When you like to horse show, is there anything better than being paired with an equine partner who also likes to horse show?
After our (surprisingly) relaxing walk-with-a-few-brief-moments-of-cantering-up-hills-at-full-speed hack out into the grasslands on Sunday (only two spooks!), I was expecting Riley to have some serious pep in his step after shipping in to the show grounds earlier this morning. Instead, he melted into his usual Horse Show Self - calm but alert, waves of benevolence wafting from his being as he gazed around, enjoying the generalized chaos unique to the horse show world. This is a horse that prefers wandering down the shed rows, checking out the action, to going out to the abandoned grass areas and stuffing his face.
This type of relaxation makes for a fairly relaxed me, at least on our days where we aren't expected to do much of anything (aka, actually horse show.) So after arriving at the showgrounds and enjoying a less than entirely leisurely tacking up in order to try and avoid the next storm rolling through the area, I hopped on and hacked down to the Small Jumper Ring (usually 1.10m and below) warm-up to see what kind of horse I had.
This particular showgrounds is a little unique, in that the shedrows of stabling are really, REALLY far away from any of the rings - the lone exceptions being the lungeing area and the East Ring, which is really only used for flatting and the occasional ticketed warm-up for the hunters. Everything else involves a 10+ minute walk over hill and dale and abandoned acres of dirt.
There is a portion of this walk which leads you through a very flat, very barren area, and (in)conveniently runs right next to a road within the park which golf carts, tractors, water trucks, cars, motorbikes, scooters, etc. all use to get around. It is a busy road. Often this area is devoid of other horses, particularly on Tuesdays during the middle of the Spruce Meadows series. Riley does not particularly enjoy the following:
a) Being in barren areas.
b) Having nothing to look at.
c) Being alone.
d) Facing oncoming Terrifying Vehicular Devices such as water trucks. Who NEVER SEEM TO TURN OFF THEIR WATER, for Christ's sake we are like five feet away from you, cool it with the 150 gallons per second.
However, once Mr. Snorty Pants got past this and we entered the warm-up ring, it was all business. He did his usual "MOMWE'REATAHORSESHOWI'mGonnaGoSoFastAtTheTrotYouCan'tKeepUpHaHaHAHAwhatdoyoumeanslowdownNO." for awhile and then settled into a lovely rhythm. We worked on our usual - coming off my leg well, softening and giving to the bit, a little bending left and right, some haunches/shoulder in and out, rounding and working from behind, going forward and back when asked. His flatwork has improved fiftyfold over the past couple of months and I think he has grown to rather enjoy the work and its consistency. He's certainly muscled up a lot from it - my friend commented on Sunday, "you know, he actually looks like a real horse now. Not some weird cross between a pony and a foal like he always used to."
Beyond that I was quite happy with my position today as well. Usually this is a constant irritation; I can't keep my leg in quiiiite the right place, my lower leg doesn't feel 100% secure, my hands suck and I do piano hands (okay, this still happens more than I'd like), I hunch, whatever - but I was quite happy with my leg. I really do think my Butet has made a huge difference; I've never felt so secure in a saddle! The barn manager asked me how I was liking it earlier this afternoon, and I responded by telling her that if it were legal to marry an inanimate object, my Butet would be my top pick.
I gave Riley a looooooong cooling out after I rode, mainly to watch Trainer school my friend's horse, who looked great. She takes her first steps with her own horse into the showring on him tomorrow morning - something she's waited seven years to do!
After I snuggled Riley into bed, I went back down to the vendor area, picked up some gloves and then sat with the barn owner to watch Trainer teach a lesson. I really like, and admire, Barn Owner; she's a sweet, funny, generous type with just enough sarcasm and snark to make her quite amusing and interesting. So we had a nice little chat which somehow ended with discussions about Florida and Grand Prix horses. I'll say no more on that but it was interesting indeed. We picked up Trainer after he was done teaching, then scurried back to the barns in order to pack everything away and take off before the monsoon hit.
Which did - about 30 minutes after I reached home. I'm not entirely sure how badly the horse show was hit, but it's probably safe to say there are some flooded stalls and mildly traumatized equines. I know I'm certainly traumatized; this is my first tornado warning involving fleeing to the basement, whereupon I sat and contemplated exactly how painful Death By Tornado really is, since I came to this country!
All's well that ends well, though, and the tornado warning was cancelled about an hour after it went into effect. Now I can safely totter up to my (second story) bedroom and fall asleep at the unreasonably early hour of 9pm; the better you sleep, the better you ride! At least, that's my theory, and I'm sticking to it. Clear Round Wednesday, here we come!