I think I am finally getting used to running on little sleep. Maybe its because I have been doing it for so long. Last Saturday morning when my 4:30 alarm went off I was wide awake and ready to go. I didn’t even need my clothes set out in the right order to make sure I put them on right. One step forward in my sleepless college equestrian lifestyle. Once again, our team piled onto the shuttle bus and the van. This drive was a long one. The trip to Glen Farm in Rhode Island where Roger Williams University holds their horse show was about two hours. That’s two more hours of sleep for me. Yay!
We arrived at the farm and were excited to see that we were showing outside. Like most of Rhode Island, the farm was beautiful with huge stretches of polo fields and dirtways lined with trees on each side like a movie. All I wanted to do was hop on one of the polo ponies and gallop off into the fields. The one downside of showing in their outdoor is that it is slanted. It’s just plain downhill. Thankfully for me and my nerves, I was only flatting. No downhill jumping for this girl.
Our fences riders started off our day exceptionally well, coming away with firsts and seconds. A short a schooling break and we were on to flat. I drew a cute, fleabitten grey gelding named Benny who has a sticky left lead and looked a bit stiff. I had seen him go over fences and was feeling good about this ride. Maybe I would finally get a nice draw and end up in the ribbons. As I watched the classes before me I realized that I would be on one of two horses in the ring that were not polo ponies. Hopefully that would help me stand out in a good way. When it was finally time to mount, I went over to my Benny boy and hopped on. If you’re and IHSA rider, you know that it’ll be a good ride when you mount and don’t have to adjust the stirrups from the previous rider. In the midst of my stomach butterflies about riding in a downhill ring, I was once again reminded how small the horse world is. It turns out that his horse holder was a rider from one of my years showing at Eastern States Exposition Big E. That was just enough to remind me that I COULD ride in a slanted ring and I WOULD have a good ride.
It wasn’t until I was in the ring that realized just how downhill the ring really was. I said a mental thank you to my coach for making us ride on the slight grass hill next to the outdoor at home. Benny turned out to be as pokey as he was grey. I wished I had been given spurs because no amount of leg would convince Benny that he needed to trot, not crawl, though he did go round. Next came that sticky canter lead. Maybe it was the fact that we were heading down the hill but we picked it up right away and for the first time he was in front of my leg. I then said my second mental thank you to Ax for being trippy because next thing I know, we are cantering down the hill and Benny trips over nothing. Our second direction went much better, though he was still behind my leg until the canter. My final mental thank you of the class went to both my coach AND my horse, for making me canter my trip-prone horse on a hill. My mind kept replaying “balance on the haunches downhill and drive with the haunches uphill.” I ended up placing 4th out of 7. Considering my last two shows, I was happy with it.
A few freezing hours later we were taking our team picture, collecting our fourth place team ribbon, loading our stuff onto the bus, and looking forward to our two hour nap back to Becker. Our next show is at University of Massachusetts – Amherst.