Eli shipped over to the show venue around noon on Friday so I mentally prepared to school in the searing heat. I didn’t mentally prepare well-enough, because I think I said “I’m done” out of either frustration or heat exhaustion about 250 times to my trainer. The venue was also still setting up — understandably — and a worker was weed-whacking around the big arena. Eli didn’t mind the guy as long as he could see him, but going away from the noise left him inverted and tense. I apologized to my trainer for my horrible attitude while I was dropping off checks at the show office. Thankfully, my trainer is extremely understanding and knows me well so Saturday could be a tabula rasa.
I’d like to point out that this venue has undergone a number of improvements, and the stall reserved for Eli was in great shape, fully-bedded with rice hulls, had an automatic waterer, and a large window. We hung a fan for Eli, and I knew he’d be comfortable for the night, so I left him with like 4 flakes of hay and tried to go to bed early.
My trainer and I discussed doing two divisions instead of just one for this show, so I was entered in the first and second divisions of the day in the large ring. We’d be doing a total of 5 over fences classes, which is defintely a lot, but Eli is in good shape and handles the heat much better than the cold. And the jumps would never get over 3′ for our divisions.
Eli felt incredible in the warm-up area (just a grassy field, no rails or flags). We took a vertical off one lead, another off the other lead, and an oxer. He was so soft and relaxed, we went over to our classes on that.
I want to thank Jen-Jen for filming all of my rounds!
For our warm-up round, I rode a bit too softly, and a bit too impatiently. It shows in the video. And it kind of pissed off my horse. It started out well enough, but he had to take a joke for the first fence of the inside 6, and then I tried to kill us with death-by-leaning at the first fence of the 3 stride line. Sorry, buddy.
Our first hunter round for this division had some choice low-lights. Mainly, I forgot to ask Eli to land on the right lead coming off the 3 stride line. I asked and got a lead change, but he was PISSED about it. We awkwardly flew down the 5 (the oxer was just gross) and then I just moved up at the wrong time to the combination and we had a rail (don’t move up at the last minute). So this class was basically similar to what we had going at the March show.
Our second hunter round, I had a bit more in hand, but we got to the combination awkwardly again. And Eli actually low-key ran away with me a bit after the last fence. I was like … wait, are you actually grabbing the bit right now? Remember kids, pulling doesn’t work. Ever. It was pretty funny, though.
We did the flat class … Eli was tense and not exactly mannerly. We’ll call the flat classes works in progress.
We needed to push the reset button before the next division. More on me than him, but a slightly more relaxed horse would be better. I pulled Eli’s tack, offered him water and towelled him gently before tacking him back up for the next division. We didn’t have a lot of time, but the 10-15 minutes seemed to help. My trainer and I did not feel like we had to take any more warm up jumps — I just cantered a couple of steps each way in the warm up area and went back to the in-gate for our next division.
Pushing the reset must have worked for both me and Eli. Also, it was hot and my legs were jell-i-fying and I KNEW I had to not pull at all. Circumstances were such that riding softly was about all I could do anyway.
Eli seemed much less tense but still bright. Our first hunter round for this division started clumsily, as I came to the first single too soft an Eli rapped it hard. Considering his attitude about lead changes, I merely suggested rather than demanded and only got the swap in front. However, I was determined to stay relaxed, soft, and keep Eli appeased (ugh, so demanding!) and we were able to do that. We did get a bit deep to the combination, but Eli managed to pull it out of the awkward zone. I was pleased with the majority of this round, but somewhat disappointed that I was unable to ride with just a tad more authority at the outset.
Our final second hunter looked pretty good to me on video. I felt as though we had a competitive round for our local circuit. I knew we wouldn’t catch a couple of the fancier horses (one of whom I know well and he had a great round), but we pulled out a 3rd and I am really happy with that. If you follow Patently Bay on facebook, you’ve already seen this video.
Flat class = race. Let’s just skip it, lol.
Eli challenges me, there is no doubt of that. But if I rise to the challenge, the payoff is well worth it. He knows what we are supposed to be doing — he caught on to hunters quickly. I haven’t, but I’m getting there. I think a lot of the work ahead of me is mental now. The best news of the day is that we were done showing by 10:30am so we were sweaty but not too hot or exhausted.
Additionally, I hate 3 stride lines. HATE.