Getting Our Hunter On, Show Report, SSF Home Show 2019
Adventures in Saddle Seat
Stepping Stone Farm
Chelsea, AL, USA
Saturday, October 26, 2019
3 Young Horse & Young-at-Heart WT, 1 of 2
6 Young Horse & Young-at-Heart WTC, 3 of 3
Although I’m usually all about writing up show reports, I feel strangely lethargic about this one. It was the annual in-barn, no-one-but-us-chickens, home show. Less a show and more a glorified lesson with ribbons. So, I shall be brief.
Rodney coped with the show environment, with (small) crowds of horses, with another horse in the ring, with a flat class, with rain, and with mud.
Rodney did not cope with a horse riding up his tailpipe. Now we know.
Fourth horse show!!!!
First flat class.
First blue ribbon.
First canter in public.
Moments – Warm-up
Standing around is becoming a vital part of Rodney’s preride ritual. We stood in the barn aisle. We stood in the ring. We stood outside of the ring during classes. He liked standing in the aisle watching the barn get ready for the show. Center ring was a familiar place where he has stood to watch lessons. Standing gives Rodney a chance to slow down and think.
Waiting between classes was less successful because he was obsessed with a little white mare who was also visiting for the show. Obsessed, I tell you. He wasn’t antsy. Nor did it effect his performance in the ring. The rest of the time he was annoyingly mesmerized.
Speaking of slow down and think. When we first picked up a trot, he curled up like a shrimp. I told him that it was okay to slow down. I told him he could trot as slowly as he needed to find his balance in the muddy footing. ‘Oh, alright. I can do this.’ Once he had a chance to think about the situation, he handled trotting in the mud just fine. He didn’t shrimp the rest of the day. He even moved out a bit in the first trot of the second class. When we start off, he often he gets it in his mind that the work will be difficult. I have to convince him that it is not. Pleased that we were able to have this conversation. That he listened. That it worked.
Milton likes a pre-show ride. Rodney, not so much. He doesn’t dislike them; he just doesn’t find them useful. I rode before the show to check out the ring. When I got on the second time, I had to recapitulate almost the entire warm-up process, which at this point is a lot of walking and standing. Now we know.
Moments – Classes
He had a lot of great moments in two short classes. Both trots and one canter were everything I could have asked for. Lots of confidence building on all sides. Then he blew it.
The problem with finishing your pass is that everyone lands in a heap at the end of the ring. Rodney did not enjoy being part of a heap. A third horse joined us for the WTC class. When there is only two of you in the class, you can each stay on your side of the ring. Harder to do with three.
In the first direction, he trotted great. I touched the gas and he thought, why yes, he might enjoy showing off. Walk. Two horses collected at the bottom of the ring. Canter. No. No. No. Go away. I do. not. want. you. in. my. personal. space. Hop. Hop. Hop. Canter. Hop. Hop. Hop.
I was not pleased. Shades of Milton at Mid-South [Hanging With The Saddlebros]. I thought about bailing. We trotted. For the second canter, I cut across the ring. He cantered as sweet as you please, including picking up the canter in the middle of nowhere. Unlike Milton, it was not a policy statement. It really was just the proximity of the other horse. We are hoping it is not a permanent lifestyle choice. We are hoping that having a horse close to him was simply one too many items on his plate that day.
Both of my horses are twinks. Now you see why I enjoy riding Sam.
Speaking of Finish Your Pass, I didn’t. Seven years of saddle seat and I toss it out the window in the first hunter class.
Why is it so easy to write in detail about bad moments, see above, but hard to be equally descriptive about moments that go right?
Other than the canter bobble (other than …) the show was an excellent schooling experience. I had no concerns about getting on, the way I did at show # 2 [Kings Ranch]. Right off the bat, he was calmer than he was at show #3 [L&C]. Overall, he handled the show environment excellently. Yes, he’s been to SSF many times. Sometimes, horses are worse when a known space is suddenly overrun with people and horses [SSF 2015].
Our warm-up plan went off without a hitch, at least none that I can remember at the moment, and worked well for the horse. He had to be escorted when we walked into the
stepped on anthill busy barn aisle from the back entrance, but that’s a schooling moment, not an anxiety attack.
He handled me in show mode. I wasn’t in the full-on sparkle mode that blows Milton’s mind, but I was still serving a hefty cocktail of nerves and perkiness. If anything, he rose to the occasion. A little, but definitely headed upward.
A gold star. He missed it by that much.
Okay, so I wasn’t all that brief.
Thank you for reading,