We had a great show! We arrived on Friday afternoon, got Louie all settled into his stall, and set up camp for the weekend. We had some extra time before my first class, so we walked around the arena to check out the scary center display and the sights and sounds around the arena, and got to watch quite a bit of the show before it was time to get ready for our turn to ride. We had a nice warm-up ride and Louie felt great and sound. He was moving really freely and had a nice floaty trot. I'm not sure if it was the farrier or the chiropractor I have to thank for that, but probably both. :)
My first class Open Hunter Pleasure, and there were 9 horses in it- mostly Morgans, but a few Saddlebreds, Arabians, and even an Appaloosa. It was a big class with a lot of anxiety potential, but Louie did an outstanding job and handled it all like a seasoned veteran. He didn't spook at anything, and I tried to ride smart and pay attention to our surroundings and horses around us, which can be a difficult task when riding a green young horse! We had a nice ride with one exception. When they called for the right lead canter, I think I may have given Louie a tad much of a cue as he kind of did a flying leap/lead change/jump into the right lead. The judge caught the end of that transition as I was in the corner of her view at the time. I wasn't even sure if Louie got his hind feet onto the proper lead, but I didn't care, I figured what the heck, he got into the canter and there are 9 horses in here, I'm not going to place anyhow. Well, I was just a bit surprised when they called us for 2nd place! I had been talking to another competitor (the one who shows the gray ASB that I showed against at Washington County- turns out she is a professional, so that's why she didn't show back in HCP that day) and literally said something like "you've got to be kidding me!" I guess I didn't expect to do so well, but that shows you how much I know about how we look and whether we're competitive or not! My husband watched the class and told me afterward with full confidence that if Louie hadn't done that hop-jump into the right lead we would have won the class. Wow, I don't know what to say about that, except that's awesome! I'm not going to complain about my ride or dwell on Louie's exuberant transition, Louie was a really good boy and handled it really well, especially for not having ridden in 2 weeks.
Our Saturday started out with Hunter Pleasure Novice Horse in the morning session. There were only 2 horses in the class, I believe my competitor was an Arabian horse, and we both had nice rides (Bjorn said the other horse did well, I wasn't watching it haha). We had a nice ride, and won the class. We still had some over-zealous canter transitions, but they weren't quite as exciting as the night before. Here is a photo from the novice horse class, with me looking kind of silly, but sporting my new pink shirt that I picked up cheap at the tack swap: http://www.courtneychurchphotography.com/ofest2010/class138/pages/OCT_6375.htm
In the evening session, we rode in the ASB Hunter Country Pleasure class, and were the only entry. Bjorn and I were both rather disappointed that there weren't any others in the class, as the hunt seat and sport disciplines frequently seem to be central to debate, and are in need of more support from exhibitors and entries- a large part of the reason Louie and I are finally getting out there to do it. It would have been nice to have seen a full class of nice hunters and really show the spectators what a Saddlebred can do in a different seat, so I am hopeful that we will have bigger classes to show in next season (based on the size of the classes this summer, we should definitely have bigger classes in the future). Well, needless to say, we got to do the victory pass again, but really, we had a nice ride. Louie broke from the canter in the first direction down to a trot for a stride or two- for some odd reason- but the rest of the ride was good. Strangely, he was more spooky when he was out there by himself than with the group of 10. I guess maybe because he was alone with no other horses to reassure and comfort him, but he did well, didn't have any major issues and had a nice ride.
Finally, Sunday afternoon was our ASB Hunter Country Pleasure Stake. We were the only entry again for this class, but we had a great ride. I was really able to push Louie in the extended trot and use my legs like I do at home. We did a nice pivot on the haunches to change directions and sprung out with a nice driving trot the second way. I asked Louie to bring his head up just a bit higher in this class because I wanted to get a nice photo, and it looked better with the angle that the photographer had been taking pictures. As we were standing in the line-up, the judge came up to us and had some very nice things to say to us. She said we did a great job out there, she knows how it can be difficult being the only one in the class, but she can tell that we really work hard at this and are doing a wonderful job. She commented on how she liked to see that I had Louie bent over his inside shoulder (bent to the inside) the whole time- somewhat surprising to me that a Saddlebred/saddle seat judge would notice such a thing being that so many show horses are bent to the outside in the show ring. I was very happy to hear such nice compliments from a judge, and it made me feel very proud of how far Louie and I have come in the past 2 years. Bjorn finally came out to the ring to help with the victory pass photos, I was hopeful to get a good one with the ribbon, but no such luck. The photographer did, however, get a few very nice ones during my ride. She got some showing him in extension, which is really the way I prefer a hunter to be photographed. I really like how Louie looks in this photo- the part of the stride, etc.
But, this one, I think I like better- I like how I look and the background better here, even though I like the part of the stride he is in just a bit better in the other photo. http://www.courtneychurchphotography.com/ofest2010/class186/pages/OCT_8140.htm
I am open to suggestions between the two photos! And I may have her add in a ribbon, just have to decide whether I want it on the bridle or on my boot.
Overall, it was a great show, we had a great weekend, beautiful weather, and a lot of fun. We had 4 solid rides, and Louie felt great. We got a lot of compliments from trainers, other exhibitors, and of course the judge. I'm pretty sure Louie even made my husband proud (Bjorn really likes a nice saddle seat horse and has always been a little disappointed since I decided to make Louie a hunter), which made me really happy. I couldn't be more proud of my boy, from the good rides to the tiny little things like standing in cross ties, stall behavior, handling, standing in line-up, entering and exiting the ring, etc. It was almost like he had done it 100 times. He was such a good boy- and a trooper!