Showing a young horse is always an adventure. Zellie and I spent the past week at the Salem & Grafton Show Grounds in Upperville, Virginia for the Loudoun Benefit Horse Show to show in the UHSJA 2'3".
My last post about showing Zellie at WEC garnered some questions about how she was prepped and a little bit more of our daily routine, so here it goes!
*please do not offer training advice, I am working with very competent trainers and professionals. I'm sharing this because I was asked how I prepped Zellie to show.
TUESDAY - TICKETED SCHOOLING
We trailered to the show on Tuesday June 14, set up the stalls and ticketed in Grafton Ring 2. We went straight from the stall to the ring with no lunging. We walked into the ring with 10 or so other horses and riders and started flatting. While she was good, I felt she was a quite distracted by the surroundings and since the rings are close to the Route 50 I felt it best to add some ear plugs into the situation. From then on I felt like I had her attention and we flatted quite nicely.
Zellie is not one to really be affected by the jumps themselves, but I walked her up to the jumps to let her take it all in. We started jumping and there were a few long spots, one flyer, but we were doing quite well. The singles and ins of the lines were set at 2'3" but most of the oxers were larger so for a few of the lines I just jumped the verticals. One of the outside lines had both fences set at 2'3".
Right now, Zellie has a left bulge when jumping that I'm learning to ride through. As we approached a five-stride outside line set going home off the right lead she would bulge to the left and we'd jump in wonky. I would either have to woah and add or try to make it out on the real step. Because she's still so green she can be wiggly down the lines which can make it harder for me an amateur to be accurate. A few of the times we attempted the real stride we jumped out L-O-N-G.
We ended on a good note and called it a day. I had a work call at 4 p.m. and thanks to my amazing barn family they helped me untack and bathe her so that I could make my call.
Wednesday – show day one
Wednesday morning was the first day of the USHJA 2'3" division. We would have two over fences rounds and the under saddle class.
Horses were fed at 5 a.m. and I got to the barn around 5:30. I cleaned the stall and filled water buckets then took her to lunge. We walked to the other end of the show grounds to lunge and she was nice and calm with no ear plugs.
I had to wait about 10 minutes to get into the lunging area. Zellie got a bit fidgety but was overall very well behaved. As soon as I let her loose on the lunge she bolted, bucked and farted. I praise that kind of behavior as I want to her know that this is the safe place for those kinds of antics. She quickly settled into the lunge session which lasted for a total of 10-15 minutes.
When I got back to the barn I put in her ear plugs and tacked up to hack in the ring. She walked through the showgrounds calmly again and marched into the ring. We had a very nice hack in the ring and I was back in the barn by 7 a.m.
After our hack I bathed her and let her sit in front of the fan to dry before I put her back in her stall. The ring was set to start at 8 a.m. with the USHJA 2'3" division going first. I gave Zellie a tube of Equine Elixers Sudden Comfort and let her chill in her stall until it was time to tack up. I was in the 5th rotation with a scheduled 30 horses to see. The ring started out S-L-O-W so I figured I'd be going later than anticipated. With five horses scratching they started calling for me to get to the ring ASAP. I hate that rushed feeling, but I was given plenty of time to warm up before heading into the ring.
Our over fences rounds weren't great. We had a some chips and long spots along with one missed lead change and a few times where I felt she was paying more attention to things outside the ring than to me. Could I have ridden better? Absolutely. So I was a bit disappointed in myself, but overall I was happy with her.
I dismounted and got ready for the under saddle class. This was one of the largest flat classes she's been in but handled it with grace. I was very happy with our ride. It was consistent and flowy. Something was wrong with the PA system and at certain parts in the ring we could not hear the announcers calls to change gait. The entire class kept looking around to see what the others were doing. When the class was called to line up in the center of the ring, we could still not hear the announcer. The judge, from behind us, helped by yelling out the results by back number. There were some very nice horses in the division and to my surprise we were SECOND!
We walked back to the barn, untacked, bathed and grazed for a while. She was poulticed and wrapped for the night, given ulcergard and a kiss good night.
Thursday – show day two
Day two of the division was just one over fences round. The morning started out the same as on Wednesday: lunge, this time without the bolting, bucking and farting, and a hack in the ring. My division was first to start the day again so she was given another tube of Sudden Comfort and we waited for our time to tack up.
This time I watched the ring a bit closer as I knew there would probably be a few more scratches and I didn't want to be rushed. My trainer and I decided to get tacked up a little early and head to the ring to see if we could bump ourselves a few in the order.
She schooled well and I really tried to manage the left bulge. Day two's course started with a right-lead diagonal single going away from the gate on a short approach. As we cantered up to it, I was thinking about managing the bulge but I could feel her not really paying attention to me so my default was to micro-manage the step and we ended up with a long spot to the first fence. The rest of the trip was ok. We added in each line so I could keep her attention but that back fired a little and she started jumping a little harder. We missed a lead change and counter cantered to an outside line. The last line, a right-lead diagonal coming home was very nice and we got a very smooth, clean change to end the trip.
I made some of the same mistakes on day two as I did on the first day, which annoyed me, but I knew this show would be a learning experience for both of us. I can confidently say that it was overall a very positive experience. We have quite a few things to work on, but that's riding, especially an amateur with a young horse.
I am committed to riding better to provide the best experience for Zellie as we grow together.
the rest of the week
The rest of the week started similar to our show days with feeding, stall cleaning and hand walking. Two of the three days I hacked her. Once in the ring and the other day was a long walk around the show grounds. When she had time in her stall I was at the ring watching my barn mates show. It was actually quite nice to be the first rider done and sort of relax the rest of the week. I think Zellie enjoyed it as well!
Zellie will get a few days off then it's back to our regularly scheduled program. We will be adding in some pro rides and separate flat and jumping lessons. I'm not sure if we'll show again this year, but if we do it won't be until the fall.