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She's Not a Baby Anymore!

Early spring saw some immediate changes in how Ellie carried herself and our dressage work started to truly improve.  There had been times last year where flat work felt like a fight and I wondered to myself if she was ever going to just relax and listen to me haha.

Thankfully, as the title suggests, Ellie has suddenly grown up in front of my eyes.  We have had some really stellar lessons lately, where I feel like I am suddenly able to make things click.  We also had an incredibly frustrating dressage lesson a few weeks ago where Ellie was in rip-roaring peeing heat (not normal for her) and we worked through 45 minutes of her refusing to bend right.  So, ya know, as much as she is improving, she is still an opinionated redheaded mare!  ;-)

But, I have to give her credit because she is really working her little butt off for me!  Sadly, I had not been able to schedule in a jump lesson before our first three-phase, which led to me riding her ridiculously backward at a slow trot the entire …

Ellie's First Horse Show - NEJA Halloween Jumper Fun Show, October 28, 2017

As the type of person to embrace a good opportunity when I see one, I took Ellie to her first horse show last Saturday.  Put on by the New England Jumper Association, it was held at the Kennebec Morgan Farm.  Since we had just had a great outing there for the fall trail ride, I knew that it would be a confidence building show for Ellie.  She is comfortable at the farm (obviously), it gave her another reason to ride in the trailer, and it gave us a low-key environment for her "first show".  

Of course, jumper shows are not really my thing, but they do provide perfect practice for jumping at events.  I put zero pressure on myself at shows like this and it was exactly the right way to show Ellie.  Now at least in the spring when we try our hand at a dressage test, I don't need to mentally get caught up in "omg this is her first show and we all need to be nervous" or some such craziness haha.  Instead, we now have off-farm experiences to draw from.

I entered her in walk/trot equitation, walk/trot pleasure, and the ground pole "jumping" class.  Apparently these are not popular classes, so we only had one rider with us in equitation, and we were alone in pleasure and ground poles.  Could I have jumped her over the 18" jumps in the next division?  Sure, I am willing to bet I could have stuffed her around, but I haven't even jumped her here at home yet, so to me, ground poles felt super doable and realistic.  Once we have more dressage under our belt (read: straightness), then I will introduce a little jumping and NEXT year we will totally rock the 18" cross rail divisions!  ;-)

Once I got ready and tacked her up, I figured I better be safe and stick her on the longe line just in case.  There was a lot of commotion in the barn yard and Ellie was definitely a little wired.  As soon as we got to the warm up ring and I began to longe her, I realized she was FINE and it was probably a bit of overkill.  This is a good place to be, as I have also stopped longing her at home before I ride.  We went in each direction walk/trot for maybe five minutes total, and then I opted to bring her back to the trailer to put my longe line away and wipe off my now muddy boots.  (Showing alone sucks, but whatever! LOL)

However, I then realized that I hadn't walked my ground poles course, and it was the full course of ten fences (same as all the other classes).  Well shit.  I actually had to memorize a course hahaha.  I totally should've done that before I unloaded her, so I don't know what I was thinking.  Clearly, I wasn't.  Leave it to me to bring a greenie to her first show all by myself (but honestly, it's not as though there is anyone to help anyway LOL).  

Thankfully, I was allowed to walk Ellie around the show course on foot and the jumps were numbered, so while I was careful not to allow her to step over any fences, I was able to walk/memorize my course and give her a chance to see the fences.  They were all brightly colored with decorative wings, so each one was definitely something to look at.  There was one skinny, which I figured we could always walk if Ellie was nervous.  The courses were timed, since it is a jumper show, but I didn't care how long it took us to complete the course; I planned to trot the entire thing and walk if needed.

There was one other horse in the warm up when we returned, and Ellie was totally fine to walk and trot around.  I was so pleased with her!  I then started to wonder what time it was (the show started at 9AM with a bareback class first, then my two little WT classes).  I hadn't seen anyone riding around without a saddle, so I wondered if the bareback class had any entries and maybe I would be first.  I assumed the hunter under saddle courses would be held in the main ring with the jumps, but then I overheard someone say something about the indoor.  Well shit again LOL!  Thankfully, the farm barnyard area is small, so it wasn't as though I had far to walk.  Ellie and I toodled over towards the indoor, I found the show manager and asked where the classes would be held, and she verified they would be in the indoor and that, yes indeed, my class would be first for lack on entries in the bareback class. Whew ok! I don't think they would have started without me, but I didn't want to be cruising around the outdoor warm up and have to rush over to the indoor.  This is why small schooling shows are great, because everyone is laid back.  

The show manager told me the judge would be down to the indoor soon and I was welcome to warm  up in the indoor.  Ellie was totally fine with the indoor, of course, though she could see her old field and herd out the back door at C, so she stared like a llama through the entire short side of the ring haha.  No big deal.  She was well mannered and had only screamed when we first arrived, so if the worst thing she did was stare and refuse to bend because of it, well, I wasn't too worried.

The only other rider in my equitation class was a young girl at her first show on a clearly older and sweet horse.  We chatted a little and she was so nervous!  I told her not to be worried, and she asked if it was my first show, too.  I told her it wasn't my first show but my horse's first show.  Her eyes widened and she said, "YOUR'E NOT NERVOUS?"  I laughed and said no.  The judge arrived and had us trot, change direction through the walk, and then trot again before lining up.  We maybe trotted around the ring 1.5 times in each direction, so the class was quick.  I ended up placing first (yay for Ellie's first ribbon being blue and the fact we did have competition!), and I figured we would go right into the pleasure class.  We did, but the young girl left (I guess she signed up for the WT equitation class and the WTC pleasure class LOL which I didn't think you could do at the same show on the same horse, but whatever!)  I am sure she would've beaten us in pleasure, not because Ellie was being naughty, but because her horse was definitely more the pleasure type!  ;-)  So, the judge sent just Ellie and I out for the WT pleasure, and I was so happy that despite the other horse leaving the ring, Ellie just trotted around again for me without any issue.  Of course, we won the class. 
First show, first ribbon!
We had to wait for the WTC equitation and pleasure classes to go before they started in the outside jump ring, and my ground poles class was first out there.  I opted to go back to the warm up ring, since there were now four horses over there.  Ellie was totally fine to ride around with other horses, and I even asked her to canter in both directions.  I couldn't have asked for a better horse!  

It wasn't long before the judge returned to the main ring and they were ready for us to do ground poles.  I wondered how Ellie would react to the timer buzzer, but she was fine, and I circled her out around the long side of the ring to go over fence one.  Ellie didn't look twice at any of the fences and she sailed around over the course, even offering to baby jump a few of the ground poles and cantering after a few of them.  She wasn't leaping them, but definitely understood what we were doing.  She simply trotted half of the fences like she normally does here at home over ground poles.  I thought for sure she would be spooked by the standards/fences, but she was totally fine.

After our round, the photographer asked us to do a few more, since he had yet to change his camera settings from the indoor to the outside.  LOL no problem!  We did a line of three more fences (5 a/b and 6) and then left the ring.  We were the only ones in our class, so we did earned another blue for our effort!  It wasn't exactly a speedy round haha because we mostly trotted, but my goal was just to get her around the course without any hesitation or nervousness!  I would say we met our goal! 
She was so happy!

"Jumping" the skinny hahaha



Hahaha I still can't believe we did "ground poles" but it was perfect for her first outing!


Ellie was absolutely perfect and I could not have asked for a better first horse show for her!  We were at the show for three hours from 8-11AM, though it took a combined four hours of driving time haha.  It was well worth it though!


Comments

  1. Aww I love this - what a perfect first show outing for Ellie!! Too bad that farm isn't closer to home!

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    1. I know! Not that 2 hours is THAT far, but man, just far enough to be a slight pain (when having to leave at 6am, for example haha)

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  2. This is absolutely perfect. What a great way to introduce her to what you want from her with no pressure. Congrats on the blue ribbons. I don't care if you were the only one in two of the classes- you earned those! I also show by myself so I get what you mean.

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    1. Thank you! It was totally the perfect first show for her! They have another in December, but ugggg who wants to show in December LOL!

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  3. she looks GREAT and so do you. I am so excited! What a great first show for her, low key and easy going.> PERFECTION! ANd satin too :) YAY! It looks like it was a pretty day there too!! Congrats!

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    1. Thank you! Isn't she the cutest! I just love her and am so excited for all the fun things in our future! Sometimes I still cannot believe she is mine!!
      And yes, satin is always fun! ;-)

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    2. love your hunt shirt under your coat too. Love that blue !)

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