Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Success at Zones

So this past weekend, I made the trip down to Roanoke, VA, to Hollins University (Zone 4) to compete in the IHSA Zone Finals on Sunday, April 6th.  So, Saturday was quite the busy day.

Woke up pretty early to do some chores around the apartment and go grocery shopping.  Got to the barn at 11am to ride Ronin.  I jumped him on Friday outside over some bigger fences to prepare for the following weekend (I have two shows coming up.  MSA on April 13 and BEST on April 19-20).

Ended up riding an extra horse a little because he was quite fresh and his owner is just getting back in the saddle after having her first child.  So we wanted to make sure that he was going to be safe to ride and oh boy did he need his butt put back into place.  The horse has been on his own "maternity" leave since his owner could not ride him.  Let's just say he liked his vacation and did not want to get back to work.  After some trotting around, I asked him to canter and he absolutely did not want to.  He sort of reared but all four feet came off the ground, so more of a leap.  After quite a bit of kicking and growling at him, he cantered nicely.  After many trot to canter transitions, he smoothed out and got back into work.  His owner then got on and he was a perfect gentleman.

Then off to Zones.  The other alumni, who qualified in both flat and fences, offered to drive down, so I met her and her student (who qualified in the Individual Intermediate Flat) at her house.  We left around 2pm and started the 3.5-4 hour drive down to Roanoke.  The drive was quite uneventful, thankfully, and there was only one small accident on 81 which did not cause too much delay.  We safely arrived at the hotel and went to dinner, then off to catch some z's at the hotel.  And let Zones begin!
Schooling horses started at 7am with the flat horses then 7:45 for the jumping horses.  We watched the horses and made some notes about them.  Hollins University and Bridgewater College brought horses for the show.  There was not a bad draw among them.  All of the horses were straight forward and very nice.  It was such a treat to have them and I was excited to ride.  At 9:30, we walked the course, which for Alumni, was the same as the Novice course, a simple hunter course consisting of two single fences, outside line, long approach to an oxer, and finishing over the other outside line.

The ring was beautifully decorated with lots of brush, flowers, gates, and boxes.  Before the show started, Hollins University retired one of their long time partners with IHSA, Oyster Pond.  There was a lovely ceremony with a speech by the President of the University.
Oyster Pond Retirement Ceremony
Then the show started at 10am.  My fences class was the last one, so I was able to happily watch all of the other riders show.  Finally, around noon, it was time to draw horses for the fences class.  For IHSA, you draw a random horse.  We drew from a silver cup and I drew "Sycamore Ridge".  He was quite a cute little hunter and seemed straight forward.  He was being ridden in the classes before me, so I made sure to pay attention to him.  The rider right before me indicated while on course that the saddle was slipping around and she had some trouble with his jump (she was opening early over the jumps and catching him in the mouth a little).  I made a mental note to stay with his jump and to also have the horse handler check the girth.  After the rider unmounted, the handler moved the saddle up and tightened it.  Once I got on, she re-tightened the girth since he does blow out a little.  After walking around a bit on the buckle, I asked her to check it one more time.  To me, it still seemed a little loose, but she said that it was as tight as it would go.  I made a mental note to really stay in the center of the saddle and thankfully, I have long legs to wrap around him.

The other alumni drew '1' and went first on Darius (another very cute hunter).  I didn't get to see her round since I was outside.  But she came out and it was game on!  I picked up my reins and headed into the arena at the walk.  Walked a few steps in and picked up the canter.  He was very responsive and had a nice forward canter.  So I got up into my half seat and picked up a good pace.  He was very fun to ride and jump around, very adjustable to the fences, and listened well.  I noted that some of the other riders had a tough time with his lead change, so I made sure to set him up a little for it.  First fence went ok; the distance was good, but he jumped a little out of form over the fence, but my position held.  He landed the incorrect lead, so a lead change was necessary.  I set him up a little and he flew a beautiful change.  Next fence was also a single, so stayed nice and straight and galloped up to it.  The lines were set at about 72' which is a normal 5 strides at a decent height (usually 2'9"-3').  These fences were quite a bit smaller, more like 2'3", so I cantered nicely in and continued all the way down the line asking him to move forward.  Nice 5 strides, landed the lead and reset a little so that I could just canter the long approach.  He kept a very nice rhythm and I was able to canter nicely down to the single oxer.  A little set up again since the last line seemed to be riding easier for most of the horses and it was the end of the course heading to the gate.  I got in nicely and settled a little bit with some voice and stretched my body back and he responded perfectly.  We fit the 5 strides in nicely and landed on the wrong lead.  Set up the change again and really stepped into my outside iron.  Nice lead change, but the saddle slipped quite a bit when I shifted my weight!  Thankfully we were done and the saddle moved back to center easily. Exited the ring at a walk and hopped off and gave him a huge pat.  He was a blast!

Sycamore Ridge, photo cred Goucher College J.F. 
 Since it was just the two of us, we went right back into the arena for awards.  My number was called at the winner!  I was very excited.  We got a large ribbon and for being champion, I received a pair of Piper Breeches from Smartpak :)  I just go the new catalog in the mail and had marked a few that I liked.  I was planning on buying a pair and now I just won a pair!  Being a Smartpak customer already, I know that I really like these breeches and will be a needed addition to my schooling ones.

So now it's off to Nationals in Harrisburg on May 1-4.  Nationals are over 4 days; Hunt Seat Equitation is Thursday - Saturday; Western is Friday - Sunday.  The Alumni O/F class is on Friday, May 2, at 8:00am.  So I will be up there bright and early to watch the horses school.  Hopefully Nationals will go as well as Zones and I hope to bring you some good news next month.

Now, it's back to Ronin.  He is getting some new shoes today and he goes to the show this weekend.  I am showing him Sunday in the AA division.  Hopefully I can get him clean and looking like a show horse again.  We've had some crazy amounts of rain and he is looking more like a spotted appaloose than a grey.  Here's to some elbow grease and a lot of shampoo :)

No comments:

Post a Comment