AHCC Recap

Wow. That’s all I can say. This past weekend was a whirlwind of horses, rain, laughter, and fun. Horse show hangover hit me hard on Monday and then work got so busy, so hence why this is so soooo late.

The show began with a terrifying drive up. Loading up the trailers wasn’t super hard, River probably took the longest to load, only having loaded once before in his entire 2 year lifetime. Everything else went smooth until we hit the road. People were nuts for a Thursday morning. Trainer S and I were in her truck with Bently and Jewel, and Trainer C had the other three guys in her gooseneck, and so far it had been going okay. Then as we were passing an on-ramp, we were in the middle lane and some idiot decided that instead of braking for the truck breaking down in front of him, it would be much wiser to cut in front of the horse trailer. Cue screeching and smoking brakes, and one angry phone call to the company. I was livid, mainly because the smaller truck who cut us off had the time to stop, whereas we didn’t. Trainer C, who was in front of us, later mentioned that the truck breaking down was wobbling like it was about to lose a tire, but it still wasn’t acceptable. After that, our ride up was quiet.

Settling in took about an hour and a half. We set up our tack stalls, got the horses all settled in, set up all the drapes and made sure our stuff was in order. After that, lunch. The Big E showgrounds has a concession stand called Colly Corner with some pretty great food. It’s a bit overpriced, and from what I’ve been told, the price spike was recent, but the decorations were on point and it was really good food.

After all of that, it was schooling for the first time in the Coliseum! Which was terrifying in itself for me, but of course, to Bently, it was pretty much nothing. He was forward enough too that I was able to ditch the whip entirely, but not enough to ditch my spurs. And he also forgot all our practicing of not walking off at the mounting block and decided that racing away would be a better idea. So it was a moving mount up for the rest of the weekend.

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Also after watching all the side saddle people warm up, I think I need to add side saddle to my horse wishlist. The show didn’t actually start until Friday, we were up a day early to settle in and such, but I don’t think I was ready for Friday morning on Thursday night.

Friday morning was all the in-hand classes. Like all of them. So I was helping rush Trainer C and two other clients get ready for main ring and then race over to the sport horse ring to do dressage and hunter type. It was exhausting. I didn’t watch one in hand class other than classes ahead of the client classes while I waited to help. The nice thing about Friday morning is everyone placed and even one woman got high point purebred for the whole day, which she was wired about for the rest of the day. I was calm for most of the morning, mostly because I didn’t have five minutes to stop and worry, until lunchtime when it all hit me like a freight train.

My first class didn’t end up running late afternoon. We were the first ones in the ring, which I later realized was the worst choice ever. Bently was hyped like we knew would happen. However, I didn’t expect him to play a game of ‘the rail is lava’ and circle the gazebo like a freaking shark. Not in the first class, but the second too. He was like, ‘Nope I am a saddle seat horse, you cannot tell me not to be on the rail”. He also got super hyped after the first walk, mainly because they ask for the canter right after the change rein in saddle seat classes and all I wanted was a trot. Somehow, I’m not sure how we got seconds in both classes. Again, not sure how, but we pulled it off.

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Saturday was a quieter day for us, one client had her dressage tests in the morning, and another student client of Trainer C had her last two classes in the afternoon. I ended up dragging my horse out of his stall at lunchtime to school him in the Coliseum to make sure he would stay on the rail for our championship classes. I toyed with the idea all morning if it was worth the race to sneak in before they dragged for him to act normal and then pull the same thing the next day. Trainer C said no matter what it might be a good idea. So I lunged, popped myself on and in I went when they called for lunch. Of course, he was annoyingly perfect, and picked up all the leads immediately, was calm and collected. I was a little pissed that I couldn’t school the anti-rail issues but it was the only thing I could do really and hope he would behave for the champion classes.

Later on, after the student client’s last class, I plopped myself in a seat to watch the last of the days classes. At that point, Trainer C’s husband and oldest son had come by to check in. Trainer C’s husband had taken my little car to deep detail is as he loves detailing cars. I told him he might hate me after he took it. He was horrified at the state of my car, and pretty much joked around with me the whole rest of the night of the state of my car. I can’t say much about it, I’m a college student who pretty much lives in her car. The older son had shown all his life on the circuit and went around visiting his friends. Slowly everyone else ended up in our box in the Coliseum to watch classes, minus the older son who found friends, and oh boy were we loud. Like ridiculously loud, loud enough we got some nasty looks from competitors. We just kept cracking jokes and dying laughing from it. At one point I laughed so hard I couldn’t breathe.

Trainer C voted dinner plans, and because we were too rowdy for a regular restaurant, we picked a place that we knew would not kick us out if we got too loud; Hooters. It was the first time I’d ever been to Hooters, let alone with the barn crew. It was good food, and then we got them to sing Happy Birthday to Trainer C’s oldest, who was expecting the adult version but instead got the kids version and stood on a stool flapping menus like a chicken. We all were dying at that one.

Finally the last day, the one I almost puked on. I’m not sure why I was so rattled Sunday morning, but I was. All the riding in the Coliseum over the weekend apparently did nothing for the fresh batch of tired anxiety that sprouted up that morning. I was also nervous that Bently wouldn’t do as well, mainly because it was freaking 40 degrees and raining, a 30-degree difference from Saturdays sunny and 70. We got on and tacked up for our first class, and he was not happy. Ears pinned, his little angry attempts at bucks and the tightness underneath me did not make me feel warm and fuzzy. I literally looked at Trainer C and went, ‘this is not my horse’ as I went by.

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He’s beauty, he’s grace

I don’t really know how it happened, but we were a lot more consistent in the first class. He also was a lot slower and calmer, and I was a little nervous so I pushed him on in some areas, maybe a little too harsh because we had a few bucking hop things. Bently cannot anatomically buck because of how long his back is, so he does these weird hopping bucks that barely lift off the ground. Either way, we pinned reserve champ in that class! I was a little shocked but excited. Bently was too excited, and we couldn’t even stand for our photo, he just wanted to victory lap and be done. There was such a small amount of classes between that one and my second of the day, so I hopped off and we left him in a cooler while we waited. He even decided to read the class list with Trainer C.

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I will admit, going in last and or second to last really helped because he was a lot more relaxed. We did the same with the second class, though he really wanted to trot down the chute instead of walking. The second class was my eq class, which I thought would be the hardest.

Bently got a bit riled up between the transitions, but once we had the first canter down, I was all smiles because I knew we at least had second in the bag. He didn’t want to halt at the lineup and halted waaay too far back, but I was hoping I wouldn’t get scored on that. Thankfully, I didn’t.

We somehow won the last class. I was in shock like could not stop grinning. Bently again refused to stand for the photo, and we ended up doing our mini victory lap and I almost fell off when he turned on a dime to follow Trainer C out of the ring.

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The best part of the whole morning was one of the previous trainers were there, and came by and watched, and was shocked at how well he was doing and congratulated me on my win. I was so excited and so happy with him, I was over the moon.

Pack up was easy, if hauling 5 horses worth of equipment, supplies and human supplies into two trailers in the pouring rain is easy, then sure it was easy. We loaded all the supplies up, grabbed a bite to eat, then loaded the horses. Everything went smooth, River took a little while longer to load but I think it was more of he just wasn’t sure of the trailer again. It was an easy ride home thankfully, hit a few spots of snow on the Mass Pike which was really weird, but again, it’s New England.

After the whole weekend, I’m very excited for the next show. Unfortunately, none of my wins qualified me for regionals unless they offer my classes. We’ve also already have been looking at the next show, and they don’t offer my class in dressage gear, so we are considering other options for that show. But it’s a whole six weeks away, so I am not worried yet. I’ll just bask in my first place win for the rest of the week and get back to real riding work next week.