This venue isn't super developed, (mostly tents, open rings, etc) and it has a very homey, fun, hospitable vibe. It almost feels like summer camp - which makes me a very happy horse-show-er.
Winds' week stated on Wednesday with the 3'3" Pre Greens. For being a sold out show, I was a little sad to see only three entered in the division, but since the other two were from a really lovely barn, it was still pretty stiff competition.
Winds had one warm up round, which went decently, but he was a tad playful so it was a wise entry.
His first PG round was beautiful and focused:
I didn't tape his second one - but it was also lovely. Cause he's lovely.
He also hacked for the division on Wednesday and managed a Blue is all three classes.
Thursday he came out for two final rounds of the PG. Also pretty good. I think this video is his 3rd round of the division... but I can't remember because unlike Prair, Winds mostly just does his job without a lot of antics. So there aero fewer.... um... punctuation marks to differentiate the different trips with.
He was 2nd and 1st, which made for his first (official) Champion ribbon and, dummmm da dummm - COOLER.
|so feigning cute.|
This was my first real trail ride with Windsor, and he was predictably easy. He definitely wants to lead and/or go faster. But zero spook, zero anxiety, zero problems. Shocking I know, but I was really pleased. It's awesome to be able to take your fancy show pony out into the woods and feel like they can still be a good, normal horse.
There was some discussion as to what to do Friday. Winds was showing well at the venue (some horses find it a tad spooky), and I tossed out the idea of him doing the Derby Friday evening. All I had on the books was my 2'9" Eq division (two rounds and a flat), but that's still a lot of trips (assuming he would make it back for the Handy).
Ultimately we decided to scratch my rounds over fences, and try the Derby (with my trainer in the irons, not me, lol).
Prair did a few smaller non-sanctioned derbies, but never quite made it to the actual big (medium?) leagues. So I was really excited to see one of my very own ponies (especially one who could take all the high options) go around a longer track.
The show had a nice hosted party for the class, so we all grabbed dinner, some spots on the side of the ring where we could see as much as possible, and got ready to watch some lovely rounds.
Winds drew 9th in the order (out of 21) and one of our juniors drew 18th. Winds headed down to the ring early for the walk (it cracks me up that the horses get to walk the course). Winds was unconcerned, but did try to eat most of the jumps he investigated.
Anyway, we watched the first few horses go, with no major issues, and when we left to go warm up over fences the high score was an 80.
Winds warmed up great, forward, perky and attentive. We set a few big oxers and then headed to the gate.
I was thrilled with a 82 + 4.
Winds was a stud. Nice forward stride, solid jumping efforts and zero concern over the "tricky" parts of the course. He just might be a Derby Boy after all...
The score held the top spot until the last horse went and posted a 86 + 4 with a really LOVELY round.
There was a quick reset for the Handy and we had the luxury of watching (almost) everyone else go. It wasn't the handiest track, and options for slick inside turns were limited.
After watching the first few trips where riders opted for some flashy tracks - it seemed like the judges weren't hugely rewarding the risk. Lots of nice horses with nice trips wee scoring in the 70's even with risky options. So we debated how hard to push for the handy options if it wasn't going to bring down a huge score.
Ultimately I told N to do what she felt was best for Winds. I wasn't expecting him to win, so if she wanted a solid, conservative experience - then fine. On the other hand, if he felt like he could pull off the tighter turns, I told her to go for it and if he botched it - I wouldn't really care....
So, she took the high options, and some tighter turns, but not anything crazy handy....
And an EIGHTY SIX. + 4... for a 90 in the second round. The horse ahead of us was returning with a 90, so we needed them to score an 85 or lower in order to leapfrog them..
I trotted down to the back gate to watch the final ride go and congratulate my trainer on such a well ridden first Derby with Winds. She really does do such a lovely job with him - it's a pleasure to watch.
Anyway, the final ride looked smooth, with no major mistakes, but I couldn't see the far end of the course from the back gate. They took 3 of the high options and received a base score of 82 for a total of 85, which gave Winds the win by one point.
I squealed, and fueled by a couple glasses of wine proceeded to run around like a slightly crazy person videoing the victory gallop, trying to find my husband, and doing god knows what else.
|apparently dragging my child into pictures|
Anyway, there were some celebratory toasts and merriment, but the week wasn't over.
Saturday I rode a warm up 2'9" round, and two of my 2'9" low adult rounds.
It had POURED overnight and the ring was a giant puddle. In an attempt to make thing better, the ring crew had raked the footing right in front of the jumps, which essentially created a perfectly even rectangular puddle, which Winds was 99% sure was a Liverpool.
So the first round was... interesting as we jumped everything, including the 4' puddles in front of each fence. I didn't blame him, but I was a tad thrown off and got pretty tight trying to negotiate putting Windsor's feet in the puddles instead of just in front of them...
The following round was better - with a couple late changes, but no puddle jumping. The third round was GREAT, except as we were moving up on the long gallop to an oxer, I felt his right hind slip in the mud and I pulled out.
Apparently the judge later told the steward "I don't know why that girl pulled the Derby Horse out of his jump, but her makeup was impeccable."
So, uh... points for that I guess.
There were eight riding in my division, so our 4th, 3rd and 6th ribbons were solid indications of how tough of a time other horses were having with the puddles as well...
Sunday, the rings were even soggier, and a ton of people scratched the day. I waited it out and since things started to dry out, I decided to try it - totally ready to retire if Winds didn't feel great in the footing.
When I was still deciding if it was worth it to ride or not - one of the ladies in the barn said that she always uses the saying "I'd rather look back and say I wish I had, than I wish I hadn't."
I'm sure that's a well known adage, but I hadn't heard it before and it struck a cord with me.
Anyway, the first round went pretty well, and the footing held up much better than I thought it would. We had some late changes again, maybe a chip to the first fence... second round was similar and we pulled a 3rd and 4th.
Finally we rode our Classic (which thankfully did not include our last division round) and pulled it all together. We stayed balanced and forward and nailed our changes for an 86. Which is hands down the best score I've ever gotten in the irons.
It was good enough for 1st, and if we were only going to win one round I'm so excited it was the Classic, because it happened to be sponsored by Voltaire and came with a really pretty platter and a NEW HUNTER GIRTH.
I haven't bitten the bullet on a good leather girth for Windsor, so it was an incredibly useful prize, as well as a much nicer one than I would have gotten for myself, so whee!
|Winds wanted treats on that platter...|
The kiddo was exceptionally cute at the show this time, she really wanted to meet all the horses, sit on them and play around... Dare I try leadline next week?!?
|insisting on holding the "leash"|
my helmet looks oddly appropriate on her, huge head much?
So even though some of my rides were lackluster, Windsor certainly wasn't and he more than earned his keep!
A few days off, then we wash, rinse and repeat for the second week!