Aside from having fabulous grooms, I also found it very easy to get behind the notion of not showing my horse until the fourth day of the show. There's no doubt Prairie was a different mare on Tuesday when we hauled up to school than she was on Sunday when I finished my Medal class.
Does it feel a bit like cheating or copping out to have a pro show her first? sure.
Would I have given anything to have ridden my dressage tests on the last day of an event rather than the first? absolutely.
But was I complaining when I climbed on to warm up for my first few classes and the mare was already dialed in? Not even a little bit.
|I will take this ride any day.|
By the time Friday rolled around I was also less anxious than I had been on Tuesday. I had figured out what taco I liked best from the taco truck, had already seen what side of the ring Prairie thought was spooky and had already watched enough other people screw up that I was no longer convinced I'd make a complete fool of myself. (always helpful).
My classes were slotted for first thing on Friday morning. I got on the mare about 7:20, which gave me a few minutes to hack around the show ring (I still can't believe they let you do that) before moving to the warm up ring to take a few fences. Prair felt pretty good to me. She was definitely a bit antsy, but she was still feeling more adjustable than she usually does at a show and I was enjoying that small victory.
My goal going into my 2'6" warm up class was to work on finessing my half halts after the lines. Two of my lines were "coming home" and I knew Prair would be wanting to motorcycle around the turn. S wanted me to focus on keeping my outside hand low and making it look like I wasn't ripping her face off. But I was also given full permission to halt the mare in a straight line if she was blowing me off. Warm up classes are for warming up after all.
I didn't end up needing the full stop, but maybe I should have used it. We blasted through our first two lines, but in our third line I was actually able to soften and move her up as we jumped out. A definite first. We placed 7th out of 10. I'm not sure what anyone did do fall below us but it must have been ugly!
Then it was straight into our first Hunter course, which was predictably almost the same as the warm up. Prair was a tad softer and we ended up pinning 3rd out of 6. Possibly the first time we've beat that many horses in a hunter class ever. The Eq course was absurdly boring. No rollbacks no bending lines. I guess the only thing "eq" about it was more single fences. I like single fences so I was ok with that and we squeaked out a 2nd. Prair was a very good girl, but I let my reins get long and started releasing like I was going down a bank. Apparently not what I was supposed to be going for.
About 15 minutes after I hopped off The Boy arrived, so sadly, no photographic evidence.
Warm Up 2’6” 7th/10
Pre Adult Hunter 3rd/8
Pre Adult Eq 2nd/8
Saturday all of my classes were at the end of the day (which I liked less) and there was no obvious warm up class (which I liked even less). I added in a couple Long Stirrup classes just to get my rhythm going and that proved to be wise. Prair was a bit of a steam engine to start (this is getting to be a habit) so I appreciated the opportunity to school a bit. We had a not so fab 4th place out of 6 in our Hunter Round, but then managed a 3rd out of 8 for the LS Eq.
I was a little bummed that there was a Water & Drag break before my 2'6" classes started because I thought I was going to lose the benefit of my warmup but Prair was a stud. We rocked our second Hunter round and our third, ending up 1st and 3rd out of 8 in both.
Yes you read that.
In a Hunter Round.
And me riding. WHAAAAAAAT.
We had our second Eq round and I think I was a bit cocky because I didn't give her as deliberate of a ride. All was going pretty well until I didn't get a full change to our right lead so we cross cantered to our Rollback. I thought I had us back on track, but my eyeball deceived me and we bunny hopped over the second half of it. We got knocked down to 6th for the pilot error which was an unfortunate way to end the day, but whatever because we WON A HUNTER CLASS. We must have looked like real hunters!
Here's the video from the (relatively) fabulous Hunter round:
And since I also like to post my humbling errors, here's the Eq (wah wahhhhhhh):
In theory we were supposed to have our two flat classes after that but a conflict with the Jumper ring meant we had about an hour delay. Everyone happily agreed to push the flat classes to Sunday morning before our last Hunter Round (and the Classic and Medal classes..).
LS Hunter 4th/6
LS Eq 3rd/8
Pre Adult Hunter 1st/8
Pre Adult Hunter 3rd/8
Pre Adult Eq 6th/8
Sunday I was totally relaxed and we only warmed up for our flat classes for like 10 minutes. Prair felt great.
But, she felt decidedly less great when the Eq on the flat started and she was surrounded by 7 other horses. Traffic is definitely not her thing. I ended up fighting her more than I wanted to, especially in the canter, but we managed to win the class. I was a bit surprised at that, but gladly accepted the ribbon.
We went straight back in for our Under Saddle and Prair really relaxed quite a bit. I was so focused on letting her nose poke out and keeping a loop in my rein that I ended up letting her get too flat. The Boy snagged a couple clips of it and she looks totally unimpressive. S told me to shape her more and as soon as I worked on trying to lift her ribs the picture was much prettier.
While I was underwhelmed with her trot and she realistically looked sub par, I was over the moon at her relaxation! It's a new feature! Now I know I can ask for a little bit more from her without sacrificing the poked nose :)
We pinned second behind a very cute bay with chrome. I was also surprised to do as well as we did in that class.
Our final Hunter round was also the "first round" for the classic. We scored a 74 (not bad) and pinned 3rd. Realistically it was all pretty good aside from the first fence which I decided to pick a fight about and ended up chipping something awful.
That moved us onto the second round of the 2'6" Classic. Prair started out lovely. She was soft and listening and totally with me until I threw her at a long spot going into a line and we rushed through the rest of it. Then we recovered for a single oxer rolling back to a single vertical, but when we landed Prair wanted to spook and we sorta raced through our closing circle. Whoopsies. we scored something in the sixties and ended up 6th out of 11. Not horrid, but definitely could have been, much better with a slightly better ride.
Then we had a break before the Good Seat & Hands Medal. I like medal classes and this one looked fun. We had to enter at a sitting trot, trot the perimeter of the arena then turn across (basically K to F) and pick up our right lead canter. Then it was a rollback, a couple lines, a halt, a couple singles and we finished with a vertical pointed out the gate with only about 20 feet on the landing side. My goal was to keep Prair super organized, nail the roll back, and eliminate our closing circle by just going straight to the walk and out of the ring.
(The Boy passed out back at the barns and failed to wake up when we came back for our ride, so sadly, no video). I only warmed Prair up with some canter-halt-canter transitions and in we went. The sitting trot was fab, the canter transition was LOVELY, but sadly on the wrong lead (WTF?!). I corrected and we headed for our rollback. Prair had a very tidy, collected canter and we made the rollback in four strides. It was RAD.
I was so pleased with the rollback that I totally forget to get our step a bit bigger for the first line and we added a stride. I literally laughed when it happened as it's never been an issue for us. Oh well. We moved up in our next line, got it, had a nice clean halt. Had a great transition back to the canter (on the correct lead), a great line, great single and then as we approached the last fence I bundled Prair up, we landed, dropped immediately to the walk and slid out of the ring like rockstars.
I'm actually kind of bummed we don't have video. Aside from my piloting errors I think it was our best course of the weekend. I was so pleased with how adjustable Prairie was and how tuned in she was. She nailed everything I asked for (given I actually asked) and feeling her drop right back to me after that last fence was very, very lovely. It was a fabulous end to the week even if we finished second to last (LOL).
Eq Flat 1st/8
Pre Adult US 2nd/8
Pre Adult Hunter 3rd/8
2’6” Good Seat 3rd/4
2’6” Classic 6th/11