Foxstone hunter show: Winter series finale recap!

This Sunday we attended the final show in the Foxstone hunter winter series. They offer three horse shows over the winter as a way to tune up a bit and get some exposure. The stable is fabulous, and the people are really friendly and fun to talk to. I highly recommend attending the series- and it doesn’t hurt that the prizes they offer are SO GOOD!

I have now attended two of their shows. Last time I went to this show, I was primarily focused on gaining back confidence. I suffer from performance anxiety, and in general, extreme tension when I’m showing and jumping. I had kind of a tough summer, (lots of falls, just silly ones but they really build up) and I wanted to go out, and just…Have fun. So, I rode in the crossrails division and was the division champion! I like to joke that I am now heading to the crossrails Olympics.

So. Serious.

So. Serious.

This show, I decided I could do the 2′ feet hunter division. And when we rode it, it really wasn’t about the jumps- it was about the canter in between the jumps! Oats was a tad ‘wired for sound’ so he kind of felt edgy, like maybe he was going to pull some SERIOUS shenanigans. That led to the first jump on-course being, well, interesting for a lack of better terms. He kind of lunged forward, like he was going to do his patented ‘leap-buck-buck’ until I go flying off!

[I’m going to add here that my husband joined me and was able to take these pics! Thanks to him 🙂 even though I like to joke that he is bad luck, because I always seem to fall off when he’s at a horse show!!]

I managed to circle him, approach the first fence, and the rest of the course rode beautifully. And then the same with the second, and third, courses. So, I was like, ARGH what is with this horse? The bucking, snorty head-tossing? And then we’re like..so ON when we get rolling?

A step up from the crossrails Olympics?

A step up from the crossrails Olympics?

But, I’m proud about one thing- I did NOT let it derail me. We rode the rest of the courses (and, gulp, managed to survive the flat class) without zoning out, disassociating and falling off! AND a personal Oats victory- managed to get into the ring without him balking at the in-gate and we didn’t even have to take laps outside, he managed just fine in the little area at the in-gate.

In the past, this would have completely destroyed my entire course, and division. I didn’t let it get to that point this time. And, I love Foxstone- I won the draw for my entries for the day, so my division was free! I paid for the office fees and the stall rental but other than that, made out like a bandit. What a nice idea eh?

And to top it off, we are going to the small year-end awards dinner this Wednesday AND my friend, who shows at a much higher height than me (think a foot higher!) is also getting an award. What a nice way to cap off the winter series, don’t you think?!

Great horse show prizes!

Great horse show prizes!

YAY!

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“Man cannot remake himself without suffering, for he is both the marble and the sculptor.”

And here is a big horse show report for you:

Foxstone Stables (with Oats photobomb)

Foxstone Stables (with Oats photobombing)

Winner!

Winner!

I went to a horse show this weekend (Cowichan Winter series at the amazing Foxstone Stables) and entered a division MUCH lower than I usually show at.

Yes, think cross rail olympics here.

Why the big drop down? Well, a lot of reasons. Oats’ behaviour, my jumping fears, my extreme performance anxiety, my ‘normal’ jumping anxiety, you name it, I have it.

(Fears, that is. Not a plethora of skills.)

So, I swallowed my ‘sort-of’ pride and entered the low division. And the funny thing- I STILL had a ton of anxiety the night before the show- was awake all night tossing and turning, feeling worried, the rain was absolutely hammering down all night, we had to get up super early, what if, etc etc. I was kind of a wreck.

It was pouring rain when we packed up the car, drove to the barn and loaded up the horses. Just POURING! I was sooooooo ready to cancel. Wanted to badly.

But, I was already there, and loading Oats on the trailer. I guess it was happening!

I felt kind of distracted on the drive up (it’s a good hour or so away from our barn) and when we got to the stables, still felt worried.

But we warmed up, had a nice interaction with the show office staff (who were WELL aware of Oats, and his little ‘reputation’ eek) and the rain stopped. A good omen! During our warmup outdoors, of which were were absolutely spoiled by the lovely outdoor ring with two banks to play with, Oats felt very forward. This is new to me, and he is so rarely this eager.

Gorgeous outdoor

Gorgeous outdoor

I was a bit intimidated, to be honest! I never feel him go like that! But, he was eager and game, and it made our warm-up pretty smooth- and he kept that ‘forward’ pace well into the ring, for our brief ring warm-up.

Two banks to play on in the outdoor!

Two banks to play on in the outdoor!

Then, the rounds started. I still felt SO nervous, but it was nice to not have to worry about the jumps- they were there, but it wasn’t so desperate- like my past rounds have been. They just ‘happened’ you know? I made all the usual mistakes but it was alllllllright.

Oats does not like to stand still, so in between the rounds, we walked up and down, all over the grounds. He loved that, he was very relaxed and cruised around looking interested.

'We are the champions...'

‘We are the champions…’

Then, for the flat class, I was feeling like maybe doing a flat class was a mistake….He was a bit too eager, and kind of felt like he was running down the other riders. And canter in a group? Oats’ biggest nemesis.

Luckily- since this was a low-level division- they let us canter once at a time! Lucky me! So we did it, and my transitions, and actual riding in the canter was spectacularly shitty- but hey, we stuck it out and DID NOT get excused! Or bucked off!

Success!!!

And when the ribbons were announced, Oats and I were champion! YES!  You know, I just needed some sort of ‘win’…Some sort of ego boost that could prop up my failing courage. And this show was just it. Thankful I was able to attend!

We won (and this is big folks, I never win anything!!)

  • A champion ribbon
  • First place
  • Two second places
  • Third (in the flat)
  • An engraved stirrup cup!
  • $20 gift certificate to Victoria Saddlery
  • Candy canes!
  • A lovely scrapbooking card making set

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And we waited around ALL day due to hauling up with a friend, who was showing her hot TB in the hunters (for the first time!) – it sucked for her, because she was there at the asscrack of before-dawn, and it sucked for me and Oats, because we left in the dark, and got home in the dark!!! HAHAH.

They did fabulously actually- I was very impressed at how well Willie calmed down in the indoor arena and did his job. They placed well too- 2nd, 3rd, 4th and I think another 2nd? Very close to reserve champion for their 2’9” division.

Nice work!!

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But because Oats is still Oats, he still managed to kind of piss me off- I went to put him in the stall my friend and I shared, he tried to RUN out and smushed me against the stall wall- crunching my bad left shoulder AGAIN. That’s the third time this year I’ve injured my bum left shoulder- one time lifting jumps, one time lifting a TV, and now, horse-related. OUCHHHHHHHH.

AH, well…That’s life I guess!

Horse show #9- Not so triumphant

So, Sunday we trailered back up to QMS for a hunter show that marks the beginning of the Cowichan Winter Series. And how did it go? Well…

We warmed up pretty well, and then went into the indoor for a brief warm-up over the fences. Indoors is much tighter, twisty and the jumps come up a lot faster. We had a pretty ok warm-up, with some disunited canter and a bungled last jump in the line.

My courses were pretty easy, and I was feeling ok until…I went in for my course and got a refusal at the second fence–an oxer on the diagonal. They were pretty oxer-happy!

Picked up my canter and re-did it fine, then continued on course with 1 or two ugly fences. The next course went alright but it wasn’t fabulous. Then it was time for the equitation course, and I was freaking NAILING it! Until…I got the old ‘slam on the brakes and pop over from a standstill’ from Oats, and then we demolished the fence. And then proceeded to next diagonal oxer and performed the same awkward maneuver- and I jumped off, because I was SO not into having him leap over it from a standstill AGAIN.

WTF? So….What the heck?! Why do I fall off at horse shows? My show nerves clearly got the best of me, and all I could focus on was finishing the course. UGH. That means racing through it as fast as I possibly could.

We had entered the flat class and I was kind of not looking forward to it. To my ultimate surprise Oats was so good! He was honest, he was kind and he was so chilled out about it, I was shocked. This was the pony who had been excused from EVERY flat class I had entered him in due to bad behaviour- bucking, rearing, running backwards, everything.

He was a perfect gentleman. We placed third out of a fairly large field of 15 or so. So, our 9th show wasn’t really a triumph for jumping (man, I haven’t done that poorly at a show, ever?) but he really surprised me and was great for our flat class. Funny eh? The thing I’m better at (jumping) is kind of a disaster and the thing I’m afraid of (flat class) was perfect. How odd!

Ohh well, you win some, you lose some.