Tuesday, September 15, 2015

2 Competitions with an Unexpected Twist

This past weekend I went to two different horse shows. On Saturday September 12th I went to Glenaura Horse Farm for the Obstacle show, and Sunday I went to the Uxbridge Fall Fair Gambler's Choice Horse Show.

Obstacle Show
On Saturday morning it was pouring rain, dark, and cold when we headed out with the horses at 6am so we could arrive on time to Honeywood. By the time we got there the skies had cleared, the rain had stopped, but it was still pretty crisp in temperature.

We unloaded Cupid and Khaleesi and discovered Kahleesi was ouchy on her front right. Not horrible but not perfect. I walked her around a bit, assessed her legs/hooves, and determined it is either an abscess brewing or she stepped on a stone and bruised her foot. There was no heat in her leg, but seemed to be a little heat near her coronet band.

We tried wrapping her and putting hoof boots on and that helped. She was walking nicely and willingly but occasionally would take ouchy steps. I decided to keep Kahleesi walking because walking is good if it's an abscess, as well she seemed comfortable.

The competition started with an online obstacle class. I decided to keep Kahleesi in the class because it was going to be all walk and the exposure to new obstacles would be good for her. I competed in the Intermediate (they had two levels: Beginner & Intermediate).

The obstacles were fun and included:

  • Tarp
  • Barrels to circle around
  • Pool noodle car wash
  • Tunnel made out of a tarp
  • Pushing a ball off a tire
  • Pool noodle standards
  • A swivel obstacle where you had to get the horse to push a piece of wood (watch the video because I don't really know how to describe it)
  • Narrow bridge
  • Pedestal (giant one)
  • Caveletti jump (on a low height that you can walk over)
  • Kiddie pool with water and an inner tube around it
  • Teeter tauter
Cupid and Kahleesi were awesome. They did everything pretty easy except they had a good sniff at the pool. 

Kahleesi finished 1st and Cupid was 3rd out of a lot of people (they placed ribbons to 10th and there were more people than placings). 

After that we competed in Liberty, which was the same course but no rope. The horses were awesome and Kahleesi was 1st with Cupid 4th. There was a lot of impressive liberty work from the competitors. Kahleesi got top marks because I could send her through many obstacles from a distance. 

Next we had riding obstacles. This was walking (trot was optional, but with all the obstacles there wasn't room for a lot of trotting). This time Cupid came 1st and Kahleesi was 3rd. 

After that I decided to scratch Kahleesi from the Trail challenge because that would involve some jumps, trotting, and cantering. I didn't want to push her out of her comfort, and at the trot she was more ouchy. 

Cupid competed in the trail class which was outdoors and in a big back field. 
The obstacles included:
  • Logs to cross over
  • Flag that you had to move from one round bale to another
  • A squeeze to ride through (hay feeders lined up in parallel rows)
  • Brush jump with brush on the sides (similar to pool noodle standards but with brush)
  • Jump with a car wash over top
  • Brush jump with brush facing up towards the horse's belly
  • Pick up a water bucket and move it
  • A pole drage
  • Water crossing
  • Ditch
  • A tunnel made out of tarp for a floor, round bales for sides, and a tarp for a roof
  • A gate
  • Bank jump
  • Giant tires filled with sand to cross over
  • Gate
It was a lot of fun - Cupid wasn't super relaxed so we need to work on finding relaxation at the obstacles so he can stand still better at them. He thought the ditch was scary and took about 5-10 minutes to cross it the first time. I was just patient and insisted he look/try but wasn't forceful. Our gate wasn't super pretty either because he was a bit anxious to stand beside it calmly. 

He placed 4th in the trail class and then when it was all done I spent an hour with Cupid at the gate building his confidence to stand calmly at the gate. Eventually he relaxed and did the gate beautifully so I hopped off and loved on him. It was important to give him so much comfort in the right moment because it was such a big challenge. 

Watch our show:

Gamblers Choice on Sunday
On Sunday I went to the Uxbridge Fall Fair for the Gamblers Choice. It was a bit of a drizzly cold day but Kathy and Larry Bonehill did an awesome job setting such a fun obstacle course. 

Because Kahleesi was still looking ouchy, I made a last minute swap and brought Dreamer (one of our lesson horses) instead. This meant I had Dreamer, Cupid, and Thetis. I brought Thetis because last year I competed with her and didn't place, so I wanted to do better this year. Cupid and Kahleesi were entered because they needed more exposure to obstacles before Kentucky.... so I had 3 horses to show. 

My round one was on Thetis. I carefully planned my route and executed it pretty well except our first obstacle she didn't want to let me get off onto the mounting block, and I dropped the ball on an obstacle soon after that (literally). After that we found our groove and aced all of the obstacles we attempted. 

Cupid was ride two. He entered the ring calmly but then the Merry Go Round started going and he had a bit of a melt down. I had to change my plan and avoid that corner of the ring because it was too big of a distraction that he was actually starting to go catatonic. We continued to other parts of the ring and he did awesome, once we were out of that corner he aced all of the obstacles we attempted. 

Lastly I rode Dreamer, final horse of the day. By now I had a strategy worked out and I rode a pretty efficient pattern. Dreamer was super awesome and aced everything except one water box he jumped over instead of stepped through. 

I was super happy and very thrilled with our progress. 

I was even more delighted when Cupid was announced as 8th place, Thetis as 2nd place and Dreamer as 1st place. Dreamer did pretty awesome as a back up horse and I definitely did better than last year!

Some tips I learnt from the weekend:
  • Be ready to have a plan B, and C
  • When plan B and C don't work, take a deep breathe and focus on what you can do
  • Practice relaxation at the obstacles so your horse can approach with confidence
  • The show ring is a place to show what you excel at, not what you are working on. If you don't think you can do an obstacle, don't try it during gamblers choice - do that during warm up, or after the course, or try it at home
  • Make a plan and ride your plan
  • In gamblers choice think about riding the obstacles that are close together rather than wasting time going all over the ring. For example do the 1 point jump that is just slightly out of the way between two bigger point obstacles. 
Watch the gamblers choice:

I had a super amount of fun and can't wait to do it again!

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