While Friday and Saturday might have been warm enough for a little boating on what’s left of Lake Travis, I spent Friday night and Saturday at the Reserve at Lake Travis Equestrian Center. The trainer there is a very good friend and the Reserve was hosting an IEA show on Saturday.
I don’t know much about IEA and this was my first IEA experience. It seems to run similarly to IHSA, but for middle and high school kids instead of college. What I learned about IEA is that it takes A LOT of people to run a relatively small show, because of all the rules about warm-up rides, handlers, paperwork, and drawing for horses.
I was there in the capacity as a warm-up rider, which overall went fairly well from my standpoint, I think.
The first horse I rode was a completely wonderful pet of a horse named Doce. He actually had been at my barn before being sold to someone at the Reserve, so I already knew the sweet big guy.
Is this a good time to complain about tack? In IEA, that tack goes with the horse. The saddle on Doce was fairly comfortable, although I couldn’t tell the brand. The stirrup leathers didn’t quite go short enough, but the set-up was manageable. Doce’s comfortable gaits and auto changes made up for a lot. Or so I thought, but I’ll get back to that later. Doce marched right around the warm up course, peeking just a little at the jumps but still jumping quietly. Task accomplished. I turned him over to his handler and found coffee, and watched a few rounds.
The next warm-up ride, I was told to get on a pleasant palomino named Cotton. How adorable is that? Apparently not adorable enough, because my trainer friend decided she wanted me to ride Cinnamon instead.
Cinnamon is a pony.
Oh, jeez. I am in no way, nor have I ever been a pony rider. Cinnamon’s tack was also pretty decent tack, although my boots barely just fit in the peacock stirrups. Cinnamon was for the crossrail division, so the fences were barely even there. Trainer friend warned me the pony liked to stop. Pony stopped at the first crossrail. I got a crop, tapped her shoulder, and pony jumped fences 1, 2, and 3, and then I almost fell off in the corner because the reins were so long the bight got caught under the saddle and the pony’s steering went out.
No, there is no pictorial or video evidence. I mean, there better not be! Basically trainer and I had a laughing fit, tied up the reins, and Cinnamon must have been sufficiently confused because she jumped the last two lines perfectly.
The horses and ponies overall were quite well behaved, and I think everyone had a satisfying show experience.
Except there’s a catch. I guess because of IEA requirements or scheduling or whatever, there was another show. Right after the first one. On the same day. With all of the same horses.
Cut me a break, I had been up since 5 am. Anyway, I got my first and favorite warm-up ride Doce back, except the poor guy had it in his head he was done for the day and took a lot more leg. To complicate matters, he also had on a different saddle. A newish, slick Pessoa, with HS Bow Balance irons. I can say with 100% assurance that next to a western saddle, this is absolutely THE WORST POSSIBLE TACK POSSIBLE EVER. I could feel my leg swinging at every jump and I felt like I might fall off at any moment. I have a whole new respect for these IEA kids riding in whatever tack the IEA overlords hand them. I couldn’t get my leg anywhere acceptable in the Pessoa. The knee blocks were huge and I fought against them the whole time. The irons were doing NOTHING to help me keep my heel down. And then I rode like a dumbass to top it all off to the first fence. I said, Hey Doce, take this stupidly long distance to a tiny gate. Doce said, okay, if you think… no wait… this is stupid and I’m really tired, sooooo …
We landed ON the jump. Apologies to trainer and Doce and Doce’s super nice owner. So next approach, I squeezed a little harder and held the contact a little tighter, and we barely made it around, doing a chippy fifth step in every line, but at least no stops. The kid that drew Doce was allowed a crop, and he actually went around really well for her. Relief.
Warm-up rides were pretty much done, so I made my getaway to go ride my own exuberantly and deliciously forward horse. Who is not a pony. I should point out that every time I type the word “pony” my phone offers up the crying-laughing emoji as the next most likely thing to be typed.
Seriously, I am beyond impressed with the kids who show IEA. They ride whatever they get, in whatever tack, and a lot of them had genuinely nice rounds. 5’9″ young lady draws the almost a medium large pony? Goes with it. Truly amazes me. I also feel very lucky that I have always had a horse of my choice (mostly) and my own tack to show in.
Sunday, the weather turned and I was unable to beat the rain. Still, the weekend was productive and illuminating, and I think I may have found a great show coat at a good price, so be on the lookout for a post about that in a couple of weeks.