Wednesday, May 6, 2015

RRDC Spring Open Horse Show: Wherein We Pretend to be Hunter/Jumpers

Our first show of the year wasn't our usual cup of tea, but seeing as this little show, the Rowley Riding and Driving Club Open Horse Show, is literally 2 miles from the barn (and also a 3 minute walk from where I live) I decided I couldn't really pass it up. Plus, a friend and I planned to go together so I would be in excellent company.

Trying to act fancy. Maggie is not amused. Photo by Elisabeth Pundt Photography.
The original plan was for me to get up early and trailer another friend's mini horse over in the morning for the halter classes and drop her off. Then I would walk back to my house and get my husband to drive me back to the barn later, where I would pack up Maggie onto my friend S's trailer and then we'd take our horses over for the afternoon classes including jumping and pleasure. 

However, I went to practice loading her onto the slant the day before the show and Maggie wanted nothing to do with it (and I actually can't say I blame her) so we devised a new plan: I'd just take Maggie over in the morning with my friend A's mini. Maggie LOVES minis so I was pretty sure she'd be cool with the situation, and she was.

I''m sure this setup is Pony Club approved.
Unfortunately, that meant we'd be at the show grounds aaallllll day. I figured I would enter the equitation classes too then, just so I'd have something to do in the morning. I was originally planning on skipping these classes for two reasons: 1.) They are weirdly spaced time-wise from the other classes I wanted to enter. My friend S showed here in the fall and had about a four hour wait between those classes and the others she was doing, and 2.) I have crap equitation. Whatever though - at least I would get Maggie around the ring a couple times before the classes I actually cared about (read: before the jumping classes).

So here's a list/summary of each class we did:

Hunt Seat Equitation Adult: Despite being totally chill as we hacked around the show grounds and did a little warmup, Maggie got spooky as we went down the long side of the ring for the first time, proceeded to tug the reins from me, and then my riding just went down the crapper. I think I was so focused on not being "dressagey" that I really just didn't ride. We predictably placed 4th out of 4.

Photo by Elisabeth Pundt Photography.
Hunt Seat Equitation Championship: Our second time in the ring, Maggie went a little better. Despite having a slightly better ride I still just can not equitation and we pinned 6th out of 6.

Dis my happy face. Photo by Elisabeth Pundt Photography.
Trail Horse Adult: This was really fun! I've tried to expose Maggie to a whole bunch of weird things in the time that I've had her and at this point (having done 2 classes and then stood around at least 2 hours) she was getting tired enough that she wasn't really interested in spooking at anything. We had to weave through cones, trot over ground poles and a small cross tail (child's play), plus open a mailbox and take out a piece of "mail", walk over a wooden bridge, and pick up a small flag out of a bucket and drop it off in another.

Over the bridge. Photo by Elisabeth Pundt Photography.
Despite not wanting to hold very still when asked to halt (typical) she was super about everything. The judge was very complementary of her afterwards and said she had never seen such a floaty trot over ground poles (clearly not a dressage person!) and bat we were a great pair but she apologized to me that she was going to have to deduct points because I did one of the elements out of order. Whoops. We placed 2nd out of 2 (I guess everyone else just did the w/t class for this) to continue our losing streak.

Pick up flag, drop off flag. Photo by Elisabeth Pundt Photography.
Horsemanship Over Fences 2': I didn't want to wear Maggie out too much so I only popped her over the warmup crossrail and vertical once each. Then we entered the ring when we were called, picked up a nice canter, headed towards the first fence, aaand Maggie slammed on the brakes for some unknown reason. I'm not sure if she hadn't realized it was a jump or what, but I made her jump it from a standstill which perhaps was not looked upon very highly by the judges. They could probably tell I was eventer. But I'll be damned if I let my horse turn away from a jump she could trot over! So after that one jump we had no problems for the rest of the course. Once again: 6th out of 6. At least we're consistent!

Game face on for 2'6". Photo by Elisabeth Pundt Photography.
Horsemanship Over Fences 2'3" - 2'6": I figured that at a little show like this the majority of the jumps on course would stay down at 2'3" but no, they proceeded to crank them all up to 2'6". There was only about 10 minutes between my 2' round and this 2'6" round so I didn't bother going over any more warmup jumps (plus no one had moved the vertical up from 18"). I just took a deep breath and entered the ring. I know we can do 2'6"... I've jumped Maggie as high as 2'9" before (on one occasion) but we've never done a full course, never mind in competition, higher than 2'3".  I'm not sure how I knew, but as I cantered a courtesy circle I knew this round would go just fine. And it did. Maggie was a rockstar and locked on to every jump. We even got decent distances!

Photo by Elisabeth Pundt Photography.
There was one little bobble where I somehow lost my stirrup in the middle of doing a line, but fortunately the line was facing away from the judges so I don't think they could really tell how sloppy that particular jump was and I managed to get my stirrup back before we even rounded the turn to the jump on the diagonal.

Oops. Photo by Elisabeth Pundt Photography.
I was super proud of Maggie pony and felt great having competed our highest round in competition to date - another step closer to doing real BN! As icing on the cake the judge pinned us 2nd out of 6! I was so proud that I took a selfie to send to my husband, who was there to see the round but walked home before the results were announced.

Dis also my happy face.
Then we had another lull before the pleasure classes. My friend S and her horse Rio arrived and we let the 'stangs socialize. They're pretty adorable.

Photo by Elisabeth Pundt Photography.
Hunter Pleasure Adult: It was probably around 2:30 or 3 pm by this time and Maggie and I had been on the show grounds since 8 am. We were both getting tired. Turns out this was an advantage though since a tired horse is apparently a pleasurable horse. We trotted and cantered around on a reasonably loose rein with no spooks at all. Maggie was going great until we started trotting to the right and she must have for a bug or something in her giant ears because then she proceeds to shake her head for 2 whole laps around the arena. We pinned 4th out of 6th anyway. Wow, not last!

Getting to tired... Photo by Elisabeth Pundt Photography.
Hunter Pleasure Championship: This class. Oh man. This class was a madhouse. I'm not sure where everybody came from all of a sudden, but there were 14 people in the class. Chaos ensued the minute that we were all asked to pick up the canter. Everyone seemed to be going everywhere and it was all I could do to keep far enough away from the person in front of me. And when I did circle it was quite interesting trying to find space to get back on the rail. Things only got worse as we were asked to canter in the other direction...out of the corner of my eye I could see people circling everywhere, a couple horses shaking their heads and bucking, and one girl actually got bucked off so we were called to halt very rapidly. That was the end of the class and we were then asked to line up for the judge. Dare I say, I was actually a little disappointed that that was the end of it because Maggie was going to well at that point! We actually came in 5th out of the 14 though, so I was very very proud of my pony! Poor tired Maggie. I got off of her and loosed the girth as soon as we got out of the ring.

All in all, it was an...interesting...experience. It was good for the first time out this year and hopefully Maggie got all her sillies out for the year during those equitation classes (yeah right). I think I'll be sticking to dressage and eventing, but I've certainly gained a new type of respect for this type of riding and showing! It's not as easy as it looks. Not gonna lie though, it felt kind of weird coming home with all this satin (especially since most of them are actually for last place!!)



  1. Open shows are always very interesting and you get quite a mix of experience levels. But I'm glad you had fun and that Maggie was really pretty good for her first outing!

    1. There was indeed QUITE a mix! I think I'll be writing another post on that later...

  2. I'm eternally jealous of h/j riders and their plethora of ribbons. I'm also eternally jealous of how amazing Maggie's ears are. I mean seriously, those things need their own blog! :P

    Heck yeah on the 2'6" round though! You guys will be rocking BN in no time!

    1. I am at least going to have to do a whole blog post dedicated to the ears. The pics posted here aren't even the half of it from the day... Maggie and Bobby need to get together for a mule ear party

  3. Huge kudos to you!! You two did a ton of classes and did really well! :) Plus all the pretty satin. Your haul is kind of holiday themed-I like it!

    1. I had the same exact thought, lol! Maybe I will have make a wreath out of them...

  4. Her ears are the cutest!
    And glad you had a good time

  5. Open shows can be super special but it sounds like the judge rewarded you for your good rounds! Congrats

  6. oh man - sounds like a pretty fun day!! i love that first pic - and the fact that you totally beasted the 2'6" course above all others!!! congrats on all the satin and having such a gung ho and game pony!!