Season Recap: Show 8

With only a few shows left of the season, Gracie and I picked up the pieces and blew them all away at Millside.


After what had felt like months since the ponies got to show in their division again, we were in store for a beautiful summers day at the show at Millside.

The set up for this show was on the cramped side, but it was run very well by a barn from our old Trillium Zone, and with a different show schedule for us to try out. The show ran over Friday and Saturday only, and Gracie and Riley only went on Saturday (Gracie didn’t go Friday to do the Developmental Hunters). The hack division started the day off bright and early for Gracie in the jumper ring. The layout of the rings put the jumper ring on the end beside the main entrance, to the other side was the warm up ring, and beside that the hunter ring. The hack division being right away in the morning meant it was constantly being interrupted by noisy trailers and trucks bouncing down the driveway under the trees. While Gracie was much more okay about this than some of the other horses, she still reacted a few times to the noises causing us to stay out of the high calls. When it came time for the pleasure hack she had gotten used to the distractions enough to float pleasantly around the arena and getting noticed again for a third place ribbon from the judge.

Soon after the hack division, Riley arrived to the show and I started warming him up to go first in his division. He took some getting used to in the warmup ring and horses jumping courses on either sides, but he pulled through much quicker than expected. Riley really impressed me with the little things this show. There were many instances where I though “oh great, here we go”, but after calmly nagging at him to move forward and “just keep swimming” he proved to me he can handle being a show horse. Everything went great in the ring for our rounds. He was brave to the fences and jumping well (for him), and the only thing that was holding us back were the lead changes. So then I tried to get after him. These attempted were quickly shot down when he began anticipating the lead changes, we lost impulsion, and then I lost Riley. I have to give him credit for trying, but the slowing down and bucking for a lead change was getting us nowhere, so I quickly changed pace and simpled the changes and worked to get the forward pace back. We finished on a good note and he deserved all the pats and carrots he got for his efforts that day.

When it came to Gracie’s turn to go in, there was much commotion at the in-gate. I did mention about the close quarters at this particular horse show.. and somehow everyone managed to cram in ready to go for ribbons at the in-gate while I struggled to keep a fed up Gracie walking and dodging obstacles and still stay in ear shot of coach to learn our next course. I’ll admit I was a bit of a stress-case at this point and Gracie knew it. The one thing I did well at this show, while I was a total stress case outside of the ring, I put it all behind me each time I went into the ring and didn’t let it affect my riding in any way that day. Gracie had some stunning rounds and got some good ribbons with the extra company than normal in the Modified Adults division. Here is one of our best rounds of the season.

Both of the ponies hacked great and got 6th and 7th with the company.


Season Recap: Show 7

It rained, and it rained, and it rained, and then everyone went home.


Wedgewood and Coach

And so we came to our next show cancellation of 2015 with Hurricane Railside. The weekend started fine with a little hack division here, some Hunter Development there, and oh, Riley had come along for the ride on Saturday for a little schooling.

As we neared the end of day 1, I was getting Gracie warmed up again for the OnCourse Medix Hunter Derby. For some reason I was really struggling with her in the warm up ring that afternoon. Let me tell you something about me and warm up rings. Never have I ever had a traumatizing, life altering experience in a warm up ring at a horse show; in fact, it’s impossible for me to since I would rather circle 20 times before going to a jump if anyone is within 20 miles of the arena or the jump itself. Jokes aside, I hate warm up rings and always will. I wouldn’t go as far to say I have nervous break downs when I have to navigate over jumps in a crowded arena, but my nerves majorly affect my confidence and then all of a sudden I have let myself get into my head. My head is the worst place I can be before I go into the ring, and my coach knows that. My coach is experienced in dealing with and breaking through all kinds of show related nerves, and I’m sure she has classified my type as it’s own, and what she can do to help me with it. Sometimes it’s not a quick fix, and I can never thank her enough for her patience and everything she has done for me this year. This show in particular, it hit me hard. Gracie was wonderful that morning in the same ring for Jen, but for whatever reason I had convinced myself that we were going to go in there for our Derby trip and crash around the course. Gracie was probably a little up due to that fact of the threatening clouds circling in above us for later’s events. So Coach simply removed my beloved spurs and sent me into the Derby assuring me my horse knows how to lift her legs up and is smart enough to get us out of trouble, whilst ignoring my reasons why this was going to go very very badly. And in I went.

Watching this video now, and knowing all of my emotions that day, all I can think is how ungrateful I can be sometimes. Here is an already sensitive horse who has a nervous ball of nerves on her back, and yet before every jump you can see her ears perk and her body say “lets go!”. Anyone can see that she clearly loves her job. We had some iffy jumps in this course, but it was our first derby class where we got all of our leads, and we still came out with a reasonable score of 74 after all of that drama.

The other person I would like to give mention is “The Railside Mom”. This woman is part of the OnCourse Medix team present at every show, and is also the very proud mother of a young girl who rides many horses at the shows. This being our barn’s first season on this new zone, it didn’t take me long to recognize this woman as the zone cheerleader. I am convinced that whilst working she seeks out any nervous or seemingly upset rider, and dedicates herself to being there on the sidelines to force feed them words of encouragement and compliments. She obviously sniffed me out in the warm up ring, because she was there on our walk to the ring, at the ingate, and was the one SCREAMING at the end of our course in the video. As soon as I heard her and saw her face that was truly excited for me, a rider from a different barn that was competing against her own daughter, I couldn’t help but burst into a smile.

The skies were basically black when I ended my trip, and before I could get Gracie back to the stalls, it was pouring. They managed to finish the first round of the derby, but the hack class for the Adult Amateurs, the Trillium Hunters, and the 2nd round call backs for the derby were all cancelled as people rushed their horses onto the trailers and took shelter from the storm. Back in the barn, the wind and rain was so bad that we soon lost power, and everyone available had brooms and shovels and were desperately trying to keep the rain from flash flooding the barn. For what seemed like hours, the storm raged on until it finally died down enough for them to go check on the rings. Upon seeing the rings an instant decision was made for the rest of the show weekend; tomorrow was cancelled without a make up day. The rings were competently under water, in some areas they swore you could go swimming, and to top it off most of the jumps were destroyed. When it was safe, we loaded up the horses and headed home, meaning Gracie and Riley would miss another modified adult show this season.

Season Recap: Show 6

Some shows you have more to blog about than others. This wasn’t one of them. The ponies were good. The End.



Nothing very exciting happened at show number 6. There weren’t any break through moments, or lessons to be learned. Both Gracie and Riley had a consistent show here at Warwick, and picked things up from where they’d left off the past weekend at the London Hunt Club.

We had just gotten over a week of rain there in London, and although they had done a great job at grooming the rings for the show, they still had to close off a portion of the Modified ring. Not only did this mean for tighter corners in an already smaller ring, but they had used things like antique BABY CARRIAGES and DUCKIES to close off the arena. While I spent the morning whining to myself about the end of the world as we know it, I was dumb-founded when both of the ponies waltzed right past the danger zone with little to no drama. Huh. Sorry, false alarm everyone.

So, in some big ways the babies had somehow grown up a bit on me, and they kindly kept their cools in the scary corner so all I had to worry about was straightness to the next jump, minus the drama. Gracie got some low calls over fences while Riley was still out of the ribbons. This show forward I decided to hack Gracie myself, and one of our Adult Amateur riders took over Riley in the hack for me for the remainder of the season. The ponies each got good prizes in the hack, Riley coming out with a 3rd in a bigger division than usual.



Season Recap: Show 5

It was the best of times, and it was the worst of times. I had my best round yet, and my worst rounds yet. To sum it all up, we had hit our next major learning curve. 

Going by the original show schedule had we not had 2 show cancellations, this show would have marked the half way point through the 2015 season. It was the first and only show on this circuit where the rings were on grass at the lovely London Hunt and Country Club. Both of the show rings were a good size with minimal changes in elevation, and besides one scary cross country jump on the size of the ring, there was not a lot for the horses to spook at.

Gracie started the week off with another great hack division with good prizes. Next she had some competitive rounds with Coach in the hunter development, and even got some great lead changes in.

On to day two, the rest of the Sunday team were away or had chosen to skip this show. Since my division started first in the morning, we had expected to be done and out of there in no time. Wrong. This show being on grass, the horses were moving out more than usual and not surprisingly pulling shoes. Gracie and Riley managed to avoid a trip to the farrier’s booth (riley doesn’t wear shoes, and Gracie has 4) but that didn’t stop everyone else from losing a shoe right before the last group of horses were jumping, or right before the hack class.. So we were there a little longer than we had anticipated.


First up in the Modified Child/Adults was Riley. We had decided to finish the last half of the season in this division as he had an easier chance of qualifying or getting a ribbon here than in the open division he started in last show. These jumps were only a bit higher at 2’9, which I regret looking back on the season now. Riley does not have the same natural jumping abilities as Gracie does, and while I know he still loves to jump, he would have done better this year if I had kept him at the 2’6 height. This was my best show with him, probably because he wanted to move out more on the grass, allowing him to carry himself better and not be as launchy over the 2’9 jumps. These were all things we would be working on this winter. I had some great trips for the point I was at with this horse, we did make the lines easily, and I was able to keep him straight through the lines meaning we landed most of our leads, but not all.

11701199_800686386718185_6639201130534765519_nThis horse wants to be balanced and get lead changes, but another thing we will be working on this winter is getting him to move over off my leg without accelerating forward and to finish the lead changes without kicking out. He hacked great with me for the hack class, and we got a 2nd.


On to Gracie. My warm up trips and my first 2 rounds were less than stellar. Gracie was extremely quiet today, which I was not used to. While she was being lovely and soft (and extremely patient) I was not holding my leg on during that last step to the jump and following through with the distance that was right there in front of us EVERY time. For some reason I just wasn’t trusting my judgment with her today and felt she was behind my leg, therefor I was reluctant to make that final bid to the distances I was seeing, and still felt that we weren’t going to get there. After a pep talk from Coach after every trip, I finally went in for my last round of the division with the attitude that I had to go for it. And we did.

Although it was a bummer about the lead changes, we still had accomplished so much in this round – mentally and visually – that this was still one of my proudest and most memorable trips of the season.


I chose to hack Riley at this show, so Gracie was hacked by the head groom and got a good hack prize too (Riley was stunning on the grass and we beat her in the hack). So after the good, the bad, and the ugly, it rounded up to be a great learning experience for me in the show ring, and for laughing it off out of the ring.

Season Recap: Show 4

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.


Riley and his posse

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.


Season Recap: Shows 2 & 3

As if the delayed and then delayed again show season kick off wasn’t enough – next came the rain.


Mod Child/Adult Hunters (lol my face)

HSE show 1 weekend began on a high note with Gracie coming away with Reserve Champion of the Developmental Hunters with coach!! Below is one of her rounds.


Reserve Champion

The next highlight of the day came when I catch rode my friends green warmblood in my Equitation under saddle class, and pulled through with a silver medal.





As the sun set at the end of the day, I tucked Gracie and her buddy away in their stalls for the night, and headed home. This being one of the furthest shows of the season, I napped at home then was off again in the early morning to clean up after the girls and their slumber party at the show grounds. Pulling up I glanced at the rings and grumbled to myself about how muddy grey pony was going to get today, then set off to start scrubbing her white. No sooner than the second I had completed her tail braid and was spritzing her with show sheen did the unthinkable happen – the show was CANCELLED. Being one of the first to arrive I first spread the news to coach, then began painstakingly removing every last braid from her mane. At least she wouldn’t be getting muddy today…

Gracie and her cat

Gracie and her cat

HSE show 2 returned the following weekend. Gracie having been excellent for coach the previous weekend, I decided on the return to this venue I would not enter her into the Developmental Hunters this go. A few minutes later upon taking a look at the ring and  – gulp- a combination.. Cooooooooach… will you navigate my pony today..


So of course she was perfect and the combination didn’t even phase her day 1. Onto day 2 and… rain!? Sure enough, upon Gracie and I entering the ring day 2 the skies opened up on us, then stopped, then started again when I got back on for the under saddle classes. The plus side was the suction-cup affect it had on my seat with the saddle for my Medal flat phase. And hey, we even finished Reserve Champs in the combined Modified Child/Adult hunter division that day. Below is our medal trip where we skipped one lead change, but she was brilliant and brave to the jumps.

Season Recap: Show 1

After the first few show of the season was cancelled due to a Strangles Outbreak, we started the season off at the end of May at Eden Ridge Equestrian.

The layout of our classes for the show weekend started off on Saturday with the Hack Division, followed by the Hi/Lo Developmental Hunter Division and then my Equitation class later in the day. Gracie started her first show off in the Hack Division a little overwhelmed. After mussing through her first experience in the ring, she got ready with my coach next for the Developmental Hunters.

Gracie entered this ring with coach for the first time since the Hack in the morning was in the other ring. Coach took her time and walked the long way on their mission to the first jump, keeping her straight when she started to look or move away from things that caught her eye. Gracie wasn’t spooking at the jumps themselves, but when something elsewhere caught her attention and you lost all straightness to the jump, she would stop. Including warm up rounds and the division itself Gracie went in for 5 trips with coach, and continued to become braver every trip. Lead changes were still a work in progress, so every lead change was simpled in this small ring in order to break this experience down for her and to only worry about getting her around the course for her first show.


Eden Ridge I Mod Adults


Eden Ridge I Mod Adults

Day two of showing were my jumping divisions with her. The numbers were small enough at this show to combine my divisions for ribbons to be the Modified Child/Adult Division, and the Modified Child/Adult Medal. We were back into the big ring that I had hacked her in the first day. Gracie went in more confidently for her warm up trips than she did the first day, but I still had to work to keep her straight and focused on the jumps. Videoed is one of our best rounds of the show; she had settled down a lot more by her 3rd course, and we were both breathing a bit more by then.


Eden Ridge I Hunter Derby

This show also had a Hunter Derby! Although we lost our straightness in the combination and were not able to complete our course, I got some of my best jumping pictures of the season from this course that we went into without a warm up round.

It was a great first show out for my green girl!

How was your first shown out this season?