Cinder and I went to our second show of the year last weekend. We joined up with Trainer M and her clients and had a great time. We didn't get the results I wanted, but we learned a lot, had fun, made friends, and have a better idea of what I need to do to set Cinder up for success.
The week leading up to the show didn't go to plan, as I was supposed to have a lesson on Monday, followed by A schooling her Tues/Thurs, then shipping over to the show Friday. A's dog was pregnant and decided to have her puppies a week early, so my lesson on Monday turned into me just flatting her and A had to cancel her training rides. I unfortunately had other commitments and wasn't able to swing going up and riding, so Cinder had Tues/Wed/Thurs off. I did free lunge her on Friday before heading to the show, and that was a very wise idea.
|Not thrilled about the small tent stalls|
Cinder actually settled in pretty well at the show. We let the horses chill in their stalls for about an hour before M had me and the two other hunter riders tack up to school in the hunter ring. I was a little nervous, as this was the first time I would be doing all the riding at the show, and not having a pro school her first. And this was her first time at this showground.
We started in the warm up arena flatting, before moving into the hunter ring to jump. I let M school the other two first, letting Cinder take a nice long walk around the ring before we jumped. The two juniors were doing the cross rails while I had signed up for the 2' so after a couple times over an x to start, M raised the fences and had us do a course. Cinder was a little looky but jumped everything and I was really happy with her.
|Early morning walkies|
There were three different 2' divisions (open, short/long stirrup, and an eq division. I just entered the short/long stirrup as I don't want to kill my horse with that many rounds) going first thing Saturday morning and we were scheduled to go middle of the order. I took Cin out for a long hand walk and watched some of the earlier rounds go. When we finally got on, she felt a little more up than she had on Friday. The schooling ring was a bit chaotic but she settled and I felt ready going into our two rounds. Cinder decided the far end of the arena was pretty scary, and stopped at fence two. I don't think she was scared of the jump, just the extra poles and gates stacked along the rail outside of the ring, plus whatever was in the trees behind them. I let the stop get to me and didn't ride her forward enough on the second attempt and she stopped again.
|One of the two 2' fences we made it over|
I was determined to come into our second round and ride better. The first fence felt great, and as we were cantering to fence two I thought we had it. But we had to go past the in gate, and Cinder decided we were done. She popped her outside shoulder and tried to spin left and exit the ring. I managed to stop her before leaving, circled, and she pulled the same move. I did manage to get her away from the gate but my nerves were shot. M had us jump a few fences in the warm up, then we discussed our game plan. The cross rail classes were going later that afternoon and we decided to enter those. The goal at this point was to get her in the ring and just go around. If she still pulled crap with me, M would get on her, but M felt like with I could handle her, especially with smaller fences that we were planning on trotting.
Unfortunately the hunter ring was moving slower than molasses, and the jumper ring finished early, so the cross rails and trot pole classes were moved to the jumper ring. I was disappointed we didn't school in the jumper ring on Friday, and that we wouldn't be able to try again in the hunter ring, but getting Cin in the ring and going around was the goal. When we came out hours later for the cross rails, Cinder felt much more settled and tired and warmed up really well. She was still a little wary going into the jumper ring, but didn't spook. We jumped everything even though she tried to run out the gate after our last line in our first round, which was an outside line heading directly towards the in gate, while I tried to do a nice courtesy circle. She got spanked on the shoulder and my outside heel shoved into her ribs plus some growling, but she didn't pull that move for the rest of the weekend, so lesson learned. Our second round was very nice and I was happy with how we ended the day. We placed 4th in both cross rail rounds out of about a dozen.
|Realizing horse show life is hard|
We decided to scratch the 2' on Sunday, and stick with the cross rails. The cross rails were first thing on Sunday morning, back in the hunter ring, and I wanted to get some good, solid rounds in and felt like I was more comfortable doing that with the cross rails. Cinder came out tired and quiet in warm up, but I didn't let that fool me. When we went in for our first round I took a nice long tour of the ring to let her see everything. She spooked a bit on the far side, like I expected her to, but we were able to get around both our courses. I was still trotting everything, because I didn't trust her to not stop or try to run out the gate. I thought our rounds were decent, but we didn't place in either of them. I was still happy that we ended on a good note and got around the spooky hunter ring.
|learning to hurry up and wait|
I know if I had had a pro get on her and school her we probably could have gotten over the spookiness faster, but I want to show my horse so I have to learn how to ride her through it. This show had the biggest atmosphere of any show she's been to, and she's still a baby, so it makes sense she'd be a little wary. I'm still getting comfortable riding her through naughtiness and riding her away from home, so hopefully next year we'll come out better prepared and ready.