I’m way behind on Shady updates, but this past weekend was too much fun to wait on!
Shady and I had our ups and downs all summer with soundness, but we’ve finally got it figured out. We had entered several events but wound up scratching. We did get to GMHA June and completed, but she wasn’t quite herself. Not lame, but not herself. I will update more on our path to soundness later.
The night before we left I finally accepted the fact that Shady was too hairy and would be hot. Thankfully my friend was generous enough to take time out of her day to do a beautiful clip job. Shady appreciated it eventually, though she didn’t know it.
Green Mountain Horse Association, or GMHA, in South Woodstock, VT, is our favorite place to be. Shady is very comfortable there, and settled right in like her usual self. She was quiet in her stall all weekend, not caring that some of her old “friends” were there. She had said hello to Aumara and Scribbles, but with a pin of her ears and a threat of a bite, she reminded them that she still doesn’t like them.
Friday evening we went for a long, stretchy hack then did some flat work in the warm up area. She felt good, though not as strong behind as she used to. It was a little more obvious to me at the showgrounds for some reason.
My dressage test wasn’t until after 11 on Saturday, which gave me plenty of time to take Shady for a walk, spot bathe, and watch some friends compete. Finally, it was time to head to the warm up for our turn. We drew the straw for the grass ring which isn’t always a bad thing. Shady does seem to do better on grass, though the footing has been really hard this summer due to lack of rain. We used a small stud on the outside front of our shoes, just to help with a little grip.
We didn’t do much in warm-up as she was quiet and felt good. Circling around the ring I put my leg on and really sent her forward, asking her for just 4 minutes of uphill, forward work. She responded beautifully, and down centerline we went.
I was pretty happy with the test. I was really bummed when partway into it a fly landed on her neck and started biting, hence the head tossing and resulting slap to the neck in an effort to kill said fly.
We landed in 5th with a 31.3 in a very tightly scored division. Two points better would have put us in first. Reflecting later on the test, just a few improved movements here or there would have earned us the blue. It is very reassuring to know that we are still competitive, and have a chance to make some easy changes to be at the top.
That being said, one rail in stadium would drop us down to 12th place, far out of the ribbons. I do think that stadium makes me the most nervous. There is very little room for error!
She warmed up very well, so we again didn’t do much. I typically only jump 4-6 jumps in warmup, I don’t see much need for anything more than that.
Stadium went really well, and I felt that I had ridden well, she responded well, and we were back out there as our beautiful partnership! We had no rails down to keep our 5th place.
I wish my friend hadn’t stopped the video, as Shady let out a series of enthusiastic bucks at the end. I laughed at her, as she was clearly displaying her proud-ness. She cracks me up.
The next day was our XC run. I unfortunately don’t have video, though I do have this lovely picture that someone took of me because they thought my saddle was beautiful:
It had rained just a little the night before, enough to make the hard ground just a little greasy on top. The course was a little shorter than normal, at a slow speed. The challenge for us was to get around safely, without incurring speed faults! Having seen several horses slip out on course, I had some worries about that. We have front shoes with stud holes, but are barefoot behind.
She was very quiet in warm up, but getting to the base of every fence well and listening to me. Then, she saw the horse two horses in front of her go and whinnied at it as we were walking. Suddenly, as I picked up the reins to head to the start box, I had a rearing, snorting, leaping horse under me. It was quite comical as my 17 year old, very experienced horse, propped and pranced around, on a loose rein mind you, to the start box. I laughed when the start box volunteer asked if I needed any help, and responded with “no thank you, this is normal.”
Not normal was our exit out of the start box, with a rear and sideways leap we sent the starters flying. Sorry!
She was excellent on course, getting to the base of every fence, with the exception being our speed. She truly feels that we should indeed be in a race to see who goes the fastest on course. Thankfully we weren’t in a tie! We did slip twice, both areas were incredibly slippery and numerous other riders had slipped at the same spot, including a few falls there. I felt bad to really bring her back, despite her opinions, but the slips would have been much worse had she been going at her choice of speeds.
We finished on our dressage score and wound up moving up to 4th. Shady was quite pleased with herself and cooled out well. She complied nicely with the USEF drug tester as well, as we were chosen for what I believe is the 6th time in our career. Drug Tester Randy (as I named him) was pretty entertained by our group of people and horses. As usual, not a problem for Shady and I, we know the rules!
Although we didn’t get out to many shows this year, I think this will wrap it up for us. Perhaps a few fun local events, but it is already getting cold up here in New England and winter will be upon us before we know it. Next year, however, we’ve got big plans.