Saturday, September 18, 2021

September Rocking Horse Schooling Show

Yoshi and I did our first 3 phase today at Rocking Horse in Altoona! Rocking Horse is one of the few places that I went as a teenager in Pony Club that is still around, so it was extra nostalgic to come back here to compete. I had initially planned on just hauling in for the day until I checked out the schedule for the May schooling show and noticed that they ran the lower levels first. I confirmed with the organizer that they were doing this again and decided to get a stall rather than haul 1.5 hours before an 8-9 am start. It also gave us a chance to check out the grounds on Friday and get Yoshi acclimated a bit. We headed over on Friday and arrived around noon. The weather looked sketchy later, so we braved the heat for a 40 minute ride around. We mostly walked - out to the cross country course, around the outside of the dressage rings, up to the judges booths - but we did do a bit of bendy trot and canter. I bathed him right after and then got him all cozy in his stall with a fan hung and loads of alfalfa.

He LOVED his fan 

I left him under the fan and headed out to walk my courses. Stadium was pretty twisty turny, but wasn't too scary looking. Cross country looked nice and inviting. They did about half easy step over logs and half mini jumps: 

Nice and inviting first jump

Fence 2, hanging out with a training level fence

3 was another log, so here's 4, a cute little bench

5 - flags on a slight incline followed by a decently steep (for FL), but short, decline on the other side. This was the closest two "fences" were placed together, 5 was about 10 strides after 4. I thought it was a really nice way to start asking slightly related questions. 


7 was another log, so here's 8, pretty inviting ramp


AND 10! 

It POURED shortly after I got back from walking cross country. It didn't really stop raining until around 7 PM when it slowed to a drizzle. I took him out for a hand walk then. He did a bit of staring off into the distance looking regal but again was not impressed by much. Back at his stall, one of his neighbors a few stalls down was pretty amped up and spinning and screaming for a LONG time. Fortunately he really didn't seem to care too much. I picked out his stall, tossed him more hay, then shut out the lights in our barn aisle since everyone else had headed out for the evening. Eventually stressed neighbor did quiet down, which I was grateful for because I was sleeping about 20 yards from the barn. 

Today I woke up about 4, makes sense since I laid down at 8. I managed to fall back asleep until 6 when people started arriving and Yoshi's neighbor started calling again. At first I thought he hadn't laid down because he did not have a single shaving in his tail, but I spotted a manure stain on his coat as I walked him. I tacked up for dressage 20 minutes before our ride time and located our ring. The huge downpour the night before meant that there was a large puddle basically rail to rail at C in both rings. I was a bit concerned he might not want to get his feet wet, but I didn't need to worry. He warmed up well, we've certainly had more lift and more bend, but for a show environment and a relatively new way of going, I was happy. The test itself, BN A, was more of the same. Very workmanlike and obedient, but a lot of "tight over the back/topline" comments. The right lead canter depart was in the puddle as was the canter circle. The right lead is also our worse lead, so of course worrying about those two things meant I didn't ride it well. It was scored fairly generously though with a 6 for the depart and a 6.5 for the circle with the comment "loosing roundness". Generous because I didn't really think there was a roundness to loose at that point. Collective remarks basically summed up everything JT has been telling me "Lovely Energy! Keep working on the relaxation/suppleness over the back, which will help the connection and freedom of the gaits". He got a 6.5 on gaits and submission and 7 on rider and impulsion. Our final score was a 33.1, which was good enough to put us in first. I didn't know this until after stadium and cross country though. 

Terrible selfie, but it's the best I got after dressage. Blurrily showing off his Equiture browband. 

I let him cool out in front of his fan and get a drink. Once he dried a bit, I brushed the mud off his legs and tacked up for stadium. There was a trainer warming up 4 students in a group lesson style in the warm up ring so I only went in for about 5 minutes and hopped over the vertical then the oxer twice and headed over to the ring. They were taking people as we were ready, so I got to go straight in. Overall the course rode really well. He was jumping amazingly well, just like he did in my lesson on Wednesday, truly lifting up and making a nice shape over the jumps. I trotted him between 3 & 4 because he was getting kind of strung out. It was a good decision because 4 & 5 were a 5 stride line and it was a relatively short 5, so he would've definitely been tight to 5 or done a long sprawling 4 if we hadn't trotted in. He played a bit after 7, which he had done in the warm up too, but has never done at home. We turned the corner and headed down over 9 to finish the course... Then they rang the bell as I crossed through the finish markers. I was a bit confused till I slowed to a walk and tried to head out of the ring. The tent at the entry spooked him and he was balking a bit as the ring steward called out that I had missed 8 and was eliminated, but they would let me go cross country.

It was a weird set of emotions. On the one hand he was jumping so well and I was riding him well too. Which might have been part of what happened. When I was doing jumper shows last fall with the red mare, I was often just pointing and counting jumps. This time I was sitting up, riding, making a nice bouncy canter between fences or making the decision to trot. And in the actually riding the just turning and finding the next jump went a bit out the window. 

But on the other hand I felt pretty good about his dressage test and knew we probably had a chance at a ribbon if I didn't screw the jumping up. And then I screwed the jumping up. But at least it was a schooling show and the organizers/jump judge were nice enough to let us continue on to cross country. 

I brought him back to his stall, took his bridle off to let him drink, and switched out his boots. I added my vest and then hopped back on to head down to cross country. There was only one other person warming up when I got down there and they headed over to the start a few minutes after I got there. I hopped the entry warm up logs then hopped the BN coop and headed over to the start box. After joking with the timers about not being able to count to 9, but hopefully being able to count to 10, they counted us down and we headed out. We trotted the first log, and I let him roll forward in the canter after that. About ten strides out from #2 I sat down to gather him up and noted he felt a bit sticky. This didn't improve as we got closer, and I was internally cursing my lack of crop as he stuttered to a trot. Fortunately even when uncertain he is still a VERY GOOD horse, and he hopped over it from the trot. I legged him forward firmly after and he took #3, another log, from a nice forward canter. He stuck a bit to #4, but it was still improved from #2. We turned to the flagged slight uphill, and I got him into a trot before the downhill part. I definitely didn't sit back enough though, so it was a bit discombobulated. We picked up the canter again to take #6 fairly nicely. After the #7 log, we made a zig-zag turn through some trees to #8 and I spotted Ms. GY. She cheered for us, and we headed off to finish with #8-10. They all flowed REALLY well and he took off a bit after #10, pretty proud of himself and really getting the hang of this cross country thing! I was also pretty proud of him, it was SO COOL to feel his confidence grow through the course. 

The cross country course was amazingly well put together. It asked some interesting questions in a friendly way. I loved that it started out inviting (as opposed to an entry event I did last fall that started in a lane between two paddocks to a coop that was shared with BN... Before going on to many much more inviting logs...), but still had some interesting jumps worked in there and the last 3 jumps were all actual jumps vs. the telephone pole sized logs. I also loved the little terrain question at #5, it very much emphasized a weakness of mine that I didn't know existed until right then, but in a friendly you won't fall ass over tea kettle when you screw it up kinda way. I'm really glad we made it out to this event. They only hold two schooling shows a year now, and it was pretty special to come back here to compete Yoshi at his first event. 

Seems the theme of this month is him being perfect and me being... well... human. I really couldn't have asked for a better first 3 phase experience for the two of us though! Hopefully some pro pictures will turn out well because I'm definitely interested in buying a few to commemorate him being the best pony ever. 


  1. Congrats sounds like a wonderful experience! Minus the TE whoops, but Yoshi never has to know about that lol