Thursday, October 28, 2010

The BIG Day - Working Hunter II and Working Hunter Under Saddle

So after a not-so-great-but-better-than-I-expected-once-our-course-was-done round on Tuesday in our Working Hunter I class, I had decided to change my approach a bit for Wednesday's Working Hunter II. After Star, being a mare, decided that she had never been the ring (that she had already jumped around twice) before, I decided that today's plan was to enter the ring at a nice, strong trot and pick up the canter immediately so that Star didn't have time to look around and find all the monsters on our long approach to the first jump, a left lead single on the diagonal coming home.


Star would not pick up her canter, because the plants were too scary. And then once she did, she broke. We finally got it, but we were not off to a good start. Way to make a good impression, horse. We got around the course, and overall it felt better than our course the day before, but I'm pretty sure we missed a lead. And we had a rotten start. And the fences were only set at like 2'6" - maybe 2'9". *Sigh* So much for a great comeback from the day before.

I would just like to take a moment here to say that my entire reason for entering Star in the Working Hunter division instead of the Low Working Hunter division was because the classes were to run at 3'3", not at 2'6", as was the case for the Low Hunters. Star is not impressed enough by 2'6" to make any real effort or have any real style over the jumps. So having jumps set at 2'6" instead of 3'3" was a definite disadvantage for us.

I was actually surprised a bit by the order for the jog, at first: Star was called back in seventh... out of seven horses. Retrospectively, with a missed lead, rotten start, and low fences, it's exactly where she should have placed. And I'll admit: I was furious with my horse. Not that I started beating her or anything like that kind of furious, but I was really upset with her behavior and performance, because I know she's a much better horse than that.

Alright, time to pull the martingale and go back for the hack. The goal was steady, ground-covering paces with nice, light contact. This one we actually kind of managed. At one point during the left lead canter, as another horse pulled alongside Star, she decided for a minute that it was a race and picked up her pace, but settled back in fairly well. We also had a sticky transition into the right lead canter, but other than that, she was perfect. When all was said and done, I was very pleased with the class, and Star placed exactly where she should have, in fourth. I think she might have been a bit higher were it not for the "Oh, we're racing!" moment and the sticky transition, but I really can't complain.
After the conclusion of the under saddle, all the competitors were called back into the ring for the World Championship Working Hunter awards. Despite two pretty crappy over fences rounds, Star ended up 5th overall in the division. Again, I really can't complain. While I know that she could have done better, our hearts don't really lie in the hunters. And honestly, my big goal was just to be able to ride at Nationals under Bill Moroney's judging. We did just that, and even made a reasonable showing. Who can really ask for more?
Ribbon Tally:
Hunters: 2- 4ths, 1-7th, 5th place overall in high point awards
Jumpers: 1-2nd, 1-4th... in the running for a world championship title!

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