Saturday, August 1, 2009

"It's just that easy."

Tucker's Horse Show Journal - HITS V, Saugerties, Tri-State Hunter (2’6”) – July 23, 2009

Prep: Got to the horse show the day before, gave him about 15 minutes on the longe line to get the wild look out of his eyes, then tacked up and headed down to the rings. It's a long walk past lots of tents and golf carts and mopeds, past a longing area, across a bridge, past tack shops, and down a little "road" of golf cart/equine traffic. He wandered down there like he's done it 100 times. I was fairly impressed. We schooled him in one of the hunter rings (which ended up being the ring we showed in the next day when we moved my class -- luck was on our side), and he was fantastic. Quiet, relaxed, not spooky. I started holding a little too much and had about three chips in a row (thankfully he forgave me), so I stopped, Alicia reminded me to be relaxed through my arms and if I wanted to collect, just press forward with my hips and use my voice. Of course, that works every time, and then we jumped around great.

The next morning, we went down to the rings to hack (they let you in before 7:30 to flat around in the rings but no jumping). My ring was closed so I took him into the Grand Hunter Ring with the big kids. He handled it pretty well, for the most part. He was spooky, but clearly working hard at trying to pay attention. At the very end of our ride, I asked him to canter between the tractor pulling the drag and the big arch that goes over the in-gate, and he just couldn't keep it in any more and tucked his tail between his legs and scooted forward all the way down the longside. Thank goodness no one was in front of us, or we would have absolutely mowed them down. Worked out well though, cause then I knew he needed a little longe before we horse showed! So, we went for a little spin, and he cantered non-stop for about 20 minutes. Apparently he needed that. Then we chilled out the rest of the morning, got a bath, hand-grazed.

Headed down to the ring and Alicia rode him first. He needed a bit of a talking-to because he was totally blowing her off, but in about three laps of the schooling ring he was ready to go back to work. She did one trip with him and he was great. Got both lead changes, and was steady and quiet.

First trip: First fence was good, nice conservative distance. Missed the lead change and had to trot a step to fix it. The in of the first outside line was okay, and then I just softened my arm and he got right down there in a nice six. Landed left. The in of the diagonal line was pretty quiet, so I had to let go and let him get down there, but he did. Got our left to right lead change, and then it was a long patient ride to a single oxer on the outside. He found his distance, then looked off to the left at the schooling ring in the distance, I quietly opened my inside right rein and got his attention back on the jump, and it worked out perfectly. Got our lead change again. Then the last diagonal line he jumped in slightly conservative and I didn't have to do anything but sit there. Landed left. Alicia had a big smile on her face and said to me as I was coming out of the gate "See? It's just that easy!" Good feeling.

Second trip: The first fence was conservative, but he found the distance and he was right on it so I just kept my hips forward to keep him collected and it worked out nicely. Got our left to right change no problem. Jumped in to the diagonal line conservatively, but then just had to soften and not rush him, which I was able to do. Jumped in a little tight to the outside line so again had to move up, this time going away from the in-gate so I had to close my leg, but it worked out. Again, jumped in well to the last diagonal line and got down there nicely in four. Landed left and missed the lead change so had to trot a step and fix it.

Third Trip: Started with the outside line going away from home. He jumped in super quiet and then I let go but turned out we just weren't going to get down there. He was smart though -- I closed my leg the last two strides to see if we could get down there in six and he just politely said that's too big and just patted the ground and put one more little step in. I loved that he did that. I made a little amateur mistake and he took care of me. Landed left. Then the diagonal line again he jumped in a little quiet and I didn't want to make the same mistake again, so I forced myself to just let go from stride one (really starting to get the feel for how much he can eat up the ground if I just let go). Thought about the lead change as soon as I landed and pulled my shoulders back and stretched up tall to lift him off his forehand. It worked. We got the left to right lead change in front of the in-gate, which was awesome. Then the single outside oxer again, same patient ride, same looking left at the schooling ring, but again I redirected his attention without making a big deal of it and it worked out perfectly. Got the left to right change again in the corner. Then the last diagonal line, either he was getting tired or I was (or both) so the distance that was right there suddenly wasn't and we got in pretty tight. But, I let go, he ate up the ground, and we jumped out well. All in all a great day.

Under saddle: Didn't do the undersaddle this time, because with 90 or so entries, the hack didn't run til after 6pm! Craziness. It was the only division that ran in that ring all day. I guess everybody used it as a schooling for the rest of the week.

Overall: Super! He was a total packer! Couldn't have asked for more out of him. If adding a stride in a line is the worst that he does, then I'll take it!


  1. Love your write-up - it sounds like both you and he had an excellent show! You are right to be pleased with him, and yourself.

  2. Very nice day you had. I love how you narrate the rounds. I was thinking as I was reading that I sometimes go through the course in warp speed in my mind, and maybe if I just go along and not focus so much that maybe just maybe it will slow down. It also doesn't help that my horse also wants to fly through the courses. I usually end up holding back and almost never having to push him forward. Today I had him halting in a three stride line to really get him listening to me and not so focused o nthe next jump in the line. I have to say that it wasn't pretty, but it was effective enough so that when I asked him to jump the whole line I was able to get a nice half halt in between for a quiet three.


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