Sunday, February 2, 2014

2/1 schooling hunter show: Breaking news! Paddy's not a hunter

Saturday, Lauren and I went to a tiny hunter schooling show at a farm about an hour north of us. Unlike my last experience at a tiny hunter schooling show, this one was very well-run, and the people there were very friendly. I contend the fact that there were several eventers and at least one dressage rider there helped both the timeliness and the overall cheerfulness of the folks there, but Lauren swears that hunter/jumper shows are normally like that. Hm.

Photo courtesy of Gorgeous Equine Photography. I actually wore a grey hunt coat instead of my usual black dressage jacket. Yay me?

Lauren and I both entered the 2'3 hunter division and the 2'3 eq class. Tragically for us, so did 10 little girls under the age of 14 or so, all of whom were mounted on well-trained ponies with auto changes. Still, we had a great time!

Simon and Paddy becoming BFFs at the show

We were able to school before the show started, and Paddy didn't take a second look at any of the jumps. Granted, they were all poles with one gate and one wall, but still, I was very pleased with how he went. We're still figuring each other out for warm-up - I think he needs way more time than I was able to give him, and that showed when our actual rounds begin. Sure, I can get him straight and on the aids after 45 minutes in a dressage lesson, but without that, we are motoring around the turns and falling in like mad. It's less than ideal, but it's not like all the pieces are magically going to fall into place overnight. A steady round is going to take a lot of work on all the pieces between the fences - we're getting better, but we're certainly not able to put in a steady, consistent, balanced round yet.

Paddy sports the classy tousled look

After we schooled, we took the boys back to the trailer to chill for almost 2 hours while the 2' division went. Eventually,  we tacked back up and headed back to the arena. The only problem with the show grounds was that there really wasn't any warmup area. We were able to walk and trot a little in a rather rocky field, and do one little X. That really wasn't enough for Paddy, so we went into our warmup round really underprepared. My only goal was to keep him steady, relatively balanced, and not suck, and I'd say that didn't really work. The last line was especially bad - headed straight for the in gate at mach one-Haffie. The second round was even worse - at one point we were barreling down a line with no brakes to speak of. For the third round, I decided that we needed to change things up, so we trotted into every line and all the singles. It wasn't pretty, but he sat back and started listening to me, and I started riding better. Finally, in our last round, which was equitation, I finally got things together. Paddy was much more relaxed and balanced in between the fences, listening, and we got most of our spots. We still weren't really hunter-show worthy, but I was much happier with our round as a whole.

Our second round. You may want to close your eyes - or better yet, just not watch.

We had a bit of a wait before our flat classes. There were 12 people in the arena together, and it was a pretty small arena, especially with all the jumps in it. In the first class, I was a little worried about how he'd so with so many other horses around him, but I needn't have. Aside from breaking several times in a canter both directions (my fault, not his), he was very good. We aimed for a steady trot, which we mostly got, but of course he's not got the long-and-low hunter frame that the judges were looking for. Our final class was hunter equitation on the flat, and he was even better for that one. I tried to ride quietly and do better with the canter leads, and we successfully had nice walk-canter transitions both ways - and I managed to keep it. It was enough for a 6th place! It was our only ribbon of the day, but it was hard-fought and I'm pretty damn proud of it.

They had cool red-and-white ribbons for Valentine's Day! 

Paddy got like 1293873571293 comments on how cute he was. The photographer couldn't stop taking pictures of him - every time I turned around she was snapping a shot of him. At one point she asked me if he ever WASN'T posing for the camera, and I said that I was pretty sure he practiced cute looks in the mirror.

So there you have it. We're definitely not cut out for the hunters, but we had a great time with Lauren and Simon and we lived. I have a much better idea of what to expect at shows where jumps are involved, and I am understanding what sort of warmup Paddy needs to put in a good performance. Despite all the zoomies, he's such a great little guy and such a trier. He was honest and sane and got better as the day went on. I really can't ask for more!

28 comments:

  1. Yay Paddy!! Congrats, I'm glad it went well overall.
    Why is it that in pretty much EVERY single photo of Paddy, his ears are up and he is striking some cute pose? Slightly jealous... with my Fjord mare it is hit or miss on whether or not photos look decent.

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    1. RE the photos, I SWEAR he poses. The ears go up and he puts on his extra cute face. It's almost impossible to resist, isn't it?

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  2. You are too hard on yourself, that video isn't bad at all (especially for a mid winder adventure)...though he does look for cut out for the jumper ring then the hunter ring:)

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    1. This is why he's going to be an evener and not a hunter. Besides, it's not as if he's gonna make a 59' line in 4 strides, like, EVER!

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  3. Trained ponies are a tough act!

    Glad you had a blast and that ribbon is a keeper!

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    1. Trained ponies ARE a tough act to follow, especially when you don't have one. But who cares, we had a ton of fun!

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  4. That stuffed animal winter coat and superior mane + tail are to die for!

    Great job getting him out there. Sounds like you learned a lot about what will help Paddy at the next show. If only there were ribbons for extreme cuteness...

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    1. He does sort of look like a plush toy, doesn't he? And Paddy agrees that there should be a neck ribbon provided for extreme cute.

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  5. I have no idea what the difference between hunters and jumpers are . . . since they both involve horses jumping over stuff. I thought Paddy looked a little Zoomie, but he seemed to clear all of the things you pointed him at, you didn't fall off, and other then him struggling to turn at the end of the arena on your first run, I thought he looked pretty good. Of course, like I said, refer to sentence one of this comment . . . .

    He should have scored more just on the cuteness factor alone. Congrats on your first Hunter show.

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    1. You'll have to check out Lauren's blog for more on hunters, but in general they are judged on a steady pace, good distances to the jumps, correct leads, and an overall smooth way of going. Jumpers are judged based on time and number of rails you take down. Of course a good Jumper round should be smooth too, but you don't get any points deducted for hanging off the horse's ears as long as you have the fastest time and leave all the fences up. And Paddy was definitely zoomy!

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  6. I agree that you are too hard on yourself! For how few courses y'all have jumped you were fantastic :) it was a lot of fun showing together!

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    1. Give those were our first real courses not at home, I'll take it. And I'll totally go to a show with you any time!

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  7. I really don't think Paddy looked *that* fast. And I'd take bold over chicken any day :) Congrats!!

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    1. Heh... well, you can't see my arms getting ripped off in that video, but thanks anyway. And I agree, I prefer a bold horse!

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  8. Sounds like a great day, even if you didn't win 123456789 ribbons. Yay Paddy! :)

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  9. Yay for surviving a hunter show!

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    1. I had my trusty Secret Hunter Person (Lauren) with me. Otherwise I'd never have made it!

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  10. He is just the most adorable thing on the planet... I just looked back thorough some of your posts (trying to do a speed catch up!) and I think he's much more suited to the eventing world than the hunters ;) I also think he should come live with me though!

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    1. Yes, he's definitely much more of an eventer or a jumper. I'd never planned for him to be a hunter - the show was just for practice.

      And he can come live with you if you come pick him up in person and drive him home. ;)

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  11. Hehehe. I love the video. Paddybear goes ZOOOoooOOOoooMMM!!!

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    1. Zoom was definitely the word of the day!

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  12. Hehe. Through the video you can see Paddy going 'Weeee!'
    Maybe not a hunter, but a very cute jumper!!!!

    (I think I use the word 'cute' every time I comment on here.)

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    1. "Cute" is a four-letter word, you know...

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  13. You guys win the 'cute as a button" award :P

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    1. If only that came with a neck ribbon and a trophy!

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  14. Sounds like it was fun and you lived to tell :)

    Love that he poses!!!

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    1. He is the Queen of Posing, for sure!

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