Middlesex County Horse Show is one of Holly’s favorite shows, and they run the Sidesaddle division, plus a few additional sidesaddle classes. So after some hemming and hawwing and deciding not to show at Ride For Life this year (they always run the same weekend!), I decided to go do the sidesaddle there. Initially, I’d planned to haul up and show Friday, overnight and stay with my little brother (who is 2 exits down on the turnpike), and come back on Saturday. However, there were a couple of extenuating factors that led to me changing plans. First was that WBBF’s sister and nieces made plans to come into down that week, and were staying with us. Second was the weather forecast as the week went on, which looked like the massive remnants of a tropical storm would roll through late Friday and then pour on Saturday, and I was not particularly feeling trailering down 95 in that. Plus Holly was coming back with the ponies on Friday evening, and Julie was riding along with me, and could swap off the driving if I felt tired, so I figured why not, it’s not actually much more of a day haul than Culpeper.
So we went to show in New Jersey for the day! The drive up was actually kind of miserable because it took like an hour to drive through Delaware and I was a little worried we’d be late. But it was all good, we got to the Horse Park of New Jersey in plenty of time, though not quite enough time for me to go play with Cally on the XC course like I’d have wanted to if we were there a few days. I’d have done a few things, even in a sidesaddle! We were told the ring was running on time, and we’d go at 4 as scheduled. So I got all geared up, hopped on leaving the ring bucket and my water at the trailer, since I was already trying to wrangle sidesaddle attire plus an additional normal whip for over fences and ride across a showgrounds. (This also meant I left my phone at the trailer, so not a ton of pics, or video!) That was a mistake, because we got to the ring only to find that they still had like an hours worth of AOs to go. Which seemed like a way generous estimation, because there were like 4 people in that whole division. But they they had to drag and water.
I hopped back off Cally, watched the AOs go, chatted with friends, and waited. The sun came back out from behind the clouds and it got hot again. Finally when the AOs were undersaddle, I hopped back on, and warmed up in the nice big grassy area by the ring. That worked well for us at Rose Mount this spring, and I was hoping that the combination of happy, field warmup and the dressage lesson the day before (where we focused on going on softer contact with me sitting up tall through my core), would put in a good place to show. The first class was Sidesaddle Eq, and I felt like we did OK, maybe not my greatest ride and she is not the smoothest trot to look effortless on, even equitating astride. A 4th there to start us off, then we sat out the non-pointed undersaddle class. There were a couple of really fancy movers, as is so often the case with the sidesaddle, and I know that Cally is Not A Hack Winner. So I caught my breath, had a sip of water, and then headed back in for the undersaddle/appointments. Trot was OK, we had fantastic canter transitions and a nice canter, but were just out-fancied by better movers and finished 5th.
Hack class was where things started to get fun. Flat portion was fine, then we got to do our line across the diagonal, hand gallop, and halt. We got in a little close to the first fence of the line, because it took Cally a minute to notice it coming out of the corner, and I got a little crooked because of that, so our line was more of a squiggly add, but we made it work, and she did a lovely hand gallop to halt and felt pretty pleased with herself as we walked back to the lineup. Finished 3rd there for our first primary color of the day! I smiled at the very nice lady handing out ribbons as we left the ring, but was really ready to keel over from heat and thirst. We were going second in the over fences, so here’s where actually getting to show with people ringside helps–not only did I get to catch my breath, I got two cups of water and was feeling much more focused til we went in.
I did my best to remember to go forward when in doubt, and also look right over the fences to keep me from getting all twisted up. First fence went great, as Holly very smartly positioned herself about 25 feet to the right of it, so I just looked for her and we nailed it!
The rest of the course was going pretty well, too, up to the last line where Cally was getting a bit tired and just didn’t see the big distance from the 5 like I did, and added a chippy step at the end. I sort of landed in a twisted heap and lost my stirrup, and ended up having to get myself sorted out in time for the final oxer. But we got it together, and nailed the last fence, and Cally got many pats on the way out of the ring. Because she really is The Best Horse Ever. And as if to show that, we ended up SECOND in the over fences stake! I almost fell off when they announced that, and we trotted in for our ribbon.
I could not have been prouder or happier with Cally than I was on Friday, so she got two very well deserved days off, while I hung out with family, and volunteered at the Ride For Life to get my year-end qualifier hours.
Today, we had a great jump lesson where we got to play with some long approaches, and Cally felt fantastic and very happy to be jumping in a lesson after feeling a little let down by dressage last week. She’s going to have a chiro session this week to make sure she’s feeling her best after so much sidesaddle work lately, and then Holly and I chatted about plans for the rest of the summer.
It’s getting hot and she’s been working pretty hard all spring, in spite of just coming off a layup, so I think we’re going to ease up a bit for July, and concentrate on working at home and getting her a little stronger and fitter. Now that the horses are on night turnout, it’s easier to get more outside fieldwork time in, so I’m going to up our intensity there a little, and hopefully pick up a few additional lessons next month, as the heat and humidity cooperate. We’re already entered to do Canter For The Cause at Pimlico mid-month, which is a fun thing rather than a show, and two of us are going to go do it sidesaddle on Hitch and Cally! Then we’ll do Rose Mount aside at the end of the month, and if there is something local with jumpers we may go do that one day, but nothing for the next two weeks. In August, we’ll aim for one of the Culpepers, just going down on a Sunday and pick up an eq division, do jumpers at one of the BEST shows, and possibly one more dressage show since there are a few very close by. Looks like our summer plans should also allow plenty of time on the water, in addition to riding time, which makes for a nice balance.