After a long break from competing I decided to get back in the ring this weekend. It was a fun day. I'm glad to say Kylie remembered the drill. I had to get up at 4:30am, to go pick her up. She was better behaved than my trainer or myself expected and the day was a success. I even won one of my classes. I compete in "medal" classes which are a type of equitation with tests. Throughout the show year points are accumulated for winning classes that qualify you to compete in year end "finals". Equitation is basically judged on the rider's style and on their ability to jointly execute harmonious course of jumps that is well balanced, and make every aid or change seem effortless. After an initial round, the top riders are asked to come back into the ring for further testing which is usually an abbreviated version of the original course with some tests such as trotting a jump, counter cantering, halt, hand gallop, jump without stirrups, change horses, etc.
Horse showing for me is more of a mental challenge than physical. If I can focused and stay calm I can usually put in a good round. My horse is extremely sensitive. She needs a confident ride, but it can't be too demanding or she gets frazzled, and it can't be too reserved or she doubts me. This is not quite as evident at home because she is comfortable and familiar with her surroundings, so I can only hone these skills in a strange environment where everything changes for her. There is a very fine line to her formula, and luckily I was able to tune into it today.
I almost forgot, that I also "catch rode" a horse for my trainer in a class and won! I can't really take much credit because it was a very fancy hunter that knew his job.
“Riding a horse is not a gentle hobby, to be picked up and laid down like a game of Solitaire. It is a grand passion. It seizes a person whole and, once it has done so, he will have to accept that his life will be radically changed.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson