The Delaware Showtime Series always has a “special night class” on Saturday evening. It’s usually a hunter classic or hunter derby with various heights [2’3″, 2’6″, 3′ and 3’6″] held after all the regular classes are finished, under the lights. At the Labor Day Classic show management always hosts the “Ride for the Ribbon Hunter Classic” which benefits the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research. This class has a special place in our hearts, especially this year: one of the ladies at our barn has stage 4 breast cancer; and it’s been really difficult. My BFF, N, regularly rides and shows this ladies horses and it just… sucks. So N has been practicing for this class for months — and we all wanted to support her, our lady friend and of course the cause as a whole.
I’ve never shown in a hunter classic, or any of the special night classes at Delaware. I told myself if my division went well, that I would add the class though. Of course when the time came, I waffled and had a million excuses:
- I was tired
- I didn’t ride well in my last hunter round
- It was raining
- I didn’t want to ruin my confidence
- Blah, blah, blah
I literally went back and forth on my decision until I tacked up three riders out from my posted order of go. It was dark and drizzling… and Miles was intrigued. We practiced in the smaller show ring [which was now closed] to see how Miles would react to the lights… since we had no idea if he’d ever shown in the dark before. His head was up and he was certainly awake, but he listened and didn’t spook or really look hard at anything. We jumped two jumps and went into the ring! We decided to play it safe and make a huge courtesy circle around a majority of the jumps, so Miles could see everything. At the top of the circle, I realized I was terrified; like hands shaking, barely able to think scared out of my mind. For a split second I thought about leaving the ring… but I knew I shouldn’t. So I picked up my canter and away we went!
The course wasn’t really challenging, but I’m not sure I breathed at all either. I didn’t ride very well, chipping in to a few fences and getting late lead changes, but Miles was a thug. He jumped around without a care in the world, didn’t look at a single jump or shadow in the corners. He never got mad that I was sucking it up, and he killed it. We scored a 63, which isn’t very good [it was the lowest 2’6″ score, in fact] BUT it wasn’t an embarrassing 25 or even a 40 or 45! I was over the moon; what a way to end my first year with Miles. He’s helped me accomplish so much, it’s hard to put my full thoughts and feelings into words, except to say: I fucking love this horse!