With Finals looming in the distance and some mediocre shows behind us, I have been on the hunt to get Ax and I into the show ring and over some fences a few more times. Because I am currently trailer-less, that isn’t exactly easy—my options are to pay for someone to truck us in or to beg my parents to come pick Ax up. Lucky for me, there is a recreational field down the road from the barn where a local riding club holds their fundraising shows—no horse trailer needed.
A few of us from the barn decided to tack up the morning of the show and ride down to the grounds for a low-key day of showing and to use it as a jump school. (Jumping is only permitted at the barn when the instructor is on property, which is often when I am not there.) The class options were limited, so I decided on the largest division they offered—2’3″—which included two over fences and a hack class. The five-minute ride down was uneventful and we arrived with just enough time to throw on our coats and numbers before going into the ring.
You’re thinking, “what about a warm up?” Well, there was none. Not a single ring for warming up purposes. The two rings on the grounds were used for the show and the surrounding field was mostly filled with cars and trailers, so we could trot around in whatever open space we could find, but it was limited. Apparently the time to warm up was before the show actually started. Since the hack was before the fences portions and we had already had a nice walk to the field, I wasn’t too worried about it. Ax is pretty easy-going anyways (being excited requires too much energy) and I normally only use the warm up ring to stretch his legs and get him on his haunches. If I don’t, he will just plod around on his forehand, albeit still looking damn cute.
While there was a surprising amount of riders and decent competition for a smaller show, there was only two other people in my classes—a girl from my barn and another rider on a super cute horse. I decided to treat the hack like a normal warm up, minus me choosing when to walk, trot, and canter. Ax was well-behaved aside from a tiny spook at a piece of plywood lying outside the ring and being a little on his forehand, but hey, he had no schooling. I can’t blame him.
We took second and because it was a schooling show the judge took the time to talk to each of us about what she did and didn’t like. She made the comment that Ax’s extension is beautiful (those flicky toes are a lady-killer), but that he jigged at the walk after we changed direction and he got a bit behind the bit at the canter to the right (our biggest issue and in our bad direction).
The over fences classes were after the lunch break and had plain white fences. AKA, the type of fences Ax thinks are fun to crash through because why just a plain, boring jump? AKA, the type of fences that I have to give a little extra leg so he actually picks up his feet.
The first course was a simple line, diagonal, line, diagonal, line. I took the scenic route into the ring since we, again, didn’t have a warm up and promptly forgot to add leg. *sigh* In an effort to get the true five in the next line, I gave a bit too much leg. *sigh again* We got the five, but we also got a little out of control and almost missed one of our changes because Ax was in Yee-Haw Mode. (After watching the video, we weren’t as fast as I thought and the course was pretty good, but I digress.)
The next course was okay on paper—diagonal, line, bending line, line—except the bending was set up on a super awkward angle. A little miscalculating on my part got us deep to the in of the bending. I mean basically-on-the-other-side-of-the-fence deep. How-did-my-horse-even-make-it-over deep. Even the judge commented on how awkward it was, yet Ax still went and managed to not knock it down. The out of the line rode okay, just a little wonky, and the rest of the course was fine. The only reason we didn’t finish in third was because the other two riders knocked rails.
We ended up day end champion and took home a cute little trophy—yay schooling shows for fun prizes!
Sometimes a relaxed show day is all you need for a little confidence boost.