Well this day didn’t turn out as planned but I am sure I made the best decision for my horses. The day started off early around 5am for us head over to the barn and pull the horses in. They were all riled up (well Mick was) so we lunged him and Dixie was all flustered wondering why Mick was being so silly. I lunged Dixie for 5 min but he really never does anything so I quickly scraped that idea. Polish them up, comb out their tails and put on their nice halters and boots.
The show as 20 min away and we got there about 6:30 am. It was cold and still dark. This place is gorgeous and has built a new ring with all new jumps. The show was a circuit that is local to our eastern shore area and much different than the local show that Indy had done the day before. Everybody has their horses braided and they had their neck/body slinkies on to keep the braids in and stay clean.
I took Dixie off the trailer first because my plan was to show Mick but school Dixie. Dixie was pretty shocked by the ponies and horses wearing all these funny clothes. He kept snorting and staring but he was standing nicely just confused by it all. I got on and rode down to the ring he was very looky but no spooking just looking. He felt much bigger than his 16.2h and I knew he was scared but what is great about Dixie is no matter how scared he is he keeps it all together.
We walked around the ring and he was in awe of all that was going on. Lots of people going every which way, speakers that were crackling and trainers yelling. As I rode around I discovered the footing was deep..really deep as in the ring looked like it had not been compacted and the base was churning up with the sand making it so deep you felt like you hit quicksand. I avoided the bad areas as much as possible and trotted and cantered around. It would not be fair to expect a green horse to jump in such deep footing. Not only could they get injuried but it was like jumping a foot higher by the time they climbed out of that deep footing.
Surviving warm up rings is always tricky especially at hunter shows when you are allowed to jump the full course. You might be on the rail and somebody is jumping straight at you because they are coming down a diagonal. For this reason I love taking the horses to hunter shows because it really gets them comfortable with handling a crazy environment. Dixie was super with horses coming at him, behind him and going faster around him. Those things do not get him to upset. My other horse gets a bit more reactive but he is also a bit younger with less overall mileage. Once he settled in he did not mind as much but the trick is to keep them moving and always be aware of what is going on around you so you can move quickly to put yourself in a safer area.
So Dixie got a w/t/c and walk around the show grounds. It was great mileage for him and he handled himself with class as always. He happily stood on the trailer while I warmed up my next horse who was also amazing.
The hunter world is a bit different for me. I have ultimate respect for how difficult it is to find eight perfect fences but I don’t always agree with the methods used to get your horses that rideable. Lots of lunging going on and the horses were jumped and jumped and jumped in that deep footing even when trainers were remarking how dangerous the footing was and coaching riders how to stay safe.
Here are some pictures from my early morning ride on Dixie. Isn’t he handsome!
The worst he did was look around which you can see here.