A hunter Champion, apparently...
I took my moms horse Ace to a local unrated hunter show this weekend. This isn't just any hunter/jumper show though, this is the Abydos Summer Classic, where they offer $6,000 in prize money....Yay! In an effort to continue to make Ace a more rounded horse we decided to enter her in the hack and the green hunter division. My friend Dana is back and feeling good after her bad spill a few weeks ago so we buddied up for the show. Pleasantly, the show was at the beautiful Abydos Farms which is only about a 15 minute drive from my parents place.
I prepped myself to enter the world of hunters yet again, but was not quite prepared for the 30 horses which entered the hack division. 30, YES 30 horses. The classes were split in two group of 15, then the top 10 were called back into the ring. Ace has never been in the ring with other horses other than the warm up ring at shows. This being part of her problem really. This show was sort of an experiment in that sense. First class was show hack. Luckily for me, I used to train with a hard core hunter/jumper coach when I was a young eventer. She did wonders for my jumping. Anyways, I learnt what the judges want to see in hack classes, this is my secret weapon (Also, quarter marks, YES for hunters).
Our Show Hack class was going great until we all had to canter. Simple right? We picked up the canter but the minute Ace caught wind there was a horse behind her we were head in the air mach ten up the long side of the ring. I had absolutely no control. I contemplated pulling up and just excusing myself from the ring but I was finally able to get some control and continued on with the class. We reversed, the canter on the opposite rein was a mirror image. I was horrified, what a bad pony. You couldn't really blame her though since she has never been in this scenario before. This is a learning experience I told myself. I left the ring and just laughed with my mom. Then the whipper in called me and said I was to wait as I was being called back in. Was I being punished? Was I that horrible? No, we actually were being called into the top ten. Did the judge possible not see that nonsense, or was I for the first time on the good end of subjectivity in the hunter ring?
We went back into the ring for the hack off. Ace was better but still kind of a dink in the canter. Our collected trot was beautiful, our collected canter was too. We lined up for the judge. Our number was called first, we won the class. I gave a disconcerning eye to my mom. For real? We won? Howwwww is that possible? I guess she does make a pretty flashy hunter pony, chrome and all. She was first out of THIRTY horses. We were pretty proud. First time in a hack class. Super pony.
Our next class was road hack, where we had a re-peat of the show hack. She was pretty much the exact same, except this time she added some lead changes in the mix. We placed 2nd. Out of THIRTY. Does the judge really love Ace this much?? Or are the other horses just THAT bad. My mom said not a single horse was showing a difference between a strong, working, and collected gait and that is why Ace did so well. I can't argue with that because I didn't see the other riders, I was too busy trying to control this slingshot underneath me. I guess riding a dressage horse in the hunters pays off.
Our final hack class in this division was Pleasure Hack. I tired as hard I could to look pleasureable with the nose poked out and relaxed look but alas, she is just not trained that way. She was the most behaved in this class though, which is ironic because we did not get a call back. We didn't make the top ten and we didn't place. Oh well, we still somehow managed to take the title of Hack Division Champion. Seriously. Dressage horse with eventer takes the Hack title over 30 horses. These were decent horses, with many trainers in the area riding. Pretty big moment for my mom and I. Oh ya, and Ace too :)
We had a break before our next class...hunter pairs. I will let the video speak for itself:
|4th out of 7...somehow, remains a mystery|
Onto the Green Hunter Division. Our first class was the flat class. I will spare you the painful details for a third or fourth time about the hunter flat class, but I will just say that Ace was much better behaved. Or, maybe, I just figured out how to ride her? She swapped her lead several times, but we still ended up second out of about 11 horses. Our first over fences class was a disaster. We had schooled at Abydos the day before but can you imagine, not EVERYTHING was the same as the day we schooled??? How dare they change things!
Ace just HAD to see a few of the jumps before she went over them. Normally I would really push the horse to get over the fence but since Ace is; A) very green over fences as in having jumped only a handful of times, and B) unpredictable and C) untrustworthy, I decided to be conservative. After a look she popped over all the fences nicely. Needless to say we didn't place with 3 refusals. Consider that a throwaway score.
Our second jumping (and last thank god with this heat) class was a handy hunter. Ace was an absolute superstar and jumped everything beautifully. She did her halt, and trotted the last fence. We missed a lead or two and ended up third. I was soooo thrilled with her ride. This horse has barely had any schooling over fences compared to all the horses there. She gets jumped about once a month over brown poles. She jumped a coop, gate, hay bales, flowers, astro-turph roll tops, you name it!! She was such a good girl. She was Reserve Champion in the Green Hunter out of about 11 horses, and only placed in 2 classes which shows how inconsistent the other horses were. I have videos and they will follow in a few days!