The horse show went well! It was miserably hot and sticky, but Louie was a pretty good boy and we had fun. We brought our five-year-old Tennessee Walking Horse gelding, Jackson, as well, so I really had my hands full, but it was worth it.
Louie's first class was not so great. He was acting a little spooky, and anticipating a lot. I had trouble getting him to walk, and keeping him on the rail (he wanted to drift to the inside during the walk, trying to canter). We got around, but it was not a great ride. The photographer did get a beautiful picture of him from this class. ASB Hunter Country Pleasure
Our second ride was the following evening, Open Hunter Pleasure. I had time to ride Louie in the ring that afternoon and we got a lot of our issues worked out. We worked on walking, patience, and realizing that there were no horse-eating monsters lurking along the rail. Then for a little added reassurance I put my spurs on (I have been riding in spurs all year, and find them to be quite helpful at times). Our ride that evening was awesome- one of the best rides I've had. He flat walked, took his transitions beautifully, and we had great gait extensions. Even my husband commented on what nice extension Louie had in his gaits at this show compared to last year. I was pretty impressed since we've hardly worked on it. But that is one of my main skills I'm trying to build up for the show ring. Open Hunter Pleasure Well, we won that class, and my husband thought it would be fun if we did our victory pass at the hand gallop. Weee!!
After our second class, another competitor came up and asked me if I'd be interested in riding in an Open Hunter Stake if they added it, so naturally I said yes. The following afternoon was the Open Hunter Stake. It was dreadfully hot and I was so dehydrated and hot it was all I could do to stay on and get through the gaits. My husband was standing on the rail saying "smile!" but I just couldn't get up enough energy for anything more than the absolute essentials. Louie was a little boogery in that class as well, same issues as the first class, but to a lesser degree. So we took the Reserve in that class, which I felt we deserved. Open Hunter Stake
Our final class was the ASB Hunter Country Pleasure Stake, and we were the only team in the class. We had a pretty nice ride, better than the previous ride, as Louie was not as spooky and walked a little better. We need to work on our walk and having him not anticipate the canter. This is a really common problem in show Saddlebreds, and my last Saddlebred had the same problem that I never was able to really cure. Louie's is only just beginning, so I think we can work on it, we'll just have to get creative and I need to be really firm on not allowing anything other than the gait I ask for. ASB Hunter Country Pleasure Stake
The photographer, Courtney Church, snapped some great photos of us, as usual. This is my favorite, from the Hunter Country Pleasure Stake- in the hand gallop. I look like I was tipped forward, but I usually feel very balanced in two point, so I think it's partly just an optical illusion and maybe the angle of the photo. Hand Gallop
Overall, Louie had a great show. We received some nice comments from other competitors and even a few trainers on what a nice horse Louie is. Sometimes I feel that I have two different horses- one at home and one at shows. But he is very beautiful, and I'm sure he probably makes a very elegant hunter.
We used our new rubber stall mats and a hoof packing called Magic Cushion Hoof Packing, and I think it helped him. It is supposed to act as sort-of a liniment and increase blood flow to the hooves, something Louie can use. He is doing great in his plain plates, moving really nicely, and after the show he moved to his new home. More to come on that later. . .