I also have professional photos from the show as a reward for reading my drivel.
So, now that our first A show is in the books- what is the next step? What take-aways do I have from the show?
Horse shows are SO DIFFERENT from schooling at home. Although I am well aware of this, it has been awhile since I experienced it. The ‘horse show ride’ is really different then the schooling ride, at least right now for Rio and I. At home, we spend a lot of time working on making his canter step smaller, and asking him to rock back and jump off his haunches. MM even sets lines a few feet short on purpose (shes so mean!), encouraging a more compact step. This is necessary for a horse like Rio because his go-to is a really longgggggg stride. But, it was also hard for me to switch gears at the show. I actually had to let him flow really forward, and think less about holding him on a smaller step. Therefore, my riding at the show had to change pretty abruptly to the ‘horse show ride’.
I did notice that at the start of the show, we had no problem with the step in the lines. I even added a stride in my first round! Rio felt really balanced in the lines, and could give a really pretty jump, off of his haunches. By Saturday though, after 3 days of the more forward horse show ride, he didn’t feel nearly as adjustable, and he was EATING up the lines and basically chipping on the out. In summary, that forward, flowing ride may feel good at the show, but only because of what we practice at home. I’m excited to get back to work on improving his canter and continuing to work on adjustability after seeing firsthand what a difference it makes in the show ring.
On a lighter note, aren’t pro photos from shows just the darndest double edge sword sometimes? Sometimes I LOVE my Eq, but it’s an awkward photo of Rio. Or…. I LOVE Rio, but I am doing something really dumb. See exhibit A below:
Yup, there is Rio looking as CUTE AS CAN BE. Like, I MUST buy that photo right??? Too bad I look like a total doofus:
Yup. THOSE HANDS. I want to go back in time and slap myself for that jump and those weird floaty hands. Thankfully, I have a pretty good sense of humor, and I still bought the photo. I openly admit to being far from perfect, and Rio looks too dang cute not to share! Feel free to giggle at my expense though!
And just in case you guys were wondering if Rio was athletic or not, I got this little gem of Rio and MM attacking an oxer.
If the hunters doesn’t work out, I’m pretty sure Rio would love the jumper ring as well! His expression is too dang cute! I can imagine him thinking, “Don’t worry! I got this! Hold on!”
So what about you guys? Do you come home from shows with conformation that your homework is on the right track? Love/hate pro photos sometimes? Do you buy even the imperfect ones?
If you haven’t yet- read Part 1 to get caught up on the Waco horse show recap!
Wednesday and Thursday of the show Rio and I did the 3′ Green division. Technically, this division is only supposed to be open to 3′ Green horses, which you can show at for 2 years before you are forced to move up to the 3’3 Greens. You can then show in the 3’3 Greens 2 more years before you have to move up to the 3’6 Greens. Well Rio is of course in his first year of showing, so we can do the 3′ Greens. It would be nice to only compete against other 3′ greens, but their wasn’t enough entrants so the show had to combine the 3′ and 3’3 Greens. This means that some of the horses Rio showed against could technically be in their 4th year of showing, and thus much, much more experienced. The Green divisions are also open to professionals, which is typically who competes in it.
Knowing all this going in- I wasn’t holding my breath for any ribbons. Their were 10 total in the division, and I watched many GORGEOUS rounds layed down by some well known hunter pros. Although I was VERY PROUD of our rounds, none of them were perfect. I didn’t place in a few, and got a couple of 8ths and a 7th. He was super in the under saddle, but broke gait twice (from the canter to the trot). His canter is still not as adjustable as it needs to be, and with that many horses in a ring filled with jumps, we struggled a bit when things got tight.
On Friday and Saturday, we competed in the Adult Amateurs aged 18-35 yrs. Usually not the most competitive division, we actually had a somewhat large field of 11, with some super nice horses and riders. I was really impressed at the quality of riding. I went in the ring Friday ready to totally kill it, and… meh. Rio was realllyyyy looky at the decorative brush along the far end of the ring (which he never peaked at on Wednesday or Thursday, but I didn’t walk him in ring Friday morning, so maybe that was the difference). That kinda threw me off my game a bit, and made the distances to the lines difficult. You really needed to use all the space in the ring for the lines to ride well, and Rio was convinced a monster was going to jump out of the brush and eat him.
I got a bit down on myself after my rides Friday. I expected us to keep getting better each day, but as we all know, it doesn’t always work that way. I need to remind myself that it was still our first show, and mistakes would still happen, and to cut Rio and I some slack. I wasn’t upset with him at all, just disappointed in myself. It is hard being a perfectionist sometimes! There were still good parts in every round, but also some kind of big mistake (bad distance, missed lead etc). We didn’t place in either of our rounds Friday. I knew we could do better, and was resolved to ride smarter on Saturday.
Saturday started with our Adult Amateur U/S round. With 11 horses in the ring, it was pretty crowded again. Unfortunately, I tried to pull him to the inside a bit tight in one of the turns to avoid some traffic and didn’t support him with my leg and he broke to the trot for a few steps. I was bummed to have blown the class, as I’d have liked to see how he placed with a good showing. We pinned 8th- so either the judge didn’t see us break and didn’t particularly think he moves that nice, or he did see it and still pinned us above 3 other horses. I like to think it’s the later ;). I know that we still have a bit to work on in our under saddles, so I look forward to trying again at future shows.
The next class was the Adult Eq on the flat, and it was a small class of only 4 entries. I was determined to pull a blue in this one, as I usually do well in Eq classes. We were putting in a pretty good showing, and I was feeling confident, as we cantered down the rail on the long side and Rio did a flying change to the outside lead. I was like “…what?!?” and kind of just sat there for 6-7 more strides when they finally called for a walk. So unclear why that happened, but oh well! We pinned 2nd so I was excited regardless!
I started my O/F rounds on Saturday with the Eq O/F, which was actually a pretty fun little course. Not perfect at all, but I was super pleased with it. We got a bit deep to a few, and reallllll deep to the 2 stride, but I kept riding and I didn’t phase Rio. Mostly I was happy that I was finally starting to relax in the ring, sit up when I saw the close spot coming, and not panic at awkward distances. We pinned 2nd in the O/F too!
My last 2 courses were the remaining O/F rounds for my Adult Amateur division. Overall, they were better then the day before. Had some trouble with jumping big into the lines and then totally eating up the distance, making for not the prettiest jump out. But, they were smoother, and the errors were less obvious. We also got all the lead changes, and I felt like I used the arena better. The judge must have agreed, because we pinned a 5th in our first round, and a 7th in the 2nd round. I am actually super pumped with those ribbons- because we DID have mistakes! Makes me feel that with a smoother round we really would have been in the running for the top ribbons in a competitive field. I felt really good about our rounds, mistakes and all!
On Sunday there wasn’t much to do, but I decided that I wanted MM to take him in a warm-up. Rio didn’t seem too tired, and I wanted one more positive experience, ending with lots of praise for him. I also felt that it might be good to have MM go in an work on some of the things I was struggling with. I sometimes “take take take” when I don’t see a distance and end up coming in really deep. During one of my trips, I saw longer spot at the last minute, and cued for it, but Rio and I weren’t quite on the same page and he chipped bad and we knocked the rail. I also let him get a bit quick in the canter at times, and too short with my reins, trying to micro-manage every step.
MM worked on getting him in a better rhythm in the canter, setting him up, and then just letting him find the spot on his own. You’ll see in the video that he had no problem taking the longer spot with her, and that he finished the outside line jumping the crap out of the fences. I was so pleased to see him going around so confidently, and felt like it was the perfect end to the show. They even placed 5th!
So that’s a wrap for his first A show! Rio couldn’t have handled it better. I didn’t lunge him once, and he was as calm as could be, all week. He actually seemed to thrive on horse show life, and definitely loved all the attention and treats. Between rounds he would just hang out at the in-gate, totally calm and relaxed, and go right back in and do his thing when our turn came. Might be stuff people with experienced show horses take for granted, but I was totally thrilled with how well he handled everything. I seriously can’t wait to do it all again!!
Guys. I don’t even know where to start. When I bought Rio he was a gangly 5 yr old. I couldn’t get him to pick up his right lead when I tried him. He didn’t have a canter, it was basically a hand gallop or a trot. A 30 m circle was a crazy hard challenge for us. To my knowledge, he had previously done some cavelettis, but no formal jump training. His seller was very upfront with me that she didn’t know if he’d be much of a jumper. He was pretty uncoordinated at that time, so I can definitely see why she had that impression! I purchased him knowing that he may not have an aptitude for jumping, and that that was ok. If that wasn’t his calling, we might do some dressage.
17 months later, 8 of those spent on stall rest/no riding at all, and Rio and I made it to our first A show. We showed in the 3′ Greens, the Adult Amateurs, and the Adult Equitation (also at 3′). I seriously kind of can’t believe we made it to this point. We ACTUALLY made it an A show, and guess what? Rio fit right in. You would never have known that it was his first real show. Did we make mistakes? Lots. But did we stick out like a sore thumb, or look out of place? Not at all. Turns out, Rio is the perfect show pony, and soaked in the whole atmosphere.
Great news! Hunky Hanoverian’s amazing guest blogger Joanne is back with an awesome tutorial- and just in time for Christmas! She’s really outdone herself this time with a totally adorable equestrian themed necked hanger, the perfect DIY gift for barn mates and trainers alike. See below for step by step instructions!
By: Joanne Scott
Shopping for barn friends is one of the hardest Christmas tasks. It’s like that Little Mermaid song…
Looking around here you think
Sure, she’s got everything (from Dover Saddlery)
I’ve got gadgets (clippers) and gizmos a-plenty (double-ended snaps)
I’ve got whozits (polo wraps) and whatzits (lead ropes) galore
I’m bored at work on a Saturday- so I thought I would go over my shows goals and packing list. I’m always curious what other people’s pre-show prep is, so now I am sharing mine!
Do not freak out on long approaches to oxers. If distance isn’t perfect, don’t sweat it. Recover, and keep riding.
Prepare for the changes and ask for them in an organized manner.
Ya, I don’t have too many goals lol! Honestly, if I get around every course I will be happy. I expect us to make plenty of errors, but I also hope we can learn from them, and do better in the next round. I feel prepared going into the show- just not show ring polished. This is also Rio’s first A show, and 3rd show ever- so I’m keeping my expectations very low ribbon-wise. Many of the horses we will show against will be seasoned competitors that have done this countless times, so I’m going to try really hard not to compare myself to them. I really want to focus on the FUN aspect- and enjoy the fact that after numerous setbacks, we finally made it! We are going to be out there, doing what I’ve been dreaming of doing.
If the changes don’t all happen- that’s ok. If every distance isn’t perfect, that’s ok. We are not perfect at home, so I certainly can’t expect us to be perfect in a high-anxiety show situation. Mostly, I don’t want to let Rio down. I want to give him good rides, and be fair to him. Hopefully, we end the show with a respectable round or two, but if not, we will have plenty to build on for the next time!
I am most excited about spending 5 days with my horse and my friends, doing what we love! No matter how the results end up, I full expect us to have an amazing time.
My trunk (which has most of my crap in it thankfully)
Saddle (can’t forget this one)
Boots (both brown and black pairs)
Show coats (bring my navy AA Motionlite one and my green RJ Classics)
Show shirts (all 5…6? of them)
Show breeches (boring tans for dayssss)
Show helmet (must not forget this one or else I’ll be showing in my brown Sammy)
Shaped fleece hunter pads
Braiding supplies including light & stepstool
Sleezy (must find it and potentially fix any holes)
Boot polish kit
Sweaters/vests/jackets (Low in the 30’s and highs in the 50’s which is muy frio for Texas lately lol!)
Ear warmers/baseball hats
Snacks (I always make a Sam’s Club run before shows)
So what about you guys? Do you obsess like this before shows? I am honestly anxious just thinking about the show LOL. I will feel so much better once I get there and school in the actual show arena, over the actual jumps. I’ve been flatting all week (Since MM is already at the show with the rest of the barn for week 1), and Rio has been great! But, it’s hard to not be jumping, because I still feel like there is so much we need to work on. It’s kind of like the night before a big test, where all you really want to do is cram, cram, cram and pull an all-nighter, but you just have to accept that you are as prepared as you can be, and that it is more beneficial to get a good nights sleep then continue studying. That is how I feel, no joke!
I mentioned in my previous posts that I am on a saddle quest. This quest involves finding a saddle that fits my darling Rio, and that I feel comfortable and balanced in as well. I currently have a 17.5 inch 2010 Antares 3AA flap (long and forward) with a 4.5 in tree and pretty standard panels from what I can tell. It is a great saddle- I actually really love it. I feel very secure in the half deep seat, and it has served me well these past 2.5 years that I’ve owned it. But alas, it is not a great fit for Rio, it’s a tiny bit too wide through the front panels/behind the shoulder area and too low in the cantle, I would definitely prefer more spine clearance and not to NEED a half pad. The flap is also not long enough for me, and the forwardness of it combined with the slightly deeper seat means I have to fight to maintain a consistent 2 point at the canter. Would be great for a horse with less withers and a broad shoulder, and a rider with slightly less leg who prefers a more secure seat.
Why buy new?
I am pretty sure I could be quoted at one time saying, “I don’t know why anyone would buy a new saddle. You can find lightly used ones for a fraction of the cost, it just doesn’t make sense.”
Well… after looking at used saddles for about 2 months, I now know why people buy new. I have freakish long legs, and a huge horse but not your typical warmblood build (prominent withers, slab sided, not very wide). Finding the combo of these things in one saddle was just NOT happening. I finally realized that if I ever wanted the find a saddle I’d have to consider going custom.
I have been served well by French saddles, so I considered what I know about the various brands and picked out a few to demo: Voltaire, CWD, and Butet. I set up demos over a week and tried them all. Are non-French saddles just as good? Probably. I am not familiar with them and neither is my trainer. I felt more comfortable going with the “known” versus spending a lot of time and energy with the unknown. That said, if none of the knowns worked for Rio, of course I would venture out. He isn’t THAT hard to fit though, so I didn’t think that would be necessary. I also know that French saddles have very good re-sale value, which is comforting when you are spending an arm and a leg on one. I’d hate to buy a custom from a lesser known to the H/J world brand, and it not work out after a time and it not have any resell value.
So… who is the winner?
Drum roll please!
Voltaire for the win! IMO, the Palm Beach was a perfect fit for me, and with a little customization, will work great for Rio. They have a wide open channel with a lot of room for the spine, which I love. He felt awesome and so relaxed in it, and my balance was wayyy better. I also loved the close feeling with the horse, it wasn’t as bulky under my leg compared to other brands. I struggled to decide what leather option to go with, and after discussing each at length, I decided on the full calfskin option. Once it gets here (late February) I’ll have 3 months to test it out to see if it needs any further adjustments. There is also a tree warranty of (correction) 10 years, and a leather warranty for 2 years.
Huge thanks to Brittany (TX sales rep) and Bertrand, who is the sales manager for the US and has been with Voltaire since the company was founded. They were an absolute pleasure to work with, and I feel very confident that they will do everything possible to make sure Rio and I love our new saddle!
Can’t wait to try it out when it arrives in 12 weeks!
I know some of you are curious to know what saddle I decided on (I demoed Voltaire, CWD, and Butet over the past week), but I’m not quiteeee ready to announce the winner yet- because I haven’t 100% committed to any yet! Expect the big reveal by the end of the week though. Other then trying saddles, Rio and I had a bit of a jumping boot camp these past 4 days (Friday-Monday) to prep for the show. Trainer MM left with some of the horses this morning for the first week of the Waco show, so Rio and I will be only flatting until the show starts for us next week. We definitely made the most of our last schooling weekend though, and had some really great lessons. I actually have a ton to write about- sorry I was MIA for awhile there!
First off- MM, Amazing Vet, and I have been racking our brains trying to figure out the best long term solution to protecting Rio’s left hind. Although it is basically healed, Rio still interferes and can sometimes open up the skin a bit. We tried covering it with a bell boot- but that just rubs it. I cut a polo wrap in half (so it wasn’t so long) and was wrapping the area with that, but it isn’t great protection and comes undone sometimes. Pastern wraps were an idea, but the area is a bit too low and the wraps not wide enough to cover it.
Rio and I have 2 weeks until our first A show in Waco, Tx. I am SOEXCITED and mildly terrified at the same time. Our last show was in April, and we showed in the 2’6 and it was Meh. Like some ok moments (good for us at the time!) but so much has changed since then. A) he has a ton of time off between now and then from the spider bite incident and from the splint bone surgery, and B) we have basically totally changed the way he canters, although it’s still a work in progress.
I have some super exciting news for all my readers! I want to introduce you to my first guest blogger, who will be a regular feature on HunkyHanoverian. Joanne is a DIY queen, who will be sharing a new horse-related DIY project with us once a month, including required materials and instructions for making your own. She has tons of great content lined up for you guys, so be sure to check in often to learn how to do some awesome and inepensive DIY projects. Enjoy!!!
By: Joanne Scott
Hey y’all! I’m so excited to be sharing my DIY trunk improvement project with you today. I am a 30-something DQ-wannabe who grew up riding hunters. I have a passion for improving or redoing things, from tack trunks to home improvement projects, and everything in between!
My hunter heart jumped for joy when a Warner’s tack trunk randomly popped up on my Facebook feed – great neutral colors – my exact monogram – and a price tag of only $85! My ever-loving, DIY partner-in-crime husband humored me and drove three hours south to pick this bad boy up. Sure, it was in rough shape, but all the bones were good and it was love at first sight.
Since I have this hoarding DIY mentality, I had all of my materials on hand:
Black and Decker “Mouse” hand-held sander with 80 grit sandpaper. Mine is similar to this.
The trunk’s issues included numerous Koppertox stains, chewed side trim pieces, a tray with some rock hard residue built in (fixed mysteriously by my dad aka Mr. Wizard!), and years of dust and grime.
I started by sanding the front trim pieces down to the bare wood. The front bottom trim had knicks, gashes, some random paint and marker stains… I also sanded off any area that had been chewed on to restore the trim piece to one smooth layer.
To use traditional liquid stain, found at any home improvement store, you need to start with bare wood that’s been opened up with pre-sealing condition. I quickly changed courses after I saw how long just one trim piece took. Gel stain is new magic in my DIY book – it doesn’t require bare wood and in most cases can go on a sealed piece of wood with just a light scuffing of sandpaper. DONE! I hit the remaining pieces of trim with my Mouse sander to rough up the surface and then wiped off all pieces with a wet rag.
I initially stained the interior of the trunk a lighter stain color but wasn’t thrilled with the results and had several friends chiming in that a darker color would enhance the trunk, as well as cover the Koppertox stains.
Luckily, my latest project (a king-sized sleigh bed redo) had left some General Finishes gel stain in “Georgian Cherry” and there was plenty left for this trunk. Please – try not to be intimidated by these glamourous photos of my workshop! Anyone with a garage that fits zero cars can do this project!
I used painter’s tape to tape off any metal pieces that were close to the wood so I wouldn’t accidentally hit it with stain. I’m 100% not into prep but this was a life saver.
Before you start staining – make sure you have gloves on! In retrospect, I would try to find some kitchen type gloves that come further up the arm, but I used blue surgical gloves purchased from Costco.
Stir the gel gently with a paint stick – you never want to shake stain like you do with paint because it bubbles! Once stirred, dip your gloved hand with a rag into the container and get a glob onto the rag. Use the rag to make long horizontal strokes, covering the piece with stain. The longer, fewer strokes you make – the better your finish will be. Immediately wipe off any excess with a separate clean rag.
Allow your stain to dry overnight. It will look kind of splotchy – don’t panic! Come back on day 2 with another round of staining in long, horizontal strokes. You’ll notice the stain evening out with just enough grain showing through. Remove painter’s tape after your last coat of stain has been applied.
On day 3, utilize the same gloved-hand, rag method to apply the wipe on polyurethane in the same long, even strokes you used for applying the gel. I recommend a minimum of two coats of poly; this adds an extra layer of protection. The can of poly will advise on the wait time between coats, but I just wait until the next day.
Finally, your trunk is ready for its new life! But wait… you hit some areas with stain and are freaking out that your hard work is now RUINED. Never fear – grab a cotton ball with some acetone and use it to remove any stain from the metal pieces. This method also works if your glove rips mid-work and your hand is covered in stain. Not that I would know…
To clean up the vinyl, I used a water-soaked generic Magic Eraser and lots and lots of elbow grease. The dirt really was ground into this one, but scrubbing picked most of the discoloration up! I wasn’t too worried either – it was going into a darkish corner of our barn, where new dirt would accumulate.
I hope this tutorial will help you next time you find a diamond-in-the-rough tack trunk! With a little time and effort, you can have a trunk that will be the envy of your barn friends and at a price that can’t be beat!