Yesterday was my very first horse show, a 2-phase run by Apple Tree Farm and held at Goss Farm. This was a great choice because it was reasonably small, low key, and close to home. My goals were simple, to go in the right direction in both phases and to get through the jump course without any of Toby’s infamous duck outs. I kind of bounced back and forth all day between being calm and tightly wound and was very grateful to be with such a great group of people to keep me distracted while waiting.
Here’s the initial warm up. Definitely a different experience being in a brand new environment with a bunch of riders you don’t know. Toby was either being helpful and doing his best to distract me or trying convince me it was really much nicer back at the trailer. 🙂
I also have to say that I was far more nervous about this phase than the jumping. I don’t think it’s because I feel I can’t do what’s required–truthfully I even enjoy the challenge of trying to communicate to the pony what we need to be doing–but more that I am a bit intimidated by the formality. Every element needs to be done in a certain way in the right order and it’s a bit unnerving, not to mention the ensuing panic at the thought you might forget what comes next.
The dressage ring was facing in the direction opposite my home barn which I found oddly disorienting at first. Thankfully the test is structured in such a way that as long as you accomplish the above mentioned remember the test part it all works out.
First goal accomplished! We got a little wobbly in the second half, but overall I was thrilled and thought we made a very respectable attempt for our first time out. I learned a ton and the judges were very nice and gave excellent, detailed feedback.
Next up was the jumping phase. The footing was a little different than we were used to, but once we hit the ring it didn’t seem to matter. My main worry for this phase was that I would forget the order of the jumps. I sometimes have problems with this during lessons and that’s with a lot less than ten jumps. My confidence did not exactly get a boost after looking at the course since it just seemed to be a big jumble with lots of bends and corners. Here’s where I learned the benefits of walking the course. We determined that the jumps were grouped by color and there were points during my run where I almost thought I could hear Shannon talking me through on the best way to approach.
Toby was being a little tricky when we started the warm-up, but with some excellent coaching by Dave we managed to get our issues worked out after a few runs. Pretty much as soon as it looked like things had clicked they hustled us onto the course.
Everything felt wonderful. The ring was much bigger than I’m used to and it was loads of fun to work with all of that space.
Goal accomplished! In fact, Toby was having so much fun when I was done he decided he was going to go ahead and do another jump. I made a brief attempt to dissuade him, but he seemed bound and determined to go so in the end I decided the better part of valor would be to just get into proper position and let him go. Thankfully the judges must have determined the run was completed and we were not disqualified. 🙂 Though truthfully I was so happy with how well it went I don’t think I would have even minded that much.
The big surprise of the day was that we actually came home with a 3rd place ribbon! So glad to have that first show taken care of and looking forward to the next adventure. Thank you awesome pony for taking such very good care of me!