When my alarm went off at 3:30AM, I was confused. For a few seconds, I was convinced that there had been some sort of mistake—clearly I wasn’t really going to wake up at an hour that was more night than morning, right? But once the confusion cleared, I was overwhelmed with a deep sense of loathing and dread. In that moment, the last thing I wanted to do was drag myself out of bed, drive out to the barn, and travel an hour away for a schooling show.
It took a lot of willpower, but I made it out of the house with five hours of sleep, three layers of clothing (plus a properly themed pair of socks on my feet), and a backpack stuffed with food and show clothes. It was still the depths of night when I got to the barn and Ezhno was curious to see me outside his stall in the wee hours of the morning (and so was Belle!).
The Show Buddy got Teak loaded and then Ezhno ambled his way into the trailer with barely a pause. We hit the road and the Show Buddy and I spent the hour drive talking about vet recommendations/events at our barn and doing our makeup.
We were the first competitors to make it to the arena, and the parking lot was cold and windy. We hung hay bags up for the horses and then fumbled our way through tacking up in the dark. The doors to the arena complex were just opening when we finished up, so we took them over to the warm up arena and gave them both a lunge. Ezhno was pretty lazy on the line (or maybe he just wasn’t fond of the spectacularly deep, hoof-swallowing footing). Once I was on him it was pretty apparent that he was feeling pretty sedate today (but not in a bad way).
The moment they finished dragging the main arena we rode out to go look over the course setup. It was the biggest arena I’ve ridden in and the jumps were well-decorated with flower boxes, potted plants, and pallet board filler. There was plenty to look at, but the only thing Ezhno was uneasy about was the transparent recycling bins by the grandstands. I gave him a short warm up (his canter felt awesome, so steady and controlled!) and then spent the rest of the time encouraging/amateur coaching the Show Buddy while she worked through some of Teak’s issues.
We took a brief break to sign in and get our show clothes on, then I was back on Ezhno. While I was waiting for my class to be called the Show Buddy convinced me to take Ez over the warm up cross rail. It was the first time we jumped without the Trainer present… and it went very well! It was incredibly confidence inspiring to realize that even though Ezhno is green, he’s such a good sport that I feel 100% safe jumping him over cross rails without my trainer there to coach me through it.
I was a few jumps in when my class was called, so we went into the main arena and rocked our HUS class. He felt good (not great; he was framed up but his head was a bit higher than I wanted, plus they asked for a walk to canter transition we didn’t practice and then we missed our left lead and had to fix it in a few strides) and we won first place in our small class.
The Show Buddy went into her classes right after me, so I spent the rest of the time alternating between working Ez over the cross rail (lots of trotting in, a couple times cantering in, and consistently landing at the canter) and providing course maps/emotional support (the Show Buddy had a rough time 🙁 ). By the end of Haylie’s classes Ezhno was doing so well with the cross rails that I was sort of sad I didn’t enter to ride a course.
We finished the day with a free fun class. It was like Simon Says on the rail, and I got to show off my seated trot with and without my irons (that’s my JAM!). I got taken out by the posting trot (my thighs were aching from all the cross rails and apparently my post wasn’t up to par), which was a shame since they called for a hand gallop a few rounds later (also my jam).
Afterwards we went back to the trailer, where we took a lot of very adorable victory pictures!
Once the photo shoot was over I untacked him and brushed him down. Then I gave Ezhno a lot of post-ride face scratches (that one’s his jam), a couple of treats, and then let him snack on his hay while I changed out of my show clothes.
The show was a ton of fun! I saw a lot of cool things (a white pony in full Seahawks regalia, a naughty horse that decided to roll while its rider was still aboard, and a lot of well trained horses/ponies with their auto changes down pat, for example). The Burkwood Farm team was very welcoming and I had a good time with the Show Buddy. My riding felt pretty okay today, too, which was a much needed change of pace after the past week of feeling like an incompetent novice.
As for Ezhno… there’s a lot I can say, but nothing sums it up as much as my Instagram post.
I'll have a blog post up about my day at the Burkwood Farms hunter/jumper schooling show later, but for now I just want to say that I'm so happy with my Big Horse. We only entered one class and I wasn't there for the ribbons, but that doesn't stop me from being proud of a blue. More than that, though, I'm very thankful for how nonplussed he was about the whole experience. He wasn't nervous about the new arena or the fancy foliage around the jumps or the horses careening past him during warm up. He was safe, focused, and heart-wrenchingly good to me. On top of that, we jumped the cross rail in the warm up ring a good dozen (or maybe two dozen!) times and while he was still awkward and green, I never once felt daunted by the fact that it was my first time jumping him without my trainer present. He was the epitome of a gentleman, and I'm so glad that I decided to take a chance on purchasing him. On Monday it'll be back to our training, but for now he gets to munch on a mountain of hay while I'm left reeling over how lucky I am to have him. #horse #horsesofinstagram #gelding #palomino #palominopaint #Ezhno #APHA #painthorse #horseshow #horsebackriding #blueribbon #winningribbons #winner