Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Wine and Cheese Anybody?

(from Graduate Riding School Blog)

So as some of you may know, Miss Sienna has some concerns about stadium. She's usually (not always, but usually) great in the w/u, but as soon as she's alone with scary fences her brain falls out her ear. And dangerously so because when she's in that mindset she has no self-preservation. No bucking or anything really silly, but will crash through the fence around the ring to get out of the ring. Or try and bolt while on wet footing and fall over. I'd almost rather Zel's bucking dramatics because at least I always knew her self-preservation instinct was high. *I* might get hurt in the game, but only if I were foolish enough to fall off. She wouldn't cause it or injure herself. Si could destroy us both in her frantic RUNFORYOURLIFE mode.

My solution to this is lots of practice. Which means jumper schooling shows. Ugh. (Can't go trillium w/o a passport n I don't want to do that this year) Anyways -- in this vein I was aware of the Wine and Cheese adult show on Thursday nights (and yes, there really is Wine and Cheese :). Starts at 5. Which means technically I don't even have to leave work early. So I had thoughts of taking my pony. But I was tired and it was threatening rain all day. Got to the barn and I was still debating with myself till finally I told myself "Self, smarten up. You're not going to get anything out of schooling at home. It's even sunny out now and not too hot. It's never going to get any better. Go train your horse." So I dutifully packed the trailer and loaded the horse and off I went. It was about 4:30 when we pulled out.

So I get there, leave her on the trailer to go register etc. Take a quick walk around the jumper ring -- fair course, footing is decent (which given all the rain I was concerned about). Nothing to it really. 2'9" course -- but didn't ride like one because none of the oxers were square. So rode more like a 2'3 - 2'6 course (even though the fences prob were technically @ height). But since she clears everything by at least an extra foot anyways, this is not a bad thing *g*. Anyways - course has the kinds of turns you'd expect in the jumper ring and lots of filler and bright coloured items -- and the last part is really what I wanted Si to experience. There was a girl trotting her horse around the ring before the show started, so that let me know they were pretty relaxed about the whole thing. I had half a thought that that'd be really good to do w/ Sienna, but doubted I'd have time to tack her up and get back there in time.

Go back and tack Si up (a bit of an adventure as a back-firing tractor sent all the horses turned out in the neighbouring field galloping. Sheesh :) Hop on and ride out to the show area. Was quite impressed by how she handled the hack over -- much better than on recent outings. As I get to the w/u ring I hear the jumper ring is starting and that it'll be back-to-back rounds. Umm ok -- no worries, will warm her up and go at the end of the class. Till I realize there's only like 5 or 6 people in the class! hahaha oops :) The dozens of people causing a traffic jam in the w/u were all there for hunter. W/u ring was very sloppy. Trotted her around a couple times but she was really sticky and not in front of the leg. Hopped her over a couple fences. Super quiet, but still not quite there... But they're also *tiny* fences so that could have something to do with it too.

Head over to the jumper ring where there's one or two other horses. Turns out it's not back-to-back rounds so much as jump-whatever-course-you-want *g* So I tell the start guy my # and that I'm doing the first course and in we go. I let her walk in and see everything -- even let her stop and investigate the one really scary fence (which'd be second on course. sheesh!) No hurry, no rush. Judge waited till I did that before ringing her bell :) Jump the first fence... Back to trot, calm, reorg, canter jump the scary second fence, back to trot. Jump the next two out of a trot as she's thoroughly unhappy about leaving the in-gate and I'm trying to get her pointed in something that resembles a straight line and focused on her job. Rest of the course kinda like that "Idon'tknow, Idon'tknow, ok let's GOOOOO!!!" Nothing pretty or confident about that round at all. A few deer leaps :( But on the plus side, she didn't lose her brain. There was none of the franticness that we've been getting. HUGE improvement there. I can deal with "unsure" because unsure is still ridable. Runforyourlife is not..

So anyways, leave ring, ask gate-boy to keep my ribbon for me (both rounds are just "Clear Round" - no timing involved). Memorize next course and go back in (one horse inbetween me and me :). 2nd round much better. Still not confident, but more steady. Could let her canter some of the fences. Still not great, but much better. And again, no runforyourlife pony. Theoretically we're done. But really one more round would help so much :) And it's not as though there are hundreds of people waiting. So I asked if I could do an HC round (which was way beyond gate-boy's comprehension). Ummm doesn't need a judge or ribbons, I just want to do a practice round. The people on the other end of the radio were trying to convince him I had to go pay for it first (ummmm yeah by the time I do that there's no point to going back in the ring). So I basically overrode kid and said I'd pay for it after and just went in. Was very polite about it, but not about to argue with the other side of the radio through this poor kid... Hopped her around and this course was close to good. Whole thing in canter, controlled, balanced, reasonable spots. No deer leaps. Thank God (those are horrendous).

So lots of pats for pony. Ask gate boy to keep my ribbons a while longer and go back to untack. Sort of bemused that we're already done. It took me longer to tackup and untack then to w/u and ride three rounds *g*. For that matter, it took you longer to read this! Go back and pay for the extra round, thanking them profusely for "allowing" it *g*. Pick up ribbons. Allow Si to graze for a bit. And we were home by 6:30 :) Fastest. Show. Ever. Whole show, including transport time, was less than 2h. Sweet!

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