Gracie’s Weekend: Part I

The Grey mare’s super exciting weekend started with an evening outing with the barn to school over the jumps in the big show ring..

What a weekend!

It was all about Gracie this weekend as we trailered first to school in the big show ring on Friday night, and then back again Sunday morning to attend The Grey mare’s first hunter schooling show.

Overall the schooling night on Friday went great. Taking that extra day before the show to get her into the big ring with the extravagant jump fillers would appear to give us an edge against the competition on Sunday, but this weekend was about the experience, not the competition. On Friday I took the time to get my horse comfortable with her new surroundings, but the point of the evening was to learn what I could expect from her away from home. We purposely skipped giving Gracie any of the usual supplements we have available for the more energetic horses to take when they go off property; this meant this would be 100% Gracie on the weekend, and we would see what we had to work with going forward this season.

Having my coach with us in the ring on Friday meant we could spend extra time with any part of the course we were having problems with until thus satisfied with the result. While we would not have that luxury when we entered the ring for the show on Sunday, this schooling night would be a big bonus for Gracie.

After unloading and getting organized, I tacked up and started warming her up in the ring outside the main show ring. While she was a bit more up than the last time we had trailered to this facility to school, she was moving great and she quickly calmed down while we warmed up. She was not keen on the whole standing and waiting thing at this point, so after warming up for 15 minutes we marched straight into the main ring to continue flatting. We walked around while the group before us finished jumping (she still wasn’t having anything with this standing business), and soon joined the next group in some warm up jumps over the quarter lines.

Next, it was time to start jumping the lines. The course that was set up had a 5-stride and a 6-stride on either long side, then a 4-stride on one of the diagonals. We started by trotting into each of the long side lines and cantering out while adding a stride. The next time around we then cantered in and cantered out with the correct number of strides for that line. At this point I was struggling to get Gracie onto the correct forward canter, and I would play it safe and let her jam in that extra stride into the lines.

If I kept playing it safe, we were stuck.

Now I had to make a decision. Do I want to teach this horse and make the lines? Of course. So then what I had to do was break out of my comfort zone, and make the lines already!

That soft, floaty, safe canter I had been working on all winter was great for the hack class, but what I needed now was to switch into that forward, extended, but still floaty horse show canter.

The next two courses I did felt like we were rushing and gunning it around to make the lines – looking back on the videos after this was certainly not the case – as we took a flew flyers in order to make the stridings.

So step 1 was accomplished: make the lines.

Moving on to the next course, funny enough, we made the lines easily this time. Huh. The next course after that the same thing happened, this time we felt more settled, she was opening up her step to adapt to the proper stridings I was consistently achieving.

Now we were on the canter.

The rest of the night went about the same. We stayed on the same canter and made the lines. When we were deep, I kept my head and continued out of the line with the correct strides. When we had a bit too much canter heading out of the line, Gracie backed herself off and we successfully made it out cleanly. Smart mare.

Leads are a work in progress. This will be the focus this week at home and the time leading up to our first show.

Videoed here is our last round where we ended things on a good note for the night.


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