I’m sorry for neglecting my blog and neglecting you, lovely readers. I have still been writing for Dominion Vet Labs, and I posted a quick show summary on domvetlabs.wordpress.com. This blog, however, deserves a detailed play by play of the Victoria Day Show.
BlueBear brought three horses to this show: Moe (Mojito), my coach’s own young horse Dexter (Full Circle) and legendary pony jumper champion Panda (Dr. Seuss). The forecast was calling for rain all weekend, but fortune favoured our team. We had an excellent schooling session around 2pm on Friday, and almost all of us made it back to the barns before the rain started – Panda and his rider got a light shower while waiting for the jumper ring to open for schooling.
It had been exactly one year since I last competed at the Manitoba Horse Council show grounds in Birds Hill Park. In 2012, Moe was relaxed, rhythmic and completely cooperative. But a year had passed, and Moe had proven himself to be a bit strong-headed at the Red River Exhibition show grounds in Winnipeg and the Keystone Centre in Brandon. I had no idea what kind of horse I would have this time around.
Turns out, Birds Hill Park has a calming effect on Moe. I lunged before climbing aboard on Friday, but it was completely unneccessary. I jumped around the hunter schooling ring on a loose rein. Moe was enthusiastic and forward, but also rhythmic and cooperative. As you can tell from his expression in the pictures below, he was just happy to be out enjoying a day in the park.
Thank you to Christine Budzak for the beautiful photos. Christine is an exceptional equine photographer, and for hunter/jumper people, she knows how to capture that magic moment at the pinnacle of a jump. Visit her page on Facebook to find out how you can hire her to capture your big moments.
Saturday morning dawned overcast but dry. The ground was firm despite the previous night’s rain, and the forecasted showers held off just long enough to accommodate the BlueBear team once again. Moe and I only had three classes on Saturday – Open 2’3″ hunter, Junior/Amateur 2’6″ hunter and Junior/Amateur 2’9″ hunter. I earned the blue second place ribbon in my 2’3″ and 2’6″ rounds, but was off course in 2’9″ and did not place.
On Sunday, the ground was slightly slick in the morning. We put two small square corks into each of the horse’s four shoes. Corks are little metal studs that screw into the heel-end of a horse shoe. They work like a soccer cleat, giving the horse traction on wet grass. I thought Moe really shone on Saturday, but he outdid himself on Sunday. We had the round of our lives for our 2’6″ JA Handy Hunter. We were completely in sync. We had the perfect pace on the wet course, found the perfect track to almost every fence, got the correct striding in each line and got all our lead changes. The judge awarded us a first place ribbon in a field of talented competitors.
Moe carried me through a very taxing day – three handy hunter rounds and three under saddles (flat classes). We placed in every class, and even earned the high-point champion award for our Evergreen (2’6″) JA Hunter division. When we got back to the stall, Moe took a big drink of water, had a pee, scarfed a flake of hay and then went straight to sleep. He was completely out until it was time to climb on the trailer and drive home.
So how do I think I did? I was very impressed with my horse. He has a great attitude. Even when he’s hungry and tired, he still puts in a good effort on course. I think I’m riding the perfect split of classes right now. The 2’3″ puts us in the right frame of mind to excel at the 2’6″. Our 2’9″ is still rough – we get a lot of half strides at the base of the fences. I need to do a better job of seeing my distances and giving Moe every opportunity to jump with a nice bascule. I think fatigue is also contributing to those chippy fences, and as we increase our fitness, we’ll have an easier go of things. My under saddles are really coming along. I’ll never have a fancy trot, but Moe no longer tries to race the other horses in the ring and he’s starting to relax out there. Hopefully by the end of the season, we’ll be able to carry the long, low frame we practice at home into the show ring.
Moe and I will be back at Birds Hill Park on June 22 and 23 for the Summer Smiles show.