Ranger Recap: Devon and the Dixon Oval

On Monday, we had the local hunter show at Devon, Brass   Ring   at   Devon. This was probably the biggest local 1-day show possible in Chester County, because, it’s Devon and everyone wants to show at Devon. The thing is, Devon is Devon and despite being right here in our backyard, there just AREN’T local shows at the Devon Horse Show grounds. You have a few things (Devon, Dressage at Devon, and now Brandywine I and II, but that’s just about it), so getting to have our local show is pretty cool.

Let me start by saying it was a long ass day with an insane number of entries. Schooling was the night before for those interested, but no O/F schooling day of. Show started at 7:30 and rumor throughout the day was the estimated end time was 11:30PM. Insane. Seriously. 2 rings. The class after me was estimated to start no earlier than 2pm but let’s just say that come 5:45 they were still on Baby Greens, division 5 of the day in the Dixon Oval… I’m pretty sure Baby Greens went on for 2.5 hours. They ended up moving Thoroughbred Hunters to the Gold Ring at the end of the day to try and save time… I finally rode at 7ish after a small(er) low hunter division.

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Somehow I ended up with a franken-number ala IHSA… The secretary stand failed to tell the other family sharing Ranger that they should leave the number and since the show went on for a million hours, they’d already left when I showed up… They didn’t want to re-issue another number so they made me this lovely number… Yeah.

Meanwhile is was insanely sunny and freaking hot all day. Because you’re only ever getting burned at Devon OR in the pouring rain. And then the storm clouds started moving in… At some point there was a massive crack of lightning and a long roll of thunder (I swear only 6 of us saw the lightning) and then basically nothing until I went into the ring. Pretty much a little rain and the storm skirted Devon completely (at home we lost power long enough to require clocks to be reset).

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I don’t know where I’m looking but Ranger is cute… Probably calling for whoever he thinks is his new best friend…

Anyway, the classes were huge (I think we had 17-20 in pleasure under saddle classes) and the horses worth way more than Ranger I’m sure, but we rode in the Dixon Oval which was just about the coolest experience of my life. The cherry on top was our amazing Pleasure W/T class where we snagged our 6th place ribbon in a huge ass class.

He was great in his W/T/C but I got stuck on the rail too much and just wasn’t seen. Oh well, I’m not used to showing off… I don’t even care. I’ll be honest, I couldn’t even figure out where to go.

Over fences? Our course sucked. First off, it was a test not a course (4 fences…) and I never established a pace or a rhythm and screwed up fence 1 (but, Ranger being Ranger didn’t care and we got over even though we took a rail…). Fence 2 was still too slow, but I moved up and started riding to still get the strides for fence 3 and rode again to fence 4, halted, and trotted out of the ring. Seriously though, I had my rhythm by that point and it was over. I hate courses that aren’t courses. Oh well, I still was in the Dixon Oval, jumped my fences, stayed on, and had fun. We weren’t going to get a ribbon over fences anyway so who cares?

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The “lovely” course but whatever… I failed at riding it but who cares. Ranger saved my butt because he’s the best

And with that, I rode at Devon Horse Show grounds on the best Ranger Horse there ever was.

Ranger Recap: We go to a show and I don’t pass out!

After not showing since… February? I finally agreed to show again. I almost could have showed last weekend but didn’t and then agreed to show this weekend. For what it’s worth, it was both a better decision and a worse decision. Better because as it turned out I got to split the hauling costs again (yay for $34 hauling!), but it was hot (last weekend was humid as hell and rainy, but not sunny so…?) and sunny and hot and I don’t do heat. (Plus, the jumps were tiny and everyone basically agreed that we didn’t care and just not to raise them for the horses (it was a combine pleasure pony/horse division so they just left the fences at 2″)). Honestly I was hot and didn’t care. Other negative for this show? Pleasure is normally 2 flat and 1 over fences. This show was 3 over fences and 1 under saddle. Under saddle in pleasure is Ranger’s strength normally so… But, it turned out to be a positive…

[We didn’t end up having a lesson on this week as my trainer was at a show so I just went out and rode and had to force myself to jump a bit. I trotted and canter and Ranger was tired, I was tired and thought, “he’s perfect, why do we need to do more?” Meanwhile the teenager in the ring with me was doing mini courses and all that. Meanwhile I was happy just to sit on Ranger and plod around. That said, we did (eventually) pop over a few fences. Our hay bales in both directions (yay! the tug method worked beautifully!), a skinny single a few times, and the outside single. With a little nagging, we did our outside line twice as the first time I had no pace (nerves… — in my defense, the second fence was a solid 2’6″+ (though it felt bigger) oxer that I’m not entirely sure I should have jumped outside a lesson–not that Ranger had any issue with it…) and added for an ugly 7, the second time I had pace and rode for a nice 6. We called in a day and went for a walk to cool out. Then I bathed him, scrubbed half his grass stains out to see how clean he’d be on Friday… Very. I just had to wash his legs. And he stayed clean outside overnight in a storm Friday night into Saturday. Good boy!]

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I don’t know what that child is doing but… or who that child is actually… 

So the joys of hunter shows. We got there at 12:30 and my ring was just getting ready to start short stirrup eq. So I got to watch Ranger and his kid. He was adorable though they didn’t get much love from the judge. He was in the bottom of the ribbons, but looked adorable doing it. Kid’s eq wasn’t bad either. After that it was down to the trailer for grass and water and then time to watch the other ring for a while. And wait. Because that’s what you do at hunter shows. Wait.

What felt like a couple hours later (and probably was), it was time to retack Ranger and realize that pretty much none of the girths in the trailer fit. I managed to squeeze him into a stretched out 44″  (I had a 52″ in my car… that wouldn’t help either)–we usually wear a 48″? I guess I need to keep an old girth of Subi’s around just in case… Too many pony girths! And hit the schooling ring. We had a ring conflict as children’s horse/pony combined was about to start right as I was heading in to school (my schooling break consisted of short stirrup hunter and pleasure pony/horse combine) so I made the executive decision to school myself. For right or wrong, I basically went in, jumped everything once in 1 direction (all jumps we were to do in both directions but whatever), didn’t die (though people started falling) and then one of trainer’s kids told me I could stop and leave so I did. Whatever, I was fine with it. I needed to jump something and the schooling was for me, not Ranger. Sorry Ranger.

Then it was untacking and saddle swapping for short stirrup so that Ranger could do that division. He did decently over fences (2 seconds and a first) and then AGAIN failed under saddle. Seriously, this judge did NOT like him under saddle. Then it was a saddle swap and my turn. By this point, they had decided only to raise the jumps to 2 ft and put small gates/boxes under what didn’t have stuff, but when my coat went on and I declared my goal wasn’t to pass out, I decided I really didn’t care. I was told I need more ambitions goals. But, think back to my first show when the goal was not to die. I think not passing out is a fine improved goal. At least I’m not worried about not dying!

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yay courses! I took a picture so I could look at it and then instead forgot I had a picture of the courses… 

So first class in and I go in and promptly pick up…the wrong lead because I’m a complete idiot. But, whatever, we never had the goal of picking up the correct lead right?

Second class, I almost forgot the course right before walking in. The course was fine. Goal was the pick up the right lead. I stopped caring after that part. Nothing to write home about. My turn to the inside single sucked as I turned too late. Oh well. The rest was ok. And with all our courses we cross cantered a lot because it’s Ranger and we don’t exactly have our changes so whatever.

Third course. Same as the first. Right before the first jump there’s a nice crash in the other ring. You should be able to hear it. I don’t know exactly what happened other than it sounded like someone crashed through a jump? No one died or fell, but… It was really loud. I was dead at this point so survival because the goal. Spots became long. Or short. And ugly. I barely had a canter at the end. I don’t know how I made it out of the ring. I was dead.

Somehow I still needed to hack. Oh how I just wanted to die instead. So we hacked. I was dead. And the ring was tight since all the jumps were still up and there was no where to go… It was fine. I rode around on a loop and got my leads and rode fine. The judge did everything she could to find something wrong. Hacking is our strong suit. Which is why we were third. Then they announced the o/f portion and I managed a 1st (1st course, must have missed the lead…), 2nd, and 2nd. So, my strong suit of the hack was our lowest placing portion. The judge did NOT like Ranger on the flat. Though the 3rd was his highest placement u/s that day.

Ended up Reserve for division which was fine. Thank you Ranger for carting my butt around and keeping me in the saddle. You are 100% the best!

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Riding the whole course [for the coolerette]

Going into our final show of the series, I had one goal and one goal only.

Win the damn division for the series. No pressure.

Well, actually, there wasn’t really too much pressure since we were leading by 30 points and just needed to show up. If the second place person showed up, won everything, and I stayed home? Then I could lose but that was really about it.

So, in reality, goals were the normal ones: not dying, remembering my course, and, well, riding.


Seems easy, right? Except I’ve sort of had the spectrum of lessons lately. 2 weeks ago I probably had the best lesson of my life. I meant to blog about it but I didn’t. It started well and I was happy. Then when I thought we were finished, the jumps went up. I saw pretty much all my distances but one. We had a talk about how good and consistent my eye is and how consistent it has always been, especially since I’m only riding once a week right now. I disagreed, but then again, I will agree that I’ve always lacked confidence. I feel like my old trainer ingrained in me that when you do well it’s all the horse, when you make mistakes, it’s all the rider. Therefore, I’m a passenger who tries to allow my horse to do well and try to to get in the way too much. 

Of course, sometimes a good lesson is followed by a bad one. Not to say the following week was bad, but I just felt…off. My eye wasn’t there and I couldn’t always get the canter I needed for a couple of singles. We crashed one.. made it over but dismantled the over in the process. Of course I was made to finish my course. Lines (mostly) were fine, just the damn singles. I saw nothing so either I over rode or was passive. Plus I just fell loose… we got through it and ended with an acceptable course (our 3 or 4 try) but I just wasn’t thrilled with it. 3 months ago it would have been a great lesson.

So the show. Confidence level wasn’t high. Brain was having evil thoughts. But Ranger is Ranger. Of course it was crazy freaking cold (started the morning at a balmy 19*F) and way more waiting around the last show. So, while I had a million layers on, once I actually put on my boots and show gloves and removed some layers, I was freezing. My trainer was nice enough to hold Ranger and another horse while we warmed up before schooling as I pretty much stopped feeling my fingers and toes (I was offered toasty toes but I’m so weird about anything in my boots). Thankfully I warmed up fast standing next to the heater in the indoor and I was able to survive schooling (other than taking out a jump…oops sorry!).


So our course was a long ride to an inside oxer which I was a touch slow to so we chipped around to an inside line (going 4) to my challenge, keeping him out to use my corner but still steering to my inside single [I’ve alluded to it before, but Ranger drifts and isn’t always the easiest to steer combined with my TERRIBLE habit of turning late and dropping my shoulder–he isn’t hard but he is happy to take advantage and laugh at me when I give him the option]-we absolutely nailed this corner and jump (and as a result I forgot goal 3 was on going) around to both outside lines the first in a 5 which was fine the second in a 3 (well, 4) because I forgot to ride and Ranger assumed my lack of direction indicated we were doing a courtesy circle. Instead, SUPER ugly jump as he saved my butt. [i was so tempted not to share the video but why not, right?]


Thanks to someone copying my lovely last line and some other errors, we walked away with a 2nd over fences. We followed that up with seconds in our flat classes as well. and another reserve champion. I’m happy as a whole, but honestly just didn’t feel as on as I should have. But, regardless, Ranger is the best. 


And we got our series grand champion coolerette. Goal accomplished!

Winter Schooling Show Series #2

Where I last left off,  I had a really good pre-show lesson which is actually not a common occurrence. I remember back to showing Subi as well as showing IHSA and regularly the last lesson before a show would usually suck. Regularly things would either suck from the start or they’d be going ok and then we’d push it until magically they’d suck. So, last lesson was sort of an anomaly for not sucking. Either that or the other obvious answer. Ranger is just perfect.

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Unlike last show where pleasure pony and horse were combined, we were separate this time around. Of course, my division sort of fell apart after anyway after some scratches and some less than ideal schooling. Nonetheless, we still had slightly larger jumps which definitely made things a little easier. The course was pretty simple. Outside line, around to inside single, inside broken line, to outside line. Unlike last time around, Ranger WASN’T flying and we decided that, thanks to the slightly larger fences, we were going to ask him to leave out the stride rather than holding for the 6. So, the goal was FORWARD the entire time (he was  doing the add for his cross rail courses and 2ft courses with his 2 kids earlier).

Schooling went really well, better than our actual course (I screwed up the turn to the third line and which resulted in an ugly chip… and we were just holding the canter rather than simple changes in our actual course as requested by trainer so some cross cantering/lead issues) but since I’m willing to post the video evidence, you can tell its 1000x better than the last course.

Thanks to class size, we came away with a second and I made it my mission to win the hacks. After all, Ranger is the epitome of a pleasure horse and managed to pin well in a much larger class (2nds) last time around. As it turned out, there were only 2 of us hacking so my goal became not to do anything stupid and to win the damn classes.

And that we did. Well, we almost did something stupid, as I was trotting around on loose reins and Ranger did think about leaving the ring for a moment, but other than that! Thankfully he’s reliable, has great downward transitions, trots around on a loose rein, etc. I love this guy!

Hacks are boring, but my husband was a good sport and actually recorded stuff…

 

Needless to say, it was a successful day and we walked out with a second, 2 firsts, and champion. Thank you again Ranger for carting my butt around.

Goals this week were to once again: 1. Not Die and 2. Remember My Course. 3. (NEW) Remember How to Ride. Over all? Success!

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Ranger goes to a show

For the first time in about 7 or 8 years, I went to my first show this weekend (unless of course you count Batts’ trip to Ludwig’s Corner Horse Show, which counts, but doesn’t since we went to have fun and just sort of hack sans trainer and try not make fools of ourselves). Anyway, it was a small schooling show series. Anyway, Ranger and I were planning to show in Pleasure Horse and after our bad lesson 2 week ago, that seemed like a good plan (last week’s lesson was much improved–Ranger has initially moved from night turnout to day turnout (8 hours to 4 hours) but after taking off with little kids, and basically continuing doing what he was doing with me (ducking out of jumps, ignoring hand/leg, and otherwise just being unhappy), he was returned to night turnout. He’s happy Ranger again. Life for him is good.). Jumps in pleasure were going to be 2’6″ which would be fine. Less than we jump in lessons.  Of course, they ended up combining pleasure pony and horse so we ended up jumping 18″. I can tell how far I come when I think is how tiny the jump are. Of course, larger jump would have probably made things easier as we got fast since it was easy to basically rush the lines coming home (and I sort of forgot to ride) and all that… If he actually had to put effort into jumping something, we might have had a prettier course. Oh well. In the end, I had 2 goals. Not to die and to remember my course. I did both so success!

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Leave it to my husband to take awkward pictures while schooling…

We ended up with a 3rd over fences and 2 seconds in the hack and reserve champion overall. Considering we rode against some really cute kids on really cute ponies, I’d say that was a huge success! Of course, Ranger is adorable too.

Anyway, not a bad reintroduction to showing! We’ll see where we go from here. I’m not interested in anything major (rated, multi-day), nor am I interested in show every weekend, but some local shows, sure, why not?

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