It's been a while since I've written a post and I promise I have more planned for this blog. Work has been crazy busy (husband took the bar, started work, had a birthday, etc), as have my weekends, which are horse-filled, but I definitely needed to get an update going and what better time than to have a little schooling show review!
I wasn't sure if we were even going to do the schooling show but, I thought it would be a good exercise in dealing with show ring nerves before any "actual" pressure is on. Leo and I have been clicking So Well lately and even jump 3' in our lessons once in a while, so I was not much worried about our ability to pull off 2'6 in the show ring.
The smoke from California's wildfires made it almost impossible to lesson for the first week and a half in August, so we got to take that time off and did some trails around the property. Leo had never been happier! This is the horse that last year I couldn't even get to leave the indoor arena because of the spooking and hissy fits. Now, he's a gentlemen that walks wherever I point him happily, though I'm pretty sure my trainer's incredibly chill jumpers that go with us make all the difference. Leo has also been moved from a box stall to a stall with a walk-out and I feel like he's happier there, so hopefully he keeps up his good behavior and is allowed to stay in the new barn.
Leading up to the schooling show, Leo got his mane pulled and a good bath and pamper session. We lessoned in the hedge ring for the first time the weekend before and he was perfect. Jumped around the full course a few times at 3' though honestly we had both lost some stamina with the two weeks off at the beginning of August. The lesson only demonstrated that we were 1) fully prepared and 2) really needed to barely warm-up before our classes and conserve our energy.
I walked away from the show Sunday feeling accomplished. I had one of my worst rides ever in my second class on Saturday, but was able to put it out of my mind and focus on just making it through my rounds instead of winning and it worked out really well for us. We ended up with a second in our Sunday hunter round and a first in the Mini Medal!
Okay, so the actual re-cap. Besides our one rough class, the rest of the weekend was pretty perfect. Leo was just an absolute champ. Normally a little balky with his canter transitions, he was just excited to be out there and so forward and willing. Ears perked the entire time. Happy to hang out with his barn mates near the in gate, not a single spook to speak of, really good about picking up his right lead. I decided before the show that we would go straight to the canter from the walk since he really gets irritated with me and anticipates the trot in to walk to canter transitions and he did perfectly. And on Sunday when we did end up having to trot in across the ring, I barely had to think okay we should canter now and he did the most lovely trot to canter transition.
I was going to do a full write-up of every class, but this post has already gotten long enough. I did detail some of my faults for our 'rough' class below, but the video should cover all the good things. Oh and we got to do a victory gallop for our 5th in the Medal Challenge and Leo was so lit up for it, it was SO adorable. Maybe next time we can pull off a 1st or 2nd.
Things to Work on for Next Time
- Being patient through the in-gate (might have cantered through once!)
- Holding for the proper strides in the lines, which I normally have no problems with and should know better
- Strengthening my left leg, since I have to support so much with my right, it's gotten considerably stronger than my left
- Not tossing my body/jumping ahead
- Left piano hand, right hanging wrist over the jumps
- Focusing on the ride and not the competition
The Bad Round
I usually have a sense of humor about my goofs/fails/painful courses, but this one was really, really rough and I won't be posting the video just because it just makes me sad to watch. He clearly tried so hard to not let me fall, like tries to catch me with his neck each time and didn't hold a grudge afterwards at all. The class didn't start well, I added to the first single fence, chipped bad into the next line where I was like okay we clearly don't have enough energy. Add leg. He responds to the leg. Then I'm like woah, that's a big scary canter so I pull. And he has to slam on the breaks since I ruined any chance at a distance. He almost falls to his knees crashing into the front of the fence trying to catch me. We walk away and I'm just hoping I'm done with the class, trainer says I can continue and I think okay it's probably best to not leave on such a bad note, we pick up the canter again and get over the refused fence fine, I get left behind on the first fence of the next line, second fence is fine... and then to the long approach oxer. Again, I'm a mix of leg, spur, leg, and pull, pull, pull. Second refusal. Same crashing to a halt, he's trying to save me from falling. And then the announcer calls that we were off course - in all the chaos I forgot about the trot jump. At that point I was just thankful to be excused. *Cue me walking out of the ring trying not to involuntarily tear up. Yeah, it could have been worse, but also this is what happens when I put too much pressure on myself and forget to ride. the. horse. Any other animal would have so quickly dropped me on my ass it's not even funny. Leo is such a saint.