Wednesday, April 10, 2019

LOEC Jump into Spring Show

Not to be dramatic, but this was probably one of the worst shows I've ever been to. Not because my horse was bad (he was a saint), or because I rode poorly (I really did), or the weather sucked (it did, but I've showed in worse), but because the show management was seriously lacking. While technically a schooling show, this was a USHJA Outreach show and part of our local GMO.

When I got there on Saturday I found my stall and after tucking Peebs in with water and hay I went to the show office.  Only no one was in the office. So I went to the arena to see what was going on and to see if I could school.  There had only been three other girls in the temporary show stalls when I arrived and they were just staring to school their horses so I figured it was ok for me to school. There was a bare bones course set up in the ring, two outside line, two single diagonals and a single on one quarter line. All were verticals with no second set of standards for oxers. All the fences were bright, jumpery style fences, one with a big red brick wall and one with a rainbow lattice. I figured they hadn't set fences for the show on Sunday yet.

 Peebs was super chill and calm while we warmed up to school, on the verge of being lazy, so I didn't jump much.  After I put Peebs away I went back to the show office, but there was still no one.  There were a couple people handing around the club room and I asked if any one knew when the office would be open.  They said the show manager and secretary weren't going to be around till the next day and there was no one to check me in. What show doesn't have any staff around when people are coming in the night before?

Waiting on the show photographer so this is the only media I have

 The forecast for Sunday was rain, lots and lots of rain.  This facility only has one indoor, and a couple outdoor arenas but they were closed due to rain.  On the prize list it said that schooling would be available in the indoor during breaks and I wanted to know when those breaks were.  Between each height division? At scheduled intervals? And how big was the show?  I needed to let my trainer know when to come up on Sunday and approximately when my classes would be.

Luckily when I came to feed at 7 on Sunday morning the show office was open.  The secretary said they'd have breaks between each fence height for schooling, but she didn't know how big the show would be. She estimated my classes would be about 2. So I went back to my hotel and hung out for a few more hours till check out.  I went back to the show, checked on Peebs, then hung out in the club room and watched the jumpers go.  The fences were the exact same ones as the day before, still no oxers, and the jumper courses were hunter courses (single quarter line, outside, diagonal, outside diagonal) with a jump off (bending line, one little rollback). It was honestly kinda embarrassing how poor the courses were.

I ate lunch, watched more classes, played on my phone, and watched more classes.  My friend, who boards at the barn hosting the show, showed up and we chatted and caught up. My trainer showed up and we checked on the ring and was told that while it was going slow they expected it to speed up because they were shortening the schooling breaks between classes because "the more advanced riders jumping bigger don't need as much time as the walk trot kids who don't know anything".  So we decided to go shopping. 

By  the time we got back to the show they were almost ready to start the division before mine so we slowly got ready. I got on and when they broke for schooling and raising the fences for my division (2'3" hunters) I was in the ring as soon as I was able. I was told to not jump till the ring crew was out of the ring.  We walked, trotted, and cantered about a lap each way before I was told I could start jumping.  I was able to do three fences before being told my schooling was over.  In total, I got about 8 minutes of schooling on the flat and over fences.  I wasn't warmed up, Peebs wasn't warmed up. I was super flustered and felt incredibly rushed. There was only 3 of us in my division and the other two had shown in the division before mine so they didn't need any additional warm up.

I didn't even leave the ring before our first class, an under saddle.  Peebs though we were still jumping.  He kept trying to canter during the trot work and was rushy and not relaxed. We did manage to get second out of three which I was surprised about. I was second in the order over fences so I was kinda able to catch my breath before our first round.  Peebs was still rushy, but if I took my leg off he wanted to break to the trot since he wasn't connected. Our round wasn't pretty. Another second for that one. Our second round was where the wheels really fell off.  I was still flustered and didn't really ride to the first fence. I saw a horrible, short distance and circled Peebs away instead of sitting up and leggin him on. We tried again and managed to get over it, but coming to the outside line I saw the same horrible distance and Peebs broke gait.  We stopped again and I walked a circle to try and get my head back.  I picked the canter back up and as we turned on our approach Peebs broke gait again (becuase I was riding in the fetal position without leg) and I pulled him out yet again. 

My trainer asked if I wanted to school him over anything during the next break but I said no.  I was mentally fried and didn't feel it was fair to him.  I know he would have jumped whatever, and I could have trotted the fences, and I was so mad at myself for getting upset.  I told my trainer what I really needed was a good 20 minute walk to clear my head, with another 20 minutes to properly warm up my horse. But since we couldn't get that, I was done for the day.  I got off and she went to go talk to the show manager.

The show manager was apologetic, and said I should have asked for more time to warm up. I said I didn't realize that was an option with the ring steward telling me schooling was done. She said the ring steward wasn't really paying attention to what was going on. WHAT? She also offered me a re-ride of my second course.  I said no.  Not only was I mentally not there, I felt it was very unfair to my competition if I got a second chance. And I wasn't sure that's even allowed. Again, this is only an Outreach show not a rated one but that just seems fishy and unethical to me. She then offered me a free class at their next show in June and I agreed to that, knowing there was no way in hell I'd be going back in June.

 I've been showing at this facility for years, but they've had a management change and not for the better. There were plenty of red flags that this show wasn't going to run smoothly but I didn't see them till afterwards. I'm sad at how far this place has fallen, and I hope they can get their shit together. But until that happens, we will not be back.


  1. Ugh, poor management really sucks and I'm sorry you had to deal with all that :-(

  2. Sorry to hear how disorganized they are! That is very disappointing. I guess at least the manager wanted to try and make things right for you. Too little too late though.

  3. Sorry, that's rough. Ive done the 5 min warm up into the first class , luckily a flat class, and it wasn't worth it, we both were super off game. At least you were smart enough to know when to stop and not really let things spiral into a complete mess. Hope the next show is better!

  4. I know you can rate shows and show management at USEF/USHJA I'd see if you can do the same with the outreach show and maybe get something changed/fixed for next time