Monday, November 25, 2013

The Adult Amateur Debut

This weekend was rad.  I'm so glad we went.
WHEE! (oops, my leg)
If you read nothing more, that's the final message.  Of course, with a full night's sleep and videos in hand, the glory of nothing tragic happening is fading into nitpicking the mistakes apart, which belies how proud I am of Prairie for our outing.

Turns out I was the only Amateur who wanted to play this weekend so I got combined with the Juniors who are chasing points and vying for the zone championship.  Good for me in terms of competition.... bad for me in terms of confidence/ribbons. :)

But, such is life, no one likes getting their ass kicked by a 17 year old in the prime of their junior career, but sometimes that's what Sunday brings you.

So, without further ado.  The Day.

As we were hauling to the show I started thinking about everything that I was changing all at once. 

True, Prair has been to this arena several times, but not since... March? so it's not like I could count on her having a super strong memory/comfort with the place.

Usually we haul over on Friday, school the jumps/ring and have a sleepover before showing.  If nothing else it gets me used to the angles in the ring and Prair a bit more settled. 

Usually I have my Trainer with me to keep me from overthinking things/give me useful reminders, etc.

Also, said trainer usually shows her division prior to mine so Prair has already seen the jumps/lines/spooky things and is a bit over it.

This time however, I thought it'd be super clever to not do any of those things, and oh yeah - move up to 3'.

Maybe it was all the great rides this week but for some reason I was totally not at all worried about it.  At all.  And thankfully, I didn't need to be!

Prair settled in great and munched on her breakfast (something she was pissed not to get prior to departure...) while we checked in, learned that start time had been pushed back an hour and finished our coffees. 

One of my good friends graciously volunteered to be ground crew for the day so she was whispering in my ear smart things like "ummmm if the arena is open for another hour do you want to hack?"


"after you hack do you want more Starbucks"

You know, the sort of helpful suggestions that keep you going on a cold, 20 something degree horse show morning...

When it finally came time to warm up, Prair was chill, relaxed and totally pleasant.  We walked around on the buckle, proudly bundled up in one of our coolers and I marveled at the mare's attitude.  Then we picked up the trot, and I was still able to keep a loose rein (whaaaa).  We canted some serpantines, sometimes asking for a change, sometimes holding counter canter... she was great.  She did spook at a car on the road once, but she came right back. 

We put up some jumps, she was chill and soft.  We put them up higher, she stayed chill and soft.  I called it good and we waited to go in.

The first round was... interesting.  I was nervous about not having enough pace or step to make the lines so I deliberately started with more canter than I wanted to (since what I want is a teeny, tiny, micro canter).  This was a great idea until our first line when at approximately the third stride (of five) I wasn't sure we were going to get a fifth fit in.  WHOOPS. 

I felt like the next line (a four stride) was just as catastrophic, but on video it doesn't look as bad.  Finally, the two stride (which I almost never school) came up faster than I wanted, we took a longer spot in and got a bit jammed up going out. 

All in all, it looks way better than it felt (it felt like an unmitigated disaster) but that's why we pay for the warm up round folks! Prair also felt a big wiggly to the jumps, but that's probably a factor of having not seen them (at all) and also not having S take her through some rounds before my rides. 

Here's the video: 

(Note: I'm putting up all the videos for archiving purposes, I don't suggest watching them all unless you find them FASCINATING.  I pulled some stills for those skipping the vids.  If you want to watch one and one only, our second Eq round is the most respectable).

We took a quick break and re-rode the same course for our first hunter round.  It was... a lot better on account of the fact that I started with the right canter, but I sorta screwed up my changes and cross cantered a fence so we placed last, which was to be expected.

I'm releasing!
The second hunter round was better than the first.  We fixed the pesky lead change issue and I didn't freak out in the two stride (though I still didn't really release).  I think we pinned third.

Then it was onto Eq courses.  The first Eq course was... boring? I've learned that the twistier the course the better I ride it, so.. that wasn't a good sign for me.

Prair somehow managed a weird/small spook thing right before the judge's line so we biffed that along with our turn after it, but such is life.  Everything else went pretty well. (we placed last)
flying out of the Judge's line...

Our final round came up and had some better rollbacks and whatnot which made me happy.  But Prairie was starting to get impatient, so I was also concerned her egg timer was going to go off at an inopportune time... But in the ring we went and I think it was our best round.  It sorta looks exactly like all the other rounds on video, but when I was riding it, Prairie felt the most adjustable and most attentive that she had been.  It also felt like my least-tragic trip through the two stride :)  Least tragic is always something to aim for...  the one major blemish was that Prair decided applause was scary and spooked a bit during our closing circle.  Nitwit.

Into the two stride we go! (I'm maybe straight??)

Actually, now that I look at all the videos I'm not sure that was our best round... either way we placed third again (whee!).

The flat classes were boring (cause they're flat classes) and I was EXHAUSTED.  For some reason I kept creeping into my knee and out of my heel in my courses which left my legs tired.  Prair was apparently also tired and really wanted to drop on her big forehand.  I struggled to get her to sit back, but ultimately went for giving her a looser rein than picking the fight.  We placed second in our Hunter Under Saddle and last (wah) in our Eq.  It was deserved though... I was braced and tired and Prair looked... not fabulous.  definitely not our finest moment on the flat.

But you know what? We showed at 3' better than a lot of shows we've had at 2'3" or 2'6".  I felt totally comfortable with the fences, and Prair was the most manageable she's ever been for me on course and it was all without days of schooling or showing beforehand.

That is a super fitting way to close out our 2013 season (for real this time), even if our only blue was by default!


  1. Three feet? You guys made those look like 2'3"s! Sooo easy. Maybe I need a taller horse. I've been there - lone adult among the kids (most of the time actually) AND tired tired by the time we get to flats in which my horse wins or takes 2nd for HUS and I bomb it for us with a last for Eq on the flat. Sounds like you made the great decisions and I'm glad you had success. That's the best part :)

  2. You went and you did it and this has been a banner year for you for sure!

  3. You guys look suuuuuuuuuper confident. I would have never guessed it was your first time at the 3'.

  4. You guys looked amazing! How awesome to have such a positive move up. You guys are going to kick butt next year!

  5. And you forgot one! She looked absolutely stunningly gorgeous the whole time. :D Congrats on your awesome final show!

  6. Seriously you guys make 3' look like it's nbd! Love it! Great job and as always you guys look great!

  7. You and Prair look GREAT! There are so many good things going on in those videos, but I know it's easy just to see the negative.

    Congrats on a FABULOUS end to your 2013 show season!

  8. You guys look terrific! I love the videos (I watched them all). For what it's worth, I have very similar problems with my knee/heel and I found that putting my stirrups up a hole shorter than where I usually jump from has made a big difference for me.

  9. I took my guy to his first show and entered him into the crossrail division- we got smoked by a bunch of (adorable) packer ponies and their (equally adorable) ribbon adorned tots.
    You guys looked fabulous! Loved watching the videos :)


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