First show of the season: CHECK!
What better way to start off a show than with a major butt-kicking in the warm-up ring? I was lucky enough to stable with an old trainer of mine (that may be generous—she was my high school equestrian team coach and now I occasionally ride with her if/when I can) and after arriving, I hopped on for a short hack around the grounds just to get Ax out of the stall and doing something. What started out as a short walk-trot-canter around the schooling ring turned into a much-needed hour long “lesson” in the show rings by said trainer. We chipped a fence (or two), completely crashed through another, and had one nasty refusal, but I walked away feeling much more confident. As much as I wasn’t planning on doing a warm-up that afternoon, I was super glad I did. I went to bed with sore thighs and slightly higher expectations than I had started the day with.
Having skipped the early morning warm-ups because of our adventures the evening before, I got on a few classes ahead of time and did a few laps in the schooling ring before parking by the in-gate for our turn. No warm-up fences needed—we are winging it remember.
Saturday was our hunter day, so I had three fences and one flat class to start off the weekend. We had seen the jumps the day before and gone over all of them, the courses were all some variation of diagonals and outside lines (got to keep it simple for us modified ammy adults), and the classes peaked at seven riders. I am not usually a nervous show-er—I’ve been doing it for so long that I’m pretty used to it—but being inconsistently out of the show ring for the past few summers can throw you off your game.
Our first course left something to be desired and that something was me letting go of my horse’s face. To put it bluntly, I was getting eight and nine strides in a seven. Ax was a saint and did his best to deal with my antics without throwing a fit (which totally would have been warranted). I walked out knowing he deserved a million carrots and focusing on the few OK jumps that I had. Round two was marginally better only because we may have had one additional non-crappy fence compared to the last course. I chose to scratch the hunter stake class for my horse’s sake (that had already been the most jumping we had done in months) and to save him for the next day.
Again, Ax was perfect in the flat portion, but he doesn’t exactly go like a hunter so we ended the day with a fourth and two fifths. He got a quick sponge-off, slathered in liniment, and stuffed with treats afterwards before being left to marinate in his Back On Track gear for the rest of the day.
Day two of going into the ring with little-to-no schooling beforehand went better than day one. With just two equitation classes—one flat and once fences—with eight or nine people in them, my only goal was to LET GO. While we didn’t place on the flat (apparently I’ve taken up the habit of riding with my hands too low, gone are the days of my “Morgan hands”) we had a decent showing in the class.
All I can say for my course is that I kinda/sorta/mighta let go at a fence. The first four and very last fences were great—the middle line was not so great. But if two-thirds of our course didn’t suck, then that is winning in my book! I happily took my yellow ribbon, unbraided and loaded the Buffalo, and drove home. Not so bad for just winging it.