And we just did it.
And he was perfect. PERFECT.
Imma do the sappy thing here when I say I cannot thank this little horse and his enormous heart enough. He went into the oldest and one of the most prestigious horse shows in the country, took it completely in stride, and put in two clear jumping rounds. He was foot perfect all weekend. And the fact that he was relaxed, happy, and seemed to be enjoying all the attention was all the reward I could ever ask for.
I went out to Upperville on Saturday and set up stalls, so that when we rolled into the show on Sunday afternoon, the horses could step right off the trailer and get settled. We shipped out there with three Thoroughbreds total - Soon, plus a former hunter and a former eventer, who were both venturing into rated jumperland for the first time. Soonie stepped off the truck and settled into his tent stall right away. No fuss, no drama, absolutely zero shits given. The other boys settled pretty quickly too. We schooled on the flat in the warm up rings on Sunday afternoon, and then went out into the gorgeous hacking field immediately afterward to cool the horses out, and enjoy the unbeatable Virginia hunt country view.
Soon was a star the whole time. A little tense the first time in the warm ups on Sunday, and in the show ring hacking on Monday morning, but by the time it came time to show, he was looking and acting like he'd shown at big rated shows all his life.
|"Seriously this is old news already so stop it..."|
We were lucky in that both days (Monday and Tuesday) we showed in the first class, and then were done for the day. So both morning were busy, but productive: we got to the show grounds around 0630 (Kim had already fed, watered, and picked stalls), got on around 0700 and hacked in the show ring, then hopped over a couple of jumps in the warm up while it was still deserted. We returned to show at 0900 and then were done for the day. I'm glad we jumped earlier in the morning, versus waiting until just before the class. It's nice to see that the warm up rings at rated shows are still like Game of Thrones.
Both the Monday and Tuesday jump rounds were good by any standards, and downright excellent by "third time off the farm green bean" standards. Bubba went in the ring quiet, and jumped around like a hunter. It was a single round jumper course, and I already knew we wouldn't make time without doing stupid shit, so my only goal was to go in and have a quiet, hunter-like round and get some valuable experience. Pace, balance, and softness was most important to me with a horse still that green to the jumper ring, speed was of no interest to me.
Soonie jumped like a champ. I could have opened him up more, but that's something we'll work on in future lessons for upcoming shows. I made sure to keep my entire arm soft, to give with the hand and close my leg on the approach and let him find the base on his own. This worked beautifully, especially since he was slightly backed-off already with the show environment, and needed some extra support from my leg. He still went around very quiet and soft, and I couldn't have been happier with him. I had a few minor decision making issues, but nothing major and I think it was a great first rated outing for both of us. I was thrilled to bits with him at the end of each round. So proud of him, coming into that horse show and handling it like such a professional. My mind is a little blown.
While I wait for the official photos to come in, enjoy some cell phone pics and the ShowNet videos!