Used With Permission (Photo credit: Flatlandsphoto)
Since this was the first show of the season, I decided to enter Teddy in the Beginner Novice instead of Novice. Even though Teddy has zero issues cruising around the 3ft like it’s nothing, he’s not best at dressage. It was probably better I didn’t show higher since I only came with a groom. I want to start off with huge thank you to everyone; from the people that helped run this show to my wonderful grooms. And of course Teddy who helped ease my nerves when I found myself without a trainer in the middle of the show. (Long story which I will explain later in the post.) Even though we left a little disappointed, it was still a great learning experience.
What’s nice about going to a show that’s only 5 mins from where you train is that you can tack up right at the barn. We often do this when we go cross country schooling at Bradley Palmer, which is just down the road from Ascot. It makes it that much less stressful at the show. So that’s what we did. I got Teddy all ready, putting everything on except his bridle. I bathed him the night before, which was a huge mistake because the next morning I found him covered in stains AGAIN!! Since it was a bit chilly the night before, I threw a stable sheet on him. Should have known with the way he decimates his bedding that he would get dirty again. Oh well! Lesson learned. HEADS UP: For those who have greys or horses with lots of chrome, bathe them the day of the show. As hard as it is to get up earlier, you will prevent your horse and yourself unnecessary stress.
We took my friend Karina’s truck with the two horse trailer to Groton House since Jerry took the large van with several horses to a local hunter show in New Hampshire. Our friend Amanda came to watch and help out as well. Once we got to the show grounds, we got Teddy off and Karina put Teddy’s bridle on while I registered and got our number. By the time I was back at the trailer, he was all ready for the dressage. I hopped on and headed to the dressage warm up area to find my trainer, who I had never met in person before. Jerry sent me to Ferial Johnson, an upper level eventing trainer with many years of experience. She kindly accepted the request to coach me at the show. But unfortunately as it turned out, she was just way too busy with her other students she brought to the show. We hadn’t met prior so I completely understand that she didn’t have the time. In fact, it was good experience for me to go solo. Teddy is a very seasoned horse with years of showing experience and one of the safest horses I’ve ever ridden. So if I have to go without a trainer for my first show on a new horse, Teddy is the perfect horse for that.
There wasn’t much time to warm him up prior to my test, so I made sure to focus on getting his muscles loosened up. Teddy is a naturally fit horse who is tends to self exercise in turnout, so it doesn’t take long for him to feel warmed up. I was so nervous going down the centerline that I wasn’t thinking about the little things that could make or break my dressage score. This was my first show in 3 years, so I was a bit rusty to say the least. We rode a clean test, but it was far from pretty. We got a 40.6, which is not good. But oh well. It’s the first show. There’s time to improve.
On to show jumping! Once dressage was finished, Karina and Amanda took Teddy back to the trailer, untacked him and gave him some water while I headed with Ferial to the show jumping ring to walk the course. She had one last student finishing in dressage, so I walked the course on my own first to see how it will ride. There was a five stride line and a two stride combination with a lot of oxers. Of course, I felt intimidated by all the oxers. I school 1m-1.05m (3’3-3’6) at home, so this should be easy peasy right? Anxiety can be a real pain in the ass sometimes. Regardless though it was a pretty simple, straight forward course. The courses for both Beginner Novice and Elementary are not timed. All you need to do is go clean. Kind of like riding an equitation course, but there’s no one judging you on your position. Ferial and I ended up getting the same amount of the strides, which was a huge confidence booster and made me feel like I sort of knew what I was doing. Teddy knows when he’s in a jumper class and can sometimes get strong. But you never feel like you’re going to get run away with though. He just gets very focused on what he’s doing. He’s the kind of horse that really tries and wants to do well. In true Teddy fashion, he jumps a perfect round, over jumping some of them to make sure he cleared them. Unfortunately with our less than stellar dressage score, we didn’t place. With our clear show jumping round, we went from 11thplace to 9thplace. Good or bad, it’s important to look at each show as a learning experience and take home what you learned in order to improve. Let’s just say we’ve got some work to do on our dressage before the next show.
My dressage card with the judge’s notes.