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It’s been toasty here in Maryland of late, so we mixed things up a bit, and had some downtime.  After going splat during my lesson last Monday, I was feeling bruised but excited about heading up to Pimlico with Rebecca and Hitch for Canter For The Cause, and happy that it was going to be slightly less roasty.  Very weird to drive in to Baltimore with a trailer, and Pimlico is seriously in the middle of a neighborhood, so that was strange.  But we were in the big clubhouse parking lot, and it was amazing just to stand on the edge of that track.  Cally seemed totally chill and unphased by all of, which didn’t surprise me, as she’s been back on a track before, including during the Maryland Million just a year after she came off the track herself.

We were with a small group of friends, and while we skipped trying the starting gate walkthrough due to being aside, she was alert but good.  We trotted down the backstretch on a loose rein, and cantered the turn into the top of the stretch, then came back down to a walk to go down the stretch and across the finish line.  We opted to skip the winner’s circle photo op the first time around, due to the line, so we walked down towards the first turn and were discussing the strategy for our second trip around the track when a pony came barreling into the turn at mach 12, obviously totally out of control and ping-ponging all over the place, and zipped so close to Cally that she was Done.  Like, would not move at all, and I could feel her shaking.  Poor girl was terrified until friends went ahead and sent one of the pony horses back for us.  That was slightly embarrassing, but settled Cally down a bit and we trotted back around to the start of the backstretch, where the starting gate was and people were coming in and out.  She spooked at the gate too, so I think she was just totally rattled and a bit unhappy at the idea of being a Racehorse again.

Once I got her back to the trailer and untacked, she took a big breath, had some water, and walked a bit to cool out and she’d settled right back down to fine.  Hitch was his usual perfect self, and they had a grand time, so that was fun.  Both of them practically fell asleep in the trailer on the way home!  And I’m pretty sure Cally was super grateful to be back living life as a show horse, because she’s been totally perfect for every ride since that!

We did a very light dressage school on Monday, just some lateral work to stretch out her back, and get her supple, and called it good with that.  Then we had a lesson on Wednesday that we kept short due to the heat.  Light warmup, and work on a lot of single long approaches, since I could just do a fence or two that way, then give us both a breather.  Turned out to be a great strategy, especially since I’d decided to show the upcoming weekend.  Holly wouldn’t be going, since she’d done three days of showing at two different shows with students the prior weekend, but she knew the facility and knew what classes I’d entered, and how they tended to set things.  So this was about the most elaborate thing we did:

And it went beautifully.  Plus Cally was jumping like that all lesson, we were just in a groove and hitting everything great, and had like one kind of chippy fence all lesson, but left feeling great, like we could nail it like this all day long.

But ugh, I was both excited and kind of over Saturday before it started.  Due to forecast heat, they moved the show start time up to 7AM.  Which naturally left me dealing with two unpleasant things–an early Saturday wakeup, and heat.  But I figured I should leave an hour earlier than planned, since it looked from the entries like only 3 divisions before the medal stuff I was doing started.  But coats were waived in a notice before the start, so that was great news, as it so rarely happens at hunter shows, and is so nice when it does.  I know a lot of people will still wear them for eq, but whatever, I’m an older adult showing without a trainer along (and trainer already said go for it on the no coat front!), so coatless I would happily go.

Naturally, when I got there an hour and a half after show start, the first division was still going.  Because hunterland.  At the office, I saw I was the only entry in one of the random medals, so I swapped that to the MHSA Low Adult medal, since that was earlier in the order, and frankly, earlier than I thought I would need to be there.  Plus it was the same course we’d be doing for one of the later medals, so that would give us the bonus of doing the same course twice, which always helps me, since I tend to somehow mangle the first course.  (Holly’s advice was don’t screw up at all, though that would kind of put her out of a job, should I ever actually accomplish it.)  So I moseyed back to the trailer, unloaded, took Cally off for our usual handwalk/graze, and walked over to the gate to put my number in for the MHSA medal, since the division before it was finally starting, then went back to start getting ready.

We did a very light warmup, and jumped three jumps in warmup.  It would have been two, but we got a terrible distance to our oxer, and I wanted a gallopy do-over.  Then we headed to the ring and were waiting at the gate, ready to go in, when the flat class before it finished.  The gate person seemed happy about that fact of life, and the judge must have been astonished to have someone waiting and ready, as she was still finishing up her card and I had to wait a minute before actually starting.

I felt like our first line, a diagonal 5, was just a little underpowered coming in and I didn’t love our distance out because of that, but we nailed all the singles, and a bending line that was exactly the same 5 stride bending we’d done in our lesson.  We managed some really nice inside rollbacks to two of the singles, and I was a little worried they’d be considered too jumpery for an eq class, especially since I went first and had no idea how handy everyone else was going to be.  But we managed them neatly and professionally, and I was very pleased with how we finished, a long gallop to a single oxer that we totally nailed.  Lots of pats, watched another round who did one of the same handy turns I did, then headed back to the trailer to untack and cool off.  It was actually hot enough that Cally, who is part camel and usually awful about drinking at shows, actually chugged a quarter bucket of water!

(I realize that looks totally unsafe, but unless you tie her long enough that she can drink from a bucket off the ground, she won’t drink at all.  Hence the tie ping.  Cally is weird like that.)

Then I untacked entirely, sponged her off, and put her back in the cooler, shady trailer while I went to take advantage of the ice cream fundraiser they had going on.  Mmm, perfect hot day for an orange creamsicle lunch!  Part of me was super tempted to scratch the other classes and just go home, but I picked up a nice 3rd of 10 ribbon in the MHSA, and we were already there and hot, what was two more rounds?  So we waited some more, and I kept an eye on the ring, since I was having a hard time hearing from where we were parked, but I could see the people in the ring.  Got back over there early, put our number in to go 3rd, right after a trainer’s two entries, and did a bit of a mosey around.  Did a little bit of trot and canter in a grassy area.  Got back to ringside and ready to go, and actually hopped off to wait, since things were going slowly.

Then finally the fences were reset for our height, and the trainer and their two riders weren’t there, so I offered to go right in.  Gate lady told me I was her favorite person of the day, so that right there is probably worth more than a blue ribbon.

We were back in to do the same course we’d done before, but for the BCHSA medal.  I wanted mostly the same ride as before, but with more leg into the first line.  And lo and behold, I did it, and the out felt amazing, and as we went around, I seriously knew we were nailing it, like hitting every distance perfectly, and as we approached to the final single oxer, Cally actually straightened herself out on the line to it.  I honestly have never before come out of the ring feeling like I had the round to beat so much as I did at that moment.  And what an amazing feeling it was!

The trips for the medal and the adult and junior eqs were all open carded, so we caught our breath for two trips, then went in for our adult eq round.  Our first fence was great, we had an excellent trot fence rollback to a single oxer–the line we rode there was absolutely perfect–but the final line was a bending we hadn’t ridden yet, and I thought it was going to be a straight gallopy 6, but kind of got to like 4.5 and realized we didn’t quite have the gas left in the tank for that.  We did 7, and while it wasn’t the worst chip ever, it wasn’t the perfect line it could have been.

I hopped off again, took off the martingale and left the girth loose and just relaxed and caught our breath a bit.  Our first flat was the undersaddle test phase of the BCHSA medal, which I knew was ours to loose on the flat, because we’d had that perfect fences trip.  She was good, did a nice trot-halt-canter transition right in front of the judge.  They asked for a change of direction through the canter via a simple change, and I did it through the walk, mainly because I couldn’t remember whether the proper eq was is via trot or via walk, so I think maybe Holly and I need to do a bit of a Eq Tests refresher one lesson.  We lined up, and I really wasn’t sure how I did in the flat phase, since I didn’t see how anyone else went.

We WON!  I was so astonished, she got lots of pats coming out of the ring, and I was grinning like an idiot as I collected our ribbon.  I had someone put our ribbon on top of the whip and martingale, and we waited while the junior eq class ran its flat.  Then it was time for our adult eq on the flat, and I knew going in that she was just done.  The trot didn’t feel as great, and she had kind of a sassy moment right in front of the judge, and tried to canter a bit when asked for the trot the second direction.  Nothing too bad, just overcooked.  As we were lining up, they announced we were second in the fences, so I was hoping maybe the judge liked us enough that we’d pull an OK ribbon in the flat, but no such luck, 5th there.  But I didn’t even care, the over fences matters more and we’d nailed it there!

I was so pleased with her, and hopped off right after we got through the gate and gave her a mint before I gathered up our ribbons, and our martingale and whip, and headed back to the trailer, just ahead of a line of storms approaching.

Cally has been great recently, and I really feel like we’re hitting our groove for the year.  Hopefully we’re hitting it at just the right time, since we’ve got some BEST shows upcoming for more Low MHSA Medal and Adult Eq classes.  We’re handily qualified now for Mid Atlantics, if I want to do it, so I just need to take a look at the dates and prizelist and my budget.  I’d also really like to see if we can qualify for the Low MHSA medal finals, which is in early November, and would be a perfect warmup for Mids.

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