Fall Fun Horse Show Recap

Sorry this recap is a bit late to the party- I was waiting to get video from my amazing barn mate! Last weekend Rio and I headed to Texas Rose Horse Park for our first show in several months. As it tends to do at these shows, it poured rain on Friday from about 10:30-3pm. Due to the heavy rain, the rest of the classes were cancelled on Friday. Thankfully it was a smaller show, so the show management decided to just run the entire division for those cancelled on the next day, versus having a few classes one day and a few the next as we typically do. Plenty of A shows in the NE run a whole division on a single day, so it’s not exactly unheard of.

Photo by Audrey Keneda

The adult amateurs were first thing Saturday morning, which I love. I prefer to get it out of the way so I can relax and enjoy the rest of the day without being nervous. The weather was STUNNING, sunny and in the high 50s in the morning. Rio warmed up GREAT. Probably the most relaxed and smoothest warm-up we had done. We jumped maybe 5 fences and called it good. Going into the ring i briefly thought, “Wow I’m not actually that nervous. This is so cool!”

I felt really good about our canter as approach the first fence, and almost shockingly, it showed up perfectly out of stride. We landed the incorrect lead, but I asked and Rio promptly gave me a smooth change. I didn’t have time to dwell on it though, and I focused on my track to the outside 5 stride. His canter felt super balanced and light, and the distance appeared easily. A tiny whoa 2-3 stride in and Rio rocked back perfectly for the out oxer. Usually at this point I started thinking things like, “Wow this is going well, don’t mess it up!” but instead I was in a weird zen where I just focused on relaxing and allowing the canter to flow. I stayed calm for the long approach to the oxer and Rio totally nailed it. I could just TELL he was jumping a 10.

Photo by Jerry Mohme

Next up was the bending line, which most people had been riding in 9 strides, but you could do any striding you wanted. I didn’t think too much about the numbers and just concentrated on our canter. The 8 showed up spectacularly, with Rio giving a gorgeous effort. Only thing left was the 2 stride, and again it showed up nicely out of stride. We landed the wrong lead but again, Rio stepped into the change for me. I was on freaking Cloud 9 walking out of the ring. We have had some good rounds in the past, but there was usually at least something small I would have changed. I would not have changed ANYTHING about this round. The entire thing flowed easily. I had FUN and felt confident the whole ride. Rio maintained a balanced canter the whole time. I finally feel like I got a taste of what a great round is supposed to feel like, and I loved it.

Our next round wasn’t as smooth; I got hung up on wanting to do 9 in the bending (for some unknown reason) and instead of riding to it confidently I hesitated and chipped the 9. Then I felt out of sorts and got a tiny bit deep into the 2 but I sat back and tall and I think we pulled it off really well. We landed and got the lead change successfully.  Next was the 5 strides and again my confidence was just a bit rocky and I rode to another close spot. Considering the rough distances I have found in the past, none of them were terribly offensive, but I was flustered and struggling to pull myself back together. We then found a longish spot to the oxer that was a bit week. Again, not crazy offensive but obviously not our smoothest.

Photo by Riley Healy

Determined to do better in our final round, which was also the classic, I started out strong with a great single then immediately screwed the pooch but missing the change and having to  skip step to get it behind. We recovered though and found a great spot to the single oxer. The bending came up nicely again and I stayed confident this time, again executing it in 8 strides like I did my first round. I didn’t re-balance and straighten for the change though and again didn’t get it behind. Once I get a little sloppy and let Rio fall into a few then it’s an uphill battle to correct it. Determined not to let it ruin our flow I made him keep cantering and we did the 2 stride off a cross canter. Rio tends to WANT to break to the trot so I figured making him continue cantering would be better for him. Both cross cantering and breaking gait automatically get you a 55, so it doesn’t really make a difference score wise.  But you know what? It was actually fine. We found the 2 nicely and it was no big deal. I did better finding the 5 this time, although our canter got a hair long and the out was tiny bit snug.

Peak that blue! (Photo by Riley Healy)

So you might think that because we blew 2 lead changes in the 3rd round I’d be super upset, but I honestly wasn’t. I rode confidently and found much better distances then I did in the 2nd round. Yes, I blew our score by missing the changes but I was still pleased with it overall. The jumps themselves all rode decently well and I corrected some of the things that went wrong in our 2nd round. Almost as important,  I didn’t totally lose my cool over the lead change issues and start panicking, which I am proud of.

Photo by Jerry Mohme

I felt very pleased with the day. We haven’t shown in ages and I didn’t really know what to expect. Turns out the pieces are all there, and eventually they will come together more consistently. We proved in the first round that we can do it (and were rewarded with a blue!), and when everything comes to together it feels AMAZING. Rio’s canter quality and jump efforts were the most consistent and best they have ever been. I felt like I had to do very little correcting, and mostly had to stay out of his way!


Video of most of all 3 rounds (a few jumps got cut off unintentionally but don’t worry, all the mistakes are still there LOL). Feel free to stop watching after the first (aka best) round too haha!

Kelly & Rio Fall Fun 2019 from Robert Wright on Vimeo.


Giant thank you to EVERYONE who videoed and took pictures. It really means the WORLD to me to have these gorgeous memories.

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