Horse show season is always at the mercy of the horses. Over the winter, it looked like a crazy year with a bunch of students learning the ropes and a full ride roster for me. The good news is my students are going strong. Me, not so much.
Last year I took five horses down the centerline, and one by one, they have all been sidelined this year for various things.
Flash, the fiery little pinto, back in March, injured her jaw defending her stall through the little feed-hole in the front of her stall (it was promptly covered up, but not soon enough). She has been doing well under saddle, but she has been going bitless, which rules her out of USDF Recognized competition. She is 3 weeks from wearing a bit again, and we have our fingers crossed that her injury didn’t affect the inside of her jaw where the bit lies. We won’t know until we try it.
Secret, who did well at 3rd level last year, needs more suppleness and strength for the jump to 4th. I tried to work on it while competing 3rd in April and May, but some training stages require a bit of deconstruct-analyze-specialize-strengthen-reconstruct to truly fix the problem, and that doesn’t lend itself well to staying show-ring ready, so we decided to keep her home for a while. She is already qualified for GAIG Regionals, so hopefully by staying home and focusing on training, we’ll bring out a new-and-improved Secret by September. Whether we make September or not, she needs to stay home and get stronger to compete 4th in 2013.
Basil, the big red boy that I showed late last year, well, I lost the ride to his owner. Which is as it should be. I’m thrilled to see Rebecca meshing with him as she always wanted to.
Eclipse has been sidelined by the checkbook. His owner is in the Navy Reserves, and has been called into active duty repeatedly the last 48 months. The military doesn’t pay well enough to cover the farm sitter at home as well as stud-boy’show season expenses, so if he gets out this year, it’ll be later in the season.
Sling, who spent the first half of last year promptly growing every time I put a show entry in the mail, was scheduled to stay home this season. Eventually, Paige will take over the competition reins on him, so this season the show budget went to getting her some big-ring experience on her pony, which she did beautifully last weekend at Morven Park.
Then there’s Venus. She is working well, but is between levels. I took her along to Morven last weekend, and she was a good girl, but the excitement of being at a show again for the first time in four years affected her gaits. I really don’t see the point of putting her in front of a judge until she is relaxed enough to show her best, so she can come along and school this season to get used to the high-intensity of shows again. If she is relaxed, I’ll compete her, but if she is tense, training at the show grounds will do her more long-term good than a $3 piece of satin. I know she can do it, she did it well enough to compete with the big boys as a 4, 5 and 6-year old. She just needs to get in the swing of things again.
So that leaves SFD’s two sales horses, ShowMeTheGlory (known as Pee Wee around the barn) and Ensign’s Stately Mandolyn, or Mandy. Both are super fun, easy-to-ride horses priced at a rather friendly price point. The plan for them is to stick to the schooling shows, where the show budget stretches further, and they can get what they need to be marketable – show miles and show miles and more show miles.
My students, on the other hand, appreciate my semi-sidelined status. Last weekend at Morven, I was able to be their eyes in warm-up more than last season – granted, an agreeable schedule helped a lot. Rebecca earned her second GAIG qualifying score on James. Paige earned her qualifying score for BLM on her pony, Maggie. Alexa learned a lot about showing Ockie at a BIG show (really, that show was much smaller, with much less scary competition last year…. sorry about that, girls, it probably wasn’t the best choice for your first recognized show…) and her scores improved all weekend. Meanwhile, back at home, Jen played coach for Liz and Joyce at a local schooling show, with both riders earning personal-best scores.
So this year I get to be the riding instructor version of the soccer coach. I’ll live through my student’s success, which is really quite sweet, and frankly, easier. I get to enjoy the excitement of the show grounds, without stressing about keeping my whites white. Sounds like a fun year.