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!
Obligatory ribbon photos!
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!!