Let me start off by saying…I GOT OUT OF MY RUT!
*Does a little dance around the room*
Every equestrian knows the ups and down of riding, and I am not an exception. Being put into a lower division of IHSA in my Freshmen year according to my show experience set me up for cruising through the Advanced Walk-Trot-Canter division. Next was the Novice Flat and Over Fences division. While tougher than the WTC level, the Novice Flat was still relatively easy. Over Fences was a different story with my lack of confidence over fences, and I am still in this division for jumping. Last year I moved up into Intermediate Flat, the second to highest division of IHSA competition. I knew that being in this level would be tough, but I never expected it to be THIS tough. I try to focus on my rides, not the placings I receive, but it is not always that easy. This sport is about someone else’s opinion and you may not always agree with what you get, but you take it and keep trying. The persistence pays off when you have that moment of realizing you got the placing you deserved. Its an amazing feeling.
Last weekend’s horse show began like all the others, at Dunkins. Except one thing, WE GOT THE BECKER BUS BACK! That was one way to start our day off right, no more smushing ourselves onto a tiny bus…for now. The shows at Mystic Valley are infamous for being the coldest and longest of the season and this one was not about to disappoint. I was freezing from the moment I stepped off the bus. We all piled our clothes on and went to claim our usual spot in the corner of the indoor by the only door other than the crowded entrance. Unfortunately another team seemed to catch on to our corner idea and we ended up right next to the main entrance of the ring. This resulted in having to move every few seconds for people needing to walk through and being shoved backwards whenever a horse was entering the ring by other people who were in the way. Not fun. The order of classes for this show was a little different than our other shows. The upper levels would jump and flat, then the lower level over fences would jump, and then the rest of the lower levels would flat. Since I am in an upper level flat class and a lower level over fences class, I would once again be flatting before I jumped. Since flat is my preference, I was okay with that.
One of the perks of being in the upper level flat classes is the horses. They are often more work, but also more advanced, so it is easier to show off what you can do. I drew a round, bay mare named Merry who’s hind end looked straight off of a draft horse. She turned out to be as comfy as you think a draft horse would be. It was like riding a couch. That was the first, and probably only, time that I was grateful for sitting trot, she made my job easy. Miss Merry ended up being a great draw and gave me an amazing ride. I walked out feeling pretty good about my ride and placed third.
Remember the little pony Whicker from an earlier show? Well I drew him again for over fences, except this time he came with a height limit. Since I am not under 5’4″, I was switched to a big, bay gelding named Tucker. Even though Whicker is a cutie, I was thankful to not be on a tiny pony for once. Tucker had been used in the upper level over fences classes, so I had watched him go but hadn’t paid much attention. Lucky for me, my co-captain, Catherine, and another one of our Open level riders had ridden him that morning, so I had a little incite on how he went. It turned out that I didn’t really need it. Tucker was a superstar and knew his job from the minute we walked into the ring. But even the best horses can be let down by their riders, and I left the ring not too happy with my course knowing I had dropping him at the first fence to one of my lines. Apparently the judge did not agree and he placed me first. That was definitely a confidence boost I needed.
As much as I love riding the tough horses, sometimes it is nice to draw a smooth, reliable ride, and this show gave me that. Hopefully my luck carries over to this weekend when we are back at the same venue for our last show of the fall season for the regionally held show. Wish us luck!