The second day of showing left Prair and N with just three rounds over fences (one for the Large's and two Pre-Green). True to form, Prair looked more relaxed and settled in her stall, the cross ties and warmup. I think we are just at the point in her career where she is trying to be good but still gets a tad overwhelmed by her nerves and new places the first couple of days.
Knowing the judges were not her biggest fans, (and knowing how impressive some of the other horses were..) I had extremely low expectations for ribbons which made everything more fun (if harder to justify financially..).
Warm up was great, N proclaimed that Prair felt "like she does at home" and the mare looked lovely. Also encouraging was the fact that after a big day of jumping there was still no sign of mystery foot lameness from the last time we were at this venue. I'm continuing to believe that we really were dealing with a "jammed finger" of sorts and hopefully nothing chronic that will plague us..
This video is a little... um, low contrast - but you can see that the mare is way more relaxed and comfortable with her job. Most notably I see her changes getting cleaner and cleaner, and her pass through the two stride was about as slow and un-panicked as it gets for her right now (even coming home). So that's neat.
N had 5 (!) horses all running on the same open card (with the Small Hunters, Large Hunters and Pre Green) which made for some serious shuffling, but it also meant that Prair was last and toward the end of the entire group and rode all three courses back to back. N still left the arena each time, but still - no other horses in between her rounds to compare to, or break up the Judges opinions. Not sure if it was good or bad for us in terms of placings, but Prair seemed to handle it well. Staying in the arena and performing our courses with no break has not been ideal in the past.. she tends to build in her anxiety rather than calm down... so the quick pop out the back gate was a nice compromise even with no one else queued up.
Here's the third (first of the day) Pre Green Round: Only thing of note is really a small spook which was the result of someone crinkling a water bottle. I only mention it because Prair pulled it together in 2 strides instead of 10 and went right back to work. Still annoying that she's reacting to to that stuff, but nice to see the level of distraction diminishing.... Prair scored a 72.
Finally, our last round was also rather uneventful. I think it looked pretty similar to the others, though N said that from a rider's perspective Prair felt way more balanced and self managing than she had ever before - which is totally what an owner wants to hear, but hopefully that doesn't mean it's not true :) We were rewarded with a 74 for the last round - which still isn't spectacular, but given what we know these judge's think of the big mare, and that the highest score was an 82... I feel pretty good about that.
Since Half Lease Lady opted not to show this weekend, I opted to haul Prair home on Friday and give her a couple days of R&R while everyone else finished out the show. Now we have three weeks at home before leaving for the next show, which is where we made our "A" debut last year - and one of my favorite spots to show. It's two weeks back to back which I'm hoping will give Prair and HLL a good chance to settle and really have a solid experience.
N made noise that she feels like Prair is getting close to being ready for the National Derbies (staying at the low height options), which is exciting. This would have been a good show to try it out at since the Derby is run in the same arena Prair showed in all week, without any weird surprises beyond a slightly longer course and some hay bales... but we had already hauled home.
The June show is a bit more demanding since they run the derby across multiple arenas and it's less reminiscent of a traditional Hunter round... so that might not be a great option but we'll just keep playing everything by ear!
After that we'll take July off while we wait for Baby to show up before hopefully getting a couple shows on the calendar for August. Very proud of Prairie, and very impatient to get riding again!!! argh.