After last week’s lessons and an entire Saturday spent prepping the pony for our schooling show (shopping for supplies, taking her for a light hack, cleaning her tack, readying the trailer, bathing her until she sparkled…), I woke up at the early hour of 4:30AM on Sunday feeling exhausted, but excited for the start of what turned out to be a long (but ultimately victorious) day.
It only took around 45 minutes to make it down to Bridle Trails State Park, and once we were parked we made quick work of unloading the trailer so that we could start tacking and warming up our horses. Belle’s always been a pretty social pony, but she was in top form the moment she came out of the trailer. There wasn’t a single horse that she didn’t whinny a cheerful greeting at, and she only stopped twisting her neck around to look at the horses tied to the trailers around us so that she could stuff her face with a bite of breakfast from her hay bag.
Despite her boisterousness, it only took a few minutes to tack her up. The Show Buddy and the other rider from my stable were in some of the first classes of the day, so the moment we were ready we went over to the warm up ring. I peeked at the course for my first Hunter Over Fences class, did a little schooling under The Trainer’s watchful eye, and then parked my pretty palomino steed by the edge of the 2’0″ and up ring to watch my stablemates compete. I’m happy to report that The Show Buddy and her cute five year old Arabian didn’t have any refusals and they came out of their (very large) classes with some respectable ribbons!
Unfortunately, my ring didn’t start its classes until 9:00AM, and I had three divisions before mine. By the time my classes were up around 3:00PM (right as the summer sun came out from behind the clouds, of course), The Pony had gone from bored and restless to downright sleepy. I went in for my first class and quickly discovered that my spurs were going to have to earn their keep. On the up side, though, The Pony was happy to stretch her neck out and keep it long and low, which made for a pretty picture that netted us more than one blue ribbon.
When my first course finally came up I was worried I would forget the pattern halfway through, but The Pony and I cruised over the fences without any confusion. I felt slightly unstable—having my irons uneven suddenly became a hindrance instead of a help—but I came out with another blue, adjusted my irons, memorized the next course, and then went right back in a couple of rounds later. We cleaned up our performance a bit, never wandered off course, and just generally rocked it even though I lost my grip on one of my irons and rode without it for most of the course. By the time we came in for my equitation round our distances were spot on and I was warmed up enough that I remembered how to hold a proper half seat.
Only five classes later I was soaked with sweat (darn that sun!) and ready to call it a day. I popped off The Pony, untacked her beside the ring, and then led her back to the trailer for some water and a quick clean up before the horses were loaded up for their trip home. I, on the other hand, jogged back to pick up my ribbons (four blues, one red, and a fancy championship ribbon for coming out on top in my Senior Cross Bars division, albeit out of only three riders—plus a prize pack of treats for The Pony), and then geared up for the next part of my day…
But first, here’s a full video of all five of my classes, in case you’re interested in checking out our progress!