Sunday, October 22, 2017
Hunters, the rebuilding year?
A week after our utter failure of a horse trial I decided on a whim to head to a hunter show. It was just 45 minutes away, and being a hunter show has the added bonus of accepting on the spot entries, as well as adds and scratches as I changed my mind through the day. This lead to several hours of frantically googling "current HJ fashion"and seeing if I had anything that wasn't horribly out of date.
Then we showed up, hit the ring to school over some of the fences (love this about hunter shows). had some issues due to my nerves but didn't have a ton of time to fix those issues before the ring closed so I signed up for some divisions, and waited. And waited. And waited.
I popped over to watch a friend in the 2 foot jumper divisions and was glad I hadn't entered those classes. They hadn't been able to get some of their filler under 2 feet so the course looked "intimidating" and I suck at memorizing courses on the fly. This divison was a mixture of normal and terrifying. When speed wins it's easy to let children tear around at 90mph on their horses since you don't really need to have proper distances to leave such small fences up.
I also noticed a direct correlation between the turnout and the round. The students on dirty or thin horses wearing poorly fitting tack and clothing were more likely to be terrifying, to have stops, or to just plain hit the dirt. I think turnout has a direct relation between the quality of the instruction and I hope that these children don't give up when they've hit the ground one too many times.
As the morning wore on I felt the need to get out immediately, get over a tiny fence or two, and deal with some issues. I had initially entered in the (don't laugh) 18 inch division but when warming up over fences produced some serious anxiety I decided to throw in a few X rail rounds (don't laugh). As morning turned into afternoon and I needed to get back into the ring before dark I decided to add an on the spot ground pole EQ class (ok, you're totally laughing now).
It was quite humorous as Stella hand galloped down the lines, launched 4 feet into the air over her ground poles but we got 2nd! I'm not sure that's something to write home about but I'll surly blog about it. It was eye opening to feel my nerves being back in a ring a week after our fail, especially over such a non event as ground pole EQ.
During my X rail classes Stella stopped at the first fence. Was it the flowers or my lack of a backbone? We will never know. After that I pulled my head out of my ass and started to think about riding. One of the things I like about hunter courses are the predictable lines. I worked on focusing on my strides down the lines and my release and it helped to focus me and calm my nerves.
We ended up doing one more course, over the X rail course in the other direction (most hunter X rail courses are simply twice around the outside lines, because hunters think at this stage cutting across the diagonal is too much for a novice rider). This one was fairly nice. She stayed on the same lead so I didn't have to think about a simple change, and we got the same number of strides in each line.
I was going to get the heck out of dodge, having promised my recupterating boyfriend that I would be home by noon (we didn't even ride until noon!) but I chatted with a few people I knew then decided to stick around for ribbons.
Imagine my surprise when we took fourth out of 10! Pretty good for a terrified adult and her unconventional horse. On the way back to the trailers I bumped into the judge who I thanked for her time at the charity show. She complimented my horse and said that she was a nice hunter and that if I cleaned up my flatwork (surprise!) I would find myself pinning in decent company!
What a pick me up!
So, still lots to think about. Are Stella and I a suitable pair for jumping period? Will I solve the show nerves problem? How do I fix our XC warm up explosions? Do we switch to hunters where we can work on nerves over multiple rounds?
Stay tuned for next week!
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