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2013 ribbon pie chart

2013 Show Season Wrap-Up

Well, the show this past weekend didn’t quite go as I had hoped. So instead of dwelling on how terribly I rode my wonderful horse, I’m moving straight into a season recap. With my third and final home schooling show under my belt, my 2013 show season is officially over. It’s been one helluva ride, and I thought it would be interesting to do an overview:

Statistics

  • 8 Shows
  • 17 Ribbons 
  • 3 Horses Shown
My season started out an epic failure: I had planned to show my trainer’s horse, Diamond, in the 2’6” divisions but I just wasn’t ready. So I went back to riding Vinnie, and back to the 2’ division, which felt like a colossal failure in and of itself. This feeling continued through my first few shows with Vinnie, which were pretty terrible: we just weren’t getting along and we weren’t placing nearly as well as we had just the year before… at the same fence height.

It was tough to feel like not only had I not accomplished my goal of moving up, but that I was actually riding more poorly. But here is where hindsight really helps me out: it’s not that I didn’t improve my riding, I just had farther to go than I realized. And as for placings, I showed against 12+ this year, instead of 2-3 like last year. I was consistently the highest placing rider without a lead change, so that tells me that I was doing well, I just wasn’t competitive.
At our last show together, Vinnie and I finally worked out our differences and we placed in Equitation Over Fences, which I don’t normally even attempt to show in. The judge personally took time to compliment my riding to my trainer, and I went home feeling like at least I back on track.
All of the tough times this year really put my goals into perspective: each time I got a taste of success, I just wanted more. And as the summer rolled on, that goal of being more competitive became more and more of a priority… which led me to purchase Miles.
Hugging Miles
Buying Miles was one of the most difficult, yet rewarding experiences of my life. And I am so damn glad I did it.
In the end, I got to finish out my show season on my very own horse (they even announced my name as owner/rider over the loud speaker!) – I never dreamed my 2013 show season would end so well. And for our first outing, Miles was absolutely fantastic; packing me around, doing a great job of ho-humming at 2’ and we were competitive.
All in all? 2013 was a pretty crazy year, but I am so lucky and proud to say that it ended way better than it started. And the best part is how bright my future with Miles is: I’m looking forward to what the 2014 show season has in store for us!

First Show with Miles: Day 2

Sunday was much better weather (thank goodness) but a much longer day. We got to the barn at 6:30 am to feed, grabbed some breakfast at Bob Evans and then waited around until about 3 pm for my last two classes:
  • Limit Hunter Over Fences 3
  •  Limit Hunter – Handy Round
 Remember, this is the show that does this crazy handy hunter class as part of all the hunter divisions. In essence, it’s a hunter class on steroids in which I do not get to do single, diagonal, line, diagonal and actually have to spend time not only memorizing a course, but figuring out where to go. For my little hunter pea-brain it’s quite a stretch.
Third Round
Once it was (FINALLY) time to ride, Miles got 10 minutes of warm-up (because apparently he is a horse show veteran) and we went in for our third trip. Unfortunately my phone died and I have no video evidence, but I trumped yesterday’s rounds and LAID IT DOWN for literally the best ride ever. It was just one of those rides where everything worked and it was (mostly) effortless. I nailed my distances, made all my strides look even and Miles took care of the lead changes.
I swear, it’s the most gratifying feeling to see all your hard work pay off; it’s like all the tough rides I had on Vinny and all of the struggle over the summer finally made a difference and I rode that course just like I do at home: with confidence and poise. It was absolutely fabulous.
Handy Round
Our last class was the handy round, in which my goal was to stay on course, complete all of the elements and not fall off. There were a few options for turns, but I opted for all of the long approaches since I haven’t practiced turns at ALL with Miles yet. Overall, it was a solid round for us. We could have been more polished in our transition to the trot, and I wish I could have done it a little bit later, but I felt Miles gearing up for a lead change, which I didn’t want. So I’m happy I recognized that, but wish I could have made the transition more smoothly. Our “rollback” to the gray diagonal basically sucked, but Miles was a saint and went over it anyways. We then cross-cantered for four strides before getting a skip change, which was my fault for not stretching up and pushing him forward; he had no momentum to get the change. Our diagonal line was good, except for my TERRIBLE right leg that couldn’t push him out and made it look like we were about to crash into the end jump. And then I almost forgot we didn’t need a circle but still had to walk out. Oops.
After a grand total of 20 minutes ringside, Miles went back to his stall, ate treats and then loaded onto the trailer to head home 30 minutes later. Sam and I waited around for about an hour for the rest of my division to finish to see if we got any more ribbons. And I’m so glad we waited!
WE GOT A THIRD!!!!!
Miles and I took THIRD in Limit Hunter Over Fences 3 and 8th in the Handy Hunter (no ribbon for that, but they announced my name so I’m counting it!) Sam and I both screamed and jumped up and down when they announced my 3rd place and everyone stared – but I was so overwhelmingly excited! To have ridden this horse for a month and half, jumping probably only 8 times EVER and to get two 5ths and 3rd out of 12 is so remarkable. I never thought I would feel comfortable enough to show a horse over fences so soon, much less ride the way I did.
I am so blessed and lucky to have found Miles and have him in my life!

First Show with Miles: Day 1

Saturday dawned very cold and very wet: highs in the 40’s with rain all day… perfect horse showweather. NOT! We got to the show around 10 am and waited around for my classes (2’ Limit Hunters) and my parents to arrive.As the day went on, the rain kept coming down. I got fairly worried that the ring would be too sloppy to jump in. I’m pretty particular and if there is too much standing water or it even looks slippery, I scratch. I don’t care if every other horse shows, there is no show worth my horse’s (and my) well being. Anyways, the rings definitely got yucky, but there were hardly any standing puddles (none near any of the jumps or in the lines) and the mud wasn’t deep or slippery at all. Huzzah for good footing!

I had a total of four classes on Saturday, three over fence and one flat:
  • 2’ Warm-Up
  • Limit Hunter Over Fences 1
  • Limit Hunter Over Fences 2
  • Limit Hunter Under Saddle

 

 

 

Unfortunately, my parents got stuck in traffic and missed my over fences rounds. The rain let up at the beginning of my division and I decided to get on and get over fences before the rain came back and the ring got even muddier.

Warm-Up Round

My plan was just to ride like I did in schooling the day before and remember two things: (1) look over the fence and (2) stretch up after the landing. Our warm-up round was decent. That is, I made some mistakes but I was very happy with it. I had some tight spots coming home, a long spot into our outside line and we had a really late lead change, but overall I was really happy with Miles and myself: I saw all my distances, stretched up and Miles listened to all my cues.

First Trip

My first trip was even better than our warm-up. I fixed our long spot on the outside line and got all of our leads! Our turn to the brown diagonal line was a little too short and we still had some tight spots coming home, but other than that I was thrilled!

Second Trip

My second trip was by best round to date, ever. I came out of the ring beaming from ear to ear! Our outside line was PERFECT. I saw the distances, and the strides were right there: I’m pretty sure that the clouds opened up and a beam of light shown down from above while I rode that line. It was that pretty. I was tight to the final fence, but other than that it was absolutely perfect.

As I was walking around to cool down, I just burst into tears. It had been 2 ½ years since I showed my own horse and I just laid down my best round ever – it was an amazing feeling!

Under Saddle

After our fence rounds we went back to the stall and untacked. My parents pulled it about 15 minutes after, and we all hugged and hung out until my under saddle. It was a big class: 12 of us all together. My plan was not to fuss at Miles too much and make everything look smooth and easy, especially our canter departs. Again, I just wanted to see how Miles was during the flat — does he get fast with so many horses in the ring, will he be grumpy, etc. Mostly, I wanted to use it to see what we could work on at home during our flat rides. I didn’t have a big budget, so I didn’t buy a flat horse. I figured with such a big class, we wouldn’t place – which is all good since I was there for just the experience anyways.

In accordance with our theme, Miles was great. He didn’t pin his ears at the other horses, went long-ish and low-ish at the trot and was happy during our upward transitions to the canter (which they split, thank goodness!). During the line-up he stood stock still on the buckle and yawned. As they announced the placings, I wasn’t even listening. I was just stroking Miles on the withers and thinking about how amazingly lucky I am to have found such a wonderful horse.
Miles Under Saddle Oct Equivents 2013
And then all of a sudden I heard my mom go “WOOHOO!” and I tuned in just as the announcer said “5th is 940: Milestone, owned and shown by Tracy…” I PLACED IN THE UNDER SADDLE!
 
I was so excited and shocked I just stood there for a second before let out a “Good boy!” and gave Miles a huge pat on the neck as we received our FIRST EVER ribbon! Right after the under saddle, they announced the placings for our over fence classes. Again, I didn’t really have high expectations with so many good horses and riders, but we got two fifths for our efforts!!
In case you’re keeping score (because this is really fucking exciting for me) I placed in ALL THREE of my FIRST THREE classes ever with Miles. Uh yeah, we’re pretty fucking awesome!

Day 2 recap tomorrow!


Miles and I at Equivents Oct 2013

First Show with Miles: Schooling

Gah! I am so far behind in updating this blog and reading/commenting on everyone else’s! Between being sick, working and the horse show, time just flew by! I promise to catch up on everything this week! Anyways, on to the horse show recap…
Friday Schooling
In case you’re living under a rock (or just forgot), Miles and I went to our first horse show together this weekend! It felt like everything was working against us, but we went anyways! My goal was simply to get around the courses and see how Miles was: what type of prep does he need, what kind of ride is at shows, etc.
I showed at this venue earlier in the summer, and I absolutely love it: two show rings, two warm-up rings and a permanent structure with temporary stalls make the venue just perfect. The footing is great (which came into play this weekend!), the fences are nicely painted with lots of fill and the show is very efficiently run. In short, I was excited to be back!
On Friday my trainer hauled Miles up in the early afternoon. I was there to unload him and settle him into his stall… which turned into only about 20 minutes before I got on to school. I still wasn’t feeling well and I wanted to ride before I lost all my energy.
Miles settled in at Oct Equivents 2013
The day was windy and a bit chilly, so I was prepared for Miles to be fairly exuberant. As my trainer said, “He might be a bit up!” As we walked to the ring his head was up and his ears were forward, but he didn’t step a hoof out of place. Miles showed at this venue earlier in the summer, but never in the smaller ring, where our classes were. So I wanted to walk him around and make sure nothing was spooky.
I should have known better. We walked into the ring and he couldn’t have cared less: wind-blowing, ponies flying everywhere, questionable directions from his pilot and he didn’t even blink an eyelash. What a good pony!
Miles and I at Equivents Oct 2013
I warmed-up, and worked on just keeping Miles happy, but still get a semblance of give and bend. I didn’t expect to get what we have at home, but listening is still required. As soon as we were ready, we jumped around. The outside lines were just set at crossrails, so we started with those and I prepared for a 2’6” galloping pace… which never showed up. Miles was a rockstar: he listened when I half-halted too much for the add stride, took care of me when I didn’t stretch up after the fences and popped over the scary hay bale end jump like he’d been taking care of riders all of his life.
I was in the ring for probably a total of 20 minutes. I was so thrilled I told my trainer right then and there that my goals for the horse show had been met!
Day 1 and 2 recaps to follow!
Horse Show Ribbon

First Show of the Season

I had a long, involved post written, but I really need to think more positively in general. So here’s all I’m going to say about the beginning: I took the day off on Friday to go up to the show early and watch an old friend show [she and her young horse looked great in the Baby Greens!] and chatted with her, which was really nice. After that I schooled and it sucked. Vinnie was “up” and we didn’t get to do much; I ended up going over a few fences, but couldn’t put anything together [no lines, just a few singles]. Vinnie’s antics were totally different from the minimal prep horse I rode last year. I went home very upset, worrying that I might not get to show.

Saturday

The next morning my BFF N [also Trainer’s working student] schooled Vinnie and he was marginally better. At first I thought I would show pretty early in the day, but I ended up not showing until about noon. I went off-course in the warm-up class and promptly wanted to crawl under a rock and die. My two division over fence classes were ok, but not great. Vinnie was still strong and I felt like I was doing everything my trainer asked, but without seeing much improvement.

After my classes Vinnie was still wired, so we went to one of the practice rings and rode some more and did a few more jumps. Again, I went home upset and not looking forward to showing the next day. Honestly, I briefly considered cancelling, but I was already out the money, so I figured I might as well suck it up and go out and ride.

Sunday

N schooled Vinnie again in the morning and I rode right after her. He was great for her, just okay for me. I decided that all I cared about was two things: thinking on course, especially in between the lines, and following well over the fence. Below were my two courses:

Both courses went much better than Saturday. I still struggled with pace; I was in such a take-back frame of mind from the day before that I really didn’t allow for the correct striding, so we added in the lines. And by the end of the last course I wasn’t following as well because my legs were so tired. BUT it was much improved, and I accomplished the two goals I set out to do. For your viewing pleasure, the best of my rounds from Sunday:

I ended up with as 6th and 8th over fences for my efforts on Sunday out of 12-14 in the classes — which I was much happier with! I also rode the under saddle well, but didn’t place. Overall, I’m honestly not quite sure what to make of the whole experience. I was frustrated, and still am, about how things went on Friday and Saturday, but I’m not sure how much to blame myself (which I usually jump to!). I’m annoyed that I’m showing the same horse in the same division last year, and I feel like I’ve made a lot of improvement, but that it’s not translating into being more competitive.

I guess I’ve sort of decided to not worry about it and focus on the next show, which is mid-June (two weeks away!). I’ll see how that goes and go from there!