Wednesday, September 12, 2012

SB and Cuna go to a Show (long)

AKA "a whimsical adventure, part duex"

Early last week, the jumper show organizers sent out an email. They expected a good turnout, but warned that the classes would be small and go quickly. The lunch break was moved from 1pm back to noon, and since the lunch "classes" (egg and spoon, that sort of thing) would go quickly, we needed to be there by noon for the afternoon round.

So far, so good. The weather was in the 70s and breezy and Cuna and I were coming off an awesome weekend of jumping. We had a my Dad's truck and a trailer lined up to borrow and it was going to be my first ever show all by my onsies.

Saturday morning dawned bright and clear. I putzed around the house for a couple of hours and did nothing tiring. I wanted to be at the barn by 10.30 to be hooked up by 11 so I could pack at a leisurely pace and arrive at the show grounds just before noon. I'd rather have more time than less.

Finally, around 10am, I left the house. I had to run over to my Dad's office and pick up his truck key from his desk.

It wasn't there.


I dug through all the keys, and tried every single one that looked like it might work. No dice.

His phone is off on the weekends and he was not at home or work, so I had no way to contact him. I drove to his house and looked through every single place he kept keys. Still nothing. Not ever something that I could try: there were literally no keys to be found.

Uh oh.

I could even get inside, but no way to drive
I drove back to the office, just sure I'd missed something. I dug through every desk and drawer. I could get a key to every company vehicle except the truck that I needed to pull the trailer. Great. I text the girl whose trailer I was supposed to borrow to let her know I'm not coming. I'm about to tell her she can ride Cuna today if she wants, since I'm really disappointed and don't even want to go to the barn, when she calls me.

"Hey! Another boarder is here loading and going to the same show. Want me to just throw Cuna in their trailer?"

AND WE'RE SAVED!! I tell her yes and head to the barn to pick up my tack and follow them over. Since I'm not packing the trailer like I planned to, I make extra double sure I have everything I could possibly need. I assume the other boarder brought essentials like buckets and haynets. I make it to the show grounds a few minutes before noon and the morning classes are wrapping up, right on schedule.

Cuna is ok, aside from his usual fussiness about bugs, but I see the boarder didn't bring hay for the horses. Well, it's supposed to be a quick show. I have high hopes of being on the raod headed home in an hour or at most two. After all, there are only two classes after lunch before mine start in this small, local schooling show.

I learn my course at the arena and watch a small child get run away with by a pony that's afraid of the ribbon race. Good thing I have Cuna--this sort of chaos doesn't phase him at all. They start calling the first jumping class after lunch, and I head back to the trailer. I figure I'll leisurely tack up, hack around the grounds, pop over a couple of jumps, and be ready for my class in perfect time.

I leisurely tack. I hack. I visit. I go to check the class order, and realize that despite the fact it is well after 1pm, they are still on class one. Moreover, this 2'3" class is split into two sections and there are on section one. Beyond that, section one has a ton of horses left to go and people are tacking on schooling rounds at the end willy nilly.

"No worries," I think, "Lots of people jump 2'3" to optimum time. I'm sure there will be less in the jump off class and it will thin way out for the 2'6" and up classes.


Like this, only with tack on
I got off of Cuna eventually, but couldn't take him back to the trailer--there was nothing to eat and no shade and he hates bugs and would be miserable. Instead, he and I hand grazed in the sun.


I kid you not.

Finally, it was getting close to time for my class. I have been riding/standing in 100f heat for 4 hours with minimal water and no food, because I hate eating when I think I might be nervous. I got on and warmed up. Cuna (the saint) was forward and responsive. A little heavier than normal, but not bad.

We went in to our class. It was a cool jumper course with roll back turns and related distances and I was actually pretty excited to ride it. I hadn't accounted for how tired my entire body and brain was. Jump one, a simple vertical, was simple. Tight roll back to jump 2, an oxer. I buried him to the base, kept my leg on, didn't panic, and was pleasantly surprised to not be jumped out of the tack. Sweet. We made a neat left hand turn to the biggest jump, a max height (2'9") square oxer with barrels under it. It had been causing carnage on course, but I kept my leg on and Cuna didn't blink. Jump 4 was a vertical on a related distance that rode fine.

Right about there, I gave out. As we cantered to jump 5, a spooky wishing well, I got my eye on the line and rode positively towards the base. Cuna was pulling my arms out of their sockets and I felt us getting long and flat (and VERY fast). I pulled back, but in my head heard Steph saying, "SIT IN THE SADDLE". I ignored mental Steph and we squeaked over the jump.

As we motorcycled around the corner to the triple combination, I knew I couldn't hold Cuna up anymore. I didn't kick and I didn't pull, so he dragged me forward. We cleared the first jump, but it was a long spot. That meant we landed closer to the first fence, which meant I needed leg to make the two strides to the second fence. Unfortunately, my tired brain was processing well behind the speed I needed, so I sat in a helpless lump while Cuna added to make a three and collapsed over the second element, pulling a rail.

My body finally cooperated with my brain about the first distance, so I sat up and put leg on, and we got the one stride done in one. We finished the course, but it was rough.

Waaaaay rough.

The next class was the Gambler's Choice, set at 2'3" to 2'9" with various point values assigned to fences. Make your own course for 60ish seconds. Higher fences=more points. Most points at the end wins. Kicker: after you finish your course, you have the option to jump the scary barrel jump (again, largest thing on course) for 200 points. If you pull a rail, you lose 200.

Cuna and I were first.

Before going in, we had a pep talk with Rinsie, who said crazy things like, "SIT YOUR ASS IN THE SADDLE" and "DEVELOP A RHYTHM, IDIOT". Next time we are chatting before my first class.

This round rode so, so much better. I took Rinsie's sage advice and Cuna and I finally found a rhythm together. We jumped all the big jumps twice and as many little jumps as I could fit in. We we flowing together, really feeling good. The bell rang, indicating my chance at the joker fence.

Why not? Everything was great and we've certainly jumped bigger fences.

I took a nice line to the jump, sat in the saddle, kept my leg on, and held my hands steady. I left Cuna choose his spot, and the Old Man cantered boldly forward. We leaped into the air...

...and heard a rail crash down.

Because I am always so socially appropriate at Pony Club benefit shows with oodles of children present, I yelled out, "SHIT!!! Sorry buddy." and we left the arena.

I rode fine and Cuna was jumping well. I honestly think that we were both just tired and the approach I'd chosen was on a downhill slope, which didn't help me collect him at all. Poor guy.

As I debated the merits of doing our next class when we were tired and I'd already ridden well, I slid off of Cuna's side. My thighs were shaking uncontrollably and Cuna rubbed his hot, itchy head on me.

We were done for the day. Rinsie politely scratched me from the next class and I trooped back to the trailer. It was 4.30pm. And 100f.

Gratuitous cute us shot
I gave Cuna water out of my bucket that I just happen to keep in my car (yes, it's true). He drank thirstily and then I sponged him off. What a good boy. Calm and cool, even after something like that. We won a giant yellow ribbon even with our expensive rail down, and I couldn't be prouder of how Cuna went for me. I have a lot to work on in terms of showcraft, but all in all, it was not a bad experience.

In order to give credit where it is due:

1) Cuna. He was such a trooper about the whole thing...

2) My mom. She's started coming to my horse shows this year and she just loves Cuna. She even held him for a while and let him graze while I had some water and sat in the shade. Any of you grown-ups with non-horsey parents know what a huge thing this is. She's never held one of my horses before, but she feels safe with Cuna.

3) Rinsie. She dragged herself all the way out to a schooling show and sat in the heat for hours watching all these crazy classes. And still gave good feedback. All we have to do is get a camera to her and we're off to the races! (Plus I have high hopes that she and Pollo can be our show buddies next season. We could photograph each other!!)


  1. Ugh sometimes shows can be logistical nightmares, and I'm a firm proponent of mandatory shade for horses provided by show grounds!
    Yay that Rinsie could come out and I totally get how huge #2 is.

  2. Wow. I still can't get over how wrong the show organizers were in their email. 3 hours?!?! Poor show management just bothers me so much because its so preventable. And I 2nd the amazingness of #2 (non-horsey parent support) - very special.

  3. The Boy would (politely) point out that horse time always includes a 2 hour delay. Even if things are running ahead. Even if you've already accounted for every possible delay. Even if a very honest wife is sure in her predictions.

    2 hour delay (minimum)

    I think this is why he doesn't give me death stares when a "quick trip" for a lesson, or vet appt or schooling show extends into an all day adventure....

    Being a "horse person" I argue with him every time and am *SURE* that one of these days horse time will be speedy.

    1. My husband always asks me for a time. I think I pad it enough (what could possibly go wrong, right?), but yeah, I'm usually at least two hours off. We're close if I give him a padded estimate and then he adds two hours, but I'm pretty sure this show even beat that.

  4. Sounds like you guys did pretty good, considering the delay and heat. Cuna sounds like a great horse to be able to take to shows - not fussed about anything!

  5. Bravo for the try!!!!!! I Love the attitude. :0)

  6. Man, #2! It makes me a little sad to think about the last time that one of my parents willingly came to a show. :( I hope she got lots of kisses and praise and thanks!

  7. This is why I ride have a set time. I would never make it in the hunter/jumper world. My oc self could not handle it!
    Great job! Good boy Cuna!

  8. Ah the magic of hunter/jumper shows. Now you have learned that you should generally expect your class to be about 3 hours later than it should be. Unless you are running late, in which case it will have started when you get there. And the 12" crossrail class will take 2 hours because for some reason you need a warmup round over jumps your horse could walk over, even if he is 13 hands tall.

    Yeah, I don't do jumper shows very often, NEVER GOING BACK to a hunter show ever again! But they are useful on occasion for schooling and it sounds like, despite being tired, you still learned from the experience, which makes it worthwhile.


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