Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Octoberfest: Saturday

Brave little mare doesn't care about flowers anymore
 Saturday started out nicely.  We've been having an incredible August/September weather wise in the PNW, so we were greeted with sunny skies and the promise of upper 70's for the day.  The ponies slept well, Prairie has no concerns whatsoever about eating and drinking in new places and she seemed to enjoy the ridiculously deep bed of shavings in her portable over night.

Being new to Hunter Land, I was unfamiliar with the notion of hiring a braider and even less familiar with the notion of said braider scampering about in the dead of night braiding up horses from 10pm-5am.  Apparently you can make $100k following the shows around, but it sounds like a hell of a job..

Anyway, there was confusion all around and when I got to the barn bright and early I noticed that P2's locks were decidedly not braided (though everyone else from our barn was).  Confusing.  It's like the horse show equivalent of getting coal in your stocking... Apparently Santa didn't want to stop at P2's stall..

Cue panicked text to Supermom and her super-speedy-braiding-ability.  Thank god for skilled friends. :)

All dolled up P2 looked mighty professional and ready for her Big Debut.  I - was not dolled up, and was in a bit of a panic having heard the ring announcer call for our class like 10 times before we were even close to tacked up.

Had I understood how open cards work, I probably would have calmed down considerably, but as it stood I'm pretty sure I was just stressing everyone else out around me.  Including poor S who not only had to ride another mare in the division but also coach her kids in Ring 2 for their walk/trot/canter classes.

Once someone informed me that "open cards" mean that once they reset the jumps to a certain height they allow anyone in any class (at that height) to ride at any time.  So instead of having 9 rides in class #32, then 10 rides in class #33 and 4 rides in #34... a rider from #34 can go in, then a rider from #32, etc etc... so you end up with a two hour window for your ride time instead of hovering around waiting for your specific class to go.  Brilliant really.  Makes everything a bit more flexible, although it does mean classes don't get pinned until the whole group of classes gets closed...

Anyway, with regard to P2, she warmed up pretty well.  A little amped up but not awful.  S took her to an indoor ring with less traffic and tuned her up, then popped over a couple fences outside and headed in for her round.

Here's her first course with S in the irons. (I screwed up a setting so forgive the focus issues, I figured it out in time for Sunday...)

Things that are good:
 No refusals! In fact the mare didn't even look at the jumps (of course she had jumped most of them the day before..)
Some lead changes! sure, a few simple changes, but she swapped on her own after a few fences without throwing a fit.
No one died!  (or got injured)

Things that we can improve:
 Keeping the mare underneath herself
Backing her off the jumps a bit more so she's not throwing herself over
Getting off the forehand
Not ripping arms out...

All in all. Not bad.

Since I didn't understand the "open card" philosophy we had about an hour before the Under Saddle class so the mare got a break and I got dressed.  When I tacked her back up again she was calm and confident, willing to walk from the barn to the ring on a totally loose rein just looking around and absorbing everything. 

I only warmed up for a few minutes, popped a couple transitions up and down then sat and waiting for our class.  Practicing our good "showmanship" I followed S (on cute Poppy) into the ring at a strong trot and let our big leggy, floating mares show off for a moment while the rest of the class got in the gate.  I tried to stay off the contact and just bump Prairie with a half halt if she started rushing - which seemed to be all she needed.

Here's the video of the class (The Husband is already convinced that flat classes are potentially the most boring things ever.  "worse than dressage, even" in his own words.... lol)

 Literally the only under saddle classes I have ridden was in the IHSA, so not only has it been a while, but at that point I was usually less concerned with "being seen by the judge" and more occupied with trying to not get kicked, cut off, bitten, or trampled by any of the spooking/bolting/bucking/freaking out horses also in the ring.  Different objectives.  Mostly I stuck to the outside of the ring since the class wasn't crowded and I didn't have to circle.  I probably could have made better use of the ring/judge's field of vision, but I guess it didn't matter since she thought Prairie was the most huntery-huntress in the ring.

I was surprised to get first, but I guess after chatting with S a bit more afterward, it made sense.

After our class the mare got another break while we waited for all the ponies to go before they opened up the Short Stirrup/Long Stirrup card.

This time when I tacked Prairie up again she started giving me the stink eye.  Which I (correctly) interpreted to me "you can put all that crap on me again, but I'm not going to cooperate."

She didn't.

This time walking to the rings she was antsy, and sweaty and irritated at being asked to do something.  We warmed up quickly and without too much fuss, but Prairie was not interested.  She was dull to my hand and perfectly willing to leeeeeeaaaaan on whatever contact I gave her.  I tried to sharpen her up a bit but we weren't really getting anywhere and since it was hot and she was tired I opted not to get into a knockdown drag out fight over it.  Plus I was under strict instructions to "not pull on her right rein."  I'm pretty sure we already crossed that line but no need to make a bigger issue out of it.

So I just went in the ring.  We were tired of waiting and as soon as they opened up the card for our Long Stirrup, we were off to the races.  In theory we did great.  We jumped all the jumps, in order and without crashing through them, or the stupid carnival flags that served as the "fence" for the arena on one side.

Realistically I know that these are great accomplishments, especially for our first "real" show over fences (and first course with me up on her back).  But, we didn't exactly put in a great Hunter round.  Prairie wanted to rush after the fences, and that threw her off balance and that meant we couldn't get our flying changes and that meant I was hauling on her face and that meant we repeated the cycle after every fence (WHOOPS).  We did make our strides in the lines (barely), but our distances to about half the jumps were fairly awful.  When she did come back we broke to the trot (no leg!).  Ooof.  Not one for the record books, but we managed it ok... We rode our Eq course first (weird) where we had to jump the first fence in a line then swerve away from the second and serpentine our way to our next fence.  That confused P2 but gave me a chance to get her back (a little).  Also, S suggested I "sitting trot out of the ring" as an extra Eq bonus point.  I however took that literally and did not know you can DQ yourself if you don't walk out the gate.  They didn't DQ us, but I'm not sure if would have mattered.... :)
Not sure why I'm going left.  At least Prairie remembered to stay straight...

Here's the video:

S's first comment as we came out after our first round was "you'd have a lot easier time controlling her if you shortened your reins by about a foot."


Those damn reins. 

Always ruining my fun.

So, I shortened my reins, glanced at my Hunter course and went right back in.

It was... mostly the same.  Probably because I promptly slipped my reins right back to where there had been (grin).  I got frustrated and when the mare blew me off I slammed her down a couple times (more trot jumps) and we missed our stride in one of the lines (whoops!).  I felt like she started listening a bit more, but it did not paint a prettier picture for the judge and I'm certain my Eq looked rather ineffective.  Not helped by P2 freight training around.  Between my my reins still being too long and my reluctance to sit my butt in the saddle through the corners (which I *know* is something I need to do in order to get P2's butt back underneath her)  I got what I deserved out of P2.

More glorious video:

That ended our day in terms of classes so we hosed the beasts down, washed them off and gave them some dinner while we took advantage of the competitors' cookout and watched the mini prix in the big ring. 

Afterward (wine still in hand) we took all the beasts out for a walk and let them enjoy some delicious grass (something 44 days without rain has left them wanting back at home..)


  1. Look at you motoring around... haha. I'm not sure why "sitting in the saddle" is such a difficult concept, but I share your confusion over it. All I have to do is sit down and I know it.

    So it goes. Sounds like a good first day, all things considered. It's definitely better than the first dressage show together.

  2. I know I already said this but I swear we were on the same horses this last weekend! Though Henry is a chestnut gelding lol! He was strong strong strong too! :) Freight train for sure!

    But you looks awesome! It will only get better (which i tell myself too as this was the first real show i've taken Henry too)

  3. Prairie just wants to do jumpers LOL! She'd be perfect in the jump off. :D I think you both did fantastic. If you're having trouble with long reins I really, really, really think it would be a good idea to have your trainer show you where your hands should be and put some duct tape there (on old reins obviously). That way when you're schooling at home you will have a visual to remind you to shorten your reins. Eventually it becomes a habit. :) Just a friendly suggestion since it really helped me out. Oh and before I forget congrats on your blue! You totally deserved it. You guys looked so awesome in that class. :D

  4. I totally came to comment a similar tip as achieve1dream... my suggestion is brown electrical tape so you can show with the tape on. duct tape at home is a good idea but in all reality shit's different at shows and there's other stuff to worry about like courses! i would put the tape so you can feel it with your thumbs.

  5. Prairie is seriously drool worthy. It does not surprise me at all that she stole the hack! :) I would consider that a definite victory for day one of your first real hunter show together! Congrats!


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