Well, the first big show of the year has come to an end, and I couldn’t be more pleased with how it went.
We hauled in on Thursday, which was one of the wettest, windiest, and downright most miserable days of the year. Of course, all of the indoors at the show facility were not usable, as they were all still filled with portable stalls from the two week jumper show that had taken place the week before. So, everyone was stuck riding outside, in the rain (which really was more like a monsoon). I, and several other people at the show quickly found out that our “waterproof” jackets were in fact not as waterproof as they claimed to be.
Hope was fairly spunky for our Thursday warm-up ride, I don’t think she liked the rain (the delicate flower). However, after we worked through her bouncing about the ring like a crazy thing, she settled down into some really nice work. She was nice and forward, soft, and listening to what I was asking. I was feeling pretty confident and pleased with her when we were finished, despite the fact that we both resembled very drenched and sodden drowned rats. I spent the remainder of the day resurrecting my saturated tack, and getting everything ready and organized for my ride the next day.
I was somewhat saddened when I discover I had an early ride time. I was the first rider of the day, with my test scheduled for 8:45AM. While I realize that it isn’t super early, it meant that I had to wake up at 4:00AM in order to be at the showgrounds in time (as I live an hour away from it). I got up at the indecent hour of 4 o’clock, and trudged outside in the still black morning to feed and turn out the horses that were still at home. I left the house by 4:45, and got to the showgrounds just before 6:00; just enough time for me to feed Hope, lunge her, clean her stall, hand walk her, braid her, tack up, and then warm-up for our test. After I had gotten about halfway through this list, I decided to double check my ride time, and discovered that my time had been moved to 9:26! While the discovery wasn’t the end of the world, it was slightly annoying to learn that I didn’t need to get to the show quite as early as I did, c’est la vie. However, I suppose it wasn’t the worse thing that could have happened, as Hope actually really liked being one of the first horses to be fed. Normally she gets a little stressy when she sees other horses getting fed and going out for hand walks when she is still in her stall. Because of that, I decided to continue to get to the show at around 6:00AM for the remaining days (and I’ll probably continue to do this for future shows as well). So, I suppose that me not finding out about the change in my ride time until later wasn’t such a bad thing after all.
On Friday, Hope was really good for our warm-up; soft, forward, and listening to me. It had thankfully stopped raining, and was starting to turn out to be a very nice day. I think Hope was so relieved that she wasn’t getting pelted with rain that she was in a fairly good mood. Our actually test, third level test 3, started out really well. Our trot work was great, and she actually walked in our extended walk (not any hint of her wanting to jig)! Our canter departure was a little iffy though. She decided that she didn’t want to do it, and just swung her haunches in, eventually she did crow hop into it (which I take full responsibility for. I held her back a little too much with the curb, and she was just letting me know her opinion of me doing that). Most of the canter work went well. Our half-passes were good, and our flying change off of the left rein was clean, but our change from the right rein was late behind (again, which I’ll take responsibility for. I needed to be quicker with my inside leg). All in all, I was quite happy with the test. As I said, our trot work was great, and the problems in the canter work were simple fixes. With the first day done, I was feeling happy and satisfied.
On Saturday, I had a long wait until my ride time, which wasn’t until 4:17PM (it was our freestyle). I still chose to get to the show at around 6:00AM to feed Hope though, as she did seem to appreciate being fed early. After a seemingly unending time of waiting, I was finally able to start getting ready for my ride. I was a little nervous to ride my freestyle, as I had only ridden it one time before at a show, and had only practiced it a handful of times (due to not having a correct sized arena readily available). Hope was a little fussy in the start of our warm-up, but my coach soon came over and started working her magic with us and made everything fall back into place. Finally it was our time to enter the ring, and as I raised my hand, and the familiar music of Viva La Vida from Coldplay started to ring through the arena, I felt my nerves fall away. Our trot work was great, and we managed to stay with the music. I was also immensely pleased that Hope actually walked in our extended walk again! Two tests in a row! I was feeling pretty good about myself. Our canter portion started out well, but then I made a stupid mistake. How my floor plan works, is that I pick up the right lead canter in the corner before “C”, and then come across the “M”-“K” diagonal with a flying change, and then come out of the next diagonal, at “F” in halfpass. However, since one of the flying changes in our test from the previous day was late behind, I was quite preoccupied with thinking about them. So, I came across the first diagonal and asked for the change. I really rode it, and it was clean. I was pretty happy about that, and for whatever reason, started thinking about our next flying change, and how I need to ride it so that it would also be clean. Consequently, I went across the “F” diagonal, with a flying change. I was supposed to come out in halfpass! I realized my mistake when I reached the end of the diagonal, and had a minor panic attack. I tried not to show my horror, however, because this was a freestyle and the judge didn’t know my choreograph! I had to make quick decisions to rearrange my floor plan to fit in all of the required movements before the music ended. By some miracle, I managed to do it, and the audience, and the judge, were none the wiser. I was really pleased that, despite me messing up on the which movements were supposed to go where, we had managed a really nice test. Hope was good, and tried her heart out for me. I was also happy with the fact that I had actually enjoyed riding the freestyle. Previously, I had never enjoyed riding freestyles, I found them difficult, and staying with the music was just one more thing to have to think about. However, I actually had fun in this one, so that was the greatest accomplishment of the day for me. Finally being able to enjoy the music, and just ride.
Come Sunday, the last day, everyone was feeling pretty tired.
I was happy to have an early-ish ride time, 10:46AM, so that I could be finished and head back home before too late in the day (I pity the poor souls who didn’t ride until the very end of the show). Whereas Friday and Saturday had been fairly nice weather-wise, it was a rainy, drizzly morning on Sunday (although nothing like the monsoon we had on Thursday). However, it had more or less cleared up by the time I was ready to mount. Our warm-up went pretty well, Hope was getting a little tired of the show by then, though. Our final test was certainly a good note to end on, for it was the best ride of the weekend. We had no major problems (the only real issue was when Hope drifted off the rail in our left shoulder-in). Other than that though, Hope was superb, and it was a really solid test (if I do say so myself). And with the final salute, our show came to a close.
I am thrilled with how far both Hope and I have come. We are assuredly not perfect, and still make lots of mistakes, but the most exciting part is that there is room for and the ability for improvement (the judge said so, so it must be true!). I’m eagerly looking forward to the journey ahead of us, and with where Hope will take me, and what she will teach me.