Part III: When I finally tell you about the horse show

Whew. Its taken longer than necessary to make it to this post. I had really good intentions of being prompt, and then LIFE. Another blog I read has mentioned scheduling posts for later, and maybe that should be my new strategy.

In any case, we planned to load up around 8 am and then drive down to the show, about 45 minutes away. Jeannette and I were fairly nervous about forgetting something, since we haven’t shown in quite some time. But the ponies were good and popped right onto the trailer and off we went. When we arrived at the facility, we were greeted by a hilltop wind, in addition to the already windy day at more conservative elevations. 

We unloaded the ponies and took them over to the scariest thing we saw, the flapping flag “fence” around the stadium arena. They were mostly unfazed, and seemed more interested in the trailers and horses everywhere. Once we got the ponies settled in at the trailer, we walked up to get our entry information and walk the course!

All of the jumps were inviting, although several jumps represented structures our horses never saw before. This was a little nerve wracking for me, since I remember a schooling session where Knots and I had a fight about a tire jump. As Maggie pointed out, that was a bit of an overface on our part, and he seemed unlikely to refuse any of these naturally colored wood jumps. Maggie gave us lots of suggestions for how to set our horses up for success, and reminded us this course is nothing scary at all.

We walked the course once and it started to rain, so then we took a port-a-pottie break and walked the course again, without the posse. Jeannette and I brainstormed some of the approaches we were going to take and noticed some holes in the ground we didn’t see earlier. After we finished walking it still wasn’t time to get ready so we spent some time watching some of the prelim horses jump around and generally looking at all the bay warmblood/tbs.

This was when some excitement popped up, when several horses seemed to dump their riders. Then everyone was screaming about loose horses and get the gate. Apparently the only way off the farm was through the front gate, which was promptly closed and the horse galloped around the [2-300 acre] property three times before it slowed down enough to be caught.

I like to think of this as a game horses like to play, tag… I’m faster than you :p

We got there super early so we could scope out the facility and competition [haha], and eventually it was time to get ready. Except now it was past lunch time. Disappointingly, they only had snacks for concessions. No burgers or hot dogs or other tasty unsavory food. The menfolk were displeased. 

During warm up, Maggie and I brainstormed how we were going to get Knots prepared for the competition. We thought he might be too tired going around the entire jump course, so we opted to not warm up a lot. We also got on entirely too early, and that didn’t help matters. I also decided while we were walking around I should work on bending and moving from the inside leg to outside rein. Are you counting the mistakes? 

Anyways, about 20 minutes before the dressage test we realized Knots was just getting more and more worked up, and decided to canter him around and blow off steam. I was also reminded that Knots has a small herd affinity. When I tried to pull him away from all the other warm up chaos, he threw his shoulders around and tried to drift back. Oops.

After a few canter laps, he was starting to calm down and I was trying to get my mind in the right place. If you’ve never heard me say it before, Knots is a head-game horse. He NEEDS a rider that isn’t worried. Because if you worry, he’s ready to roll out. At top speed. And hes quick for a little mutt. Anyway, then it was our turn in the dressage arena. We were doing Beginner Novice Test A:

You may notice a hiccup. Yep. That was us getting eliminated. So we finished out the test, completely skipping the canter circle, because I was trying to get my head in the game. 0 on that movement. But we still scored a 46.8, which I didn’t think was that bad all things considered. Knots is going to continue improving.

At this point, I figured I needed to man up for cross country and stop being nervous. I was worried that if he jumped out the dressage arena he was going to have run outs all over the place. One of the organizers came up to me and said I could do the jump round, but if I had one problem (ie stop or run out) I needed to walk back. Well ok. That certainly doesn’t add anymore stress 😉

So our team managed to change out Knot’s tack while I got a hold of myself and manned up for the jumping. Knots normally goes in a full cheek snaffle at home, and when I schooled him over some new jumps the other day he got very feisty and I could barely stop him. As you might imagine we were trying out a kimberwick for the show. 

We warmed up over some logs while I continued working on my nerves. And then it was time to lurk around the box. While lurking, we were intrigued by a situation happening on the XC. A girl fell off between jumps somehow, and then got back on and tried to finish the round (btw, the last xc jump came into the stadium arena where there were more jumps). When she entered the stadium she was shouting at her horse, basically carrying on a conversation about the fences as they jumped each one. This was odd, but not unheard of in a schooling show, so I tried to refocus. Until she came over. She was talking to Maggie, and we were looking at her strange tack. She had a roping tie-down around the horse’s nose. It was detached, luckily, because it is illegal, but she then started complaining that her horse’s head was up in the air and he couldn’t see the jumps.

So lets recap. If your horse thinks he a giraffe, you should put a western tie down on to enter a schooling horse trial. Yep. 

Anyways, I eventually made it to the box, and they reminded me that if I had one problem I needed to walk back. And so I trotted out of the box and onto the course. We jumped the first log and went to the second, he cantered out and I trotted him about five strides out over the second jump and then we continued this pattern for the next jump. 

Jump #3, We had a good feeling
The scary jump #4! I was so happy we jumped this!
Almost done, and feeling more confident!
And refusing the first stadium jump 😉

And so the tale ends with our refusal, and we were forced to leave the course. Probably the only time you will ever have seen me pet a horse for refusing a crossrail 😉

Anyway, at the end of the day, I was very pleased with Knots, especially on cross country. We are working hard on our dressage, and I think he was very brave on the cross country. I completely checked out after the cross country because that was my concern. I didn’t ride him into the stadium course, and he decided he didn’t have to because I didn’t make him. Lessons learned and experience under belt.

This was also Knot’s first time off the farm since changing his life plan from drunken trail ride pony to eventer. I think he was expecting the trail riding, and he had no idea what else I could possible ask of him. So I think Have and Have Knots and I will certainly be at it again, as soon as the finances pick up 🙂


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