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This week is Maryland Horse & Pony Show, which I have to admit is one of my favorites.  It’s close to the barn, it’s at a great facility, and the new management this year seemed incredibly enthusiastic and welcoming in the leadup.  I arranged the barn’s sponsorship of the Ladies Sidesaddle division for the show, and communication was fabulous–quick, friendly, and efficient.  So I was quite excited to go show there again this year, as it was also our first attempt at the Sidesaddle Over Fences last season, and I was looking for an improved performance this year.

We did a sidesaddle jump lesson with Holly on Saturday, which left me feeling confident in our ability, and optimistic about our chances for the show.  I just need to keep leg on and stop this awful new habit of looking down at the fence.  I have no idea why I’m doing it, and it’s very very bad for balance and jumping.

Weather was a little iffy on Wednesday morning, but til we got all braided and loaded up, the rain had stopped, and even 20 minutes down the road at PGEC, the grounds looked like it hadn’t rained at all.  So I parked on the nice grassy area near the rings for ease of watching and doing some handgrazing later, and watched some of the pro divisions, including the 3′ division Holly was going in.

Cally took one look around the grounds, and took a deep breath like “oh I know this place!” and was totally chill for the day.  We started off our warmup by walking the long way round the showgrounds past the stabling, where as we were walking by we got a “good luck!” from a passing Sandy Ferrell, which is pretty awesome.   Cally handled a kind of busy warmup ring like a pro, warmed up nicely, and got buttered up with some fresh honeycrisp apple from WBBF, who arrived just as we were finishing up warmup.

Since there were ring conflicts between the 3′ USHJA class and the 3’3 class running in the indoor, we bold sidesaddle ladies offered to go ahead and go with our undersaddle and hack while the ring was sitting empty.  Impressively, the show took us up on our offer (BRAVO!!!! to any show willing to be efficient in ring use!), and we went in for the undersaddle.

It is not Cally’s strong suit, either aside or astride, but I was very happy with how she went.

The judges also seemed sympathetic to the fact that the sun had come out and the humidity had kicked up and we’re wearing like 3 layers of clothing, most of which is wool, and kept the undersaddles quick.

We ended up 3rd in the undersaddle, and put in a decent but added line in the hack for a 2nd!

There were a few moments to catch our breaths and have a drink of water as they did the undersaddle before our over fences.  While the fences were not huge height-wise, they were big, full, A-show decorated fences, so even those verticals had lots of fill in front and were built to invite a big jump.

Which as you can see, Cally obliged with in beautiful hunter fashion. Which is, shall we say, not the easiest thing in a sidesaddle. That back crack is hard to stay with, and I was just ending up landing in a heap and not able to recover in time to sort us out down the lines, which was ending up with me needing to circle to get to the out fence properly.  Unfortunately, that led to the dreaded 3rd refusal at the very last fence on course.  So heartbreakingly close, but I feel like we can get there with just a little more work over the winter, because I’ve sorted out the twisting, so that I’m at least landing in a straight heap, which is probably fixable.  Though I have to admit I’m evaluating whether we want to plan on doing full Over Fences next year, because when Cally jumps, she does jump well, and I don’t want to discourage that, just because it’s not the best for sidesaddle.  I can equitate it, astride, and am very happy to keep it there, so it may be a matter of picking my battles.

However, in spite of a not-what-we-hoped-for over fences round, we still ended up Reserve Champion for the division!

Our first tricolor aside! And we also won a mug!

Nothing better than your trainer getting to be both the sponsor and trainer for the tricolor, and our friend Julie and her lovely mare Sophie were Champion, so it was a great day all around for fabulous Thoroughbred mares.

MDH&P is our last rated sidesaddle show for the season, and I’m happy with it as an ending note for us, though we’ll have two more schooling shows at the barn to go aside before the year really finishes.  We’re in a great place for Zone awards, which is something I never ever though I’d be in contention for, so I couldn’t be happier with our year aside this year!