Horse Show Saturday has come and gone, with a lot that went on from 4am to 7pm! Getting Eli in the ring first thing before the show is a crucial part of our showing routine, at least at the Manor Equestrian Center venue. Not so much for him to jump all the jumps, because he’s done that before, but just to get his head in the game and acclimate him to the scene. I rode him around in the dark under lights, petting him a lot to reassure him that we’re cool here. I can’t say he truly “settled” because he simply doesn’t do that off-property, but he got focused, we took a trot jump, and I ended there. We had a stall with a run, so instead of throwing all the BoT on him, I left the run open. I think this went a long way to help him relax, although he first explored the run with more exuberance than was actually necessary. He even ignored his hay for a while.
I picked up my number and started roaming around the show and visiting with friends, seeing a few people I hadn’t seen in a while and catching up. The sky darkened ominously in the north, and everyone started groaning about the radar … I thought I had better go shoo Eli into his stall and close the run, and just as I did so, some big rain drops started falling. Within five minutes, the weather turned into a monsoon-like torrent of heavy rain and sudden wind gusts and the show management delayed the competition until the storm passed. Which, because this is Texas, it ended almost as soon as it began, and because this is Texas, we all complained about not having brought jackets because the temperature dropped about twenty degrees (To, like, 71F. Totally jacket weather here.). The show resumed in footing that had actually held up well for the amount of rain that fell. I felt bad for the junior riders that got drenched and then had to finish up their classes in puddles, but within an hour you’d never have known it even rained. The warmth and humidity returned by the time the course set for jumpers, and everything walked as very rideable, with no tricky distances or difficult questions, and no real problem areas in the footing.
I give myself and Eli extra time in the warm-up ring when I can–there weren’t more than 4 or 5 riders at a time in the warm-up area at this show, so I got on during the low jumper division so Eli had time to get his head together and we spent the majority of the time just walking. We of course spent some time trotting and cantering, too, and Eli responded to the aids accordingly. I felt pretty good about things.
Ah, but what is horse showing without a little drama and adversity? Unfortunately, one rider in the low jumpers completely crashed a jump. I’m talking horse half-down, poles flying, rider under the jump … it was absolutely terrifying to see. The commotion and loose horse spooked Eli, so I hopped off to calm him, rather than fight a losing battle. Miraculously, the rider and horse seemed unscathed and competed in the next class. That rider wins the true grit award!
I got back on Eli and my trainer came over to have us take a few fences before our classes started. Thankfully, Eli had great sports amnesia and I tried to, as well, and we both forgot the crash and focused on the warm-up jumps. He took every warm-up jump easily, and there wasn’t a need for anything out of the ordinary. My trainer asked us to finish some turns after the warm-up fences, and I did realize that Eli did not have any kind of fabulous, handy steering going for us. Not really news to us, but I knew we’d be taking the long way around, even in the speed class and during the jump offs. He can get quite strong after the fences and getting him back still takes a handful of strides. I guess we’ll spend the winter working on tightening up the turns!
The first class was Table II, Sec. 2(b) and we had a clear first round. I chased Eli with my shoulder through the combination in the jump off, so we had a rail. The second class was a speed class, but as I said, we took the long way around. Even more interesting to me was that Eli was actually getting stronger throughout the division instead of getting tired. Stronger Eli means stronger checks in the turns from me. His energy didn’t flag even for a second, and the third class, Table II, Sec. 2(b) again, we had a double clear. Throughout the classes we had a few wonky distances, primarily as a result of me trying to fix steering with my hands, but overall Eli attacked the jumps for us and recovered his wind quickly after each class. I am ecstatic about his performance and moderately happy with my riding this time around. I even have video of the speed class and the first round and jump off of the last class!
As you may see in the video, Eli could get a bit unruly in the turns, so I took the long way around most of the time to minimize the argumentativeness.
I got to see Heather and Val of the Graduated Equestrian, and they proved uncatchable! Val can turn, that’s for sure. Congratulations are in order for a great showing on their part. And thanks, Heather, for some great shots of Eli! I posted one on Instagram already because I couldn’t resist.
Eli went back home on the first trailer load, and I scrubbed his legs and face, and rubbed liniment on his legs. The bell boots we showed in rubbed Eli’s front right pastern, so those are going in the trash. No more Velcro bell boots for him. I’ll have to leave his pull-on schooling bell boots off of him for a few days and wrap the pastern before riding until the rubs heal. (Obviously, I did not rub liniment near his front right pastern, and put antibiotic ointment and then diaper rash cream over the rubs before applying liniment elsewhere.)
He seemed much less tired than he was after the last show and happily ate up his dinner before I got all of my stuff cleaned and put away. It was a long but good day for both of us. I’ll give my show outfit details on Thursday. The outfit comes in at ~ $500, including the boots! Pretty decent for a show outfit, honestly.
One last thing, I wish I had got this on video … Sunday, Eli had the day off and I put his front BoT Quick Wraps on him for a little while. I also tried BoT hock wraps on him. He tried to sit down in the cross-ties in a less-than-casual way, so I unhooked him, and he leapt out of the cross-ties, trying to bolt from the evil death grips on his hocks, I guess? I walked him around in the barn for a while until he looked like he had decided the hock wraps were merely irritating and not deadly. Such melodrama. Next time, I think I’ll try one at a time and not have the cross-ties hooked from the outset.
I also expect some additional media from the show, courtesy of barnmates. The above videos were taken by Holly R. with Meggan’s phone. I am so glad all of my barnmates are into media and recording everything!