October 19, 2008

Horse Show Report

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Back from the show and man was I tired! I had been worried the show would be cancelled because of the rain we’ve had (plus the forecast). The show was on, luckily. I felt really good about our preparation for the dressage portion of the test. I was very nervous about the cross country part. We had only ridden on a cross country course once during the practise clinic a few weeks back. That was the first and only time we had been on a course.

The next morning I was up and at the barn early. (Early for me means before 11:00 AM on a Saturday.) Luckily the rain had stopped and Isis had not rolled when she had been outside. Susan and I groomed the horses and pretty soon we were on the way to the Fossils over Fences show.


This is a very small show. There might have been 15 entrants in the three division: Maiden (non-jumping), 18″, and 24″. The show was opened to both Horsemasters, Pony Club members, and also people who boarded at the farm (“guests”). Isis and I were entered in the Maiden division. The lady I board with was entered in the 18″ division.

Our dressage test was scheduled for 11:50. We had the safety/horsemanship check at 11:05. Isis was (mostly) clean and her tack was clean and tidy. We were not allowd to ride in splint boots or leg wraps for the dressage test, so had to leave them off of her.

We warmed up in the jump ring with several other people. Once I remembered to calm down, then Isis relaxed too. She really didn’t want to pay attention to me (so many new things to see!). I used some of the techniques I’d learned in my lessons, like bending and gently getting her to pay more attention) and about 75% of the time she would pay attention. Then we would round the back corner in the ring and her eyes would wander some place else. Nothing I could do at those times brought her attention back to me. It was frustrating, but what do you do? (Ask your instructor during your next lesson how to cope with it.)

Last time Isis and I were at this farm, Sierra (other horse from the barn) and Isis would complain loudly if they were separated. Isis was a real pistol if she wasn’t around Sierra. We worked riding her away from Sierra at home. Isis (mostly) stayed more focused this time, but not some times there is nothing you can do.

Susan (Sierra’s mommy) was scheduled to ride two people before me. We both headed over to the dressage ring. The dressage arena was full of large puddles. Sierra, who usually doesn’t like puddles, rode through them and did very well. She broke her canter once in the Training Level 1 test, but overall she did very well. Many kudos to Sierra and her mommy for doing so well, even with the geese in the pond below the dressage ring and a bunch of people standing around watching.

Isis and I rode after Sierra and Susan finished. Isis wa impatient to get in there and go. Initially, she didn’t want to listen, but as we rode our Introductory B (walk-trot) test, she calmed down and relaxed. She was stiff in some places, but in others she settled down and did very well. I was so pleased with her.

Two hours later, we had the cross country course and everything was very different. First off, I took her down the hill to ride without Sierra. As we walked down the driveway towards the cross country course, Isis kept stopping to stare at a little pony being ridden over the course. She tightened her neck, had her head up high, and her ears pointed directly forward. Nothing I did could get her to move. Finally, I had to give her a light kick to get her moving again. She rocked back and raised off her front feet a few inches but finally walked forward (with a very collected bouncy walk — think coiled spring).

We rode the cross country course a few minutes after we arrived at the course gate. I was nervous from her being so wound walking down the hill. Sierra was not around so Isis was upset about that. Our cross country course spanned the entire field. We didn’t have to trot over the jumps, we could simply walk everything.

She was so upset it was not easy keeping her at a walk. Isis was freaked out: her first time being ridden in a field by herself, lots of unusual noises every where, her mommy was nervous, etc. There were deer in the woods behind the field. To start, I had to get her past the fake water wells (the type with the bucket on a rope) that marked the entrance of the course. Lots of snorting and bouncy-walk later, we got between the wells and began the couse in earnest.

Overall, considering how nervous and upset we both were, she did very well. She (mostly) listened when I asked her to walk. We had to circle a few times and she startled once. We completed every obstacle (at a walk) and eventually finished the course. When we reached the gate to leave, I dismounted and let Isis get some water. She really was good, considering everything. I must say that I didn’t find it fun.

By the time we finished, Sierra was on her way down the hill to ride her course. Isis and I stayed at the course until Sierra was finished. Susan said that Sierra was also pretty freaked out in the course as well and was a bundle to handle. Sierra still completed the course and jumped almost every obstacle she had. A huge accomplishment for both of them!

By the time we headed up the hill for the last class, I had to immediately enter the ring for the course. The last class in the Maiden division was an obstacle course. We were supposed to ride through a series of obstacles (turn in a confined space, push a jump pole off so it rattle on the ground and then walk over it, walk over a cross rail, trot between poles, etc.). This was the kind of thing I always enjoyed doing on Prize. However, Isis had never seen anything like this at a show and she was still wound from the cross country course. I had worked on letting her calm down by letting her graze (didn’t help).

Again, she completed every obstacle, but instead of feeling relaxed and at ease like I was, she was impatient (which made me nervous). She didn’t want to stop when we were trotting and it was difficult to steer her around some of the obstacles. We still completed the course without any faults. I felt like I had to pull on her a lot more than normal. The classes really highlighted what I need to work on in lessons.

As soon as we were finished with the classes, I dismounted and let Isis graze. We waited at the gate with Sierra for her class to be setup and for her to ride. Sierra did really well on the 18″ course over the fences. I have some nice pictures of her and her mommy having a ball.

The best part about the entire day? Seeing Susan’s face positively beaming after her last class. She has always wanted to do cross country, and by golly she did it. Go Susan!

The awards ceremony was held at the end of the day. Isis and I won our division (first out of two) and got second in horsemanship for Maiden. Isis scored 67% on her dressage test — which was quite a good score.

We have our first first place ribbon. Go Isis! =) Sierra also pinned for horsemanship too. We’re going to need a brag wall at the barn pretty soon.

Isis had today off. She earned it.

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