Sunday, July 12, 2009

Here comes success

We were reserve champion yesterday, and Tucker was amazing! Over fences we were second, first, and fourth, and he was third in the hack.

I have a little show journal that I keep for every horse show so I can keep track of what works and what doesn't for him, so I'm going to share my notes here. It may be painfully boring for all of you to read about every detail, but I figured I'd preserve it here for posterity.

Tucker's Horse Show Journal, Hunterdon County II, 7/11/09
Prep: Turned out overnight. Got there at 6:30, went for a ten minute longe, back to the trailer, tacked up. Trotted around twice in each direction in the schooling ring. Then trotted the first jump, he was dead quiet so we just kept cantering and jumped around the whole course. He added down both diagonal lines the first time, so I just caught those again and let go a little and he made it down the lines. Since he was so quiet, we quit with that. Did simple changes in the corners so he'd stay relaxed. Gave him a bath and put him back on the trailer where he slept for a few hours. Tacked up and got on about an hour before we were ready to show and just let him hang out by the ring. Trotted and cantered a couple of jumps and then went in.
Over fences: Listened to me, stayed relaxed, focused pretty well, but a little inconsistent with his changes.

First trip -- quiet conservative distance to the first single diagonal, just looked up to the end of the ring and kept counting and he found it himself. Missed the first change, but trotted a step and caught up, then sat through the corner and helped him continue a little through the turn. The lines got pretty easy once he was in the ring so I just kept a little contact down the first diagonal line but stayed in my half seat. Landed left so no need to change, then I had to collect him a little through the end of the ring for the two stride so I talked to him and then pressed him into my hand with a little supporting leg to collect him. Found a conservative distance and then I didn't have to do anything in the two stride because he balanced himself and worked it out. Landed right and missed the change so trotted a step to fix it. Six stride diagonal again got pretty easy so I had to feel his mouth a little down that line, but it worked out. Got the left to right change but then I had to back him off cause he was cruising a little, so I talked to him, sat down, took a deep breath, and he came right back. Then it was a long approach to a single outside oxer so I just counted the rhythm and waited and let him find it. Worked out beautifully, but then we missed the left to right change in the corner and trotted to fix it.

Second trip -- got a good rhythm and then a great distance to the first quarter line single, but then missed the change and cross cantered around ther corner. He swapped back to his right lead in front of the first fence of the six stride diagonal but then the line worked out. Got the left to right change, then had to settle for the single outside oxer, talked to him, sat down in the end of the ring and he listened. Oxer worked out great, but had to put my weight in my left stirrup coming out of the turn because he wanted to drift left a little. Once he got his eye on the fence though, he straightened out. He landed quiet and soft so I had to send him a little to get the left to right change but we got it. Then the seven worked out on the other diagonal fine, got a nice distance in and just relaxed. Got a beautiful right to left change without asking and then just had to really collect his canter since the last line was the two stride. Talked to him, got him to settle, two stride was beautiful. This was our best round.

Third trip -- decided since the fences were going so well, we should try a little harder to get the changes. So this trip we got the same quiet distance to the first fence, and then got the left to right change (in front of the in-gate, which was great). Then I just asked him to wait a little too much to the seven stride diagonal and it got a little tight to the first fence. But I just sank down in my heels and he stayed balanced and jumped it well anyway. Then I just softened and let him open his step up down the line (didn't chase -- very proud of myself!) and the seven worked out perfectly. Landed left and he kind of leaned in to the left around the turn and got a little quick, but again I talked to him, got his canter collected and the two stride was beautiful. Again, missed the right to left change in this corner (stargazing) but he caught up and the six stride diagonal was good and then he got the left to right change. Then I just had to stay patient and we got a perfect distance to the last outside oxer and he jumped it really soft and light, but unfortunately since he landed so quiet we just couldn't quite get the left to right change at the end, so I had to trot a step and fix it.

Under saddle: Very quiet, I was able to loop the rein but keep a little frame so he didn't get too strung out at the canter. I thought he hacked great (though the judge put him third). This time, to make sure he knew he was out of jump mode, I hacked him around a little in the warm up area right before and then went in the ring, trotted half a circle and then walked til the class started. That seemed to help. The last few hack classes we did, he has come in and almost tried to pick up his canter because he thought we were still jumping.

Overall: He was responsive and relaxed, and I was really happy with how adjustable he was. The changes still need a little consistency, but I liked the fact that whether he got the change or missed it, he didn't seem to be at all tense about them. I was also able to concentrate and make good decisions while we were on course, like remembering when we jumped in quiet to just let go and let him take me down the line instead of chasing him, to sink my weight into my heels and not get ahead of him when the distance was a little snug, and most importantly just to keep the rhythm the same and then let him find the singles himself. I tried to think about riding him just like any other horse (instead of thinking of him as my baby) and that really seemed to help -- even though I couldn't help beaming with pride every time we walked out of the ring. All in all he was wonderful, and I'm proud of the way that I rode him. We are definitely getting there!

Then when we came home I rubbed his legs down with rubbing alcohol and I turned him out with his buddy Vince. Don't you think he looks proud of himself?


  1. Wow Congratulations!!!!!!! You and Tucker are awesome! I think that is great how to write about what you did and how he felt. I might steal your idea! :) Yes Tucker does look extremely proud of himself and so he should!

  2. I don't mind all your notes at all - they give a great picture of what you were doing and thinking - I used to show hunters so I appreciate the details. It really sounds like he's coming along, and I like that neither you nor he got fussed about the changes.

  3. Well if you guys don't mind the notes, I'll definitely keep posting them. We leave for HITS on the 22nd so there will be lots to post from there!

    If anyone wants to see pictures of Tucker from Saturday, go to

    There are a couple of ugly ones of us, but one or two that are great!

  4. You GO girl! *Clapping Loudly*

  5. Congratulations! Loved your detailed notes.


Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. I love reading them! If you have a question, I will make sure to get back to you.