiting so long. At first, I wanted to pretend that the show hadn’t happened at all… but I eventually came around and begrudgingly began to see the positive takeaways. This show took me quite a while to process, which is part of the reason why this post took so incredibly long to write. Of course, once I sat down to actually write it turned into quite the saga (so now you a two-fer!).
Due to schedule changes, my divisions ran Thursday and Friday this year (instead of over the weekend). Luckily, I was able to finagle a flex schedule with work, so I didn’t have to take 2.5 vacation days for each show this year. Figuring out how to be available for emergencies and horse show at the same time was the first sticky spot of this show, and will take some more work.
Regardless, the horses hauled up Wednesday afternoon and worried about some incoming weather, we got on and schooled right away. Miles seemed pretty calm upon arrival and was much better on the lunge line than I expected for not having been off the farm in six months. The rings were set differently than we had originally been told… but it worked out fine. We schooled all the jumps and Miles didn’t look at a thing. The lines were set long, so I wasn’t sure we’d get the correct number of strides, but I kept my leg on and Miles marched right around perfectly. Schooling was short and sweet!
Show Day 1
Thursday was our first day of showing, and we were slated to show in the early afternoon. It was overcast and drizzling all morning, so of course by the time it was our turn to ride, it was raining. I’ve never shown Miles in the rain, but we soldiered on. We warmed up okay, although Miles was tiny bit looky – probably because I didn’t lunge him – which is unusual for him. They’d changed around some of the fences, which made me a tiny bit nervous as well.
Anyways, our first two classes were over fences in the 2’6” Non-Professional Hunters. We went in and jumped the first jump (a friendly vertical) and went on to a long-run to a single oxer on the quarter line. I didn’t see a distance, Miles was looking at the fountain next to the ring, and I picked him to a super short chip. He jumped the jump, but jumped WAY up so I got jumped out of the tack and promptly rolled over his shoulder and into the dirt.
No one was hurt, except my pride, so I dusted myself off, got back on in the schooling ring and jumped a jump and then headed back into the ring. Unfortunately as soon as I picked up the canter, the skies let loose and it really started raining. We made it over the first fence, but Miles refused the second (the first jump in a line). I was a bit surprised – Miles doesn’t really stop very often – so we re-approached the line and got through. The fourth jump was the dreaded oxer, and he refused twice resulting in our elimination. Looking back, I think what happened was a confluence of events. It was raining, which threw both of us off a little bit, I wasn’t confident and therefore I wasn’t helping Miles.
At this point, I was a mess – I knew that everything that had happened was entirely my fault, but I just couldn’t muster the strength and confidence I needed. My trainer spoke with another pro who was at the ring, and she graciously agreed to get on Miles and ride him in our two remaining classes (2’6” Low Thoroughbred Hunters).
This is where I need to pause and quickly state how overwhelmingly grateful I am to my trainer, who called in favors to get this done for me, and for the pro who agreed to show a horse whom she’d never sat on before in the pouring rain. For the record, she rode him beautifully – did the add stride in the first round but felt comfortable enough to open him up in the second round. He was very well-behaved for her, although she did say he peaked at the oxer on the quarter line which at least meant I wasn’t totally crazy.