One would think that waking up before the sun rises for most weekends of your life would get easier. Not even close. My 4:30 AM wake up call will always make my eyes think they have been filled with sand. After resisting the urge to hit the snooze button and stumbling around my room like I was blind, I managed to get dressed with my clothes on in the right order and make it down to the bus to head to our second Intercollegiate horse show of the season.
Our luck of getting the big Becker bus ran out fast. At 5:30 on Sunday morning our 30 rider team was piling into a tiny airport shuttle and a college supplied van. Add duffle bags loaded with warm clothes and show clothes, helmet and boot bags, garment bags, one massive cooler of food, and three large boxes of snacks and what do you get? One team of squished, overtired equestrians. Forget the clown car, we were on a clown bus. Once smushed on the bus, the only logical thing to do next was to unload everyone for our IHSA show morning ritual, a Dunkin Donuts stop. A little Gronk groping from the BCET captains and a lot of bagels, breakfast sandwiches, and “hot chocolate” was all we needed before we were off again.
Now let me tell you, Sunday the 13th was NOT my day. Bring on misfortune number one. As we were pulling out of the Dunkin parking lot, my hot chocolate spilled everywhere. Seriously, ALL OVER THE BUS FLOOR. Of course, the only form of paper towels I had were cream cheese covered napkins and crumpled paper bags. So not only was my blanket now wet with hot chocolate, the floor was sticky, and my hands were covered in a mixture of hot chocolate, cream cheese, and dirt. On the plus side, the bus now smelled delicious.
A little while later our sleepy team was waking up as the bus arrived in Warren, RI for the Brown University IHSA show. Unlike the last show where we only had six riders, Becker had 23 riders showing spread out through every division. Also unlike the last show, the over fences classes were to be held in a field roped off into the size of a ring. Because of the morning dew, the three upper divisions of flat classes were to be held first in the sand ring and then the jumping would take place in the field. Being the equitation-on-the-flat-lover that I am, I was excited to be able to do my flat work before my fences, but this did not work out in my favor. Hello misfortune number two. The horse I drew was an older schoolmaster gelding named Mr. Darcy. Remembering what he looked like in warm up and that I had pointed out that I wanted to draw him, I was excited for my ride. That changed as soon as I adjusted my stirrups and asked him to go forward. The nice, round horse that was carrying himself in the bridle had disappeared and I has aboard a slightly grumpy old man who did not want his face touched, let alone be asked to use himself. After a few futile attempts to convince him that he really needed to use his hind end, I relented. And boy was I glad because as soon as we picked up sitting trot, all I wanted was for Mr. Darcy to go as slow as he could without bouncing me out of the saddle like a fish out of water. If he was fully using his big bum, I can only imagine how bouncy that trot could have been. After a somewhat decent ride, minus the moon-bounce of a sitting trot, Mr. Darcy got a good boy pat and I handed him off. Unfortunately, the judge must have seen the flailing sack of potatoes that was me trying to sit a trot and I did not place. Although I was a bit disappointed by my ride, I was not bothered by my placing. After realizing that I didn’t have in my lucky pearls, or any earrings at all, and that my horse show twin had not checked my hairnet like always, we decided that MUST have been why I didn’t place.
Over fences isn’t exactly what I would call my favorite. I am actually terrified of jumping anything other than my own horses, but that is not the nature of IHSA. So when I found out that my over fences horse was actually a 14.2 pony named Whicker, I was a little apprehensive. After equipping myself with my lucky pearls and a little reassurance from the former high point rider in our region about my tiny pony’s jumping ability, I was off. I thought this pony was cute just standing there, but after riding him, his cuteness skyrocketed. And after I saw the pictures, I want to steal little Whicker and bring him home with me. But of course, I could never finish a beautiful course, so I just HAD to space out about my leads and cross-canter my closing circle. In my defense, little Whicker was pretty smooth and comfortable either way. This brings misfortune number three, kind of. Mr. Judge must not have seen the the cuteness and only seen the cross-canter because, again, I did not place.
A few hours and multiple first place ribbons from our other riders, BCET began packing up our mounds of equipment. After our rough start to the morning, we were not expecting much from the day end totals. Again, we were wrong. Becker College ended up tying with another college for Reserve High Point College of the day. Even though we lost the coin toss, so we didn’t end up with the ribbon, we were still going home champions. Our rocky start to the day turned around.
Next, we put on our own show, oh boy!