A good Walt Whitman quote is always applicable, I think!
Oats and I finally made our debut int he 2’6” ring, after YEARS at 2′, and 2’3” – some successful, a lot not. I normally feel a lot of anxiety, and I weirdly wanted to feel anxious about this show, and just…Didn’t? I felt like, yeah old hat. Weird for me. Weird for being at a horse show, even if it is a small schooling show. I expected to feel anxious, have show nerves, but all I could think is- I can do this. I can definitely do it. Oats is a great pony, and he’s my champion. Challenge me.
My friend was riding in the 2’3”, and I had 1 class in the 2’3” as a warm-up, and then my 2’6” division. She was anxious, and I told her- nobody is even looking at you! Nobody cares! Be challenged. Bring it!!
That’s my mantra now. 🙂 Make me work for it. Make me focus. Make me try.
We warmed up ok, after Oats spent forever and a day at the (very hot again) trailer, screaming for his buddy and pacing, and it went on and on and on…
Anyways, I was learning from my lessons the day previous, so I did NOT get on Oats too early. I waited until the first 2’3” went, and then tacked Oats up and brought him over. We trotted, cantered and my trainer came over to run us over a few small jumps- just as the ring gate volunteer was like hey you’re in two. Wow! That was quick! But it’s how I like it. 🙂
We went in and it was…eh. He bucked a little (feeling MUCH better today) and I could tell he was a bit bored. I left the ring saying he needs more. And we waited (awhile) for the 2’6” to be set. The course was not challenging, but it did have a small combination (2 small strides, 3 Oats-sized strides, quite compressed). I kind of wanted them to put the liverpool in, we could definitely do it no problem! Sadly that is for the 2’9” division, not ours. I did not feel scared or have the jumps suddenly ‘grow’ as I usually feel. In fact, even looking back, they look low. WTF?
We warmed up ok for the 2’6”- it was getting quite hot. I had cleverly brought in a water bucket and asked my friend who finished her division (and placed!!) to fill it and put it in the warm-up. Oats drank! Twice! He was already doing better this day.
We hopped a few verticals, biffed the oxer a few times but it was fine and then we were in. And you know what? The course rode really well- almost perfectly!! I came out smiling. And I said, I want to ride my next round exactly the same way. And I DID!! Who is this girl, who can finish all of her classes, ride competently and well, being fair to her horse, and confidently say she wants to ride exactly the same way? This girl!
I look back and wished I was in this division 5 years ago. But you know what? It’s not really any use doing that. I was a different person then. We placed 3rd in our 2’3”, 3rd in our 2’6” and 5th in our 2’6”. Placing doesn’t really matter though- I felt happy, confident and loving my boy. Go Honey Bunches of Oats!
I forgot that I was too busy to update on my jump lesson (last Thursday) but it was a very good, solid and workmanlike lesson. Oats was stiff and sluggy for it when we were warming up, so I was reminded by my trainer to limit my expectations for the warm-up and deal with the horse I have, in the moment and on the day. So true! Fortunately he warmed up and was moving better after a slightly longer warm-up.
Dressage lesson was on Friday with Sam and it was very encouraging! One thing I wasn’t so sold on were re-visiting my canter loop F-X-M. We kept swapping in the past, and I felt very unsure about it. We worked on it, and nailed it! And then I promptly forgot how to ride the transition to trot at ‘x’ and then pick up the right lead…Yikes. These tests involve much more ‘riding’ than I am used to (I find the intro to dressage a lot more ‘sitting pretty’ which I and Oats are good at. The actual physical riding part? Not so good, and needs a lot more work).
Anyways the day of the show, the weather was horrendous. In Victoria I heard it was sunny, gale-force winds, hailing, and raining. Up at the show in Cowichan, it was 1 weather- tornadoes. Small dust devils were whipping up in the ring, and it was just chaos. I had sand in my teeth, hair, eyes, ears. Everywhere. It was just so awful and distracting. I wanted to leave!!!
But hey the show must go on?
We warmed up and Oats was feeling good, pretty jazzy considering how miserable the wind was. His left bend wasn’t very good though, and he was leaning heavily on my hands in the trot. His canter felt a tad rushy and unbalanced, but no worries, we could work on that…It was just hard to canter left, because you got a face-full of sand every time. I couldn’t really see where I was going. Poor horse too, yikes… And my friends came to watch! I felt awful for them, dealing with the insane sand and wind in their faces for hours. Troopers, all of them!!
I was feeling good about putting front shoes on him early though. Score one for me!
We went in to the test and we had a good centreline halt, and then botched the pattern (First Level Test 1 has a 10-metre turn to the centreline), where I left early and just sort of turned…at will. I honestly couldn’t see, so I think that had a bit part of it.
The test rode pretty well, I was happy with Oats’ canter, his turns and some of the transitions were a bit sucky as I let my reins get way tooo long at the end.
We finished, and then prepared for my bigger challenge- First Level Test 3. Counter-canter loops, here we come!
I am VERY pleased to say that we conquered the canter loops! I rode them too conservatively, making the too shallow, but I think that is an easy fix for sure (again I couldn’t see very well at all), and Oats tripped over part of the dressage court fencing (it was on the ground because it kept getting blown over!). Whoops!
I also flat-out forgot to ride my transition to ‘x’…yes even though I knew that was a tricky one that I had to ride more strongly. I tuned out for it, and Oats broke. Damn! 100% my fault though.
Otherwise, the test flowed nicely, I kept my reins (mostly) shorter and we did what we came to do- conquer those canter loops! 🙂 Yay! We wrapped up and I couldn’t wait to get the hell out. Good god, the wind. I don’t know what my scores are, but I’m happy with the efforts and with how saint-like Oats was while dealing with challenging weather conditions. What a star!
This past weekend Oats and I participated in the Cowichan District Riding Club’s jumper and dressage days (Sat jumpers, Sun dressage). Wow, I am tired! And I bet Oats is too, ha.
I really like doing these shows because they are very reasonable, cost-wise and the people running them (all volunteers) are lovely people and offer a very relaxed atmosphere. That being said, I was a bit anxious for dressage day as I was trying my hand at a level above where I normally show (Level 1 test 3, as opposed to just trying Level 1 test 1). Actually I am pretty new to Level 1 in general! Not an expert here!
We warmed up and Oats was okay…Kind of dragging me around a bit, and getting strong and kind of downhill. My hauler and friend was really helpful in getting me to find a way to fix it, instead of just getting annoyed, haha.
We went in for Test 1 and it went okay but it was a little rougher, above the bit than I would have liked. Our first lengthen was pretty weak too. Oh well!
Then it was time for Test 3 and before it, when we were hanging out in the warm up ring, I watched a horse literally rear its rider off. Scared the daylights out of me! I find that kind of behaviour really triggering, and rattles me to see it. The rider was fine, but landed pretty darn hard. It was very frightening, but they rode a nice test regardless.
Test 3 I felt physically ‘rode’ better than Test 1, but it did not score as well, the judge was definitely tougher and expecting more from us (which we kind of didn’t have at this point, but hey it was a fun experience!). The canter loops went went well until Oats kind of had a minor hissy fit about it and broke the second loop. Shit!
Our geometry was off, but that’s a work in progress too, and the judge was very kind and commented that if we fix that, our scores will be MUCH higher. There is hope for us after all! 🙂
So this is how we scored (and I am happy with it, I know we have lots to work on), but I feel grateful to have this experience with Oats.
First Level test 1: 65% for first place
First Level Test 3: 63% for third place.
None too shabby!
Thanks again to my dear husband for braving an entire weekend of horse showing, my hauler and friend, and my other friend who’s horse had to cancel because he hurt his eye. Shoot! Bad luck.
So, yeah. What happened was…
- I got deployed to assist with wildfire emergency communications in Prince George again. So, two weeks out of my summer were up there.
- When I got home, I was immediately on vacation, that started horribly and tragically. It wasn’t good.
- Got back from vacation, and still had some time off, so I mourned Buster, rode Oats, rode in a lesson, prepared for a dressage show on Saturday, and rode in a polo ‘slow chukka’
- And now I am back at work, with a dressage lesson tonight, a successful dressage show in the books, and a polo night tomorrow, with jumping on Thursday.
The show went super well, it was just a scored ‘ride a test’ where you ride the test, the judge comes out to run you through some exercises based on what she saw during the test, and then you had an opportunity to try the test again, maybe improve on what you worked on.
I did Training 2 & 3, and this time I finally had the correct Training 3 test (unlike last time, where I was kind of a disorganized mess…) and things went SO well. Oats was a tad spooky in the beginning but it was easily worked through and he gave me some really quality and consistent work.
And our tests were scored fairly, the judge was so nice and very complimentary. She said we should be doing First Level, so I am going to talk to my dressage trainer tonight to see what she says. I was immensely flattered! Just to think, Oats and I getting these kind comments!
I’ve really been basking in kind judge comments. Our first dressage show of the season, the judge even wanted to know what kind of pony Oats was! 🙂
For a girl that prefers jumping, I am starting to wonder if I should be taking dressage a little more seriously or what these days? I am seeing some real progress with Oats in it.
So as I mentioned I had signed up for the dressage show (happening on Sunday, yeek). So instead of my regularly scheduled jump lesson on Thursday, we decided to practice run-throughs of the tests instead. I also changed my tests from Training 1 and 3 to Training 1 and 2 and run Test 2 as a ‘test of choice’ instead (it is easier!).
It went ok, Test 1 was kind of flubby and awkward, while Test 2 allowed us to relax more and think throughout the test, rather than jamming it forward and doing the whole thing in ‘hyper drive’ which is more my style (see- jumping every course in a show/in practice…).
I had to slow down, allow more of Oats, and relax my arms for forward motion. Easier said than done, apparently!
And then we had Friday/Saturday off because we went camping with buddies in Parksville! And what a weekend- the whole gang was there (tons of people, kids, dogs, haha) and we played SO many games- it was insane. I played more games that one weekend than I play in an entire year, I swear it!
- Viking bowling (fun but hard)
- Slam Ball (hard to learn, fun to do!)
- Kick ball
- A foot race (I didn’t partake because I ate too much, ha)
I went for a run, we played on the beach, we drank and ate WAYYY too much. I actually felt kind of sick Saturday night from all the indulging and I ended up fainting at like 1:30am?! Yikes!
I was ok though, and recovered fine and went back to bed. Gidget did not enjoy camping and puked when she got home, all over floor/couch. Yuck!
It was a great weekend with fun times and hilarious company. Loved it!!
So, the horse show season is upon us and I was kind of wondering what I was going to show in this year. In past years I have shown at the Appy shows (Vancouver Island Appaloosa Horse Club), and Westside Stables shows. There are also the higher-rated and higher-cost SSITS shows that I have NOT ventured out to yet- too much $$ and we’re not polished enough.
All in all, I was feeling pretty blah about the show season. Like, I want to show and feel confident out there but was bored by my options: Appy or Westside. Yawn…
Enter the new show season at Cedar Vista! Close-ish, new, with great footing and some really snazzy jumps. Offering a fairly reasonable series that would be brand-new to everyone. Sign me up!
They had jumpers on Saturday and hunters on Sunday, we opted for hunters. Loaded good old Oats up and away we went!
I entered him in the 2’3” hunters and one 2’6” class, and the division included one equitation on the flat class. We warmed up in the ring and Oats was a tad looky, but overall very well behaved. The open schooling was set low, but we marched over everything–like a pro!
Then, we waited a little bit- entries were low- until my division. We were able to warm up over the new height and then start. I was feeling a strange combination of sort of nervous, but overall quite blasé at the same time. The jump heights were fine, but I wanted to get more nervous?
Then- in we go! Our first round was great, second was fine, and my eq was kind of terrible. Chip-city. UGH. Also we botched the right lead change to one line every.single.time. Ouch…
But in good news, Oats is getting his skip changes more consistently if you don’t count that one line, and my pace was pretty good, I didn’t feel too nervous! The wheels kind of fell off in my equitation…I got too ahead of myself, and anxious. Oh well. There was always the 2’6”… More warm-ups at this height (Oats and I did a LOT of jumping at this show). He was rolling so smoothly- it felt effortless. We called it quits and got ready to go in for good this time.
And we chipped the first jump and I was SOoooo not straight. Gulp! I could hear my trainer yelling at me to calm down and breath! Right–got it! The second was better, and then the course just flowed from there…What a great way to end my rounds! Go Oats.
It was a lovely one to finish on, and the increased heights didn’t bother me in the slightest. It was just 1 flat class left- and we have historically either done really well (top 3) or horribly (crowhopping, bucking, rude, rushing, excused) in our flat classes.
Oats managed to keep his hair on and only had one goofy moment when a horse passed us- he started shaking his head, ready to crowhop at the canter. We even had a few small ‘tests’ from the judge- drop stirrups at the trot, posting trot w/o stirrups, and then pick them up again. AND sitting trot! I know, crazy eh?
Second for us! Woop!!
Good job Cedar Vista- friendly people, niiiice prizes, good company, great footing and fancy jumps. What more can a girl ask for?! I will be back!
On paper (well, in ribbons) this show looked pretty darn good- and to be honest, my complains and frustration comes from a place of progress not fear. So that IS a good thing.
Let’s break it down: I placed 2nd in the equitation over fences, two thirds in the hunter o/f classes and a fourth in the flat.Not too shabby eh? Well, I made some BIG mistakes in the jump classes, to the tune of not enough leg at all, and a big add in the the line with some chips, and then a lovely round in my second class to a huge fail at the…last fence…shit! We basically stopped, and climbed over it. Nothing but a total failure to ride the last fence on my part, which was very disappointing.
I lit a fire under my butt for the last jump class- I told myself NO MORE CHIPPING and NO MORE ADDING and oh, no more forgetting to ride the last fence and start congratulating myself too early, ha.
And you know what? It was our best round! I was moving.
Except then I didn’t know how to take that ‘BIG’ energy down enough for our flat class and I totallllllly bombed it. Oats was tense and anxious, and I was handsy and clutching, feeling afraid that he was bottled up and bucky, but not really knowing how, at the moment, to deal with it. Shoooot…
So, I kind of flopped, pulled, got anxious and failed my way through the flat class- we picked up the wrong lead on the right (TWICE! kill me now…) and generally I was kind of frustrated and miserable. Our last flat class was a dream so what in hell was going on?
Well heck, it’s all a learning experience! It is actually nice to take what I’ve consciously learned from the first show, and apply it to the second show.
We didn’t get a fabulous warmup- the outside ring was frozen solid- and so was I, by the way! So we had to just slowly walk around, freezing our asses off, until we could get into the indoor to warm up over fences. The scene there was total chaos, some riders seemed to have a warm up technique of repeatedly falling off…I felt disjointed and a bit disorganized, but Oats was a dream to warm up. The only thing I was annoyed about was his throwing his head around, but that’s just a warm up thing, I’m sure.
We then sat…and sat…and sat…freezing our butts off, while we waited for the final rotation to go- and we were last in the final rotation. Lovely.
I think the issues were clear- not enough energy for our over fences classes until the last one, when I finally mustered up enough ‘go’ for the course, and then WAY too much ‘go’ for my flat.
The sitting really killed our impulsion for sure, and then when I needed to be ‘sitting’…well, we were already in the ring for the flat class and didn’t have that necessary ‘decompression’ time Oats and I apparently need to not kill anyone in a flat class. I couldn’t moderate myself enough. It was 0-60 all the time.
I had a dream that night that I was galloping Oats and I felt a bit out of control, but that I also liked it…It was strange. I felt like that dream was telling me that was what I needed at the show, but was blocked from achieving it.
So, last night I did my equine counseling session with Vicki, and kind of actually ended up re-enacting some gallops from my dreams? Weird eh? I guess that was what I needed to get…that big gallop, the good canter, and the ‘free, floaty, smooth’ trot that I could NOT get at the show.
It had to come up somewhere. So it did. I liked it!
I like seeing the progression, and I’m liking the process. So what if I am frustrated–at least it’s taking me places to see new things about myself and my horse.
It’s funny- when I said I was half pleased, half disappointed about the show, Vicki asked what would make me 100% happy about the show. What if I came home with all first places?
I instantly knew I what I would say–that the competition was weak, so I was the best out of the worst.
That surprised me. I need to be happy with what I am achieving right now.
What a crazy weekend- it was jam packed with horsey activities!
I also felt a bit run off my feet (I’m still trying to get over my weird on-again-off-again malaise that just keeps hanging on, not actively sick enough but just not feeling great either. Sigh…).
I had the Dave Freeze clinic on Saturday night, and then the Foxstone horse show on Sunday. Seamless, right? Well, I’ll be doing a separate blog post about Dave Freeze, as I took lots of notes, but today we will focus on Foxstone. I was in a big rush Saturday, trying to ride Oats, clean my tack, pack up my stuff, fill grain bags and hay nets for the show, and not be late for the Dave Freeze clinic in the evening.
Everything got done but man…It was busy. And I was out late at the clinic, slept fairly well but intermittently before getting up at 7am for the show, and was back home that night at 7pm. EEK!~ Crazy eh?
It was…But it was also (to borrow from Dave’s Big Eight)- an opportunity to practice being calm, patient, focused, grounded, centered, positive, exert appropriate effort, and relaxed. Kind of a big deal for me.
My goal on this started way back, with my equine counselling–I wanted to sleep well the night before (I tried SO hard at this) and feel appropriately hungry the morning of- which I actually ate almost all of my breakfast w/o my stomach turning into knots! And then actually ‘feel’ my body as I was warming up, instead of this weird muscle weakness, numb out of body feeling (50% achieved on that…I did start wanting to drift, but managed to pull myself back together!).
The warm-up was ok- I got a bit distracted as one girl was having a tough time with her horse and fell off a few times…Oats was slow. Very quiet, suspiciously quiet. We bungled up a line a few times due to this sort of distraction, and then pulled ourselves together and went very quietly to the arena. There, I was almost thrown off my game when they said we didn’t have time to do any warm-up in the arena. WHAT?
I wanted to start worrying.
And then they said we could do our first jump as a warm-up if we wished, which was very gracious of them, and I decided, you know what? We were going to be fine without it. I was doing ok.
So, we set off on our rounds, and you know what? Wonder of wonders, they were fine, consistent, and boring. The jump height was ‘eh’ and the trouble spots I encountered were 100% because Oats was a bit backed off and slow off the leg, so we got a few ugly chips unfortunately. But, I did kind of feel like that was due to him perhaps being a bit ouchy, not like lame ouchy but a bit unsure on his feet due to having no front shoes…A bit sensitive maybe not as willing to be energetically ‘forward’?
Even though the jump height was not an issue for us, the forward yesterday was. Also, I noticed I was still gasping a bit after my rounds. So, I’m making the executive decision to keep myself and Oats at the boring height of 2′ divisions for this season. Keep it boring until I’m bored to tears and begging to move up???
And my other goal was to be 100% comfortable just ‘being’ on Oats. That was definitely achieved…We cruised around, hacked all the way around the stable yard, up and down the road, everywhere. Oats was so cool he was comatose?!! This did lend him well to being SO GOOD in my flat class–I have never had him so chill in a hack class, usually he is the psycho pony who is scaring people, racing other horses, bucking or rearing.
He was like an old hunter pony pro. And was generously rewarded with a first place! Go OATS!! I have to thank my trainer for sticking by me for all my long, panicky horse shows in the past, and maybe in the future–there is a reason Oats now has a better reputation.
One goal I’m still not there yet with is weirdly…Not super interested in watching and analyzing the videos my friend took (which was amazing of her to take them, so appreciative!!). This is one area I can improve on–I need to accept that this division is where I am right now. I am a 2′ division rider, this is my truth. I think that’s why I like having video, but am reluctant to take a deeper look at them. I almost think “this is me, jumping such low jumps?”
But if I am honest with myself, yes that IS me, and yes, I actually rode well, had a very enjoyable, consistent show with Oats, and I should be happy to critique myself after.
Oh and I need to spray-paint my jointed stirrups- I got non-judged/DQ’d in the equitation over fences class because of my black stirrups. Curses!!! Well I also seriously bungled the trot fence so if there was a class to blow, and also get disqualified in, well…I’m not crying over it, hahah.
Now, I’m typically a hard one to surprise, cost-wise with horses (newsflash: everything they do, wear, eat, train for or participate in is insanely expensive.).
But, I’ve recently come across a new one that really bugs me. The ripoff horse show.
I do a few local- emphasis on local schooling shows hosted by great organizations or stables, and am proud and happy to share their names so that others can experience them at a more or less reasonable cost. They’re not cheap, nothing in horses is, but again, fairly reasonable.
- Vancouver Island Appaloosa Club horse shows– don’t let the name fool you, they’re open to all breeds, friendly and nice. Good way to get into showing, offer very soft jump heights (for the wimps like me!!) and hack classes. Avg. $10 a class for non-members and I think $7/class for members? Cheapest game in town.
- Sooke Saddle Club: They offer normally two ‘Show and Tell’ dressage days that are, quite frankly, a steal at the price. For $35/test, you get to ride your test, have the judge come out and put you through the wringer in the best possible way, and then you ride it again and they judge it again. I normally do two tests, so I have 4X opportunity for learning. It’s amazing!
- Westside–I kind of hesitate with these guys–they are kind of the only game in town sometimes for shows in the off-season, and they aren’t really very cheap- think $20/class, and a $20/admin fee, but the venue is good, the courses are designed well and they have pretty good judges, from what I remember.
- Foxstone–They only do 3 winter series shows, $45/div and a $20 admin fee- they are very reasonable and the facilities and course design are top-notch.
- QMS–Offer both H/J and Dressage schooling shows, quite reasonable, good course design and seem to normally run on time. No quibble with these folks.
- CDRC– SO cheap! Love them! Jumper classes are no-frills run at $10/a class, and their dressage is similarly no-frills but mega affordable.
And now to the rant part…
Westside has decided to offer a dressage show and tell, similar in format and the same judges that Sooke Saddle Club offers. I give them kudos for recognizing a need in the off-season, as Sooke doesn’t have an indoor arena and isn’t able to offer Show and Tell in the winter. BUT…
The prices are ludicrous. A total money grab from my view (remember, this is my personal opinion) at $50/test and the nerve to tack on a $20/ring fee. Plus, you only get to ride the test once, instead of like Sooke where you sign up, ride, get your ass handed to you by the judge in a mini lesson, and then immediately ride again. So, double the cost, minus the test. No way José.
So, there’s that. Interesting chutzpah on their end but I will not be parting with my $$$ for that. For others, fair enough, it’s their dime.
Also- I saw a poster for a Halloween jumper schooling show at a local stable – Echo Ridge, which used to be called Oak Meadows, (local, like I could walk to it with Oats…) and was VERY interested. Until, I saw how much they were charging for what amounted to:
- No real course designer
- Tiny indoor arena to host the course- that also appears to be the only arena, no warmup ring??
- Who is the judge?
- No prizes/ribbons???
- Oh wait, it’s a jackpot style class, so first place gets $8 and it goes down from there. So you can’t even make half of what the class costs back in prize money?
- Charging for warm-up? Westside, of the ultimate money-grabber places, doesn’t even have the balls to do that. Jeeeesh.
So, for a tiny in-house jumper show hosted at their farm they were charging $20/class or 3Xclasses for $50. That’s even more than the really fancy-pants Foxstone?? Plus, they were charging $5/3 minute warm-up in the ring. I mean, really?
And you know what the worst part is? I am super disappointed. I actually wanted to take Oats in this show because it’s local, (support local!) I could walk there, it sounded really fun and offered silly classes like Gamblers Choice and some other ones.
I kind of want to write a review to them, and be like…You are pricing yourself wayyyy out of the market here. If it’s a fun in-house show, don’t charge SSITS or A-level prices. Do they know this? How could they not? I’m honestly surprised and was super taken aback by the extreme gouging level.
I think $10/class is a very reasonable price and I would be happy to pay that for this level and type of show. I do understand that the nicer venues have higher costs and nicer decorated jumps, finery, judges and prizes, not to mention course design…But it begs the question- why are their shows cheaper, have great prizes AND offer free in-ring schooling?
Just, help me out here!