Scary banners everywhere! Whatever will the ponies do!?
For this show I decided not to enter Gracie into the Hunter Development with Coach (for real this time!). On day one I had one of my best rides on Gracie in the Hack Division, with some good ribbons and tied for Reserve Champion (it came down to a “stand – off”, and either they didn’t enjoy the calcified lump consuming the inside of her kicking leg, or they gave up on trying to get a look at her as she flopped around like a fish while the “stallion” next to us stood like a stud) which we lost in conformation.
For day two, this meant Gracie would be going fresh into the big ring for our division. While she was 100 times braver to the jumps this show, she pulled off some spooking at the banners hanging on the perimeter of the ring, which made setting up her straightness for lead changes or landing our leads especially difficult.. Other than a few malfunctions, this was our best show yet.
The Derby! Sure enough, as the sun set on the horizon at the time the show was finally winding down, the big ring finished the show off with the $1000 Hunter Derby. This derby was less competitive than the day before as it was only mainly my Modified division and the pony kids, so even with our lead issues, Gracie and I were sitting in 10th for the Derby with a 64 before the last pony rider went into the ring. This adorable white and pink nosed small pony had a stellar round landing them in one of the top placings and was well deserved – Gracie and I would rather save our Derby placing for a better round from us anyways. Instead, we watched the victory gallop, cheered for my barn’s two ponies and childrens hunter that had landed a placing (and in our large ponies’ case, won the Derby!), then headed back to the stalls to get ready to go home after a successful weekend.
And I can’t forget about Riley! For Riley’s Trillium debut into the hunter ring we were testing the waters in the Developmental Hunters at the 2’6 height. Riley had been unbelievable for his first time to school off property earlier this year in a less hectic indoor setting, but we had no idea how he would react at a full blown horse show. At this show one of the main warm up rings was indoors. On either long side were the horse stalls, separated from the arena by open fencing. This proved host to many distractions in our warm up, but was a good introduction to what we would face in the show ring out where the rest of the show was happening.
In the ring for our first warm up course, Riley stopped at the first jump (I will have a post about this and the video soon). I knew right away that this was not how the rest of our day was going to go; I had felt him become unsure about the jump a few paces out, and I had failed to back it up with enough leg. This was certainly not the end. I had him stopped square in front of the jump at this point, then nudged him forward encouragingly until we had comfortably closed the gap between our parking spot and the jump. We turned and did a big circle, then made it over the jump. Into the line of the next jump I had gotten jumped out of the tack and didn’t recover quick enough to get him straight to the out of the line, and we were buzzed out. The following video is our next time into the ring for our 2nd warm up course.
As you can see, we did not make the lines, we did not jump round and beautifully, but this first trip around was one of my proudest moments of the season with this horse. The three judged trips to follow brought forth some other errors and were not judge-able, but we continued to make it around, and I could feel this horse’s confidence growing every time we went back into the ring. We finished his day off with a 5th in the hack against some pretty decent competition. In all it was much more than I could have expected of him at his first horse show.