I signed up for the first PVDA show of the season once I figured out to how to edit our freestyle music. It was being held at our old barn, so I looking forward to having friends around to laugh with me rather than at me if we had some bobbles working through the dressage-to-music thing. But Cally was so wonderfully perfect in our lesson on Wednesday, jumping everything easily and feeling super relaxed and like she was totally back on her game, I asked Holly if she thought we’d be OK to go do some little jumpers at BEST on Saturday. She said she thought that would be great, so I did a quick entry for the 2’6″ OTTB jumpers.
Naturally, after a perfect week of weather, it poured down rain Friday night and was looking ominous again on Saturday morning, kind of misty and drizzly. Fortunately jumpers go in the covered ring, so other than tacking up and warming up, we were under shelter. Cally was nice and quiet in warmup, did about 3 fences really nice and easy, and then we headed over to the show ring. They had open-carded all the 2’6 divisions, and we had gotten lucky and gotten in 3rd in the order. I watched the last couple 2’3 rounds finish up, which was very helpful from a course memorization perspective, though not so much from a horsemanship perspective.
Our goal for the day was not, as some obviously were doing, going for the win. The goal was to go in and have a couple of steady, rideable, equitation-ish trips around. The courses were actually perfect for that, since there were nice bending lines and a lot of options for inside or outside turns. Too many outside turns and you’d end up with time faults, but I wasn’t worried about that, and made a plan to do the outside turns the first round, unless she was being perfect, then do the last turn inside.
First three fences were great, a single oxer to a bending line, then Cally got a little confused where we were going when I asked her to make the outside turn and few in a few extra lead changes until we got sorted out around the corner, meaning we were a little discombobulated getting into the triple line. First fence was OK, but I picked where I should have legged, and we ended up at a half-stride to the middle fence and we pulled a rail there, then seemed to get back on track from there to get nicely down the big gallopy diagonal line, and come back politely to make the inside turn to the final fence. Not our best round, but she was listening, and I was happy with that.
Second round, I watched the two rides before me pull the rail at the first fence on course, so I was determined not to do that. We had a great distance there, and did the inside turn to the outside triple line, much better this time than the first. I was a little worried she’d look at the final fence of the Power phase, a white skinny off a bending line, but she didn’t bat an eye, and happily made the inside turn after to start the Speed phase, where naturally we pulled the first rail. I think because it was a fence you were jumping basically directly into another fence you had to decide if you were going inside or outside of to make the turn, so the horses were busy looking at that other fence, and not at what they were jumping. But she finished out the speed phase very tidily, did all of the inside turns neatly, and basically put in exactly the trip I wanted from her. Lots of pats, and I hopped off and we headed back to the trailer. She was untacked and back in the trailer munching hay before the rain started doing much, so that was good. Not so good was waiting around for another hour and a half for the 2’6 divisions to all finish up so they could pin the classes. I seriously should have taken Cally home and come back later to find out where I finished, or asked Holly to get the ribbons the next day when Liz was showing.
We ended up finishing 6th and 4th for our trips, which wasn’t bad, especially considering that I had rails and we weren’t trying to win, just to have tidy trips. Very pleased with that, and I think we’ll be back to do more OTTB jumpers there, as it’s good for us and pretty fun, other than the waiting around.
It wasn’t very nice weather til we got back home, so Cally just got tucked in her stall with some hay, and hopefully had a nice nap to rest up for the next day’s adventures. I swapped out our jumper gear for sidesaddle tack, and headed home to get some rest myself.
I got out to the barn early on Sunday, since someone was coming to look at my old trailer I have up for sale, and ended up having a bit of extra time to kill before we had to load up, so I tossed a few quick dressage braids in Cally’s mane, figuring that it wouldn’t take much time and make her look extra fancy and sidesaddle proper. Then we headed over to Southwind, aiming to get there during the lunch break so we could do a quick soundcheck. Easy drive in what was turning out to be a beautiful day, not the rain that had been threatened in the early forecast. Parked, checked in, and got to chat with old friends as we waited around.
Cally was a little curious as we unloaded, as she obviously recognized somewhere she spent almost 8 years living. But she seemed to go with the flow, and was very chill as we got ready and dressed. I was both excited and nervous, but she felt good in warmup, with some nice perfect forward trot and a nice canter with a few 15 meter circles thrown in for good measure. I was feeling pretty confident at that point, and we had once nice last bit of trot as we got to trot around inside the arena before our test started. I went out to A, gave a little wave, the music started, and we did a circle and headed down the centerline. We halted at X pretty well in time with our music, then as I’m getting ready to salute, I see Cally’s head go up and sort of cock to one side, then there’s a huge ruckus, and a little white horse comes galloping down from the trailers, past the end of the warmup area of the ring, and at least is dumb enough to go into one of the fields. Horse still had a saddle on, and a bridle that was partially wrapped around his neck and didn’t last long, as he went galloping around. I just sort of looked up to the judge and was like, what do I do now? Obviously, that would be a do-over.
We waited around for a good 20 minutes while they attempted to catch this horse, it galloping around and not having any of it. Finally someone came over and asked if I was OK going on in to show, since the horse was at least contained. I said sure, showed Susan how to operate the music for me, and headed back down to the end of the ring. I could tell Cally was cranky from all the waiting around, and when she gets overcooked in warmup, just doesn’t really go well in the test. A few extra minutes to re-warmup would have just made it worse, I think, so we went right in and went for it. It wasn’t perfect, as she was fussy and a bit unfocused, and I think I was a bit unfocused, too. But we got through it in a fairly workmanlike fashion, and have our first musical freestyle under our girths!
The judge specifically said she liked our trot music, so big thanks go to WBBF, who suggested the second trot music. She also said she wasn’t sure whether our stretchy circle was stretchy or just a circle, since that is not Cally’s strong point, and was extra not then since she wasn’t feeling it. So I think I’m going to revise our choreography a bit and put the regular circle first and the stretchy second. But the judge also said she was “worth her weight in gold” for how good she was when the horse got loose, which is absolutely true, and probably the best compliment anyone could ask for.
Since we were the only ones doing a freestyle, we ended up 1st, even with a 60.7%. I’m taking that as a ribbon for excellent behavior in the face of adversity, though, because sometimes that’s even more important than having a 10 mover or a cracking jumper. As silly as she can be sometimes, when it counts, she’s got a good brain, and that’s something that far too often doesn’t get rewarded.
As we were coming back out of the ring, we had several people come up and ask about the sidesaddle thing, how it worked, how I managed to sit up there, and the like. So I did a little mini-lesson for them on how the saddle worked, how you’re balanced up there, how you dismount, how the apron is designed, and it was pretty fun to be able to explain that to people who’d never seen a sidesaddle in person before. They were all pretty shocked at how flat the seat was, and how I managed to trot around in it–I explained that the trotting was the hard part, it’s so much nicer to canter! In a year and a half, I’ve gone from a novice to someone who can share knowledge with others, and that was a really great feeling, too.