Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Alumni Tournament of Champions

Sunday morning, it was up at 5am to drive to Centenary College and the IHSA Alumni Tournament of Champions.  Any current IHSA alumni can enter and who wouldn't want the chance to ride at Centenary College.  Centenary has a ton of amazing horses who are donated to the college, which has a huge equine studies program.  The program can give the appropriate care to extend the useful life of a horse who cannot compete in the regular show world, either due to quirks or soundness issues.  They carefully maintain the horses and give them all the correct treatment they need so they are happy and healthy.  My first IHSA trainer from college works there now and she is an amazing horseman, with so much knowledge and love and care for the horses.

Centenary has a beautiful indoor ring and an amazing facility.

So, I was showing in the second class, 2'6" Over Fences, and there were 25 entered!  Yowza.  The first class, 2'3" Over Fences, only had 7, so that was going to go quicker.  Then, I was showing the the Alumni Cup class (17 entered), which was also 2'6" and has a flat phase.  So three fences classes to start, then lunch break, then three flat classes (Basic, Advanced, and Cup).  There were 2 heats of each and a final.  We started the day with drawing the jumping classes and I drew 7 for the 2'6" class and Jimmy (a very nice hunter type horse).  We then drew for the Cup and I drew 14, Nick, another very nice hunter type who was a bit larger and longer than Jimmy.  I saw both horses warm up and they were lovely.  Soft, forward, consistent; everything you could want in a horse you have never ridden before.

So the first course started with a single, then a bending line, a rollback, another rollback, then a single.  A great course that really tests your ability to ride as there are choices to make and you can change your track depending on the horse you have and their stride.  Jimmy was wonderful.  He had a very soft mouth and the horse holder (who had schooled him) told me to get him in front of the leg and have soft hands.  He did everything I wanted.  Here is the video:

I had a good round, just a little deep to the birch vertical, but I was very happy with it.  I went 7th in the order, so I had quite some time to wait.  Plus, my friend was going 12th, so I went to help her mount and didn't get to really see anyone go.  Towards the end of the class, I stayed by the ring to see if there was going to be a call back.  With the last 3 riders to go, they gave a call back and my number was on it!  They said it was in no particular order, but after everyone went, they did the call back in reverse order of preference, and I was sitting in 1st!  So it was back on Jimmy and back to the ring.  Well, I haven't done a workoff in a very long time and it showed :(  Jump 1 was good, but I messed up to the second fence and was dropped to 4th.  Still! A good showing out of 25.  I was very happy with my first round and after the show, I was able to look at the judges card.  Every fence was written down as nice with a simple "ᴖ", which means a normal distance.  She scored me as an '81' which is a good score, especially for going so early.

Then, it was to the Cup class.  The cup course was similar to the 2'6" one in that it was a single to the same bending line, then to a different bending line across the ring, halt, trot a fence, then a roll back, but the roll back that was in the first class (which almost everyone went on the inside track), this one you had to hand gallop the last fence, so pretty much everyone went around in order to show the hand gallop.  I pulled Nick and was told that he was more of a hunter but had been a dressage horse so he could come back and be very ride-able if asked.  All told, he was great!  He had a HUGE stride, so the lines rode very easy even with bending them out.  The rider told me he gets anxious to the trot jump so to hold my body.  I also do not like trot jumps and was very conscience of it.  The only thing I did not like about my course was that I was deep to the last fence.  I got his stride too big and didn't reset his stride before heading to the last fence so he was at the end of his step and the 'big' one wasn't there, so I settled for the deeper take off.  Still happy and I scored a 76, which was a very respectable and fair score and at the end of the class, I was in 4th!

Again, a lot of IHSA is luck of the draw and how you are able to adapt to who you have.  I got very lucky with my fences draws in that they were my type of ride and they were big.  I am 5'10" and have a harder time riding smaller horses simply because of my height (my balance is more easily thrown off on a small horse because there is not much there).  Both horses were great and very fun to ride.  Jimmy was super and light; Nick landed off the fences a little harder (he jumped a little bigger), but was still super and had a great feel to him.

Then it was a wait til the flat portion.  I drew '6' in section B of the Cup flat.  The horse I pulled was very nice, but was hard to ride.  He didn't like the other horses coming up behind him and would scoot a little and do a little buck/kick.  The judge wasn't penalizing this because she had seen the horse do this with every rider, but in my canter, he tripped really hard and practically fell on his face.  When we recovered, he was on the wrong lead and I did a simple change to the correct lead.  After the flat, I was not called back.  I was disappointed since I had a good round and was hopping that my flat wasn't too bad.  When I looked at the judge's card (after the show), she had circled my number and written down "broke".  So all she had seen was me change the lead, not the huge trip that caused it.  Oh well, so as it goes.

I still had a great time and the amount of camaraderie at the show was great.  It was very competitive, but fun.

And now, for the best part.  So, while I was watching schooling in the morning, I noticed a big black warmblood going around.  I was talking with the photographer (who rode IHSA from my old region and was showing too) about the horses and told her that the big black horse, Brewster, looked just like my old equitation horse.  I couldn't believe the similarities, same dishy head, LAZY, same build, and a little late on the hind change if you didn't keep him forward.  When I was helping someone from my new region get on, I asked one of the Centenary riders who the horse was because he looked just like my old eq. horse.  She told me that his show name is "Gotham City".  OMG! He is my old eq. horse.  I rode this horse when he was 11 in 2003 and did all the big eq. classes on him before he sold to a trainer on the east coast.  Brewster was my Batman.  I went up to him and gave him a big hug and kiss.

It's Batman!
Big kiss for my old man
USET class on the grass in 2003
He looks great.  And Centenary will take excellent care of him and keep him happy and healthy for a long time.  I couldn't be happier with where he ended up.


  1. So cool! Love reading about the IHSA alumni stuff. I showed IHSA in college although stuck to the flat classes because I was too nervous to jump a strange horse :)

  2. Awesome job! Nice rides over fences. And how cool that you ran into your hold horse! :)

  3. Sounds like a great show.. except the judge missing WHY you broke haha! Oh well better luck next time right?

    I rode in college too but we were Ncaa not ihsa.. good times! :)

  4. Very cool you saw your old horse! How fun I really want to do TOC but they don't offer Alumni in my region (which pisses me off to no end)

  5. Screw the flat classes. I wish it could all be jumping!