Since the hubby didn't want to ride Oberon in the show, I offered him to a friend who didn't have a horse to ride. She happens to train with a different trainer. In the days up to the show, there was an incredible amount of drama between my friend and her trainer, which was extremely frustrating and annoying, because as the horse owner I got pulled into it. It culminated when the other trainer decided at the last minute that my friend couldn't ride because Oberon's mane was not trimmed and pulled (nor will it be). The trainer claimed it was a rule, but I checked all the rulebooks - no such thing (and my trainer confirmed). It was a really sucky situation in so many ways, and sort of ruined the mood of the show for me, plus has put a strain on my friendship. The only good thing that came out of it is that hubby decided to ride Oberon in the warm-up ring, just for the experience.
The other icky thing I discovered is that classes with 30 people in them take hours to run. My first class went at about 9:30 a.m. My second two classes - which I opted not to stick around for - went at 8 p.m. I guess I'm just really used to dressage and eventing shows, where you have very specific times you ride at, and you get your times ahead of schedule, so you can plan your day. Plus, show organizers try to make times such that you're not doing crazy tack changes between phases, nor are you sitting on your horse for hours and hours. It's just a different world than what I'm used to, and I'm not sure how much I really fit in.
But, onto the exciting part. Saga was a complete and total lunatic the first 15 minutes of warmup. He bucked, he struck out, he spooked and tried to bolt when horses came up next to him or jumped next to him. WTF?!?!? He was so unlike his usual calm self, it was sort of unreal. He's done this once before, at an event I went to several years ago, when there were a lot of horses in the warmup area with him. I managed to stay on board and not yell "BAD PONY" too many times, but it sure was embarrassing to have my horse act like such a maniac. I guess he needs to get out more in company?
He settled down eventually and we had some good warmup fences. Then we walked out to the outdoor, where we waited outside the gate for about ten minutes. I made double-damn sure I knew my course (weird, because I didn't actually get to walk it before jumping it - something we ALWAYS do in eventing!), and watched one rider ahead of me go. Then we were up!
I walked Saga in the arena, towards one of the jumps so he could see what we were up to. We picked up a rather nervous, up-and-down trot, and I tried to ask for a canter. He thought about picking up the wrong lead twice, but we did eventually get it. As we cantered around to the first fence, I kept thinking "heels down, sit UP, 1...2, 1...2". And you know what? We had a nice rhythm all the way to the base of the fence. I asked for the right lead off the first fence, but not with much determination, and we haven't really practiced leads, so he didn't get it. We did a somewhat sloppy change through the trot in the corner, then cantered on to the first outside line. Steady rhythm, body up. We got five quiet strides AND the correct lead after the line. I was a little late turning to the second line across the diagonal, but corrected with my outside leg and remembered to keep my heels down and body up while I was at it. Coming out of the corner I remember counting "One, TWO, One, TWO" just to remind myself of the rhythm. We got a steady five on the second line as well, and he got the correct lead off the back side (with no help from me, I might add). The sixth fence was a single in the middle of the long side, and I was careful to count the rhythm all the way to the base. As a result, we got a nice steady line, came off the back, and turned for the last line. It was a left-hand turn, and remember how I discovered in my dressage lesson last week that he was popping his right shoulder? Yeah, so we came around the turn, he threw his shoulder out, looked HARD at the fence (which, in his defense, was basically a wall of hot pink flowers), and I was late with my outside leg. We got in OK but off-balance and I was forward, so the strides up to the second fence were flat and rushed. I think we still got five, but my old "eventer mode" of JUST GET OVER THE FENCE!!! kicked in and so it was pretty unbalanced compared to the rest of the course. We finished with our courtesy circle, I gave him a big pat and told him he was a good boy, and we left the arena.
Yeah, my horse is a handsome boy. :)
We ended up 7th out of about 15, and might have done better if it wasn't for the missed lead change. I was really, really proud of us in that we put in a steady, rhythmic round, and I didn't throw him at any fences (welllll... ok, maybe the last line was a bit of a hot mess). Compared to the last time we were in an arena jumping a stadium course, it was beautiful, controlled, and very pleasant to ride. In other words... we didn't suck! Of course I don't have a video of the actual round, but it's possible that the photographer got a picture or two... if there are any decent ones, I'll post them when they're available.
Hubby also had a great ride on Oberon in the warm-up arena. Oberon acted like he'd been to a million shows before... didn't bat an eyelash at the 20 other people in the arena, jumped tiny Xs and verticals with HORSE EATING FLOWERS under them (which, BTW, he says don't really eat horses), and was pretty much the steadiest horse in the arena. Bless him, he's a great match for hubby!
And of course a "family" picture of "the big bay boys," hubby, and I.
There's another show in two weeks, and then a final one two weeks after that. I dunno if I'll go to them or not, frankly. I had fun (well, AFTER I was done with the class it was fun) but I'm not sure I'd want to spend the entire weekend that way. The trainers yelled at and insulted their students (except mine, who was very encouraging to me and hubby), people in the office were rude and didn't give me the time of day, and it just generally felt very cliquish and exclusive. It's just not the world I'm used to, and I don't really know if it's a world I want to be a big part of. On the other hand, Saga sure could use the experience (especially with the shenanigans in the warm-up arena!), and it's much less of a commitment than an event.
But just for comparison purposes, we decided to go cross-country schooling Sunday morning...