Gracie’s Weekend: Part II

After the success of Friday night, we returned home briefly only to start packing and show prepping all over again to head back again Sunday morning.

While our return Sunday was a much busier environment than it had been the day before, it was still a low key winter schooling show and was nothing in comparison to what we would be encountering next month when the Trillium season started.

The morning started with unloading and heading straight into the main ring to flat around with all the horses before the show started. Gracie was a bit up at this point, so we stayed in the ring until it closed and then put them away in their stalls for a bit while we got organized. My group’s spot in the order for the first 2’3 division was towards the end, so while they started we headed to the bigger warm up ring to flat them and get some energy out. 10 trips before our group we headed down to the main ring and coach warmed us up over some jumps in the small arena. The turnout was still low at this time so we were lucky to not have a lot of traffic in the warm up rings.. but we knew we would be doomed to deal with that later unfortunately.

Then it was our turn!

The three of us headed into the chute with our greenies and awaited the final rounds to finish. Knowing that the other entries included some riders we would be competing against this season, and some trainers on sale horses, it was disappointing walking up to the ring to find the only rounds we would get to watch of the division were of a little short stirrup kid who couldn’t get her pony around.. indoor shows suck for spectating.

Ever since last season with riding an unpredictable spooker, I have learned to take my time when entering the ring, identify the potential spooky spots in the ring, and set my horse up properly with the lowest level of risk possible. The first jump was on the quarter line in front of the in-gate away from home, this meant I had to circle at this end of the ring upon entering before heading off to the jump. In the middle of my circle was a decorative jump with straw bales for filler that we would only be jumping in the equitation round in the afternoon. I knew I definitely wouldn’t want to direct her at this and risk her spooking or picking up the wrong lead to start. Therefore my plan of action for this course would be to walk calmly and assertively straight into the ring and circle to the right around the scary jump, and once on a right bend while we are heading back onto the rail we would chose then to pick up a canter and partially finish the circle before going onto the quarter line on the path to the first jump.

The first jump I knew Gracie would back off from, so in the approach it was all about getting her onto the canter before the corner, and keeping the pace consistent with my leg on all the way there. Although these jumps were very tiny, I knew that with all the filler and Gracie being a green horse that I could expect her to still jump this height impressively; although I could afford to get a little deep to the singles, it was still important to be brave to the jumps without taking the flyer and set her up to get down the lines easily and avoid adding.

Gracie was great for the 2’3s; I felt like we were rushing things a bit, but I got her over the jumps and made the lines and that is what mattered. When we came back for the 2’6 division I could trust she would be brave and had opened her step to make the lines. Now we could settle it all down.

Going back into the ring at the end of the next 2’6 division meant letting her cool down in her stall for an hour, then going through the whole tacking up, warming up process we had done that morning, only this time there was a whole heck of a lot more people around. The warm up ring was a death chamber. Too many people, horses coming and going, standing in the way, and just overall not paying attention. We spent as minimal time in here as possible; we just warmed up then got outta there before someone missed the jumps and went flying over us.. or into us.

By this time of day the shadows had all changed in the ring which made the jumps much spookier for some of the horses. Our warm up round required a lot of schooling (thankfully the 2 strikes and you’re out rule didn’t apply at this show) but after some simply green horse refusals and a lot of drifting and some adding we got around. Having won the battle, I could go in for the next rounds knowing she had gotten that out of her system, and now we could settle down and ride the courses.

We fit in two very civilized hunter-like courses with simple changes and a few flying changes her good way in the 2’6 division. We added for the first time in one of our lines when we got a bit crooked going out, but in all she was excellent.

Here videoed is one of our 2’6 division rounds. Turn on your volume to be education on the Manhattan Once-Over by the peanut gallery.


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