Here there be dragons...

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

Lexi's sixth birthday

Short version:  Lexi went to her first show and nobody died.

Long version, read on:

So last week...  Was it only last week?   Calendar says yes, but I'd've sworn it was ages ago!   Anyways, last week Lexi went to Caledon to school XC and was an absolute superstar.  Jumping mostly PT with the occasional entry or training fence thrown in for good luck.
She was all kinds of confident and really a superstar.  So this week I took her to Grandview -- where suddenly she was very much a baby horse.  hmmmmmm the difference?   At Caledon all-the-horses went to jump one and took turns jumping it.   Proceed to jump two with all the horses.  Etc etc.  So while she wasn't actually taking a lead, she had friends at every jump.  At Grandview, she had to go out on her own and was *very* sticky.  Not super nappy -- I could mostly steer and she was willing enough, just looking and hesitant to jump.   Ditches, banks and water we've got down ;)   But actual jumps are in short supply at home so they're still exciting.

So fast forward to Friday when I realize one of my students will have to scratch her entry on Saturday and none of my other students were in a position to take it.  hmmmm.  It's at Glenarden which has a short, flat course so shouldn't pose a fitness issue.   Maybe...

Now all kinds of stars had to align for me to claim the spot.  The times had to work so that I could ride and coach at the same time.  Amazingly, they did.  The organizer and secretary had to agree to the switch -- they did.  Cool.  I had to find a groom, and it had to be a competent one.   Lexi's somewhat known for her airs above the ground when she gets excited and I had two other students there to teach so whoever was helping would have to be able to handle her alone and safely get her tacked up while I was on the other side of the property.   This leaves me about three people to choose from -- and fortunately Kennedy was available and willing to come help!  Woohoo!   She's dealt w/ Lexi in the height of a meltdown before and when I offered to take over she just laughed and said she was fine, so I knew she'd be able to handle any games Lex might choose to play.   I asked my coach if he had any objections and he said go have fun.  So then as a last test, I decided to check the weather.  25deg and sunny with zero chance of rain.  Doesn't get much better than that.  I guess that means Lexi's going to a show.  Woohoo!

I was more excited than this warranted on Friday *g*   But got myself organized, pony bathed and braided, lessons taught, etc.  By this point Lexi had gone XC on Wed, been thrown in a lesson on Thurs, and done nothing on Fri -- none of which would've happened if I'd been intending to show on Sat, but sobeit.  Actually even printed my dressage test -- all kinds of prepared!

So after no sleep on Fri night, get to the barn on time and bring in and feed the ponies.  Everybody happy.  Braids still in.  The world is good.  Bobble braids -- more of an adventure than braiding was!  Definitely took longer *sigh*   Run a comb through that insane tail.  Get all the poo stains off (why, exactly, did I buy a grey horse?   I don't even *like* grey horses.   Sheesh!).  Pack up the car, which is far more of a challenge than packing the truck, and ready for the trailer.

Which didn't arrive.  I've been trailering with the same person for years and he's *never* late.  Ummmmm hmmmm - how long to wait before calling?   I didn't wait long, maybe fifteen minutes.   Turns out there was a miscommunication somewhere and he was expecting tomorrow.   Frig.  But he rearranged today's trailering to fit us in.   It did, however, make our times *very* tight.  I had Em ship Charlie tacked up and ready to go and sure enough it was about her ride time when they unloaded.   She trotted over to dressage and by the time I got there was still in warmup.   Apparently there'd been some confusion over the numbers, but the whipper in was *awesome* and sorted it all out, so Emily got her turn.  Woohoo!

Rowan showed up just as Emily was finishing and both girls had solid tests.   Rowan's test got interrupted when the judge thought she'd gone off course -- but she hadn't.  That was all sorts of confusing, but she actually rode even better after restarting!   Awesome.  The girls and I walked stadium which looked pretty nice and inviting for everything other than fences two and three which were in the shadows and going away from home.  Then I booked it back to the trailer where Kennedy had Lexi all tacked up.

Show time.   Our walk over to the dressage ring was remarkably uneventful.  When we got to warmup she was looking around and a little high, but pretty calm all things considered.   We did tack check -- carefully.  Still all good.  Walked for a bit, some circles, she's starting to relax and stretch into a contact.  Impressive baby horse!

And then we trotted.  huh.  About that.  And then we practiced standing on two legs (Chris said we get extra points for that ;).   At least she wasn't going high, just making her point *g*  And then we lept around somewhat.  And everybody kindly just gave us space.  No evil glares or muttering and after what seemed like forever but was really a very short time I got her going forward on a circle.   And shortly was able to bring her back to a trot on said circle.   And then migrate the circle a little.   Going around the outside wasn't going to happen and there were exciting moments when Lexi felt another horse was getting too close to her personal bubble (it's a *big* bubble).  Soon we could go both directions in trot and canter short bursts.  Canter wasn't terribly successful and walk didn't actually exist.  But who needs those gaits?
In warmup
So our turn came and she was better than I'd expected about leaving all her new best friends to go around the dressage ring alone.  Very sticky -- both my stick and the old-school pony-club kick were involved.  But she did it.  With no drama.  The test itself?   Well it was rather interpretive.  Our left canter circle, for instance, was neither round nor in canter *g*   Well some of it was in canter -- on the right lead.  You know, the one she doesn't like.   Sheesh.  Some of it was in a sticky trot.  Some of it was half trotting and half cantering.  We might've even had a stride or two in left canter right before the official trot transition.   hahaha the rest of the test was better, but certainly showing what a lovely shade of emerald she was.  BUT -- she stayed in the ring, with none of the warmup drama, and even had moments that were good and showed her promise.  So it's a start.  It was, however, a start that left us tied for last place *sigh*
We survived phase one :)
Next up Emily got to jump stadium, which she did beautifully.  Then the three of us headed out to walk XC -- Em on PE while Rowan and I were doing E.  Fortunately the courses run close to one another so I could talk to both girls as we went along.   Emily's course was very simple and inviting -- well within her abilities and she was able to pick out which would be Charlie's scary fences successfully.   Sweet.  I was kinda wishing that was the course Lexi would be doing.  But no.  Her course started with two maxed out and not particularly inviting fences going directly away from home.  Awesome.  Three was friendly enough -- it had one side decidedly higher than the other, so we planned to jump the low side.   It was also pointing directly home, so sb no problem.   Four was a down bank -- unusual for entry, but as previously mentioned, all my horses are comfortable with banks since they get a lot of practice.  Five and Six were coups that sb very easy except they were far away from home -- over by show jumping -- and for some reason they always look at those ones.  Ah well.   Seven was a random log.  Eight a raised log pointing toward home.  Then a nice long gallop to nine which was a replica of eight, but then a bending line to the right over a ditch.   Fun.  Then away from home again to a bench followed by two houses on a bending line.  All good.  From there heading roughly back to the start was a nice friendly roll-top and a flowerbox type coup -- with no flowers.

Logically aware Lexi would have absolutely no issue jumping, my concern was more about the nappiness and/or if she was sticky as she'd been at Grandview, I didn't want the course deteriorating.  But no way to tell till we got out there.

First though, we had to show jump.   Rowan was up before me by about 20 mins, so Lexi had a long time to learn to hang out in warmup.  She was *much* better there than she had been in dressage, but becoming very attached to Lissy.   Rowan put in an excellent clear round -- and then kindly stuck around with Lissy so Lexi would have a friend.  Does she need to grow up and do it on her own?  Absolutely.  Today?  Maybe not.

And you know what?   She was good.  Really good.  Got the whole canter and jump thing down.  Couldn't really turn or rate the stride at all, but whenever she was pointed at something she picked up the canter and went for it.  Sweet.  A little overly ambitious for the size of the fences *g*   But she did a great job.   Pulled one rail and then wasn't going near any of the others.  hahaha lots of air time!   Good though and eager.  A decent sign for future.   We do need to work on our ability to canter turns though.  hahaha minor detail.
Not touching that!
Em was off on XC next and rode *really* well.  Charlie looked at the ones she though he would and she handled it like a pro.  Sweet.  Then we actually got a break.  And I admit I left my horse with Kennedy -- who was being super helpful -- and had a drink and sat for a couple mins.  So spoiled :)

Rowan was about half an hour before me in XC so again we took both horses over together.  Lex was basically sleeping hanging out w/ Lissy.  Until Rowan left for her round.  Lexi tried to turn herself inside out to get on XC with them.  Omg.  So as a result I didn't get to see much (read any) of Rowan's round as I very definitely had to focus on Lexi.  But I was listening and the announcer said she was clear.  Sweet!   Since when they came back Lissy wasn't at all stressed, I asked them to hang out for a bit to make my life slightly easier.  And it did.  Slightly.  But now Lexi had had enough of this warmup ring game.  And then they wanted to bump my time for other people, but I begged back in and the whipper in (same awesome one from dressage) saw my horse dancing and deemed I could go in my original spot.  Phew.   Head over to XC and you could actually see Lexi's brain falling out her ears....   hahaha oh dear.   Start box was on the other side of a treeline and Lexi was having none of it.  We were back to the standing on the hind legs.  For a second I wasn't sure I'd even get her in the box, but we managed it and with perfect timing since halting would not be an option.  The tight turn, however, did get us a walk and so we *walked* out of the box.  hahaha after all that drama, we had the slowest xc start ever!  Picked up a trot which broke into a canter.  Lexi was doing a great interpretation of a llama and completely oblivious to the jump that was rapidly approaching in front of her.  Tricky.  But I just kept pointing her at it with leg on and she cleared it easily.
Second fence was terrifying, but she wasn't the least bit hesitant about jumping it.  No, instead she cleared it by a few extra feet ;)   Three we jumped the high side.  Of course.  It took everything I had to slow her down before the bank -- but then we were pointing away from home and did the funkiest trot ever toward fences five and six.  They were a *long* way away at a llama-trot ;)    And the rest of the course continued that way -- awesome gallop toward home.  Out of control, but super nice to ride ;)   And very sticky trot away from home.  The jumps themselves might as well have not even been there.  Was a ride and a half, but in the end she was clear with just a handful of time faults.   Not too bad for baby horse's first show.

When I went to check the scores she was in sixth, but somebody behind her challenged their xc scores so Lexi ended up seventh.  Which is fine -- it's a better colour anyways.   Not as good as red, mind you, but certainly better than pink ;)   Rowan was also seventh and Emily showed us both up with third!  And both girls have now qualified for champs.  Woohoo!
Not half bad :)
So yeah, a bit of a rough start and an entertaining ride all day, but overall a great first show!   And pony learned how to gallop!  Woohoo!


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