This past weekend was the New Vocations Charity Horse Show. For those of you who are unfamiliar, New Vocations is a racehorse adoption program that re-homes Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds after they’ve finished their careers on the track. They are headquartered here in Ohio, but they have six additional locations throughout the state, as well facilities in Kentucky, Michigan and Pennsylvania. I’ve personally known several Thoroughbreds that have come through the program since they opened in 1992, and it’s an amazing opportunity to purchase some really talented athletes without some of the “unknowns” of purchasing directly off the track yourself. I’m a fan on Facebook, follow them on Twitter and browse their website all the time… and let me tell you they have some really, really beautiful horses available right now. Anyways, the point is that New Vocations is a really great organization, so coming out to support their horse show is a no-brainer for me; they have Thoroughbred Incentive Program classes, as well as Thoroughbred-Only classes and of course a few divisions open to anyone, like Miles and I.
Although it’s an unrated show, it’s held at the same location as other local “B” and “A” rated horse shows, so the facility is great and I know it well. Plus this show always attracts some additional entries from our barn and I love showing with people who don’t come out with us every single month. Needless to say, we had a whole slew of hunters and jumpers competing throughout the weekend, so I had an absolutely blast. We ate too much food, laughed too loudly and had way too much fun. And as a bonus, every single horse and rider rode fabulously and came away with great ribbons!
Trainer hauled Miles up to the horse show on Friday morning and I promptly got to work grooming him and lunging. He was more relaxed than he’s been at our previous two shows, but I was still glad I decided to work him before getting on to ride. We started off in Ring 2 [where the Limit 2′ division is held] and Miles jumped around a small course like it was no big deal… probably because it wasn’t. Then we headed up to the Big Ring 1, and schooled those jumps. Even though they weren’t nearly as filled out as they are at the rated shows, I was still pretty nervous. But Miles was fantastic. He happily jumped around, didn’t try to buck me off and dealt with my amateur mistakes with good humor.
Afterwards, trainer popped the question. Do you want to move up to 2’6″ at this horse show?
Because once you show 2’6″, you can’t show 2″ anymore [at least, those are the rules on our local horse show circuits]. I thought about for a split second before deciding to go for it. Sure, I was nervous, but we were as ready as we’d ever be!
On Saturday I showed in the Pre-Child/Adult Hunters [2’6″], and I was so nervous, I thought I’d throw up. Miles warmed up well, but our first practice jump was terrible. I ran him up to a long spot and as soon as I did it, I knew I had made the wrong choice. Thank goodness Trainer could see the fear, and she stayed cool as a cucumber, giving me encouraging words and acting like my mistakes were no big deal. So I jumped a few more times in the schooling area, before I marched down the tunnel and into the Big Ring 1 for our warm-up round… my first ever 2’6″ course at a show.
Our plan was to ride the add stride [adding an extra stride in between all the fences]. Even though it meant I wouldn’t place well, I was much more comfortable at the slower pace. I was still really nervous, and when I’m nervous, I’m tense. So our warm-up round wasn’t very pretty. I chipped in to a few fences and didn’t flow very well, but Trainer encouraged me all the way through. I don’t think I took a single breath the whole time I was on course, but we made it! I was so relieved after that first round!! I had three judged trips, and our first was our best. It was even and smooth and I finally started to relax and go with the flow. Miles was an absolute gem, and listened to every cue I gave him! Afterwards I was so happy I literally burst into tears. I finally did it. I finally showed 2’6″:
We didn’t place well, 7ths and 8ths out of 8-10 horses, but I don’t give a rat’s ass. We went around a 2’6″ course, and it wasn’t awful; in fact, we had some really nice jumps and lines!!
On Sunday I planned to show in the Intermediate Adult Hunters [2’6″] and our under saddle was up first. As soon as we started to trot, Miles just felt tense and tight. He wasn’t lame or off… just not moving like himself. He was very well-behaved, didn’t spook at any of the spectators or get mad at horses running up his butt. But he wasn’t as willing to forward [and it wasn’t because of his usual grumpiness], stretch down or move up underneath himself. It was a small class of only four or five, and I figured we’d be near the bottom; he just didn’t feel good to me.
Imagine my surprise when we won! Best of the worst that day, I guess, but I was pretty damn happy to win my first ever blue ribbon for an under saddle class!
After talking to Trainer, we decided to scratch the over fences classes, since Miles wasn’t 100 percent. I was probably just being over cautious, but my number one priority is always my horse’s well-being. And anyways, I’d already accomplished my goals and I was thrilled to death with my pony!