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It’s felt like a very hectic couple of weeks, and also like a few weeks where, due to the heat and other things going on (like having to deal with a nail in my truck tire, or the fact that my horse apparently got her head banged up in a bar fight) I didn’t get to do as many lessons as usual, or even ride as much as usual.  So it was a delicate balacing act of trying to schedule a quick get-away with the WBBF around my plans for the Maryland Horse and Pony Show this week.

We managed a couple days down at Assateague, which was great fun.  The water was perfect, the weather was great, and I even got to have dinner with my mom and dad, who were down in Ocean City!  Best of all, as a kid who fell in love with horses because of the Misty of Chincoteague books, were the ponies.  Going to Assateague, it’s never hard to spot a pony.  Actually, the same two ponies, a bay and a chestnut, were waiting right on the park side of the bridge every day.  They’re doing a good job giving tourists their money’s worth.  But so excitingly, as we were heading from kayaking on the bayside over to spend the afternoon on the beach, we encountered a group of cars stopped by an intersection, which could only mean one thing: ponies!   And oh, I spotted one and immediately cried for WBBF to pull over, I had to get a picture.  Because while we’ve been several times, I’ve never actually seen a Misty-colored palomino pinto before.  (Or, as WBBF said, “taupe.”)

So perfect. Every little girl’s dream pony.  I feel like it was a good omen for the week ahead.

On the way home from Assateague, we stopped off at the barn so I could do a quick lesson with Holly. I defintely needed it, because things started off a little rough, with me not having my eye on and finding a couple of rough spots, but ended with the horse jumping out of a one-stride thusly.

Again, feeling like a good omen for the week, because one-strides were our nemesis at Swan Lake last month, and Holly is making it her mission to make me not suck at them. It’s getting better.

Then it was quick work of getting ready this morning.  It’s so easy to clean up for jumpers.  I didn’t even need a coat, since it was a non-division weekday class.  I had Cally and Sophie down to PGEC by 10:30, and handed Sophie over to Julie for her own week of fun, then went to figure out our course.  Sadly, my plan to do what we’d done at Swan Lake, which was trot around the course in the ring to learn it, was thwarted by the course being neither posted nor set.  So I tacked up, we moseyed around the warmup a bit before being asked to move so they could drag it, and I decided that my super-sleepy horse needed a bit of a wakeup.  So I found one for us.

Usually there’s a fence at about the end of the first building, so you can’t normally ride down this far. But we trotted up and down a few times, lengthening (easy) and collecting (difficult), then I did a circle or so of canter. Then we came along the rail, going the “wrong” way, and I just bridged the reins and let her roll a bit. There are still poles up along the old track, so I’m not sure if it was a sixteenth or an eight, but we galloped between the two of them before coming back to a quieter canter, and she felt quite a bit more awake!  How To Wake Up Your OTTB, 101.

By the time we moseyed back to the warmup ring, Holly was there, as was WBBF.  They still hadn’t put fences in the warmup ring, so instead, we went to the jumper ring to learn the course, which was thankfully the same for both speed rounds.  It was a good course for us, 10 fences, nothing too tricky, mostly bending lines and two one-strides.

We had a three good jumps in warmup, and headed up to the covered ring to do our .80m round.  We were first in the ring, and while I’d like to say that it was magnificent, it wasn’t.  I was still not riding assertively, and the ones turned into mucky twos, and I was not supporting things enough at the base.  But we had no major disasters, and got around with a couple of rails.  Not our best performance, but hopefully our shakeout.  Then I watched the rest of the rounds, all of which had major issues, like stops or rider falls, which really surprised me at an A show, especially as people seemed appropriately mounted, reasonably coached, and the course didn’t seem that tricky.  Maybe it was tricker than I realized?

Somehow, to my astonishment, we managed to finish 2nd thanks to a somewhat reasonable pace and a faults-converted format.  I was still pretty proud of her, because she bailed me out of all my non-decisions.

Then we did two more warmup fences, since I’d hopped off during the rest of the division, and I went in for the .85m class. I feel like I rode a good bit better, and really did try to get more assertive in my use of leg. Sadly, we still had a couple of rails, this time I think mostly due to Cally being kind of sleepy and not so much caring. She was totally ready for Nap Time, not Jumper Time. But again, we got around, nothing terrible, and had fun. And that’s really what matters, right? This totally looks like fun, even if not particularly well-lit fun.

Big love to WBBF, for coming down, cheering on, providing water bottles and fly spray when necessary, and for videoing in what is a terrible ring to try and get photos or video in.

We ended up 5th in the second class, which I am more than happy with.  It was a great learning experience, and while we absolutely have bugs to work out, it is so much fun that I’m looking forward to working them out.  And I think that as I fix those issues, like leg to the base, in our jumper rounds, all our eq rounds will improve immensely, too.

This afternoon, Cally got home just in time to get unloaded, unpacked, and meet the farrier for new shoes.  So she should be in fine shape for MDHP, Round 2: Sidesaddle! on Saturday.