The show was slated to start at nine a.m., and my division wasn't until about midway through the schedule which meant I wanted to get there around 10:30-11 to give myself plenty of time to watch other courses go and make sure I knew what the fuck was going on without having too wait too many hours to ride. We ended up arriving just before 11. I went to sign up, and when I asked what division they were on, I was told, "Oh, we're still on the first one."
|i didn't even end up getting on for another thirty minutes...|
Perfect summary of a hunter show to start you off, amirite?!
Fortunately, that gave me plenty of time to sit ring-side and watch a hundred riders go while I obsessively looked over my notes from Lauren. That's right. I took notes. That is one helpful lady right there, let me tell you.
|"i am the fastest horse in the whole ring!!!"|
yeah, bobby....that's not the contest.
The lower divisions (2' and 2'3", so only lower for this show) finally wrapped up their flat classes and the jumps were put up. As they were getting set, the riders in my division started going into the ring. So this was the magical warm up time in hunterland where you get to jump your entire course and anything else you want before actually being judged!
|faster than the camera can even keep up with|
One of the trainers dropped the top rail off one of the jumps for her two students to warm up over first, and I asked if I could utilize it as well. Because I'm a nice person to warm up with and fucking call out where I'm going and what fucking fence I'm jumping. Oh, wait. Saving that diatribe for tomorrow.
Bobby was not the best to warm up. He was super fucking strong on the flat, and he kept rudely locking onto fences if we got even remotely near them--which was often. Once we started jumping, it immediately spiraled down to the shits. Suck back, charge the last few strides, dive down onto the forehand on landing and drag me with him.
I left the ring almost in tears and wondering just how pissed Hubby would be if I told him I wanted to scratch and go home. I was already planning on emailing the show secretary for my event next month to scratch that as well. No more showing ever, I hate this horse, I can't ride, we are never going to figure this out.
|not totally incompetent.|
However, I got re-hydrated, remembered Lauren's advice that there's no crying in hunterland, and had Hubby tell me to just beat the shit out of Bobby once he started getting rude and stopped listening to me. I adjusted my goal from not embarrassing myself to just improving upon each round.
After checking the course map obsessively on my phone and watching two riders go before me, we went in for the first class of my division: 2'6" schooling hunters. The second Bobby stepped through the gap, he Lipizzaner leaped into the ring and immediately tried to take off with me. I already had a good grip on the reins, but I changed that to a choke hold and forced him back to a walk before letting him canter across the ring to start our course.
|don't worry. we got the five strides. we almost even got a four. no problem with striding here!|
Now you're probably waiting to read about how this quickly spiraled even further downhill and we demolished the entire course.
Guess what I did? I put my fucking leg on and told this mother fucker that he was going to go forward to these jumps without any of his stupid fucking yank and charge and yank again nonsense. AND HE DID!
We actually had a great trip until the second to last fence where my turn maybe wasn't the best and he got a touch close on the takeoff. No rubs, no rails down, pretty fucking consistent pace all the way around, and wherever Bobby didn't auto change (thank the baby Jesus for a horse with such good changes), I actually had the sense to ask for the change and he gave it to me with zero fuss.
I walked out like, "Hmph. That was actually pretty okay!" Way better than just surviving!
The jumps went up to 2'9" for the second and third courses (which one of the trainers tried to explain to me when she asked if I wanted them left at 2'6" or if I was okay with them going up for everyone else. I was just like, "You do your thing. I'll jump whatever. Please don't speak to me like I know what's happening right now.")
The second course wasn't as good as the first. I turned Bobby in for the first jump which was just past a tiny gap between two others and he locked on to the wrong fence. I had to quickly pull him off that one which made him pretty pissed. He switched leads behind in the corner heading into the outside line which threw us both off a bit and he got a little wiggly coming down the line.
He took more of a pull between fences than he did in the first course, but I managed to stuff in the proper strides everywhere so that was a bonus for me that I actually sat up on landing and took control of the situation.
Our last over fences class was 2'9" handy hunter. It was more like a jumper/equation course. There was a roll back, a tight turn to a skinny, hand gallop to the oxer, halt after the oxer, and finish on a trot fence.
We were going okay until the roll back where I got a little handsy and pulled Bobby around in air which made him pull the rail. Boo. Obviously we nailed the hand gallop, and got the halt just fine, too.
|equitation? what is that?|
He picked up the canter right from the halt because if nothing else he's a boss flat horse, got the next jump fine, came back to the trot fine, and then spied the last fence and was like, "JUMPING!" and burst back into the canter. Oh well.
We waited around for awhile for the last hunter over fences division to run before our flat class to finish out the division. While waiting, they announced the results. Second for our first o/f class, second for the second class, and another second for the third! Although, to be fair, there were only three people in the last class and the third placed rider had multiple refusals. I'll take that satin anyway! We definitely deserved it for the first round, but I'm not sure how we managed it for the second. There were other horses competing against us, I swear.
|blurry but i still like it.|
There was only one other rider in my division that came back for the flat class. I figured that meant we were going to get a clean sweep of second because Bobby walked back into the ring totally ready to jump some more. He settled down significantly once we started trotting though, and I was able to give him a long rein to stretch out on. Bobby can nail the hunter trot, let me tell you.
His canter left was also pretty good. I made full use of my corners where I could so I didn't decrease the distance between me and the other rider. Having to circle because you lapped the only other rider in the ring would have been bad.
|bobby thought long and hard about whether or not he could get away with throwing in one more jump.|
We reversed and immediately went from walk to canter right. Bobby launched onto the wrong lead, but within a stride I'd brought him back and quickly switched over. I must have lucked out and the judge missed it completely because we snagged first. With the other riders in the o/f classes getting varied results, our consistent second places and the first u/s was enough to get us champion.
We even won a saddle pad. With pink piping. Because pink.
|"get these ribbons off me and let me eat."|
I have to say that I was super surprised at the results. Not the actual placings, but how the day went. I think this was exactly the type of show we need right now. Low key, easy courses, and tons of room to maneuver around the ring and let my brain get caught up so it can prepare for the next jump. Unless something small and local comes up, the next show won't be until our event in a couple weeks, but after that I will definitely be looking for more hunter shows.