Jasi wisely walked her course twice to make sure she not only had it memorized but also knew what she was going to look at over each fence. Then when we were done we unloaded the horses and got tacked up. There was some time in here where we got to visit with friends and other trainers and riders before the rides actually started. It's always fun to catch up with folks we haven't seen since the last horse show!
We headed over to the warmup to get the horses thinking. Miss Pea was a little excited at the beginning, reminding us that she had been a successful racehorse and was eager to GET GOING! Fortunately Jasi knows how to handle this and was able to talk her down with breathing and getting Miss Pea thinking. They had a great warmup and hopped over each of the warmup fences to prepare for their round.
I enjoyed the warmup tremendously. There were many familiar faces and horses, and it was fun to see everyone doing well and having a good time. I was particularly impressed with the folks who were running the day, organizing the warmup ring and office table. I really feel like to do those jobs well you need to have the multitasking skills and coordination of an superhero, and these ladies did not disappoint!
There were of course some upsets and mistakes on the parts of the riders, but that's why we all go to these schooling shows so that we can make the mistakes at an inexpensive venue close to home, then go home and work on what we learned we need to improve.
I went at 1:02pm for my first round with Raven. She had been really great in the warmup, and from there she could watch a few horses ahead of us take off from the start box. Her gaze kept drifting over, and she was super eager to check it out and see what came next. This first round was wiggly, as she had never done this before and hadn't seen these fences before. There was a good bit of running sideways and a few stops, but we did get over everything.
Fence two looked sort of like a wall, with areas cut out of it for the horses to jump through. Raven stopped at that one to take a good look, but because she knows she can jump nearly anything out of a walk we only had to back up a couple strides. She took two bouncy canter strides, then leaped it with little speed but lots of impulsion. Unfortunately it was on the opposite side of the field from where our photographer was so there's no photographic evidence, but it was surely impressive to see.
The second round of the course went very differently for Raven. She had figured out that this job was all about galloping and jumping out the gallop, and she had already seen all her fences once. Now that she knew the objective she was all business, as most good mares are. She was strong in her gallop, but listened carefully when I would ask her to half halt and rebalance herself for a turn or a larger fence. I let her jump this pile of logs out of the gallop since it was a straightforward approach and a safely ramped fence, and she took it like a steeplechase horse! I wouldn't do every fence this way for safety reasons, but she sure enjoyed this one!
The water was a funny one as well. Her first round she stopped at the water and was hesitant to go in, never having seen this particular water crossing before. The barn had a lead pony horse available to show youngsters the ropes, and Raven asked that mare if she thought it really was a good idea to go in. Once she had a lead into the water, Raven went right in, too.
She exited the water confident and with a big bouncy trot.
Another fence that was a little looky for Raven was the table at the top of the hill in the field. It was probably one of two largest jumps on her course, and though she stopped at it the first time, she launched right over in the second round .
Some video of Raven's excellent second round can be seen here:
Once Raven's two rounds were done, it was time for Miss Pea to head out! This being her first time, Jasi had to coax her over a few of the fences. Jasi handled her just right, and even when Miss Pea got a little strong in the bridle as she hearkened back to her racetrack days Jasi was able to stay balanced and still direct Miss Pea over the correct fences. They made it over every single jump, and finished strong with a great gallop through the finish flags.
Some video of Miss Pea and Jasi's round can be seen here:
I was so incredibly proud of both horses, and especially Jasi. She took a young ex-racehorse and not only did she gallop her in a huge field, but she got her around an entire course of cross country fences. Miss Pea's owner (from whom we're leasing Miss Pea) was impressed, the whole Bit of Honey Crew was impressed, and everyone is super excited to watch this pair come along and progress together. The sky's the limit for these two, and the expression on Miss Pea's face says it all: this is FUN!
Many thanks as always to Kimberly Hale Photography for documenting the fun day, and to Sara for getting the videos!