Saturday, April 8, 2017

Pony's first hunter/jumper schooling show!

There was a small in-barn h/j schooling show today. Even though we just had our first lesson of the season last week, I thought why not go and give it a whirl? We entered the ittyies-bittiest classes we could. The goal was to have the experience of prepping for a show (got a new fitted pad - yeah!), ride with other horses in the warm up arena and flat classes, go into the arena on our own, and make it through a small course without making a fool of ourselves. We succeeded in all of those!

I signed us up for a "trot-a-pole" class, one walk-trot equitation class, a cross rail equitation class and a cross rail jumper class.

There was a dusting of snow (!?) this morning and the ground was hard, so the show was in the indoor arena, which made for a challenging warm-up/class management, as we did a joint warm-up in the arena, then cleared out into the barn aisle or outdoors to wait, then back in the arena for the class. But it was actually a great introduction to Pony of being well-mannered with horses all around her, waiting, and waiting.

I did a little lunge at home (and then groomed her) before we left since it was chilly and the horses didn't get their normal turnout yesterday due to a crazy wind storm (60-mph winds that knocked over a couple trees/branches - thought they'd be safer in their paddocks in case any fence damage was done in the pastures). She was fine so we loaded up (which she did not want to do - need to work on schooling that more).

When we got there I pretty much just took her out of the trailer, tacked her up, walked into the arena, hand-walked around just a bit, and got on to warm up. There was a fresh horse there who was a little spooky and look at stuff in the corner, so he had a bit of a naughty moment and then someone else's horse reacted and that rider came off. Pony was a little looky about that, but she got over it quickly.

We were then led through a group warm-up of walking and trotting. There's a little viewing area in the corner that is a balcony that overlooks the arena and some people went up there to watch and that really bothered some horses as well. The one spooky horse was spooky about that and did a spin and a bit of a runaway and his rider came off. Pony was near him so she did just a bit of a scoot as well but then stood and the spooky horse came up to her and then he was caught. Both of us riders did some schooling in that corner with the people up there. It wasn't ideal, but it worked out okay.

We left the arena and then the trot-a-pole class started. It was a simple hunter course of diagonal, outside line, diagonal, other outside line. We just trotted it and that was that. Pony was good. I steer too much with my hands so really need to work on that. But I thought I did a good job of picking a line and (mostly) sticking to it. We cut the scary corner a little bit but it was otherwise non-eventful. We left the arena and waited.

Then we went in for the walk-trot eq class. We walked. We trotted. We reversed. We walked. We trotted.

Trainer asked if anyone who didn't sign up for the walk-trot hunter class wanted to stay and I figured riding was better than standing around waiting, so I rode in that one, too.

Then the judge had us all gather around and she pinned each class and gave us feedback for why she pinned the way she did. That was so very helpful! There were no ribbons, but Pony pinned first in the trot-a-pole class (comment was that I had a plan and stuck to it!), second in the hunter walk-trot class (comment was that even though she doesn't move like a hunter, she was forward and consistent and had a nice expression and our turnout was nice). We got fifth (don't exactly remember?) in the walk-trot eq class because I carried a crop (I dropped it before the hunter class, per Trainer's instructions) and that's a no-no. I swear way back in my old showing days that we did carry crops in the flat classes, too, but now I can't even remember. Oh well. She said otherwise we we did a good job in the class.

Some feedback related to other riders that's good to remember was about diagonals (that was for the kids), tack (no twisted reins, please! No martingale in a flat class), turnout (for a young rider to have longer jods, or appropriate saddle pads), consistency of pace.

Then it was time for the jumping classes. Since we were already in the arena we just stayed for a short warm up to pop over two cross rails. Pony was great.

The cross rail eq class was first and the course was the same. I tried to have my plan and stick to it. The cross rails were small enough to just trot over and not really jump, so mostly that's what we did. I trotted after each one because I feel a little claustrophobic in there and didn't want to canter, so that was part of my plan. I thought our round was just fine, but Trainer commented that I needed to open my chest and carry my eyes more. Got it.

Went out after we finished and waited for the next class. Course was a bit different with two more jumps. The first jump was pretty much up centerline. When we landed she veered right and almost ran into a standard for another jump (it was a bit tight)! I got her straightened out and continued and almost forgot where I was going, but we worked it out. I tried to be better with my shoulder and my eye and thought I was successful with that. But we were more wiggly in this class so less good in that respect. But we were done anyway!

I took Pony back to the trailer to untack her and then brought her back to the barn area and put her in the round pen to roll while I had a pee. I'm sure she had to pee, but she didn't. We got the call to come back into the arena because the judge was ready to pin the two classes.

Pony got first in the eq cross rail class - yay! Again, we stuck with our plan, although I need to be more subtle with my corrections. Pony got good feedback for her willing attitude and pleasant expression. In the jumper class we got second. I'll take it! The judge did say she recognizes I'm on a green horse, but I very much appreciate the feedback.

I have been schooling a jump on my back trail, which is fun, but I think it is time to move the jumps in the arena and work on trot pole courses with maybe a jump here and there, focusing on straightness and steering more from my legs.

I consider it a very successful first outing for Pony. Her attitude and professionalism outshone her green-ness and I'm so proud of her!

No pictures or anything, as I didn't have any accompaniment, but I can assure you that Pony looked very cute!