Dusting Off Cobwebs: The Heartland Schooling Show

Fancy horse shows off true flexion ... just this once. New favorite picture.
I really couldn't have asked for a better schooling show to dust off the showing cobwebs for the year and get back into the swing of show season. Heartland CT is a pony club event, and filled to the brim with little kids, ponies, adult amateurs, local trainers, and horses of all levels of experience. It's not much of a "true dressage schooling show," but that's okay. I grew up with this particular group of eventers, and it was so much fun to spend a weekend checking out everyone's new horses, catching up on years gone by, and trading hugs.

The whole event is staged in true eventer style: total controlled chaos. From the moment you step on the property, it's obvious you aren't at a dressage show. However, Amy did a great job on the event and the whole thing ran incredibly smooth and most of the rings were actually ahead! As a regular horse-show volunteer, I can appreciate how difficult that is to accomplish!

I entered Guinness in First Level Test 3, where I was competing with another rider, and Second Level Test 1, where it was just me. These tests were scheduled all the way at the end of the day, and back to back, meaning I had Saturday fairly free until around 1 o'clock. This was lovely, because I didn't have to stress about getting ready early and knew I could actually spend some time helping Jen get Connor braided fancily, and watch a ton of rides!

Friday's travel went smoothly (see yesterday's post), with Guinness traveling easily and not too freaked out and nervous upon arrival. He always settles in easily at shows, and is quite the consummate gentleman in the stall and on the grounds. I never worry about that.

However, our schooling ride on Friday was a doozy. My fancy dressage horse, who should be one of the better trained horses on the property at a lower-level eventing schooling show, forgot how to turn left. Just plain couldn't manage it. An hour of tactful but aggressive riding later, and I had finally managed to get through Pig's nerves and get him somewhat supple and listening. He still had a tendency to lock his shoulder and neck on the left and tune out my leg, but was getting better. I called it a day before we killed each other and embarrassed ourselves by getting into a huge fight in the ring.

When I got back on Saturday morning for a quick warm up, he was fabulous. Loose, light, and flexible. Apparently, he'd had plenty of time to think about our fight the night before. I just wish our classes had followed this ride instead of being scheduled so much later in the day, as my later warm up for my ride times was pretty tense and more similar to Friday's ride.

Instead of being loose and listening, he was very nervous and tense. A nearby halflinger was screaming its way through a dressage test, and Pig was very worried that the halflinger might be a victim of horse-murder and that he might be next. It's not very common for him to be so distracted by other horses, so I wasn't sure how to best get his mind back on the game. In hindsight, more leg and transitions would probably have been better, but instead I went for a tactic including mostly flexion and relaxation. That helped him be calmer, but we lost all collection and impulsion when we finally made it to the ring.

Tomorrow a breakdown of the tests!

Trying desperately to keep my tests straight! The two are so close, I'm always afraid I'll miss the turns in the canter work!


  1. You always need to look out for horse-murderers

  2. Screaming haffies are pretty distracting!

    1. Absolutely! Maybe if they weren't so flashy and adorable... :)

  3. Great shots! And congrats on the successful dust-busting :)

  4. That photo is fan-freaking-tastic.

    1. Thanks! Jen of Cobjockey's mom took some great shots!!


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