Everyone did really well for a show with green horses at the end of January on a ridiculously windy and cold weekend, but of course Highboy gave us the greatest hilarity of experience.
He started by doing his downward dog yoga pose after getting off the horse trailer, you could almost hear him stretching and saying, "Ok, let's get this party STARTED!"
He's much taller when not in a yoga pose.
Walking through the parking lot to the arena was the grand opening of the nonsense. He was already excited and did some bucking and leaping around as he refused to walk past a large white utility box. People were arriving in throngs, but all the drivers were wonderful to hold perfectly still in their vehicles while Highboy pranced along and attempted to fist-bump cars as I eventually had to BACK him all the way into the arena because apparently going forwards would have been too easy.
He was pretty good in the warm up once he realized we were going to go over ground poles at all the gaits, then I got off him so that I could coach Jasi and Carol. The way I help students to memorize their jump course is to give each of them a pen and piece of notepaper. I have them write down and draw their course on the paper, then we face the arena full of jumps so the riders are oriented correctly. I then have each of them tell me the course several times until they are reciting it correctly. That way they have it memorized and can focus on the ride when they actually go in the ring.
Once Carol and Jasi were in their classes Highboy and I hung out at the fence to watch with friends who had arrived to help out. The rodeo equipment was still in the arena from some other function, and Highboy thought the fences smelled amazing. He rubbed his lips all over them and took deep breaths while smooshing his nostrils against the cold metal bars. Then he would lift his head high in the air, curl his upper lip over the top of his nostrils, and take deep breaths so as to appreciate all the notes of fragrance left by the cattle the previous weekend.
While Highboy was appreciating the complex olfactory pleasures of a rodeo, I watched Carol and Jasi do their flat classes and jump courses. They did incredibly well, neither one of them nor their horses had ever been to this format of a horse show before. They both rode their courses accurately and with good equitation, both horses were well behaved, and they each went home with a fistful of ribbons. I don't usually make a big fuss over prizes because we do horse shows for the experience, but it's worth noting that there were approximately 15 riders in their division!
Here is video of Carol's poles course:
When going through the photographs later I was so incredibly proud of how their jumping positions have improved in recent months. Carol is just learning to jump as an adult and she has made tremendous progress with her jumping seat even though Shambhu is quite large and has a tendency to over-jump things in an earnest effort not to tap his toes on poles. Jasi is doing the very challenging by learning to jump with a horse who is also learning to jump. Beauty enjoys the job but can be strong, and Jasi does a great job keeping her settled and quiet to the fences.
Here is video of Jasi's poles course:
I loved seeing my riders enjoying themselves!
Once Jasi and Carol's division was complete I had to wait a bit for Highboy's classes. As most people know, Highboy is a complicated creature. He won't try unless the jumps are high or have complicated lines or approaches, and the first 10 fences or so he pretends he has never ever seen jumps before, even if he went over them in warm-up. He is reliable in that he goes right up to the jump, slams on the brakes and stops, and taps the pole with his nose. Then he leaps over the jump from a standstill like an antelope, often landing awkwardly with his hind legs first. Needless to say, the cartoonish ride did not earn us a ribbon in his first class!
Video of the first comical round can be seen here:
Once Highboy has enough fences under his belt he morphs into an incredible balanced jumper with lead changes and good form. This was his second round, ridden immediately following the first, and he looks like an entirely different horse.
We came in second in this class out of a good sized group, I suspect purely because the judge was so shocked that Highboy could even DO it after watching his first ridiculous go when the horse swore he had never seen flowers or poles before.
The next day we loaded up Dewey, Beauty, and baby Casper in the trailer and headed back to CSU for our dressage tests. Jasi had memorized hers and rode it very well! At a small schooling show like this we were each able to ride the same test twice so we could try to improve. One of my pet peeves is riding a test once, then wishing I could do it one more time that day because if I had only fixed THAT ONE THING I would have been satisfied! So that's what we did this weekend. Beauty and Jasi put in two beautiful tests and then came away with some things they want to work on next.
Video of Jasi and Beauty's ride can be seen here:
Dewey and I had a reasonable warm-up, but he was a little bored and so did a lot of head-flipping. He does that whenever something is not to his liking, be it saddle fit, needed dental work, or fatigue. The trick with him is figuring out why he's doing it at a particular time. When we started he was bored. In the first test he did it whenever he lost his balance (which was frequently). In the second test it was drastically reduced, but he did toss his head a few times as he expressed that he was tired. Overall I was very proud of the kid, this was his first time doing a dressage test with cantering in it, and he did even get his right lead several times despite it being difficult for him.
Video of his second test can be seen here: