Just to start things off, this fine video that I made whilst too ill to do anything else at all. I enjoy videos like this, even if they do remind me somewhat of a 17 year old trying to be YouTube famous. It details ~the journey~ from the very first class to the last, with moments of glory and moments of not-so-glory, but that's horse showing for you!
Warning, there is music. I think it's pleasant, but you might not.
January & February
In January, I was leasing this super cute gigantic six year old Hanoverian gelding, Ruckus, that Trainer procured from the ether.
So many faces. So little time.
He was owned by one of Trainer's long time owners, who is also one of the owners of his top horse. Ruckus wasn't quite ready to go to Florida, so I got him since I was essentially horseless! He was a total step away from my usual - small bay geldings - and was fun and opinionated, had the world's biggest stride, and enjoyed taking off really far away from the jumps. Unfortunately, by the time mid February rolled around, we realized he wasn't going to work too terribly well, due to some behavioral things... so he got sent home to hang out in a field.
Sometime in January (I forget when!) I started riding Riley on and off again. He didn't have a person, and I was happy to ride anything, so...
In February sometime, Ruckus went home, and I went to riding Riley more or less full time. At the end of February, I made my first EVER trip to the equine circus that is Wellington, Florida, on Nations Cup weekend. I don't know what I was expecting, exactly, but WEF met my expectations totally. It also made me realize, after watching horses stop out or riders go off course, that even people and horses at this top level are still mortal, which was a good reminder after feeling like a shriveled incompetent person from The North (remembering that, at that point, we had only had Trainer as our Trainer for two months before he went sailing off to Florida.)
Anyway, Wellington was pretty amazing. I spent time at every ring, drank a bunch of horribly overpriced Italian sodas, sat in a lot of saddles, and in a fit of crazy even bought one (which I later returned when sanity prevailed.) We watched the Nations Cup in the Canadian section - perhaps ironically right next to my American compatriots - and all collectively held our breath as each member of the Canadian Team took the stage. Trainer blew us all away by being one of only two double clears in the whole thing, and Canada won that night.
Winner winner chicken dinner!
I went home from Florida feeling super inspired and excited for the show season, and proceeded to lose my stirrups somewhere.
April brought with it warmer temperatures, a trip to Europe with the fam jam, and the return of Trainer from Florida. We all looked forward to his return, and got started on preparing for the horse show season.
Short sleeves! And outside! YAY!
In late April, Tigger also went to start his new career as a dressage star.
May brought with it the first horse shows of the season, wherein we began in the .80m jumpers with Riley trying his best to buck me off, and ended the week showing 1m. The next week, we did the 1m as well. I thought my riding was about 950 times better than it had ever been, though when I look back now, I cringe more than a little! Still, we were off to a great start, and I was super excited for the year.
June brought another horse show or two, along with a move up to the 1.10m where we were mostly successful. My riding was horrifying, but hey, we made it around. Gotta start somewhere, right? Trainer spent the majority of June and July showing at Spruce Meadows, so our shows were scheduled inside his show schedule, when he would fly back to deal with us annoying amateurs at home.
July was Big Fancy Show in Quebec, where I was all *hair flip* gonna do the 1.10m, but we got there and Riley was spooky and backed off and I was riding like I didn't know how, so... that didn't happen. The fact of the matter was that we didn't make it around the 90cm even once, but ended on the weekend doing a 1.0m class where we were double clear and in the ribbons until the very end. Yet another horrible learning experience. But Quebec was pretty cool. Not sure I would go back.
August brought with it another horse show, where we galloped around the 1m with some success and then went in the 1.10m without so much success. Win some, lose some. The rest of the month, we were all more or less cooling our heels, since Trainer was off to the World Equestrian Games and the preparation for that took quite some time. We spent a lot of time hacking in the back 40, and picking apples off trees and feeding them to our horses. It was great fun, and some of my happiest summer memories are from hacking around back in the woods on our own. Even though Riley tried to kill me a fair percentage of the time, it helped me become a better rider, and get over some fear issues. After all, if my horse could almost fling us both off a cliff, and both of us didn't actually die, that's success... right?
I also started picking up a lot of extra rides in August, which I think helped a lot with my confidence and riding ability. I was really happy about this.
September equalled the World Equestrian Games, wherein I stayed up until ungodly hours watching showjumping from France, and where Trainer was the top ranked Canadian the whole way through. SO MUCH PROUD.
Later in September, we started to go pony showing again, and also got a new Assistant Trainer. At the first show, I lost my shit and forgot how to ride, but ended up having some of the nicest rounds I've had anyway. At the second show, we were second in the Mini Prix, which was the best class we had all year. By this time, I felt that my riding had improved exponentially to what it was in May, and was feeling okay about things.
In October, we had one last horse show, which didn't exactly go to plan. The show was held on grass, and it poured and poured and POURED, Riley backed off, and then it became, like, two degrees and we all froze to death. Not the most fun. But it was still a horse show, and it was populated very lightly by clients, so I had a great time shuffling around and setting jumps for Trainer and learning lots. Super fun!
We were thisclose to having a ribbon in the final Mini Prix, but were thrown out by the very last horse on course. Figures, right?! That was okay, though - it was a decent end to the year, and I was really happy with Little Roo.
Trainer also rode in the Nations Cup Final in October, and we all cheered him on. Unfortunately, it wasn't Canada's day! We all went home after this for a few weeks of lessons before the Royal, where we all learned tons and tons. Boot camp with Trainer is the best.
November was a great month - lots of hard work, and lots of partying it up at the Royal Winter Fair, with fantastic international showjumping and the fantastic international partying that goes along with it. At home, I hit a new stage in my riding when Trainer set up gigantic fences and made me jump them. We hit a-shade-under-1.40m... which is crazy, and felt pretty amazing! A memory I treasure beyond many.
I also felt like my riding hit a totally new level. My flat had improved hugely, my jumping had improved hugely, and I felt like I was finally in a place of real confidence and, dare I say it, just the hint of cockiness that I think you kind of need to be a little successful. Feelin' good, real good.
When December rolled around, Trainer took off for Florida, and I took off for Jamaica, but not before he gave me a few no-stirrups torture sessions. Just something to remember him by......
All in all, 2014 was an interesting year. They always are, one way or another. There was plenty of barn drama, yet another new trainer, horse switches, horse show drama, crazy client drama.... you name it! But that's horses and horse showing for you. I can't wait to do it all again soon :)