I sort of on a whim entered the local schooling show series hosted by Cedar Vista with Oats on Sunday. I had a lot of reasons: read excuses- about why I shouldn’t, and only one why should- because I want to!
I missed the season opener in April because I was in Mexico *SO WORTH IT so this one was my first show in many months- since July of last year, actually. I down-scaled what I entered (from 2’3” to 2’0) to minimize my horrible show nerves. Funny enough, when I made that decision I instantly felt a weight (nerves) lift off my shoulders. Phew! It felt a bit strange to be entering that height when I just jumped some really decent 2’6” oxers in my lesson on Thursday, but I have a very challenging time managing both my show nerves and Mr. Oats himself that this was truly the best idea.
And Sunday dawned wayyyyy too early (ughh) and I was up and at’em with Oats at 6:30 a.m. We loaded up at 6:45 and were at the show grounds to start warming up, get our numbers and registration, learn our courses and start the show at 8 a.m.
Oats was a bit strange- tender footed, not very forward, quite ‘sticky’ and rude/balky. When I sharply reminded him about forward, he threw a big buck! And when we worked over the warm-up course, he was balky, head-tossing and ready to start fussing and bucking! Uh oh, first show back issues? I SO didn’t want to get bucked off!
But..the silver lining? Because the jump height is only 2’0”, I was able to school Oats without having a care in the world about the jumps. They were just ‘there’ and I could do what I needed with his drama-rama and it wasn’t a biggie.
He also didn’t look at a single thing, and wasn’t spooky the whole day! Just sticky, balky and throwing some sassy bucks here and there. HA, good thing it was a jumper day and not hunters…
We rode our classes, some jumps better than others, I had to work SO HARD to get him ‘going’ and he was sluggy, slow and sticky. But, jumped all the jumps, and didn’t buck me off, haha. That meant our time sucked (for match the clock) but others went off course, had horses that stopped or ran out, or had a few rails. That meant we still placed in all of our three classes- and not too bad either actually.
Finished the division with a 2nd, 3rd and 5th place. And Oats is getting shoes for the next show. A good season opener for us, as I have a devil of a time managing nerves typically and stop riding. Yesterday (longest day ever) I could’t stop riding!
Kudos to my fellow riders, who all came home with championships and reserve championships- I was practically the odd man out without one!
Ending of a tired week. So tired. I can’t figure out this crazy body fatigue I have this week, but I hate it! And the weather, while sunny, has been freaking freezing!!
Argh, when will spring actually happen?
But aside from my tired grouching (I think I must need some days off, like more than 2 in a row due to my tired crabbiness…) I had a great jump lesson last night, and it made me wonder–when are you sure if you are mentally ready to move up?
We are rocking 2’3” courses (shh, I know this is a very small height. But I feel like I am headed to the 2’3” Olympics here!) and I’m definitely showing 2’3” next year at our winter series.
One time I showed 2’3” consistently and consistently bombed it. I wasn’t mentally ready, even though I thought I was.
So, is this new-found ‘okayness’ here to stay?
We are not great at this height, but that can be said of most heights, and I still feel a bit like, gulp… when I see the jumps go up, but I feel mostly…fine. We’re even doing oxers at this height, something unheard of for me. So, am I ready? We make mistakes, pick up our reins, and move on.
Last night we worked on a course that I rode off-course a few times hahah. But we started at 2” and moved up to 2’3” without any real screw-ups! It was pretty simple, with a diagonal line, outside line, a 1-stride in and out, a swedish oxer, and the outside jump to the diagonal jump.
We even bravely took the option to ride the swedish oxer the other way to go to the 1-stride line from the other direction, and good Oats didn’t even blink! I saw another rider in the lesson before mine’s horse slam on the brakes when she re-approached from the other direction.
I like and trust Oats to make the right decision- most of the time- and honestly most of the time he’s like, yeah whatever.
This past weekend, my husband competed in the Mud Mulisha run in Shawnigan Lake- I’ll write more about it later (he’s going to write a review!) but I stayed on the sidelines to take pictures and watch. I’m glad I made that decision, as I wrenched my shoulder going through the jump on Thursday and by Saturday, it still hurt! Plus I couldn’t chance my bad knee going through obstacles or up and down a giant hill, so…all for the best I was benched haha.
Then we headed straight to the Cobble Hill fair. I love fairs! While I may not want to take Oats in one – the atmosphere is way too electric for him, and he can be a total disaster in hack classes, he much prefers jumping – I really enjoy watching the riding and looking at the agricultural exhibits.
Ian’s mom won $100 for her quilt! What a prize eh??
The hack classes were really fun to watch, one horse in particular was a real class act and did SUPER well. And there was even a pairs class, so cute. It was very well subscribed, with like 5 pairs of horses showing. Nice eh? Ian’s dad was helping with the sheepdog demonstration and the funniest bit was when they showed ducks! The ducks didn’t really want to cooperate and starting running amok…
It was a hot day, that’s for sure. I was super glad I wasn’t showing myself!
We then picked a ton of plums (damson and Italian prune plums) from Ian’s parents garden. I ate WAY too many plums. Kind of a mistake, ha. But now we have a veritable bounty of plums to eat- damnson, Italian prune plums and like 6 squashes of varying sizes.
Sunday I rode Oats in the field and he was GREAT! We just walked, trotted and did canter sets. He was quite sweaty after, and I let him explore the field a bit on a loose rein. He didn’t want to go back up the hill (effort!!!) so he tried to leave the field going through a farmyard. Silly pony! We also kind of chased a mother deer and larger fawn-though he is a slow pony and was in no risk of actually catching them…
Yesterday he was in a weird mood. “Look at me, pet me, let me touch you, let me grab your ponytail, let me nuzzle your butt, look at me!!” All while I was grooming and tacking him up. It was kind of driving me nuts! Whyyyy with the grabby attention-seeking, Oats?
He also was an absolute terror to poor Feline- I was brushing his tail and he lunged forward and snapped at her! She jumped to the side and like, crashed into her elderly owner…Shit. That took me by surprise?!
He was good to ride though, we rode in the indoor arena to practice some dressage and I even did some lateral work (normally hate it!) and he was pretty honest about his effort! A+ for Oats for yesterday’s work, haha.
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.
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?
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?!
And here is a big horse show report for you:
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
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!
Growing up, I never owned my own pony or horse, but I was lucky enough to lease quite a few and experience a ton of different horses.
I rode at so many stables, now in so many provinces and cities, it’s almost hard to remember them all now!
Started at a now-defunct stable- can’t for the life of me remember what it was called now, but I rode a tiny pony called ‘Pags’ and my sister rode a little white pony called ‘Spirit’.
We liked that barn, but moved on to another- Greenbelt, which wasn’t the greatest. From Greenbelt, we moved to the Nepean National Equestrian Park, and spent quite a few years there. I learned so much from them, and only moved on when I wanted to horse show- something they didn’t do there, despite having fantastic grounds that they rented out to large horse show managers.
I then moved on to Wynbrook, which was a decent experience and a very high-quality program, but a bit too heavy on the $$$ side for our liking. During the move around from these stables, I leased horses on and off for years at smaller private barns.
When we moved on from Wynbrook, we leased a lovely black Appendix mare named ‘Hope’ and her show name was C’est la Vie. She was such a darling, we rode together in a show and did super well there. Great jumper, very forgiving. I only remember her stopping at fences when they got to around 2’9 or 3′.
She passed away from colic about 7 years ago, maybe more. She had bouts of it on and off over the years, and was sensitive.
Miss that girl, she was lovely!
Hope’s owner also owned an adorable small pony named ‘Bubblegum’ at one point, so my sister and I both rode Bubbles too! We normally rode her bareback- and sometimes w/o a bridle either, eek- because there was only the 1 saddle to fit Hope. We made do, and she was SO FUN to ride/jump bareback.
Loved mucking around, nothing in particular to train for haha and we still managed to do really well. Funny that the more training I do, the more struggles I seem to have. How does that happen??
Yes, this was us at our very first dressage show last May!
I guess this is a sort of throwback too? Funny how we had just started dressage last year. We did W/T HCBC tests and then in the fall moved up to Training…And then hit a big speedbump (bucking) in the spring, and kind of gave up dressage after that. (Or gave up dressage shows, not sure exactly where I am with that right now).
Then again, I am sensing a common theme here…Going well, don’t push any buttons, and then BLAM! Buttons get pushed! It gets ugly! Back outta there!
The learning process continues…
Had a nice, very FORWARD ride yesterday on Oats, and then hacked in the field to cool out. I thought he was being a bit of a drama queen tossing his head with the flies, until I hopped off to get the gate, and his poor eyes were covered in flies! Oops sorry Oats!
So, took Oats to our sixth horse show this season- another jumper show at the Cowichan District Riding Club. And how did it go? Well!!… Some success, some failure.
We entered the 2” and the 2’3” jumper ‘match the clock’ jumper classes. My goals were as follows- don’t fall off, don’t go before the buzzer, don’t miss a jump, and don’t forget when you are going!!
Did I meet those goals? Close!
The course was a little trickier than the first show, a bending line, two jumps set right on the outside rail, 1 diagonal line and one jump placed right in the middle of the ring. I did NOT forget where I was going! Success!
We cruised into a pretty crazy inside turn on our first course- that not ONE other rider even attempted except for us- ha! And we placed second! The second round we placed 4th, and then it was on to the 2’3”.
Ah, here’s where the fail happens- I was going around and it felt delicious! We were rocking it so hard! Until the last fence loomed and I got all celebratory, like Oats could feel me getting excited, and BLAM! He stopped!
I ended up on his neck, crawled myself back in the saddle, and attempted it again. BLAM! Stopped again! And there was no saving it this time. FUCK~
I fell, unceremoniously, into the oxer.
So, that was how I ended my run at the 2’3”. SIGH.
Went home with underwear full of sand, and a big scratch on my back, as well as a sore arm and back. Not too sore though, I was still able to meet a friend for a run on Sunday, and go ride Oats (he was tired) and then go for a brief hike with husband and Gidget.
I’m still kind of kicking myself. WTF? When do the falls STOP HAPPENING? Like, just…argh.
So far this season, I have fallen off more than I have ever in my actual riding career. Oats bucked me off at our first dressage show, last week he spooked and I ended up in mid-air, and this weekend he stops at a fence and I fly into it. WTF WTF?
Growing pains? I have them.
So, busy weekend.
Saturday, I rode Oats in the indoor despite the beautiful sun (due to his ouchy feet) and wouldn’t you know it- he spooked at the open door of the arena and BLAM! I’m in mid-air, looking down and wondering where my horse went! NOT a good omen for the show the next day…
Saturday afternoon we attended a memorial for my friend who passed away. It was sad, good for closure, but just so sad. It was also funny and people told stories about her, and jokes. It was nice to remember her the way I wanted to, and see everyone who loved her.
Sunday- horse show day. I was weirdly nervous, so nervous my hands were shaking. I’ve showed at this show series so many times, WHY do I get so anxious? Oats warmed up well, he was going quite nicely. We did our hunter 2’3” rounds and the first one kind of sucked, the second was better, and the third the best! (though he did give a few snarky humps of his back when I landed too far on his neck and didn’t get up fast enough!). There were a fair number of riders who definitely rode better than I did, so it wasn’t a ribbons-victory kind of day. OH well!
I dared to enter some flat classes, and I think I should have known better. He was a total nightmare in them, bucking so hard down the long side I ALMOST big the dust, bigtime. He spooked violently at the shed that we had literally ridden by a zillion times and I almost came off AGAIN! WTF?
I paid for a few ‘non-competitor’ rounds and schooled during the classes. He was ok, but still extremely on-edge and tense. I could feel the tension- he was pulling, fast, spooky, agitated. I didn’t try to canter at all, because his trot was NOWHERE near where I wanted it to be.
Quite frankly? In those flat classes, I did not trust my horse.
This is not a new issue- I have never had a good flat class on him in that venue. Other venues? Well, I have done dressage (and he still bucked me off), but I have also ridden a pretty nice hack class at an indoor series this fall. Sooo…..
I’m stopping with the flat classes, and going to keep focusing on jumping. I’m not sure if we can get past this issue and I don’t want to get hurt trying to prove something- to myself? To Oats?