From 40,00ft - it was a great weekend. All realistic goals were met. The mare seemed to enjoy (most) of the experience, I enjoyed (most) of the experience and I'm pretty sure we came away from it positively.
Friday we arrived with time to school in the show rings. This is one thing about Hunter Land that baffles me - my little Eventer brain just cannot comprehend how it's possible to pay $20 then go school in the big scary ring and jump over all the big scary jumps.
Magical. How anyone has a refusal during their actual round is beyond me. (just for that I will probably have a refusal at my next outing..)
That being said I let S have the schooling ride and just as I was sitting there thinking "wow, she's so lovely to watch" and thanking other onlookers for their kind words regarding her movement and overall presence, S pulled up and informed me that she was "basically unrideable."
This is the tricky thing about this mare. Even when she's explosive and bouncing off the walls, she still looks.... pretty damn good to someone on the ground. Not perfect, but certainly not as difficult as she feels when you're in the irons. I like it when I'm watching, I hate it when I'm riding.. This is also what's contributing to the "rein lameness." When she's tense and holding, she still has a nice big swinging stride. Sneaky....
Regardless, P2 calmed down pretty quick and didn't even bat an eye at any of the big spooky jumps in Hunter Ring #1 (though we didn't push our luck by heading to the jumper ring..)
Saturday Prairie had a her first round over fences and her Hunter U/S class in the Baby Green Division (2'6") as well as one course each for my Long Stirrup Hunter and Long Stirrup Eq divisions (both 2'3").
S piloted her around a decent course for Baby Green and since she had another entry in the division I rode Prairie for the Under Saddle class. I think Prairie got 4th (out of 5?) over fences, but we won the flat class (WHEEE) with our barn mate taking second right behind us. It was a great start to the day.
Then it was my turn to take her over fences. I warmed her up briefly, but she was feeling pretty dang strong after the fences and I could tell I didn't "have her" right where I needed her. But I could also tell that as her third tack-up of the day we weren't going to sharpen things up by schooling more and more and more...
I got two "successful" but not pretty rounds in and we pinned toward the bottom (or at the bottom) of the class in both.
Sunday, was another day which started with two Hunter rounds to close out the Baby Green division and left me with another course for both my LS divisions as well as my flat classes for Hunter U/S and Eq U/S.
I timed things a bit better so Prairie only had to be tacked up twice - which goes to show how rusty I am at this whole show-timing thing. Although I didn't really understand the whole "open card" thing but now it's making more sense and makes me much less nervous about missing my rides.
S improved on her Saturday ride and snagged a 2nd and 4th over fences (not last!!) which gave me hope for my remaining courses though I forgot that would mean I would need to ride like S in order to duplicate the effort.
I didn't, so we picked up another pink (Hunter) and white (Eq) for my efforts.
The flat classes were better (again) and saw another blue for our Hunter U/S but sadly Prairie somehow swapped her hinds during our left lead right as we cantered by the judge. It felt like she kicked out at a fly or something weird, but I'm pretty sure that knocked us down to our 3rd place Eq finish.
I don't think that highly of my Eq, but I did look around the ring during my class and between my ability to stay on the right diagonal, keep my leg on and sit the trot without bouncing out of the tack I'm pretty sure we would have pinned higher without the bobble in the canter. (even with my horrifically long reins)
All in all, we had great rides all weekend. No stops, no meltdowns, no catastrophes. Presumably if Prairie could lope around a course like she lopes around the ring for her flat classes, she'd be a pretty unbeatable Hunter. But the devil's in those darn details, right?
Frankly I'm shocked that Prairie was as calm in her flat classes as she was. No looks at the judge's booth, no eyeballing the other rings, jumps, horses, nothing. She was good and focused so long as I didn't go shaking things up by jumping something.
I'll delve into our specific rides as I get the videos and pics back, but here's a few shots from the ever fantastic Supermom who not only managed to catch some great pics of us, but also woke up early and drove allllll the way to the show each day in order to put pretty braids in Prairie's hair. She's a life saver.
|S and P2 in Baby Greens|
|Winning our Long Stirrup HUS|